Ragas have always had a spiritual connection in India, but who would ever imagine hearing "Indian Raga Music" in a nineteenth century European church.
Well, this is exactly what residents and visitors in West Cork, Ireland were treated to on June 29th, 2008 with the first concert in the “Music Amongst the Mosaics" series at the beautiful Church of Ascension, Timoleague.
Presented by India's youngest internationally acclaimed Concert Pianist, Utsav Lal, the evening titled "Music for a Maharajah" regaled Irish church and classical concert goers with an evening of “Indian Classical Ragas”, as a special tribute to the ninth Maharajah of Gwalior, Shri Madha Rao Scindia, who had financed the completion of the Timoleague Mosaics in memory of Irish doctor and his personal physician-Dr Martin Alymers Croft.
The church is particularly famous for its Byzantine style mosaics that were added in memory of various members of the Travers family in Timoleague. While, the north wall, west wall and sanctuary with its ceiling of painted angels had been completed by the end of the nineteenth century, it was the South wall that was financed by the Maharajah of Gwalior in memory of Dr. Martin Crofts, who while serving with the Indian Medical Service, had saved the life of the Maharajah’s son. A photograph of Dr. Crofts and the Maharajah hangs in the church porch.
Utsav, the young Indian Raga Pianist filled the church with the mesmerising sounds of Alaap in Raga Khamaj to begin with and followed it up with an exciting and energy filled Jhala. Creating a truly unique Indian experience, the audience also enjoyed rendition of the age old classic “piya tose naina lage”, improvised by the pianist based on Raga Khamaj, Raga Madhuvanti and Raga Hamsdhwani, as a lively finale. Accompanied on piano by R. Sohal on Tabla and Mandal, the two musicians enthralled the audience, who obviously wanted more even at the end of a two hour performance and applauded for an encore.
As one lady summed it up well in a few words, “I was transported to a new heaven by the piano music that Utsav played."
To watch Videos of the concert click here: