The Washington Post


June 19 2000

From India, with Vocal Color

Dhrupad is the most ancient form of North Indian vocal music and is often described as being the most austere. The latter qualitv was evident in the opening passages of the first of two ragas performed Saturday at the World Bank auditorium by dhrupad singer F. Wasifuddin Dagar and three accompanists. He be-gan the piece with a slow, meditative chant that was only slightly more as-sertive than the elemental drone of the two tanpura players who ac-companied him. By the time the 90-minute raga ended, however, Dagar's voice had conjured an entire orchestra.

Although Dagar is the heir of a celebrated dynasty, the concert was his first local appearance and the first by any member of his family. His father and uncle sang together for many years, trading vocal lines in the manner of such contemporary Indian duos as the Gundecha Broth-ers (who performed in Washington last year). As concert emcee Brian Silver noted, Dagar seemed to em-ulate both his father and his uncle. The singer employed a call-and-response style in which his voice produced dueling tones: It was alternately high and throaty, clear and distorted, sustained and staccato. Moham Shyam Sharma's pakhawaj (tuned barrel drum) eventually en-tered, but the contrast of voice and beat could hardly compare to the elaborate and exuberant musical pavane Dagar danced all by himself.

-Mark Jenkins

Reviews \\||// Wasifuddin Dagar