Bengaluru tunes in to the rhythm and bass – bangalore mirror vodka and sweet vermouth cocktails

The second day of times swarsangam saw a high-energy crowd swarming the chowidah memorial hall. The evening session began right on time, with bindu subramaniam taking the stage in a resplendent red and gold dress and introducing her fellow musicians – brother ambi on the violin, frijo francis (keyboard), DSR murthy (mridangam), varun murali (guitar), keith peters (bass), karthik mani (drums/percussion) and jorge pardo (flute and saxophone).

The segment was infused with several lively dialogues with the musicians, all of whom were in good humour and displayed a lively mastery over their instruments. The city gave a rousing welcome to pardo, a spanish musician who enthralled the audience with his versatility and skill with not one, but two wind instruments.Ambi violin ambi on the violin was a treat to hear, especially in the segment when he had ‘conversations’ and improvisations with mani and murthy.

His ability to coax rhythm out of the violin was superlative and at the end of their segment, there were thunderous applause and many, many broken strings.

The stage at chowdiah memorial hall set the mood to greet karsh kale, the versatile indo-american composer, songwriter, producer, electronic musician, orchestral composer, DJ, tabla player and drummer. As he stood in front of the tablas, placed on a table, the strobe lights turned an ethereal blue and mist swirled around his silhouette. And then the first track of the ‘classical science fiction’ performance began.Music festival accompanied by pt ajay prasanna (flute), max ZT (hammered dulcimer) and warren medonsa (guitar), all of whom kale has been playing with for years, their instrumental music fused with hybrid rhythms, swirled and faded thus clueing the audience into what was to come next. A dizzyingly fast tempo, funk and psychedelic rhythm, electronic beats, sharp guitar riffs and the haunting siren melody of the flute reverberated in the hall as kale worked his magic without missing a beat.

Kale has quite a reputation as a musician; he has played in obama’s white house in 2013, performed with sting, norah jones, pt ravi shankar, alicia keyes, anoushka shankar and more besides having released over six solo albums.Anoushka shankar sunday evening’s performance was an affirmation of what his fans have believed of him; incidentally he has quite a fan following, from five-year-olds to the older generation too, as he likes to note. Playing track after track non-stop, kale’s hour-long concert included a track from his iconic album ‘breathing underwater’ which was a collaboration with anoushka shankar. He conversed little with the audience and when he did, it was to inform them about how he would be playing a different version of a particularly fast-paced track as he had expected the audience to be dancing in front of the stage. But the city being what it is, people were leaving the hall as the programme was nearing the end.Ambi violin however, the ones who stayed – and they were plenty – gave a thunderous standing ovation to the maestro and his brand of world music.

The festival was a revelation, thanks to quality curation by vasu dixit, which ensured the music festival had such a variety of class performances. As dixit commented at the end of the festival, the way to reach heaven is plenty and the various genres of music played showed just how many.