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India Instruments - 15th Anniversary Celebration

Review by Sebastian Dreyer
(August 2009)

First of all, thanks is due to all our volunteers - our jubilee celebration would not have been possible without their generous contributions: the musicians Sebastian Dreyer, Beate Gatscha, Arun Leander, Mila Morgenstern, Laura Patchen and Ravi Srinivasan; Benno Becker for constructing a rainproof canopy; Susanne and Sven Andresen for lending an extra tent; Sigrid Rosemann, Annette Asar and Beate Gatscha for catering; Zoe Asar for permission to use her trampoline; and Ravi Srinivasan for supplying his sound system (even though it could not be used due to bad weather).

A short video and some pictures are available at

For all those who could not join the party, Sebastian Dreyer has written the following eye-witness report:

15 years India Instruments - 15 years contact point for lovers of Indian music, network for musicians and supplier of high quality Indian instruments - this jubilee required a proper celebration! In spite of various adversities (e.g. pouring rains and chaos in the urban railway network), a considerable number of ragophiliac people gathered in order to enjoy the music programme, take a look at the showroom and meet old friends as well as new faces. The composition of the crowd gave ample opportunity: Apart from the local fans, some VIPs of the Indian music scene in Berlin and visitors from as far away as Leipzig or even Nuremberg had shown up. None of them was disappointed by the programme, and even the weather finally decided to have mercy on the party.

The opening act was Indigo Masala, the band of India Instruments' founder Yogendra. They presented compositions from their current album "Big Gods & Little Animals" in new instrumentation with Arun Leander on bajan-accordion instead of Susane Paul on cello: vivid, energetic Indo-Asia-jazz-fusion. Even without any sound system they made many heads nod and toes twitch in rhythm. Could anything come after that?

It could: The Ragatala Ensemble, founded by late Kamalesh Maitra and a legend of the Berlin music scene, entered the stage next. Laura Patchen (tabla), Mila Morgenstern (flutes) and India Instruments' manager Norbert Klippstein (sarod) performed some of Kamalesh Maitra's timeless, raga-based compositions and certainly created lovely India movies for the inner eyes of many listeners. A beautifully fitting contrast after Indigo Masala.

The intermission (which gave visitors an opportunity of checking into the showroom) was followed by the classical section of the programme. It started off with a rare treat: a duet of surbahar (bass-sitar), played by Sebastian Dreyer (who happens to be the author of these lines), and pakhavaj, played by percussionist and kathak dancer Beate Gatscha. They took to afternoon raga Multani for their 2nd ever public performance on these instruments - and it seemed as if the audience liked what they heard.

Worthy conclusion was a performance of Yogendra (sitar) and Ravi Srinivasan (tabla). They first presented raga Rageshree, whose sweet mellifluence was a beautiful contrast to the preceeding strictness of the dhrupad-style Multani. Final item was a composition by Ali Akbar Khan in raga Bhairavi, which Yogendra played in honour of his late teacher.

The whole programme was interspersed with interesting and amusing anecdotes about the founding and history of India Instruments. A concluding remark of Norbert Klippstein lets us look forward to next year: He could imagine to organise this kind of event on an annual basis. Let's hope and see...