A hush descends on the audience in the darkened hall as Madhup Mudgal begins his sonorous recital. Clear as a bell the melodious, mellifluous notes pierce the hearts of listeners, fuse them all into one, bind them into a spiritual, blissful, soul-entrancing and elevating experience. That is the magical effect of Madhup Mudgal, classical Hindustani singer extraordinaire.
Kumar Gandharva, the legendary Hindustani Classical singer would be more than proud of Madhup Mudgal, his disciple. As would Pandit Vasant Thakar, Pandit Jasraj and his father, Professor Vinay Chandra Maudgalya, a renowned musician of the Gwalior Gharana. If these four got Madhup started on the road, Kumar Gandharva gave polish to his talents. Madhup is today unequivocally acclaimed for his magical, soul entrancing renditions of khayals and ragas with a spiritual hue. The Padma Shri award he received can only give part recognition to this musical genius.
Steeped in music since his childhood days when the likes of the great Pandit Omkarnath Thakur and Ali Akbar Khan could be conducting sangeet sabhas at home, Mudgal needed no introduction to classical music; it coursed in his veins. He completed his schooling in Modern School in New Delhi and went on to gain a Masters and then an M.Phil in music from the University of Delhi, focusing on khayal. He went on to become principal of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, a music school founded by his eminent father. He is the chief conductor of the Gandharva choir, a music group famed for innovative compositions in Indian classical music. At the same time he composes music for the Odissi dance productions of his sister, Madhavi Mudgal. Music, for Madhup, is not an art or a profession; it is life itself.
Whether it is Nirgun bhajans or the more involving Sagun style, his passionate renderings based on pure ragas can be intensely moving. Only Madhup can fuse ragas and devotion in a way to stir heart strings and evoke entrancing spirituality. Over the years he has recorded a number of classical ragas, thumris, khayals and devotional compositions with a rare virtuosity, balancing tradition and innovation with a fine sensitivity. Despite the lofty heights and global recognition, Madhup remains, essentially an earthy person. His vision is to pass on the rich legacy of Hindustani classical music to future generations through Gandharva Mahavidyalaya.
When Madhup Mudgal performed at the Ramakrishna Mission in January 2012, the audience was left spellbound by his golden, honeyed voice, as were audiences across the world in his innumerable performances. He leaves you replete, yet wanting more.
Ben Johnson said of Shakespeare that he -was not of an age, but for all time-. We can say the same for Madhup Mudgal. His music is eternal.
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