Tributes to a maestro
For performing artistes, the Kirateshwor stage is believed to be one of the holiest of stages. And on the full moon night of September 6, this stage was the venue for a musical tribute to the shehnai maestro of India Ustad Bismillah Khan Saheb, who breathed his last on August 21.
A number of Nepali musicians had gathered to pay their tributes to this towering personality who by his talent earned for the humble shehnai the distinction of being called a ‘classical’ instrument. The shehnai had always been considered just a folk instrument.
The programme was organised by the Kirateshwor Sangeetashram in association with the Indian embassy.
Narendra Pyasi accompanied by Pramod Upadhyay on the tabla set the tune for the evening by singing a number of devotional songs dedicated to Krishna. The other artistes of the evening were Dhan Bahadur Gurung (flute), Prabhu Raj DhakaL (vocals) and Milan Tandukar (violin).
They were accompanied on the tabla by Heera Ghimire, Pramod Upadhyay and Manoj Gautam.
A short memorial programme for Ustad Khan was held and a minute’s silence was observed in his memory.
The sun had already set over the horizon, and the moon was slowly making its way across the sky as Dhan Bahadur Gurung took to the stage with his flute (bansuri) to mesmerise the crowd and pay his tributes to a musical legend. The small courtyard at the ashram had gradually begun to fill with people and there was just standing room left as Gurung began his evening’s performance with Raag Bhupali.The sound of his flute wasn’t the clear, perfect pitched sound that one grows to expect. It had a peculiar husky sound, which instead to detracting from Gurung’s performance added to it making it more familiar, more nearer to the heart.
The crowd outside was as big as the one in the courtyard. Foreigners from near and far mingled with locals as music united them as one. And the Indian embassy’s consular Gopal Bagley’s words rang true: describing Ustad Bismillah Khan Saheb’s legacy, he’d said earlier “music has no sharhad (borders/ boundaries)”.
As the music played on, those gathered lost themselves in the beauty and purity of a world that really echoed John Lenon’s lyrics:
...Imagine there’s no
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll
And the world will be