When fingers reign supreme

THE HINDU, by Manjari Sinha

The artist Ariane Gray Hubert impressed with her range the other day.

Ariane took the audiences by surprise when she recited « Ganaanam Tvaa Ganapatim Hawaamahe…  » in chaste Sanskrit and the authentic style of Veda-Paath with the Udaatta, Anuddata and Swarit intonations.

Presented as a tribute to both Indian and Western Music traditions, it was an unusual cross-cultural and innovative musical evening entitled « Piano Rag(a)Time » by Franco-American pianist, singer and composer Ariane Gray Hubert, accompanied by Akram Khan on the tabla and S. Karthik on the ghatam, at the Stein Auditorium of the India Habitat Centre recently. Gifted with a mezzo-soprano voice Ariane was equally comfortable singing the Gregorian and Vedic chants. She could play the piano with a visionary approach incorporating the bols (pneumonic sounds) of the tabla and ghatam, even doing the padhant (recitation of the bols) in a jugalbandi sequence with the Indian percussion instruments.

Born in Paris and brought up in Vienna, the Makkah of Western Music, Ariane has perfected her piano style with Mikhail Agranat in Vienna, Wladimir Krainev in Hanover and Francois-Rene Duchable in Annecy. Through pioneering cross-cultural programmes, Ariane has conducted concerts and master classes based on women composers, sponsored by the French cultural services in Europe and India.

Close affinity

Having close affinity with India she has performed solo vocal recitals at prestigious venues like the Madras Music Academy and a duet piano vocal with ghatam at the Other Festival, Chennai. Ariane has also taken a piano solo tour at the invitation of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in the NCPA Mumbai, the Teen Murti Bhavan, New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. The concert Piano Raga-a-Time at the IHC had the alternate flavours of both, the Ragtime of Western Music and the melody of ragas like Kirawani or a Tyagaraja kriti. Ariane started with a free flowing alap on piano as a solo piece and gradually switched over to a composition in an eight beat cycle like the Adi tala, where Karthik and Akram joined her on the ghatam and the tabla respectively. Both Akram and Karthik are ace players of their percussion instruments.

Ariane’s piano technique was delightfully keeping pace with the crisp fingerings of Karthik on the ghatam and the vibrant rella-paltaas of Akram’s tabla. Ariane even joined Karthik in the verbal bol recitations with all the tonal nuances called for.The sacred Gregorian chants sung by Ariane in her impressive soprano voice were juxtaposed with the Vedic chants. Ariane took the audience by surprise when she recited « Ganaanam Tvaa Ganapatim Hawaamahe…  » in chaste Sanskrit and the authentic style of Veda-paath with the udaatta, anuddata and swarit intonations.

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