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INSTRUMELODIES 2024 – Report

The Dream

Ever since I had started playing songs correctly on my flute, I had dreamt about having a jamming session someday with fellow music lovers like me who’d have learnt music by themselves.  And, after about 12 years of that thought, there I was to live my dream as a reality.

My dream was to organise an event where I could show to the world that self-taught musicians are no less talented when it comes to entertaining an audience with music, in a formal setup.   

The task of organising such an event was daunting.  There were more people who would discourage me than those who would buy my dream.  For the last two years, to be precise, the only thing I used to see with my eyes closed was – Instrumelodies.  The imaginary visuals of the hall, the stage, the performers, the audience, the claps, the clicks, the melodies and happiness all around kept me motivated to organise this show.

The Support

Nothing happens without money, of course.  I had saved some to live this dream of mine some day.  But that wasn’t seem to be enough.  The budget was overshooting day by day as I was allocating funds for various things like, booking for venue, different vendors to take care of designing, printing, food and beverages, marketing, etc. etc.

But, thanks to some of my close friends (Gaurav Kumar, Harish Chandra, Ashok Maity, Raja Guha, Sanjay Debnath, Sujit Hizly, Dr Yuvraj Monga, Prakash Mishra), who helped me with much needed financial support.

And then there were people who joined me with their selfless support in realising this long-lived dream.  Aditya Srivastava, Sajal Dhir, Vatika Singh, Kunal Rajouria were among those.  Kunal who himself is into event management business, was generous to provide the sound arrangements from his side and he was the one who coordinated and took care of the refreshments and dinner.

I shall always remain thankful to all of them.

The Running Around

Many would think, especially after the show, that to organise this event I would be having a big team of about 15-20 people.  But to spill the beans, it was literally a one-man-show to do all the preparations and running around. 

Right from designing the brochures, leaflets, invites, banners, standies, backdrops; to social media marketing of this event; to finding sponsors; to gathering and coordinating with the peformers; to ensuring a sizeable crowd, to arranging venue, food, beverages; to acquiring mementos and then to do the post event activities – it was all done by yours truly. 

Hard to believe? Even I have surprised myself.  But yes, for the second edition of Instrumelodies, which I’m planning to organise in February 2025, I would surely need people to manage the show more professionally.

The D-Day

The 20th January 2024 will remain etched in my heart forever.  A long time dream of mine came true today in the shape of an event which I had been dreaming of for many years. For obvious reasons, I could not sleep properly the night before.  I was keen to reach the venue in the morning as early as possible to look over the preparations as well as to have the last-minute rehearsals with the performers who were also to reach the venue by 11 am.

My wife, Seema accompanied me in the chilly morning of January.  We were the first to reach the spot.  Then, one by one all the performers reached the venue – The Lajpat Bhawan, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi well in time.  Those who were coming from outstation also reached the venue in time.  We spent the day with much needed practice together and by the time of the event, we were all contended with it and felt confident to pull up a good show.

The Show

“INSTRUMELODIES” – the name I gave to this event eventually proved to be most appropriate as the amateur instrumental players kept on performing melodies after melodies on their variety of instruments like, Flute, Harmonica, Violin, Keyboard, Accordioin, Saxophone, Panflute, Melodica, Qanun and Guitars.  Watching so many talented musicians from as young as a 15 year old boy to a 69 year old retired man playing such variety of instrumental music under one roof in one event spanning over 3 hours was an unreal feeling of satisfaction.  All of those 16 talented musicians, most of them who never ever played in front of an audience before, had put their heart and soul in making INSTRUMELODIES an event to cherish for a long long time.

The Performances

I knew that such an event would not be boring at least but, it would be such a mega hit in its first edition itself, I never thought that in my dreams even.  The rounds of applause and chants of “once more, once more” was something every performer and the organiser dream about and, during this event, this took place multiple times. Every single person, right from the Anchors, performers, audience, support staff looked so entertained and thoroughly enjoying this musical extravagenza.

The first performance was by Raja Guha who played Raag Durga, beautifully accompanied by Sumit on Tabla and other accompanists.

Next was Arun Sharma with his flute, who played ‘Bade Acche Lagte Hain…’ and ‘Ankhon Me Teri…’ so melodiously.

Spondon Mukherjee mersmerised the audience with his emaculate command over Violin and Pan Flute.  He perhaps gathered the most number of applauds of the evening.

Sajal Dhir who was acting as an Anchor also, played ‘Tujhse Naraz Nahi…’ on his harmonica with accompanists and ‘Dil ne kaha chupke se…’ on karaoke track.  His performances were just Wow!

Gandharv Rajouria amused the audience with the impeccable command over  Accordion by playing ‘Roop tera mastana…’ and ‘O mere sona re…’.  It was hard to believe that he is into learning this instrument for only a few months. 

Jayanto Mitra beautifully played ‘Kahi door jab…’ and a Classical Raag on his Keyboard.

Jay Joshi, who flew down from Mumbai specially for this event played Raag Shivranjani on his flute accompanied by Sumit on Tabla.

Aditya Srivastava entertained the audience with his stupendous performance on harmonica by playing ‘Ajeeb Dastan hai ye…’

Apoorv Singh played an unsual instrument – Melodica quite melodiously.

Prashant Das, the eventual organiser of this show, played ‘Ye raatein ye mausam…’ and a ‘Medley of Kishore Kumar Songs’ on his flute.

The trio of Aayaam Band – Jaon, Shafeeq and Prabhat, who were touring India, performed a sweet instrumental composition oh so wonderfully.

Anil Oberai, who despite being unwell, took time out for this event and performed the Ghazal ‘Chandi jaisa rang…’ on harmonica.

Pritam Chandel, who travelled from Chandigarh for this event, entertained the house full of audience with his Western Flute and Saxophone by playing ‘Mere Khwabo me jo…’ and ‘Jane ja dhoonta fir raha…’ respectively. 

‘Surmayi Ankhio me…’ sounded divine on harmonica played by Shakti Kohli, who also came down from Chandigarh specially to participate in this show.

Naresh Sachdeva, mersmerized the audience with his impeccable playing of ‘Mana janab ne pukara nahi…’ on harmonica.

And, as the final performance of the evening, Sajal Dhir and Prashant Das played a duet ‘Hum dono do premi…’ on their harmonica and flute.

Here are few clips of the performances:

The Performers

Even if they were not professionals, I never had a doubt on their capabilities to bind a spell on the audience with their instrumental music.  If the rounds of appaluds were any indication, then the audience were awestruck with the melodies they produced on stage. 

Here is a brief introduction of stars of the evening:   

raja guhaRAJA GUHA – SELF-TAUGHT FLUTIST

He has learnt Hindustani Classical Music under Pt. Akhil Kumar Das of Gandharv Vishwavidyalaya. However, he developed a passion for playing the flute only recently. He now expresses his knowledge of classical music through the Bansuri which he has learnt all by himself.  Occupation:  He takes care of the distribution division of The Time Of India newspaper.

Arun SharmaARUN SHARMA – SELF-TAUGHT INSTRUMENTALIST

Passionate about music since his college days, he can play multiple musical instruments like, Flute, Harmonica, Keyboard and Melodica. His first instrument was Hawaiian Guitar that gave him the understanding of Swaras. Later on, he honed up his skills on Flute and Harmonica. And yes, he also has one more hidden talent which we will all find out later in this show! Moto: “I enjoy the music to heal myself and it gives me freshness and energy.  I may join a music group after my retirement.” Occupation: He is working as a Graphic Designer in a MNC.

gandharvGANDHARV RAJOURIA – SELF-TAUGHT ACCORDION PLAYER

All of 14 years of age, studying in class 9th. 

Learning to play Accordion for the last 6 months by himself with the help of Youtube. He plays Keyboards, Piano, Melodica, Guitar and sings well too. A dedicated music lover who is God gifted.

jayanto mitra

JAYANTO MITRA – KEYBOARD PLAYER

A Sangeet Prabhakar from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, Prayagraj. Has been learning Hindustani classical music under Gurus like, Pt. Gajraj, Pt. Ranjit Kumar and Pt. Akhil Kr Das.  Besides being an astute Harmonium and Synthesizer player, he can also sing Ghazals, Thumri, Dadra, Rabindra sangeet, Bengali-pop, folk and Hindi film songs.

jauy joshiJAY JOSHI – SELF-TAUGHT FLUTIST

He was into heavy metal music until one day when he saw Rakesh Chaurasiya ji playing flute. He was mesmerized. And then started learning the Flute on his own. He has been practicing for almost 2.5 years now.   Occupation – He is into Market Research for healthcare and life science sectors.

aditya srivastavaADITYA SRIVASTAVA – HARMONICA PLAYER

Musical Journey: Learnt harmonica as a teen and then unlearnt and learnt afresh everything 6 years ago with Harmonica wizard Sri. Ashok Bhandari.  Motto:  In search of a perfect tone and expressions through harmonica. Occupation: Working as a pre-sales consultant with an IT services company.

apoorv singhAPOORV SINGH – SELF-TAUGHT MELODICA PLAYER

He has no formal training in Music. Started playing Mouthorgan as a self-learner around 10 years ago. Picked up Melodica just a year ago. Got inspiration & help from Notes & Sargam Website since the beginning of self-training & practice.

sajal dhirSAJAL DHIR – SELF-TAUGHT HARMONICA PLAYER

He used to fiddle with the keyboard and harmonica during his school days. Played Harmonica in college functions occasionally. However, his turning point was during lockdown wherein his dormant skill of understanding and playing harmonica along with the backtracks of film songs was given time and commitment to hone his dormant talent. He is self learnt – he is his own coach to play the instrument. According to him “Practice, Riyaaz is not the key for success as an instrument player, but CORRECT Practice and Riyaaz is..!!”  Professionally he is an independent consultant into Corporate Training and Executive Coaching.

Prashant DasPRASHANT DAS – SELF-TAUGHT FLUTE PLAYER

Yours truly is a self-taught flutist and an astute music lover.  As the founder of notesandsargam.com, he has seamlessly blended his passion for the flute with a dedication to promoting musical education. Through his online platform, notesandsargam.com, Prashant motivates aspiring musicians to learn musical instruments. The website is one of the richest on the internet in terms of the quantity and quality of notations of nearly 600 songs and tunes.  Occupation : Management and Digital Marketing Consultant, Caricature Artist, Graphic Designer, Web Developer.

spondon MUKHERJEESPONDON MUKHERJEE – MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST

He is 16 years of age, belongs to a small town Raniganj, West Bengal. 

He can play multiple Musical instruments like Violin, Harmonica, Flute, Panflute, Mandolin, Piano etc. etc. 

He achieved many awards, like Twice state championship, twice national championships, awarded the titles as Gandharv Pragya and Vadya Bhushan. 

Also India book of records holder by performing 52 duet songs with 27 different ladies all over India at the age of 14+.

ayaam BANDAAYAAM BAND

Sometimes we think that everything we need or want is far away from us but one of the great advantages living in the 21st century is that you can find everything in the same city: the Indian classical Tabla of Prabhat Das, the innovative Qanun of Shafeeq Alsadi and the traditional and Flamenco Guitar of Joan met in Göteborg. They came together to create a new musical dimension. Their performance is based on a mixture of traditional tunes and improvisation.

anil OBERAIANIL OBERAI – HARMONICA PLAYER

He began by Singing Mukesh and Hemant Kumar songs and playing Harmonica during school and college days. He was a regular performer on All India Radio Yuv Vani and once on Doordarshan too. His current passions are Singing and playing Harmonica and organizing events in Auditoriums with his group of singers and musicians. He has won a number of District and Corporate awards and hearts of people with a variety of performances.

Professionally he has 3 decades experience in the IT Sector. followed by IT Consultancy for clients in Telecom, BPO, Corporate MNCs.

pritam CHANDELPRITAM CHANDEL – SAXOPHONE / WESTERN FLUTE/ HARMONICA/ FLUTE PLAYER

He used to play Harmonica during his college days and again started playing in 2015 just before his retirement from SBI Head office Chandigarh as an Officer in 2016. Started playing flute casually in 2005  and did M A (Music) Instrumental Flute from HP University, Simla in 2011. Has been learning & playing Western Flute and Saxophone since 2019. Now music has become his passion.

naresh SACHDEVANARESH SACHDEVA – HARMONICA PLAYER

He’s been playing Harmonica and Spanish guitar since the 80’s.

Message is..संगीत मनोरंजन का शुद्धतम रूप है क्योंकि ये हर प्रकार से दोषरहित है. संगीत आत्मिक आनंद है जिसका सम्बंध सीधा परमात्मा से है

Currently.. working as Advisor to NTPC after superannuating from there as General Manager in 2021.

shakti KOHLISHAKTI KOHLI – SELF-TAUGHT HARMONICA PLAYER

Hails from Chandigarh, got retired from Venkys India Ltd wayback in 2014, since then he is pursuing his dormant passion of playing the Harmonica. Considers himself as an amateur who is striving to strike the right chords on harp. He feels great to be connected again with this wonderful and amazing instrument.

Motto is to  spread and revive the charm of our vanishing art.. the pocket sized orchestra called “Harmonica”.

The Accompanists

Initially I had thought of asking all the instrumentalists to either perform without any accompaniment or at the best, with karaoke tracks.  But later, when Aditya told me that he knows some of his friends who might be interested to accompany the artists, I thought it would be a great value addition to the show.  I can’t thank enough Aditya for his contribution.

As accompanists, we found some really wonderful musicians who were selfless and too generous to perform along the instrumentalists on the stage, without any expectations.  They were always the first ones to be available for our rehearsals. During the event, their background support to the performing artists elevated the show to a next level.  Let me introduce them to you:

Dr Mridusmita Mandal - Synthesizer DR. MRIDUSMITA MANDAL – KEYBOARD PLAYER[/caption]

She is a qualified Anesthesiologist who started learning music just as a hobby, but with her Guruji Smt Aparna Goswami ji’s encouragement and blessings she completed her Visharad in Hindustani Vocals. She also enjoys dancing and playing guitar and keyboards as accompaniment.

Her Moto – “It’s never too late, so don’t hesitate”

Pankaj Sharma PANKAJ SHARMA – RHYTHM GUITAR PLAYER

He was a DJ with Taj Palace hotel and is now associated with a lot of groups and bands. 

Moto: “Stop being buzzy, get productive” 

Occupation: CEO of a US base solar company.

amit varshney AMIT VARSHNEY – DJEMBE / CLAPBOX PLAYER

As a percussionist, he used to play Kongo with the School orchestra. Restarted exploring his interest again in 2019 now with Djembe. However, With family and work responsibilities it is sometimes not easy to take out time for hobbies

Follow your passion.. do what makes you happy 

Professionally: Sr. Project Manager with Genpact and also a certified Yoga Professional.

sarvesh SARVESH MEHROTRA – SELF-TAUGHT GUITAR PLAYER

He is Self-taught guitarist and singer. Picked up the guitar in engineering college, and played and sang as a hobby for many years. Started taking music more seriously in 2018, when he started to learn Hindustani classical music, and started performing publicly and professionally. 

Occupation – Digital Marketing & Branding Consultant

Message for music lovers – Surrendering to the power of music is the best way to enjoy it!

Sumit Dhaundiyal - Tabla SUMIT DHAUNDIYAL – TABLA PLAYER

Sumit a young 22 year-old, is still into his initial pahses of learning Tabla.  I was quite skeptical about him as he missed both the rehearsals before event.  But, when he showed up on the morning of the event and rehearsed along Raja and Spondon to accompany them in their Classical performances, all doubts were cleared and he literally stole the show with his fantastic finger movements on Tabla. 

The Anchors

Success of any event depends a lot on the ability to keep the audience engaged throughout.  And this challenging task was well done by our two chirpy, jovial, eloquent anchors – Vatika Singh and Sajal Dhir.  Just like our performers, most of whom never performed before an audience, these two anchors also took their maiden chance to show how to conduct an event. 

Vatika being a trained classical vocalist was always keen to take up this opportunity to anchor a musical show like this.  Her musical knowledge, stage presence and public speaking skills were apparent during the event and not for a single moment anyone felt that its for the first time she is doing this job.  Well done Vatika!

On the other hand, Sajal Dhir who happened to be one of the instrumentalists also during the show, was keen to host this show, and how!  His humour and sense of comic timing in between the performances added a special touch to the event and the audience seemed to be thorougly enjoying every bit of it.  By the way, it was Sajal’s – life coach and corporate trainer – maiden appearance as an anchor, as well.

In The End...

And then finally, a much appreciated, one-of-its-kind, instrumental music event came to an end under the thunderous applauds of the audience.   Each perfomer was handed over a token of appreciation in a bag containing a ‘Bansuri’ and a ‘Shawl’ .  The accompnists were handed over live plants and earpods in a bag for their selfless yet enthusiatic support to this event. The sponsors were also given live plants for their much needed support.

The 240-seater auditorium was filled with over 150 music loving audience. Surprisingly some of them came all the way from outstations, like H R Joshi, a businessman and a flutist, who came from Pune. This attendance was beyond my imagination. Everyone was overwhelmed to witness this evening filled with remarkable performances by amateur musicians.

The day was concluded with a group photograh followed by a sumptous dinner.

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2 Responses

  1. Not very fantastic as you have just missed about many others whom I might know of, and I will publish their list if I meet any of them later

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