Kale concert

Mahesh Kale performing at the Flint Center Sept. 16, accompanied by renowned musicians from India and the Bay Area. (photo provided)

CUPERTINO, Calif. — The Indian Classical Music Art Foundation held the “Mahesh Kale Sur Nirgas Ho Pure Soulful Transcendent” concert Sept. 16 at the Flint Center here, described by vocalist Kale as a big homecoming party.

Kale, the founder of ICMA, is a recipient of the prestigious National Film Award. This was his first hometown concert since receiving the award and was hence described as “a celebration of music” by Vidhya, an Indian American volunteer with the foundation.

“Mahesh Kale’s concerts are a complete package with music, art and food,” she noted.

Before the concert started, local community artists showcased their paintings at an outdoor exhibition.

For Debabani Banerjee, an artist who is new to the San Francisco Bay Area, this was a perfect place to showcase her art. “This is a good place to meet people who also love art.” Banerjee told India-West.

Food for the event was being sold by local restaurants such as Inchin Bamboo Garden, Chaat Bhavan and Peacock Restaurant.

The expectations and excitement of the concert was palpable in the auditorium, which was packed to capacity; among the guests was Consul General of India Ashok Venkatesan. Priya, a volunteer of ICMA, came from New Jersey just to be a part of it. Ashwini Bhave, an Indian model and actress, told India-West that she had a long association with Kale: “I am a part of the ICMA and a connoisseur of classical music.”

Sonali, a resident of Fremont, Calif., had come because she found Kale’s music soulful. Whereas Vidya, also of Fremont, had come to experience the magic her family had experienced in June, when Kale had teamed up with George Brooks for a concert at the Stanford Jazz Festival.

Prachi of Sunnyvale, Calif., told India-West, “Just to hear him sing is so inspiring. I’m expecting a journey into Indian classical music. There’ll be something for everyone from kids to the elderly.”

And Kale did not disappoint. Accompanied by renowned and talented instrumentalists from India, Kale performed a blend of different genres. He showed his wide range by performing compositions from the traditional Rag Shuddha Kalyan, Carnatic music, to a medley of old English favorites like Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” and Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling,” to Bollywood medleys and devotional songs like “Ganpati Bappa Morya.”

After the half-hour interval in the two-hour show, Kale brought the house down with Sufi music. The audience could not help themselves but join in with songs like “Mera Piya Ghar Aaya,” “Ankhiyan udeek diya” and “Dum a Dum Mast Kalandar.”

Kale kept the concert light with humorous snippets with the audience. Being a technologically astute foundation, Kale had parts of the concert go live on Facebook. He got a standing ovation at the end of the night for the classical piece from the film “Katyar Kaljat Ghusli,” which won him the prestigious National Film Award.

When asked by India-West where he saw his ICMA Foundation 10 years from now, Kale said, “As long as people search for happiness in different ways, I see my foundation going really long, because if you are in the business of spreading happiness through the arts, art mimics life just as life mimics art.”

“So traditional arts have been around because they have something valuable to add and when you know you have stumbled on something of value, you want to spread it,” Kale said. 

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