Notes & Sargam – a instrumental music platform, organized its first season of Instrumental Music Contest 2020 in association with Fist Step Foundation, Indian Achievers’ Forum, CSR Times and Brandmark Media. The online contest ran through October 15th till its finale on 22nd November.
“The objective is to promote instrumental music and encourage self-taught musicians”, said Prashant Das, the organizer of the contest. He added that, “Music is for everyone. A formal training from a Guru is the best option for a music enthusiast to learn music. But, not everyone is fortunate enough to learn from a Guru – due to various reasons, like, non-availability of any Guru nearby, financial constraints, time constraints, preoccupation, etc. etc.
However, if you truly love music, then absence of a Guru should not be an excuse to not pursue your music. I, myself, am a self-taught flutist and I know how sometimes I regret about not having found a Guru, but at the same time I also know how much satisfaction it brings to you when you are able to play your favourite music on your instrument and that too without any training. So, the objective of this contest is to showcase the talent of such musicians who could have done wonders with formal training, but nonetheless they still collect loads of applauds with their musical deliveries.”
The contest was open to all. It received over 200 entries from across the globe including countries like, UK, USA, Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Canada and India. The shortlisting of Top-25 out of these entries was done by a panel of judges who are expert musicians – Mr Nilanjan Sengupta, Mr Prabhat Das and Mrs Sumana Sengupta. Then out of 25, they selected the Top-10 and finally the winners and runners up of this contest. “They carried out the most difficult task of this contest, i.e., to shortlist and select the contestants for rounds after rounds. And, they did a fantastic job of adjudging the best out of the rest.” Prashant said.
The contestants from youngest 19-year old to the eldest 63-year old participated with great enthusiasm with variety of instruments, like, Bamboo Flute, Harmonica, Keyboard, Melodica, Sitar, Acoustic Guitar, Hawaiian Guitar, Dholak, Violin, etc.
Some of the contestants had never participated in any contest in their lives. “I thank Notes & Sargam a lot for giving me this opportunity.” Said, Ramesh Srinivasan, 63, – Harmonica player. He added, “I, being handicapped due to polio, am mostly at home. I myself practiced harmonica and was very happy when you gave me this chance to perform in Top-25”.
Similar feelings were shared Hawaiian Guitar player Mritunjoy Chatterjee, 51, who said, “The contest organized by Notes & Sargam has been extremely useful and beneficial for the contestants like us. It is an amazing platform to participate in contest by the music lovers. This is my sincere request to Notes & Sargam to organize such contest frequently to enable us to further improve upon, which will be a great motivating factor.”
“Thanks to God . I can’t believe myself . I am speechless… tears rolling down from eyes.. in my life ..first time” Said, Manuel Sebastian, 41. “It was an amazing feeling. Never in my life had I participated in any contest, leave aside winning it. But, since I had been following Notes & Sargam for so long to find notations of songs to play on my Guitar, I felt motivated to participate in this contest. Although, I lost in the final round, but I will cherish this ‘win’ for my life.” Manuel told.
The finale of the contest was on 22nd November over video conference. The format was kept simple yet interesting. The Top-10 contestants were asked to perform in two rounds – Judges’ Choice Round and Freestyle Round. In the Judges’ Choice round, all the three judges’ randomly picked up their choice of contestants and gave them a song to play, record and submit in 45 minutes time. They were also asked to play, record and send one of their choice of songs for the Freestyle Round.
“I never expected this kind of performance from Amateur musicians”, said judge Sumana Sengupta. “It was so pleasant a feeling to hear their music, I cannot describe in words. They are outstanding, considering the fact that they are all self-taught” Sumana was full of praise, particularly for the contestant Retikesh Mali, 22 who enchanted the judges with his amazing Harmonica playing.
“These musicians are fantastic. Hard to believe they are self-taught.” Said judge Nilanjan Sengupta. “I wish them all the best for their lives with music. It is also so heartening to see that our good old music is still alive in your hearts, otherwise, I was expecting that you’d be playing today’s nonsensical songs with rubbish lyrics and jarring music. But, you guys have won my heart by playing good old melodious songs on your instruments”
“The tasks given in the Judges choice round was not easy. We, as experienced and trained musicians even as of now, feel nervous to perform. But these self-taught musicians, took up the challenge and came back with their recording in just 45 minutes was commendable.” Said judge Prabhat Das. “I’m sure if they keep practicing they can do wonders with their music.”
The winners of the contest were adjudged based on the collective scores given by the judges. Dr Uday Chand Das, 55 from Dubai secured the 3rd place with his performances of playing Ye Sham Mastani and Mere Naina Sawan Bhado on his Hawaiian Guitar, with 48 points. The 2nd place was shared by Milind Bhagwat, 56 from Ghana and Retikesh Mali, 22 from Mumbai, both scoring 49.3 points. While, Milind played Ye Sham Mastani and Suhana Safar Aur Ye Mausam Haseen, on his Melodica, Retikesh played Lag Ja Gale and O Sajna Barkha Bahar Ayi on his Harmonica. The winner of the contest with 54.2 points was Bhavesh Gajiram Shahare, 34 from Pune who impressed with his performances of playing Lag Ja Gale and Kisi Rah Pe Kisi Mod Par on Keyboard.
Winner received a cash prize of Rs.5,000 alongwith a certificate each from Notes & Sargam and Indian Achievers’ Forum. First Runners up received cash prizes of Rs.2,500 each and Second Runner up received cash prize of Rs.1,500 and certificates from Notes & Sargam. Their stories of self-learning will also be published in the website of Notes & Sargam.
Videos of Top-10 performers can be seen here
Season 1 of the Notes & Sargam Instrumental Music Contest successfully ended only to return soon with Season 2 with new flavours of music. Stay tuned.
A not-for-profit organisation that works for the upliftment of underprivileged has sponsored this event
A forum that promotes outstanding Indian achievers in various fields including Arts & Culture
India's No.1 magazine on Corporate Social Responsibility, has co-sponsored this musical event
A Digital Marketing and Online Events organising set up is associated with this event as Digital Partner.
Management of Notes & Sargam reserves the right to change/alter the dates/time, method, mode of this instrumental musical contest. Registration fees once paid, shall not be refunded, except for exigent circumstances, decision of which will remain solely with Notes & Sargam Management team. Decision of the Judges about selection of participants at all stages will be final and binding on everybody associated with this contest.