Master returns to Auckland with his Veena invention

Ratna Venkat

Over the past few years, Auckland-based band ‘Sargam Fusion’ has created waves (and ruffled a few feathers) in the New Zealand entertainment scene for its unusual fusions in music and dance.

Following the successful performance with internationally-renowned Flute Maestro Rakesh Chaurasia in June last year, the band members are gearing up for their upcoming collaboration next month with another world-renowned Maestro of a different instrument – Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and his customised version of the Hawaiian Slide Guitar known as ‘Mohana Veena,’ the instrument which takes his middle name.

Upcoming Concert

Organised and presented by ‘Old Fort Bar & Eatery,’ ‘Sargam Fusion with Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt,’ is scheduled to be held on Friday, July 7 at Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, 16 Howe Street in Newton, Auckland.

The programme will commence at 730 pm and is expected to finish by 10 pm.

Beyond Borders

While its slogan, “Creating Music, Connecting Cultures” has been apparent in a number of its music and dance concerts, the band has also been known to collaborate with artistes of international repute, thereby bringing global talent to New Zealand, and simultaneously exposing New Zealand’s talent globally.

The forthcoming two-and-a-half hour programme will feature Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s Mohana Veena recital, followed by Sargam Fusion’s performance, with a 15-minute Intermission.

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt

Celebrated disciple of late Sitar Maestro Pt Ravi Shankar, Vishwa Mohan’s musical lineage can be traced back to acclaimed court musician Tansen and his Guru, the Hindu Mystic Swami Haridas, both of whom were prominent figures during the reign of Emperor Akbar in Mughal India.

However, Vishwa Mohan’s rise to fame was his successful ‘Indianisation’ of the Western Hawaiian Slide Guitar with his innovative incorporation of Sitar, Sarod and Veena instrumental techniques.

Mohana Veena

The transition from Western Hawaiian Guitar to ‘Eastern Mohana Veena,’ is itself a perfect assimilation of Western and Eastern cultures.

By restructuring the Guitar’s shape and design, and adding 14 extra strings, Vishwa Mohan enabled the birth of his creation, the Mohana Veena, and like all proud parents, promoted and spread his ‘musical child’ across many parts of the world.

Due to this West-East transition, Vishwa Mohan has come to be recognised as one of the world’s most expressive Slide Guitar players, winning him numerous accolades and awards.

Among the most significant Awards and honours include the Grammy Award (1994), the Sangeet Natak Academy (1999), Padma Shri (2002), and Padma Bhushan, the last of which was conferred by the Indian government on Republic Day (January 26, 2017).

Indian or World Music?

Most people find it surprising to know the versatility of Indian Classical Music, and many often wonder where ‘Fusion’ (or World music for that matter), fits within the ‘Classicalism’ of Indian art and culture.

The fact is that throughout history, it was natural for traditional Indian music and its instruments to undergo many changes.

Western musical instruments such as Harmonium, Violin, Saxophone, Mandolin and Electric Guitar have been accepted in the two disciplines of Indian Classical Music: Carnatic in the South, and Hindustani in the North.

The immense range of ‘ragas’ or scales found in both music traditions has welcomed and thus permitted a variety of sounds and tones coming from the West.

Hence, Vishwa Mohan’s development of the hybrid Slide Guitar is seen as an addition to the already established list of adaptive instruments in Indian Classical Music.

Awaited Programme

Vishwa Mohan’s commendable contribution to Indian classical music and world music have prompted New Zealand audiences to look forward to his presence again after his last tour of New Zealand in 2013.

Further information about his invention, the ‘Mohana Veena’ and Sargam Fusion band members will appear in our next issue dated June 15, 2017.

Tickets to the ‘Sargam Fusion with Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt,’ priced at $60, $40 and $25 are available at Old Fort Bar & Eatery and Sargam School of Indian Music (419 Blockhouse Bay Road, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland).


What: Sargam Fusion with Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt – An evening of Indian Classical and Fusion Music
When: Friday, July 7 at 730 pm
By: Old Fort Bar & Eatery
Where: Dorothy Winstone Centre,

Auckland Girls’ Grammar School,

16 Howe Street, Newton, Auckland.

Tickets: VIP – $60, ‘A’ Reserve – $40, ‘B’ Reserve – $25
Contact: Basant Madhur

Ph: 021 035 7954



Photo Caption:

  1. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt with his divine creation, ‘Mohana Veena’
  2. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt with Tabla masters Basant Madhur (left) and Avirbhav Verma in Auckland on October 13, 2013

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