Arun Moroney: Gliding on Strings

By Tuhinanshu




Music and sublimity go together. Music and obsession too are a likely pair. In India, simplicity scores higher than any other quality that accompanies practice of classical music. Probably because the daunting complexity of art humbles the man. Heredity is a strong contender, but often it is environment that flowers a musician. When Arun first opened his eyes in 1964, it was in a musical family. Father, Gopal Rao Moroney was on the path of being a vocalist of renown. He had mastered the Gwalior vocal style under mentor, S.B. Deshpande of Jabalpur. Crooning to his son, he could wait no longer and started training Arun when he was five.

As young Arun underwent rigors of vocal training, his mind would be filled with deep sonorous notes of melodies. He wondered how would it be to play Sitar, but could find no one in whom he could confide. Even though it was never discussed, he had gathered an impression that his father preferred singing to playing an instrument. Arun was 11 when this topic came out in open. He was surprised to learn that his father wanted him to go for an instrument. It was eventually settled that he should learn Sitar with Shri V.R. Ashtwale. Arun was happy. His education with Shri Ashtwale till 1989. The melodies he had practiced as a singer were now within reach on Sitar.

Padmashree Ustad Allauddin Khan was enchanted with music and so traveled from doorsteps of one Guru to eaves of the other. Arun too was fortunate in finding a Guru to further his flight. His Guru, Shri Asthwale informed him one day that now time to move on had come. Through his efforts, younger brother of Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar -- doyen of Rudraveena -- Ustad Fariduddin Dagar, himself a celebrated Dhrupadist accepted Arun as his disciple. The discipline of Dhrupad greatly influenced the way he developed a raga. One part vocalist from his initial training, he now followed a strong Gayaki model.

Trying to bring about a blending of man-made and god-given veena he was on constant lookout for someone who could take him to next step. There was just one logical answer. Pandit Bimalendu Mukherjee. Of the three dominant styles of string, Imdadkhani Gharana is nearst to singing. Not because of Imdad Khan or Inayat Khan Sahib, who perfected the string style but because of Ustad Vilayat Khan who quite like Arun had inherited instincts of a vocalist. A Sitarist of this school, Pt. Bimalendu Mukherjee has trained a number of illustrous sitarists of this generation. And quite like several of them Arun too had intersts other than music. A commerce graduate he did his masters in English literature and it was only later that he opted for another masters in music from Indira Kala Music university, Khairagarh. But Pt. Mukherjee did not accept him readily. Though he was satisfied with Arubn's talents, he asked the pupil to get permission from his earlier Guru. Ustad Fariduddin Dagar on hearing this looked piercingly at Arun and when the anxious boy became nervous burst out in a guffaw. He said that in striving to learn with Pt. Bimalendu Mukherjee Arun had shown good judgement and so deserves the permission. Later Ustad talked with Pt. Mukherje and settled so that Arun's Sitar-learning could go on.

The training was perfect. The spirit was keen. The rewards were natural to follow. Arun Moroney was placed in 'A' grade by Music Audition Board of All India Radio. His performances have been recorded by various centres of AIR and stations of Doordarshan to be broadcast on regional and national channels. He gave performances at Viajaywada and Hyderabd in 1989 and since then he has performed on all prestigious stages of the country. His performance delighted audience at Gwalior in 1991 (Raja Bhaiya Poochhwale Samaroh) and in 1996 and 2005 (Tansen Samaroh), at Bhopal in 1993 and 2003 (Bharat Bhawan), at Datiya in 2003, Dewas in 2002, Ujjain in 2004. Doordarshan first telecast a national programme of his Sitar recital in 2004 Arun's recital of Miyan ki Todi was widely appreciated. His national broadcast on All india Radio in October 2006 included Yaman, Jhinjhoti and Piloo. His repertoire includes Puriya, Puriya Kalyan, Yaman, Bageshri, Jhinjhoti etc.

Arun recalls an insatnce. It was Chakradhar Samaroh at Bhopal. When he and Pravin Shivalikar sat down for a Juagalbandi on Sitar and Violin it was almost 11:30 in night. They had been accorded about hour and half as other artistes. But when they had finished the first Raga, the audience did not allow them to step down. They played a second one, but still could not escape. At three a.m. the star of the evening danseuse Swapna Sundari stepped on to the stage and informed the audience that she won't be presenting her dance as scheduled as it was almost morning; she would present it later in the evening. Arun and Pravin still were not excused. So they started Bhairavi and rounded off the programme at 4:30 in the morning.

It was inevitable. Learning at the feet of several illustrous teachers, Arun was destined to teach. Presently at Govt. Music College Indore, Arun finds his job conducive to his passion.

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In My View -- Musicians speak of Music.

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