A Nepali master of the Sarangi teamed with Nepal’s foremost expert of the Tabla Tuesday night for an ensemble at the PepsiCo Recital Hall at TCU.
As part of a residency by Shringara Nepal, Parashuram Bhandari (Sarangi – bowstring instrument) and Homnath Upadhyaya (Tabla – two drums) played the style known as Indian classical music for TCU students, faculty and community members.
Playing for colleges and towns across America is common for members of Shringara Nepal, a group of highly talented Indian musicians, as they introduce styles of music not known to many Americans.
“This will be a very different experience for a lot of people,” Blaise Ferrandino said before the concert began. “Part of the esthetic of Eastern music often is not the individual so much but the channeling of natural forces and sound through the individual."
Ferrandino, a TCU professor of music theory and composition, said the style of music members of the Shringara Nepal play is improvisatory with little knowledge of where they are going.
He said Western music is a gift in regards to the artistry, but it is good for Americans to know more about Eastern music.
“Not through a book or a tour guide, but rather through taking part of one of their cultural experiences that they have to offer,” Ferrandino said. “We’re enriched for it.”
When the concert began, audience members appeared a bit confused by Parashuram opening with a 20 minute improvised solo.
“That’s the difference between your music and my music,” Parashuram said. “Eastern style music has different melodies and patterns which makes [the performance] harder to get into.”
Parashuram also said his music comes from within.
“It has to come from your soul; otherwise, you can’t improvise,” he said. “We don’t look anywhere. We just focus and concentrate.”
It was not until Parashuram and Homnath found their rhythm and formed a fully-developed composition that the audience became intrigued.
“We had a pretty good crowd tonight,” Parashuram said. “They are all so exciting and interesting.”
As the audience continued with spontaneous applause and interaction, the duo began to hit their stride with a conversation-like beat cycle that became faster and faster until it reached the peak.
During this part of the concert, Parashuram and Homnath made subtle glances of respect for one another.
“This is my pleasure to play with him,” Parashuram said of Homnath. “He gives me a lot energy and encouragement.”
As the improvised performance concluded with a strum on the Sarangi that eventually faded away. The audience rewarded the duo with a standing ovation.
“The main thing for musicians is if the audience likes it,” Parashuram said. “Whenever people enjoy it, we feel very successful.”