Tag Archives: Carnatic music

Youthful Custodians of Culture

As announced in these columns recently, Nadopasana, a Muscat (Oman) based voluntary organization devoted to Indian classical music, staged a double concert on Saturday, the 25th March 2017. It featured two young and promising stars of the Carnatic genre. The morning session was a vocal concert by Nandini Neelakantan, while the evening session featured the vocal recital of Vignesh Ishwar.

M S Ananthakrishnan accompanied both artistes on the violin. All three artistes flew in from India, while the percussion accompaniment was provided by local artistes. The ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) very generously sponsored the travel of the visiting artistes. The whole thing was made possible by the encouragement and enthusiasm of HE Mr. Indra Mani Pandey, the Ambassador of India to Oman.

Both Nandini and Vignesh are in their twenties. At the end of their concerts, I felt in the depths of my heart that Carnatic Music as a cultural treasure and tradition was safe for the next many centuries, if these two youngsters were to be seen as yardsticks. This was not a parade of memorized kritis and swaraprastharams, not a mere show of virtuosity and voice range, but a true reflection of commitment to an art form born out of choice, even of passion for the music. Both of them revealed an understanding of the nuances of music which belied their age.

GN Balasubramaniam, who is considered by most authorities as a watershed phenomenon in the world of Carnatic music, was 18 when he gave his first concert on stage. These youngsters are not much older, and yet were able to hold the audience at the Krishna Temple, Muscat, spellbound throughout their concert – be it heavy kritis or thukkadas. A scintillating Kalyani by Nandini, and a superlative Todi by Vignesh spoke the same message – a complete understanding of the raga Lakshana, and a manodharma in doing niraval and swarams that was nothing short of awesome.

Even in the selection of items for the evening, as well, both showed a maturity that was way beyond what many of us “senior” rasikas expected from such youngsters (see below for details). The pieces chosen were not populist keertanas aimed at pleasing the masses. Yet, impress they did: Nandini’s Theerada Vilayattu Pillai, the ultimate expression of a father’s love for his daughter written by Bharathiyar, the Tamil Maha Kavi, left many in the audience with a lump in their throats, such was her bhava.

The Bageshri piece Sagara sayana vibho would have had its composer, the legendary MD Ramanathan, clucking away contentedly from his divine abode for sure. Between her and Ananthakrishnan, they showed their mastery of the Sruti Bedham technique, by transcending briefly from Kalyani to Suddha Dahnayasi during the alapana – not an easy feat by any standards. Nandagopal, elder brother of Nandini and her first source of inspiration and introduction to music, was in his usual brilliant elements, something that the Muscat audience have come to expect of him. The applause after his thani laid to rest any questions about who was the darling of the local crowd!

 

Nandini Neelakantan

 

Vignesh, for his part, made full use of his voice, showing flashes of brigas at breakneck speed, without in any way compromising melodic content. He also demonstrated his depth of understanding of the maestros. His concert was laced liberally with anecdotes about the composers and the great masters who had popularized the kritis he sang. He demonstrated how Madurai Mani Iyer or GNB would have handled the swaras for the ever-so-pleasing Kapi Narayani (sarasa sama dana) – after himself giving an excellent account of kalpana swaras. It prompted this reviewer to sit and listen to the kriti sung by various artistes after returning home, and realize how little I had observed of them in all these years! His humility in underscoring the contributions of the great stalwarts in Carnatic music reflected how and where he viewed himself in the broad sense of the Carnatic tradition – a sterling quality which he would do very well to nurture and adhere to. Vignesh’s elaborate Todi (Koluvamaragade by Sri Thyagaraja) was followed by a short tani by Srinivasan. Srinivasan’s style a mellow, soft and suave one rendered an able support through the concert.

 

Vignesh Ishwar

 

Both Nandini and Vignesh exhibited another quality which is often overlooked as a success factor – the art of team work. Both of them ensured their accompanists were always in the limelight, by repeatedly showing appreciation for their efforts.

Not that Ananthakrishnan would have gone unnoticed otherwise. With his astute anticipation of the vocalist’s moves, and the ability to explore the higher octaves with the single finger technique, he showed how he has established himself as the scion of the Parur family of violinists. That he seamlessly shifted pitch from accompanying a female to a male voice within the space of a few hours, spoke volumes about his oneness with his instrument. Of especial note were his repartees to Nandini’s Jayanthasri (Marukelara) and Vignesh’s Poorvikalyani (Deva deva jagadeeswara).

Summing up the two concerts of the day, everyone agreed that this trend of multiple concerts could well see Muscat transforming itself into a Cleveland or a second Chennai – something that would be very welcome to the growing Carnatic music fan following in Oman! Nadopasana, an abecedarian just the other day, is indeed making great strides in its very first year.

Morning Concert: MJ Nandini (Vocal) – MS Ananthakrishnan (Violin) – N Nandagopal (Mridangam)

Dinamani Vamsa – Harikamboji – Adi – Tyagaraja
Ninnu Joochi – Saurashtram – Patnam Subramania Iyer
Mamayurameedail Erivaa – Bilahari – Mazhavai Chidambara Bharati
Mayamma – Ahiri – Adi – Syama Sastri
Viruttam followed by Venuganalolnii – Kedaragaula – Rupakam – Tyagaraja
Marukelara – Jayathasri – Adi – Tyagaraja
Neetu charana pankaja – Kalyani – Adi – Swati Tirunal
Thani avarthanam
Theerada vilayattu pillai – ragamaika – Adi – Bharathiyar
Sagara sayana vibho – Bageshri – Adi – MD Ramanatahan
Aliveni – Chenchurutti – Adi – Swati Tirunal
Thillana – Sindhubhairavi- Lalgudi Jayaraman

Evening Concert: Vignesh Ishwar (Vocal) – MS Anathakrrishnan (Violin) – Delhi Srinivasan (Mridangam)

Ragasudha rasa – Andolika – Deshaadi – Tyagaraja
Sri Mathrubhutham – Kannada – Misra Ekam – Dikshitar
PUrvi KalyAni – Deva Deva Jagadeeswara – Adi – Swati Tirunal
Sarasa sAma Dana – Kapii Narayani – Adi – Tyagaraja
Koluva mara – Todi – Adi – Tyagaraja
Thani Avarthanam
SApasya kausalyA – Jonpuri
Viruttam (Sayankale Vanante) ragamalika (Mohanam, Kapi, Surati)
Rase Haari miha – AshtapaTi – Maand – Adi – Jayadeva
Thiruppugazh – HamsAnandi
Mangalam

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A Double Delight For Carnatic Music Fans in Muscat

 

Fresh from the memory of momentous inaugural concert by Prince Rama Varma, music fans in Muscat are being treated to a double delight by Nadopasana. A totally voluntary organization dreamed up by a bunch of die-hard rasikas of classical Carnatic music, Nadopasana is in its very first year of service to the music lovers of Oman. Encouraged by the support provided by its well-wishers, the organizing team has arranged for two concerts by promising young musicians who are currently making waves in the Indian music scene.

 

Mrs Nandini Neelakantan

 

The concerts, planned for the 25th of March 2017 at the Krishna Temple, Darsait, Muscat, will feature Mrs Nandini Neelakantan in the morning session and Mr Vignesh Ishwar in the evening.

Mrs Neelakantan (nee NJ Nandini of Trivandrum), stormed the Carnatic music scene a few years back by winning many of the reality competition shows on Indian television channels. Blessed with a lovely voice and a matching countenance, she has imbibed everything from her Gurus and created an enchanting style of her own. Yet to be 25, she is already an “A” grade artiste with All India Radio, and has performed over 700 concerts in India and abroad. If her track record is any indication, the discerning audience in Muscat is in for a real treat on Saturday, the 25th March. Her concert starts at 10.00 am.

Sri M. S. Ananthakrishnan

 

She will be accompanied by Sri M S Ananthakrrishnan, the youngest torch bearer of the great Parur style of violin playing, made internationally famous by his grandfather Sri M.S. Anantharaman and the legendary Sri M. S. Gopalakrishnan.

The Parur style emphasizes strict adherence to sruti and focuses on the gayaki style of playing the violin. In recent years, young Ananthakrrishnan has repeatedly won laurels for upholding the trend set by his illustrious predecessors.

The percussion accompaniment for Nandini will be by her brother Sri Nandagopal, already a well-known and much sought after mridangist, vocalist and teacher in Muscat. As a loving elder sibling, Nandagopal has been nurturing Nandini’s career and his presence and support on the mridangam is bound to bring the very best out of Nandini.

 

Sri N. J. Nandagopal

 

The evening concert, scheduled to begin at 6:00 pm, will feature another rising star in the Carnatic scene, Sri Vignesh Ishwar. Born with the advantage of belonging to a musically evolved family, Vignesh has grasped the essence of Carnatic music, which is revealed in impressive stage presence, and confident rendition of alapanas, kritis and kalpana swarams.

Making good use of his technical background (he holds a masters in sound and music technology), Vignesh has been involved in many innovative schemes to improve and preserve the great heritage of classical Indian music. He has a bagful of honors and awards to his credit, and there is no doubt he will leave his mark on the Muscat audience.

 

Sri Vignesh Ishwar

 

Young Ananthakrishnan will be Vignesh’s violin accompanist. It is creditable that Ananthakrishnan has agreed to play the violin for a lead female and male artiste on the same day, as this can be technically demanding.

 

R Srinivasan

 

The mridangist for the evening will be Delhi R Srinivasan, who has an enviable track record as an accompanist to almost all the great vocalists and instrumentalists who have visited Delhi in the last thirty odd years. He has been chosen to accompany many of these artistes abroad on their concert tours, such is his level of understanding the role of a percussionist. Another Muscat boy, Srinivasan is bound to delight the many locals who already know his prowess.

Saturday the 25th March promises to be an exciting day, alright!

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Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh to Perform at Celtic Connections Festival 2017

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh

EarthSync will present the Carnatic tradition of veena virtuoso Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh live at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland. Celtic Connections is a large, influential music festival that celebrates Scottish music as well as Celtic and world music and other forms of roots music.

Jayanthi Kumaresh is an internationally renowned Carnatic veena maestro hailing from a distinguished family of musicians who have been immersed in the Carnatic tradition for seven generations. She has been playing the instrument since she was 5 years old, and will showcase a selection of evening ragas. Her performances at Celtic Connections 2017 will take place on Friday, January 27th at 7:30pm, and Saturday, January 28th at 8:00 pm.

I’m looking forward to presenting the national instrument of India – the Saraswati Veena – to an international audience in Glasgow, introducing many of them to the textures of this instrument that has a 15000 year old tradition originating from the Vedic period” says Kumaresh, “I would like to give credit to EarthSync for taking this instrument far and wide where people haven’t heard of it – it’s a great service to the cause of Indian Classical music to facilitate this exposure”.

For more information, visit: www.celticconnections.com

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Carnatic Violin Maestro Ganesh Rajagopalan to Perform in New York City

Ganesh Rajagopalan
Ganesh Rajagopalan

South Indian classical violin master Ganesh Rajagopalan (of Ganesh-Kumaresh duo fame) is set to perform on October 7th at Roulette in New York City. This concert is part of the Carnatic Masters series, featuring leading musicians in South Indian music, produced by Robert Browning Associates.

Ganesh Rajagopalan has toured the globe, appearing with a wide range of classical, jazz and world music artists, including Zakir Hussain. He has composed numerous ragas, varnams and thillanas, as well as music for dance ballets, theatre, and films.

In this program, Ganesh Rajagopalan will explore the divine and healing through music. He will perform on violin and sing, and also lead an interactive meditation of chanting with the audience. He will be accompanied by Akshay Ganesh on violin, Abhinav Seetharaman on mridangam (double-headed barrel drum), and Sriram Ramesh on kanjira (frame drum).

Ganesh Rajagopalan’s discography includes Carnatic Chills, Ragapravaham, Colours Of India, Shadjam, and Spark.

Friday, October 7, 8:00 p.m.
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave at 3rd Ave (near BAM & Barclays Center) Brooklyn, New York City
Tickets: $30; seniors, students $26
Tel: 917-267-0363

Tickets: www.robertbrowningassociates.com

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Carnatic Masters R. Kumaresh & Jayanthi Kumaresh to Perform in New York City

R. Kumaresh and Jayanthi Kumaresh
R. Kumaresh and Jayanthi Kumaresh

The husband-wife duo of violin maestro R. Kumaresh and veena virtuoso (lute) player Jayanthi Kumaresh are set to perform on October 1st at the Thalia at Symphony Space in New York City. This concert is part of the Carnatic Masters series, featuring leading figures in South Indian music, presented by Robert Browning Associates.

R. Kumaresh and Jayanthi Kumaresh are two of the leading instrumentalists in their respective fields. The duo will perform solos and duets accompanied by R. Sankaranarayanan on mridangam (double-headed barrel drum) and S. Krishnaswamy on ghatam (clay pot drum).

R. Kumaresh has 40 years of concert experience and is internationally renowned both as a soloist and for his duets with his brother, Ganesh Rajagopalan.

Jayanthi Kumaresh traces her musical heritage back six generations. She has captivated audiences around the world for 30 years and collaborated with many of India’s major artists.

8:30 p.m.
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York City
Tickets: $28; seniors, students $24; day of show $32
Tel: 212-864-5400
Tickets: www.robertbrowningassociates.com

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