Wellesley hosts Songs of East India

By Rama K. Ramaswamy

The Wellesley Community Center, along with World Of Wellesley (WOW), recently co-sponsored local artist-vocalist Maitreyee Chakraborty, who led and performed "The Songs of East India" to positive reviews from a diverse audience. This concert was also made possible, in part, by a grant from Wellesley and Natick Cultural Councils.

Some attendees confessed that they had never before experienced a concert based on philosophy of minstrels from East India, but enjoyed the performance with Chakraborty (vocal), Jewel Alam (keyboard), Subhankar Choudhury (tabla), Monami Roy (harmonium) and Suvadeep Sengupta (guitar).

"Fakir Lalon Shah inspired India’s very first Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, into baul songs. Maitreyee Chakraborty not only sang those songs of Lalon and Tagore, but also connected the amazing works of these two noble, original founders of Bangla literature, Bangal songs, and Bangla Baul songs," said Mukul Zaman, who attended the program. "Maitreyee is an authentic outstanding, top-caliber singer who feels that this is her responsibility and privilege to relay East India’s vast music treasure to the USA. Although she sang in Bangla language, she articulated the essence of each song very skillfully in English.

"The PowerPoint slideshow that accompanied each song also had the synopsis of her songs. She also brought the two Banglas (Bangladesh and Kolkata/India) closer by singing songs from both countries. People like myself can’t help becoming her lifetime music fan after listening to her extraordinary, profound music selection and singing."

Priyadarshini Dutta and her daughter, Anisha, were attendees. "It is always a pleasure to hear Maitreyee. Anisha wanted me to let her know that she thoroughly enjoyed the show," said Dutta. "Her favorites were the two mash ups, 'Walk Alone' and 'I Will Not Let You Go.' It is interesting how these songs transcend time and generations. We thank her for not only a great evening and a performance, [but also for] keeping alive the words of the great poet for a generation born in US and not really exposed to his literary work."

"I totally loved being at this performance," said Jahnavi Wadwani, a Newton resident who attended the concert. "I truly enjoyed every moment of being there. The songs were so moving with their meanings. Maitreyee's voice and the ensemble - it transported the audience to a totally different space! Such a treat!"

Other attendees commented that unlike most concerts, this one combined "soulful melodies" with an informative evening. Tagore and his works were presented alongside the early 1900's Baul philosophies, steeped in the colonial war-torn India-Bangladesh emotional context. There was discussion, translation, and enthusiasm displayed by all the performers on stage.

For more information about programs and events at the Wellesley Community Center, visit www.wellesleycommunitycenter.org. For more information about The World Of Wellesley, visit www.worldofwellesley.org.

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