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The Telegraph / Children of the Rainbow [ 27 Jun 2003 ]

Harmony was in the air on June 21 when Spandan presented Rabindrasangeet singer Pramita Mallick with soprano Lee-Alison Sibley at G.D. Birla Sabhaghar. Though hyped as "When East Meets West", it was not meant to be a serious affair as Mallick affirmed ("Relax and enjoy yourself") at the outset.

One can't expect Sibley to deliver Adhara madhuri dharechhi in true "Tagorean" fashion, but when a full-bodied soprano renders a Tagore song from Scottish ballad (Phule Phule dhale dhale) the twain do meet. Sibley has got an impeccable voice and always gives her utmost to each song. This while singing Pran chay chakshu na chay, she moved along gracefully with the galloping rhythm, never missing a beat, flashing her smile all through her whole-hearted performance. Mallick was in full throttle in Jado tor dak shune keu na ase. The duo was accompanied by members of Calcutta Foundation Orchestra. Taken together, Ami chini go chini was a rendering experience.

The second half featured songs of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Our fondness of Seeger dates back to the hoary days of Leftist politics. Therefore it was no wonder that Mallick gave a passionate rendition of If I had a hammer. As she joined Sibley in This land is your land, Guthrie's Depression ballad, the singers made some changes in the second chorus by Indianising the American place names. It worked wonders. Although a reserved audience was hesitant when the singers invited them sing along with Guantanamera, otherwise a favourite with Calcuttans, they responded to We shall overcome with Sibley singing its Bangla version and Mallick rounding off with the Hindi one. We may be Indians, Pakistanis or Americans, but there is no denying the humanitarian manifesto of Seeger's My Rainbow Race.