Patel Mesmerizes the House With Grace
by Tiana Owens
ability of Hasu Patel, the well-known Indian sitarist, to mesmerize
an audience was clear during her performance at Warner Concert Hall
last Saturday. The crowded auditorium was full of restless shuffling
as onlookers eagerly awaited her arrival; the air was scented with
a sweet perfume that traveled in small smoky streams of incense
from the side of the stage.
Patel did appear she was a vision of soft gold with accents of pink.
She gracefully stepped to her place upon an Asian carpet and prepared
for her performance. On the carpet were the beautifully crafted
sitars that Patel played during the concert, along with an assortment
of other instruments. With Patel in place, the scene was set for
an intense performance.
audience, already taken with her lovely appearance and natural grace,
sat silent as she listed many technical terms and named the techniques
she would be using. She requested that the audience relax
and listen to this nice music.
Patel picked up her sitar and began to play, the audience was transfixed.
The silvery twang of the sitar began to weave a spell through the
room that continued until the very last note. It was amazing to
see Patel remain so serene and regal as she played so passionately,
her fingers moving with swift precision.
instruments of classical Indian music can be separated into two
categories: the instrument that carries the main melody and the
instruments that accompany. Hasu Patel mastered the sitar and was
accompanied by Subhash Karmarkar, who played the tabla. His drums
produced soft and sharp rhythms and deep-water sounding thuds that
brought more depth and focus to the music. There was an obvious
connection between Patel and Karmarkar; although Patel set the pace,
Karmarkar brought passion to the exquisite melody she was weaving.
Patels students also contributed to the music by accompanying
her with tamburas.
College was fortunate enough to have the esteemed sitarist give
a concert. Affectionately known as Auntjie, Patel hails
from Baroda, India where she studied the sitar from the age of six.
When asked why she had started so early, Patel replied with a warm
laugh. Father put me in sitar classes so young, she
attended the Maharaja Sayajirao, University of Baroda, India, where
she was the first woman to receive a degree in music with distinction
from the faculty of fine arts. In addition to teaching, composing
and performing classical Indian music, Patel also founded the Sursangam
School of Music where the techniques of Classical Indian music are
spring Patel will be teaching a class through Oberlins Experimental
College. Patel hopes students will gain an appreciation for classical
Indian music by learning how to play the sitar and tabla and sing
traditional music. Many students have already shown interest in
this class after seeing Patels wonderful concert.
the end of her performance, which consisted of three ragas of varying
intensity, Patel was confronted with thunderous applause and a standing
ovation. As with everything else, Patel greeted this praise with
her characteristic grace.
is hard not to admire this accomplished woman for being one of the
only female musicians professionally pursuing the sitar.
was really hard
finding recognition, Patel said.