An evening in Tata Theatre with Rustom Karwa and “Harmoni-Kats”

On 29th June, I received an Invitation from “Harmonica genius” Shri Rustom Karwa to attend B.P.FESTIVAL CONCERT which was organised by ‘National centre for the performing Arts” in cooperation with B.P.Charitable Trust (in aid of Music education & Musician’s Welfare)

to celebrate Independence day and Parsi new year. Shri Rustom Karwa was going to perform some complex pieces of Western numbers on harmonica. As a harmonica lover, I could’nt afford to miss this wonderful opportunity. So, I was there as his guest for this concert on Sunday, August 15th 2010 at 6.30 p.m. in Tata Theatre, located at Marine Drive, Mumbai. It is the one of the most prestigious auditoriums of India with 2000 seating capacity.

As soon as I reached the theatre at 6pm, Rustom Ji’s family members received me, handed over the ticket for the show which was booked in advance by Rustom Karwa ji for me. We entered the hall by 6.15pm. The theatre ambience and stage arrangements were beyond my expectations. Thanks to Rustom ji-he arranged me the seat at exactly middle of the theatre along with his family members. He is not only a harmonica genius but a man of good heart. I would like to share some information about this legendary harmonica player with people who do not know much about him.

Shri Rustom Karwa was addicted to music at the age 14 years.He learnt to play harmonica and reading/writing music from a blind teacher-Shri Behram Irani. Since 1965 he is a regular broadcaster over AIR and has played for Bollywood under top music directors like Laxmikant Pyarelal. He contested for All India Bank competitions representing The Central Bank of India and secured first prize in ten successive competitions. He also teaches keyboard, guitar and theory of Music for the Trinity College, London.

More information on Rustom Karwa can be read in the link given below.


The programme started by 6.30 pm with our national anthem Janaganamana, followed by mind blowing musical performances which included my most awaited item- performance on the harmonica by our own Rustom Karwa. He played two songs as a soloist- Hora staccato and La Cumparsita.

Hora staccato (1906) is a virtuoso violin showpiece by Grigoraş Dinicu. It is a short, fast work in a Romanian dance style, and has become a favorite encore of violinists, especially in the 1932 arrangement by Jascha Heifetz. The piece requires an exceptional command of both upbow and downbow staccato. The character of the piece also demands the notes be articulated in a crisp and clear manner so that the vibrancy of music comes out.

La Cumparsita is a musical piece written by Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, an Uruguayan musician, in 1917. It is among the most famous and recognizable tango songs of all time. The title translates as "The little parade" and the original lyrics begin: "The little parade of endless miseries..." It was composed in the music room of Club Nacional de Football, and played for the first time in Confiteria La Giralda, a cafeteria located where the Palacio Salvo now stands in downtown Montevideo.The song was used in Orson Welles 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds (radio).Adolf Wege and his orchestra recorded it in Berlin on January 30, 1948. In the Olympic Games of Sydney 2000, the Argentine team marched to "La Cumparsita". This originated protests and official claims from the Uruguayan government. La Cumparsita is very popular at Milongas.

As you are aware both are very difficult numbers and tough to play on the harmonica, our Rustom Karwa rendered these numbers effortlessly with ease.As you are aware both are very difficult numbers and tough to play on the harmonica,I’m uploading both original and Rustom ji’s harmonica piece for your enjoyment. Please bear with the poor video quality as these were shot by my mobile.


Meeting with Harmoni-Kats

Most of us not aware of this Indian harmonica Duo called Harmoni-Kats who are Mr Sarosh Sanjana and Darius Engineer. Sarosh Sanjana a post graduate in Nuclear physics and retired as Chief Marketing Manager from TATA SSL has been playing harmonica since late 1950’s. Darius Engineer a graduate in Physics and MBA from Bajaj Institute of Management, currently the Hon.Secretary for Indian Acadamy of Model Aeronautics, Mumbai has been playing the harmonica since late 1960’s.

Both learnt to play harmonica under the legendary harmonica player of India-Late Shri Phiroze Damri at St.Xavier’s High School, Mumbai. They took part of in many music shows and competitions. Both have formed as a duo called Harmoni-Kats which performs at select musical shows. They are regular contributors for at the shows organized by B.P.Salon orchestra. At this show Harmoni-Kats performed a medley of Ten songs and it was a quiz for the audience. The person who recognized the maximum number of songs was adjudged the winner of this quiz. I could recognize 9 songs but had not participated in the quiz because the answers had to be filled up behind the ticket and submitted to the jury but it is my interest to preserve all the concerts tickets which I attend. J Harmoni-Kats further rendered two numbers- Hava Nagila,Spanish Gypsy Dance which received standing ovation from the audience.

HaLoH conveys its fond regards to Shri Rustom Karwa and the Harmoni-Kats.


Music has no boundaries

If you are a harmonica lover,And regular visitor to YouTube then you must have listened to the renditions of a person with the ID-zafarsgallery”. Most of us wonder who this mesmerizing harmonica player is? Today, we are publishing about Mr Zafar Ahmad, from Lahore Pakistan in his own words…

HARMONICA --- The magical instrument.

The chromatic harmonica (commonly known in our world as the " Button wala Baja") is perhaps the world's smallest complete musical intrument. Difficult to play because you cannot see the notes, you only play them with the feel of your mouth position. Whereas, playing simple songs can be learnt comparatively easily, songs with a classical touch and much use of the slide are quite complicated. Being a reed instrument, creating the "meend" and "murkani" needs much practice and skill.

I started playing a simple mouth organ (not a chromatic one) at the age of ten. It took me a few months to play the simple song "lara lappa lara lappa laaee rakhda". I have played harmonica for more than 50 years, and the magic of it has not diminished, in fact, its still on the rise. To advance my skill in playing, I also learnt to customise my harmonicas so that they are better tuned, are more airtight and have a better tone. To be able to play minor and subtle notes and "murkanis" I have also had training in basic classical singing. The most difficult songs are the most challenging for me. Playing songs like "Mohe bhool gaye saanwaria", "Rasik balama" and "Jyoti kalash chhalke" give me great pleasure. In fact, most of the old indian songs are my favourites. I have a small recording setup in my home where I make most of the song tracks. I use keyboard , acoutic tabla, dholak, violin and flute usually.

Though music is my passion, I am a professional photographer specialising in landscape, portrait and promotional photography. I also run a printing press wherein I print calendars (based on my photography) for my various clients.

I am based in Lahore.

(Associate of the Royal Photographic Society of Britain).


HaLoH thanks Mr Zafar Ahmad for giving this opportunity to introduce him to all the harmonica lovers who visit this blog.

Guzar jaye din-Arijit Mukherji