‘Hurdy-Gurdy’ may sound weird but it is in fact, a beautiful musical instrument brought to life by French born musician Eleonore Fourniau, who is touring India along with young violinist Nandini Shankar and tabla player Abhishek Mishra.
On Sunday evening, Alliance Francaise and the Department of Culture, Government of Telangana presented a unique concert titled ‘Queens of Melody’ at Ravindra Bharathi, which saw a blend of Turkish and Indian classical music, culminating in a cheerful ovation from the audience. While the different compositions were well enjoyed by the audience, one of the more memorable compositions played by Nandini was ‘Vaishnava Jan Toh’, which saw Eleonore singing along a few lines too.
“This is a unique journey of not only trying to figure out the common spaces in Indian and Turkish music but also understanding and bringing the two cultures together. Like ‘Raga’ in Indian music, there is ‘Makam’ in Turkish music,” says Nandini Shankar, adding, “A few years back, I attended a workshop on Middle-Eastern music in Mumbai, so it was not difficult for me to understand the intricacies of Turkish music. However, coming from the lineage of my grandmother, Padma Bhushan Dr N. Rajam and my mother Sangeeta Shankar, I have to always be a bit cautious on the collaborations which could be taken up with Indian classical music. I constantly seek advice from my mother, grandmother and sister Ragini Shankar, who is also a classical violinist in her own right.”
Abhishek Mishra adds, “Rhythm is the same the world over, but only the sound of the tabla may be new to my co-artiste from Turkey. Remarkably though, it did not take much time for both of us to understand the rhythms and create the combination of instrumental melody, songs and rhythmic patterns.”
Playing the piano from her childhood, visiting artist Eleonore Fourniau shares, “When I was about 19-year-old, I heard the ‘Hurdy-Gurdy’ musical instrument for the first time and decided to learn it by myself. I took the instrument to Turkey and started playing it along with Kurdish songs.”