The Enchanting age old Sarangi and the young Maestro Kamal Sabri.
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Saturday , February 2, 2002

Musical Medley From Finland
From Left: Classical Finnish guitarist Jukka Tolonen strikes a pose with Minna Raskinen on the kantele, while Kamal Sabri (extreme right) completes ethe group with his sarangi

Have you heard of Kantele? No? But people out there in Finland too hadn’t heard of the sarangi. It was only when the young sarangi maestro Kamal Sabri went to Helsinki and introduced the Indian musical instrument in Finland in 1996 that the Finnish got to know about it. Now it is Finnish artist Minna Raskinen too has come here with plans to introduce the national instrument of Finland, the Kantele, to Indians.

You wouldn’t know what kind of sound Kantele produces until you listen to it but we can tell you right away that it looks like a harp. "It has been in Finland for the past 2000 years but now not many people know about it," informs Minna. She is one of the most prolific of Kantele performers in her motherland and has also taken it to several parts of the world.

In India for the programme Striking Notes, along with other Finnish artists, Minna is actively into promoting Kantele in Finland. "I take programmes in school with the hope that when the children grow up, at least some of them will pick up playing the instrument professionally," she says crossing her fingers.

Striking Notes, being performed at the Kamani Auditorium tonight at 6.30p.m., is an evening of musical ensemble from India and Finland. Along with Minna, there will be Finnish artists like Jukka Tolonen on guitar and Markku Ounaskari on drums plus the Indians like Kamal Sabri on sarangi and Ustad Shafaat A. Khan on tabla. (Striking Notes will travel to Mumbai and Kolkata hereafter but Pt. Anindo Chatterjee will play the tabla on rest of the tour).

Kamal Sabri has been the driving force behind this ensemble. "I've always wanted to bring Finnish music to India. I'm glad that Minna, Jukka and Markku agreed to this plan," he gushes. Kamal loves to talk and he adds, "I was warmly received in Finland when I went there for the first time in1996 and I hope that the Indian audience too receive them well." Though he says this with an air of scepticism, Minna discounts his fears by saying, "People in India form a better audience for classical music than in Finalnd, probably because here people are aware of the nuances of classical music, unlike in Finland where only popular music rules the roost."

Jukka who had been silent till now, wishes to speak on this subject. He agrees with Minna, saying, "There is definitely a big difference in audience for classical music between Finland and India. People here respect the classical musicians more than in my country." Jukka, who is one of the legendary modern musicians of Finalnd, says, "Americanisation is spoiling the music scene in Finalnd." At least we have something in common with Finland both fear the onslaught of American culture!

Before you can even ask either of them as to what would their music in the evening would sound, Kamal speaks on behalf of all three, "It is going to be something different. All of us have composed some tunes and tried to blend it with melody. You will have to wait for a while." And Minna promises, "You will like it because unlike the Western classical music, Indian and Finnish music have a lot in common." So be it.


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