Mehfil promises uncommon collaboration

Ratna Venkat – 

In the old days in the Indian subcontinent, it was the norm for music and dance enthusiasts to host programmes catered to small audience numbers to bring the performer and the spectator closer.

Known as ‘Mehfil,’ an Urdu word meaning ‘intimate gathering,’ such programmes are rare nowadays.

‘Bigger the better,’ in terms of audience turnout is in vogue today.

Mughal Tradition

However, people like such as Auckland-based musician and Sarod exponent Chinmaya Dunster are committed to keeping this age-old Mughal tradition alive in this part of the world, through his efforts in regularly hosting the ‘Auckland Mehfil’ concerts.

Auckland Mehfil

This year’s ‘14th Auckland Mehfil’ is scheduled to be held on Saturday, February 18 at 7 pm at Blockhouse Bay Boat Club, 91 Endeavour Street in Blockhouse Bay.

Tickets priced at $20 per person (free for children under 16 years) are currently on sale.

‘Auckland Mehfil’ has grown in popularity amongst all ethnicities and is known for providing equal exposure for traditional and fusion performances in a relaxed setting, as well as some uncommon collaborations in world music.

“Each Mehfil programme goes a step further than the previous one, and this makes our audience anxious of what to expect each time,” Chinmaya told Indian Newslink.

Fusion Delight

Like its forerunners, the ‘14th Auckland Mehfil’ promises to be an eventful evening of Jugalbandi and Fusion, with performances by Chinmaya on Sarod, Shastro on Flute, ‘Tabla Beat Science’ and ‘Sargam Fusion’ band including dance by this writer.

Chinmaya Dunster

Originally from Kent in England, Chinmaya attended Art College in Canterbury, simultaneously evincing interest in music by pursuing an independent study of classical guitar and composition.

His acquaintance with North Indian Classical music and instrumentation first occurred during his travels through Afghanistan and Northern India.

After attending the concert of Sarod Maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan in the Indian Capital of New Delhi, Chinmaya became engrossed in this unique instrument and spent the next 13 years learning Sarod in India and London.

In London, he became a disciple of Ustad Gurdev Singh and after moving to Pune in Maharashtra, he studied for six years under the guidance of Pandit Shekhar Borkar.

During this time, Chinmaya travelled to various countries in Europe and Asia, performing and collaborating with musicians and recorded several CDs.

Celtic Ragas

His band ‘Celtic Ragas’ is known for combining elements of Celtic and Hindustani music, which caught the attention of former Beatles’ Member (Sir) Paul McCartney, who invited Chinmaya and his band to perform at his wedding with Heather Mills in Ireland in 2002.

Chinmaya currently lives in Auckland with his partner Naveena Goffer and daughter Koyal.


Born in Italy, Shastro is described as a ‘New-Age musician’, specialising in ethnic instruments such as Spanish Guitar, African Kora Harp, Clarinet, Native American Flutes and the Indian instruments of Bansuri Flute and Dilruba.

His unique musical style of ‘relaxed world music’ was a result of his frequent visits to various countries, namely Spain, Turkey, India and parts of Africa and South America.

These journeys, led by Shastro’s own spiritual search, enabled him to experience meditation in India and creating music for various meditation techniques.

He is known for playing with ease, integrating his ancient musical instruments into a contemporary environment.

Shastro lives between United States of America, Italy and India and is President of a record label company that he formed in 1997.

Information about ‘Tabla Beat Science’ and ‘Sargam Fusion’ band will appear in our next (February 15, 2017) issue.


What:‘14th Auckland Mehfil’ – An evening of Jugalbandi and Fusion
When:Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 7 pm
Where:Blockhouse Bay Boat Club,

91 Endeavour Street, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland

How:Tickets ($20 each) available at the venue

Children under 16: Free

Contact:Chinmaya Dunster


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