Kolkata: Tabla virtuoso Pt Subhankar Banerjee loses Covid battle – Times of India

Kolkata News
KOLKATA: Pt Subhankar Banerjee, who accompanied several top artists in the country, besides being one of the most expressive tabla soloists, passed away on Wednesday ending a two-month-long battle following his Covid-19 infection. The tabla virtuoso, 55, is survived by wife Nibedita, daughter Aahiri and son Aarchik. Despite being double-vaccinated, Banerjee got infected in June.
According to the statement from Medica Superspeciality Hospital, where he was transferred on July 2 with ECMO support, “He was suffering from severe Covid ARDS with septic shock. He subsequently developed right sided broncho-pleural fistula and thus prolonged ECMO was required. Later, he developed post-Covid complications and acute renal failure.”

A few days before his demise, his musician friends including Pt Tejendra Narayan Majumdar, Pt Ajoy Chakraborty, Ustad Rashid Khan, Pt Kushal Das, Pt Bickram Ghosh, Pt Tanmoy Bose and Pt Debojyoti Bose visited him at the nursing home. “While listening to a 20-year-old recording of a concert of ours, Subhankar could recognise which one was being played.
His path-breaking style inspired not just his tabla students but also young instrumentalists and those who took talim elsewhere. On Thursday morning, his mortal remains will be taken to his residence before being kept at the West Bengal State Music Academy’s premises for people to pay their last respect,” Majumdar said.
One of the busiest accompanists, Banerjee had the rare privilege of being witness to Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia flying down to Kolkata to play for a concert organised to celebrate his 50th birthday. Banerjee would fondly recall how Ustad Zakir Hussain had introduced him at a concert in his father’s memory saying: “People say that I am the best tabla player in the world. But that’s not true. I am among the 15 good tabla players in the world. Subhankar is also one among them.” In January 2020, the maestro had performed a solo concert in Kolkata in the memory of his mother and mentor Kajalrekha Banerjee.
Banerjee had started taking music lessons from the age of four under Pt Manik Das of Benaras gharana. Subsequently, he became a disciple of Pt Swapan Shiva of Farukhabad gharana. “He was no star son. He had no star guru. True talent was his only godfather,” said Pt Bickram Ghosh. A guru to many, he was also conferred the Sangeeth Samman and Sangeeth Maha Samman by the state government.
On social media, sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan wrote that Banerjee gave “a different dimension and meaning to tabla”. “I’ve known him since childhood. This is the saddest day of my life,” said Ustad Rashid Khan. “He was both traditional and contemporary. His sense of raagdari gave an edge to his solo performances,” Pt Tanmoy Bose said.
Describing him as an “elder brother”, santoor player Rahul Sharma said, “He was a refined and cheerful person.” Flautist Rakesh Chaurasia called him the “laughing Buddha”. “He was an accomplished singer and a good composer. In 2008, he conceived ‘The Sacred Drum of India’ ensemble which had four drummers and me as the melody player. He had done all the compositions too,” he said.
Sitarist Niladri Kumar described him as a “thinking tabla player”.
Banerjee would painstakingly study recordings and adapt his playing style according to demands of instrument and playing styles of artists he was accompanying. His versatility, unique style of playing complicated compositions and improvisational dexterity gained him international acclaim and made him a globe-trotting artist. Once while performing in France, even cops were puzzled since he had crossed over Paris four times in three days. The reason was back-to-back shows in Paris, Barcelona and Zurich.
Apart from his performance at the Nobel Peace Prize concert, he had collaborated with John Mclaughlin, Chico Freeman and Gil Goldstein. With albums like ‘Tabla Tale’, ‘The Art of Tabla’ to his credit, he also composed music for ‘Night of the War’, ‘Space’ and ‘Dark Street’. As sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee said: “Both emotionally and musically, we are poorer without him.”

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/tabla-virtuoso-subhankar-banerjee-loses-cov-battle/articleshow/85638518.cms