Students lent their ears to Indian music and culture as part of “Sarang: A Series of South Asian Performing Arts” in the MiST last Saturday. Free to students and faculty, the event gathered a decent crowd to hear Toronto’s Narendra Datar lecture on the modal and rhythmic qualities of North Indian classical music and listen to performances of the same.

Datar began his formal musical training at the age of 16 under agra gharana vocalist Pandit Vasantrao Kulkarni, according to a biography provided at the event. Since 1986, he has been an active teacher, composer, and musician in Toronto. Datar is also a recipient of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute Senior Performing Arts Fellowship.

Before the event kicked off, Deep Saini took to the mic to share a story about when he first arrived to Canada in 1982. He said that when he played this genre of music, people were too confused to appreciate it. He spoke about how the diaspora in Canada and the mainstream culture in Canada are becoming one, which allows people to speak between cultures.

Anuja Panditrao took the stage to introduce Datar and some of the technical qualities of the music to be played and sung later that night.

Datar introduced the two musicians who performed alongside him, Raya Bidaye on the harmonium and Kishore Kulkarni on the tabla, and the music began.

The first piece was breathtaking, a strongly melodic piece that lasted for about five minutes. The amount of energy poured into each song was astounding. Panditrao gave some background on each song before it was performed, which made them easier to appreciate. For people like me who have never experienced a Hindustani workshop, listening to the complexity of the music combined with the insights on each piece was wonderful.

After an intermission, Panditrao announced that a more complex, technically advanced piece would be performed. She advised the audience to pay special attention to the rhythxmic patterns. The song that concludes a recital in North Indian classical music, she said, is chosen to leave the audience in a peaceful state.

The concert was incredible. To experience another culture in such a short amount of time was eye-opening.