Strictly The Best 60 to Showcase Top Artists in Roots Reggae and Dancehall

Various Artists – Strictly the Best Vol. 60

VP Records has announced the release of Strictly the Best Vol. 60. The set includes current and breaking hits from some of the top artists in roots reggae and dancehall. The album is scheduled for release on November 22, 2019. For this latest release, the label will produce a live show to be broadcast Tuesday, November 19 from the BRIC production facility in Brooklyn, New York.

STB 60 includes an illustration by Japanese artist Murasaki, inspired by the scenery of the VP Records 40th Anniversary Concert held at Summer Stage in Central Park, New York in August.

STB 60 contains two discs of hits in one package. Disc 1 consists of reggae and lovers rock tracks. Highlights include “General” by Christopher Martin and “Together we Stand” by Richie Spice. Exclusives on the album include a remake of Lorna Bennet’s “Breakfast in Bed” by former Voice winner Tessanne Chin and “Lost My Heart” by emerging solo reggae artist, Kumar Bent.

Disc 2 features dancehall tracks. High spots include “One Way” by Vybz Kartel and “Glow” by Romain Virgo and Christopher Martin. The music video for “Glow” has recently accumulated over 628K views on YouTube. Another exclusive to STB 60 is “No Stress” by Noah Powa who has been attracting attention in New York City and beyond with recent interviews on Breakfast Club, Lip Service and an appearance on Angela Yee Day.

As our 40th anniversary year winds down, we are happy to release Strictly The Best 60,” said Richard Lue, Director of Business Development and Project Manager for VP Records. “Everything from the tracks, to the cover of the album by Murasaki, to the event coming up in Brooklyn, is aligned perfectly to celebrate the 60th edition of one of VP’s staple compilations,” he concluded.

STRICTLY THE BEST VOL. 60 Tracklisting

* Denotes Exclusive Track

Disc 1 – Singers

1. Play That Song (remix) – (feat. Agent Sasco) – Duane Stephenson

2. General – Christopher Martin

3. Only One – Beres Hammond

4. Girl Like You – Busy Signal

5. Breakfast In Bed – Tessanne Chin*

6. Million Reasons – Alaine

7. Change My Mind – Freddie McGregor

8. Lost My Heart – Kumar Bent*

9. Progress – Romain Virgo

10. Babylon Bridge – Emeterians (feat. Kymani Marley)

11. Better Tomorrow – Raging Fyah

12. Together We Stand – Richie Spice*

Disc 2 – Deejays

1. One Way – Vybz Kartel

2. Wileside Government – Jahvillani

3. Dutty Badmind – Alkaline

4. Clean Like Jesus – TeeJay

5. Glow – Romain Virgo & Christopher Martin

6. Something To Say – I-Octane

7. Life Short – Chronic Law

8. The Trophy – Shane-O

9. 1Option – Squash

10. Charge – Masicka (feat. Dunw3ll)

11. No Stress – Noah Powa (feat. Shams The Producer)*

12. Hold Back – Kes

13. Red Skirt – Munga Honorable

Buy Strictly the Best Vol. 60

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Paulo Tato Marinho’s Masterful Portuguese Bagpipes

Paulo Tato Marinho – Gaitas de Fole em Portugal

Paulo Tato Marinho – Gaitas de Fole em Portugal (Fundacao GDA, 2018)

Portuguese multi-instrumentalist Paulo Tato Marinho dedicates Gaitas de Fole em Portugal (Bagpipe music from Portugal) to the bagpipes of Western Europe. He plays various types of Iberian bagpipes along with Irish, Scottish and Breton pipes.

Gaitas de Fole em Portugal contains a mix of modern recreations of traditional and medieval Portuguese tunes, dances and songs along with original compositions. In addition to bagpipes, Paulo Tato Marinho also plays a wide range of wind instruments, percussion and string instruments such as cavaquinho and viola braguesa.

Gaita de fole is the name used in Portuguese to refer to a set of wind and reed musical instruments that have in common the ability to emit continuous sound through a flexible air bag. Its variety is enormous in morphological and musical characteristics, corresponding to different geographical and historical origins.

Available from Tradisom

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Artist Profiles: Paulo Tato Marinho

Paulo Tato Marinho

Paulo Tato Marinho was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1964. He is dedicated to bagpipes as an instrumentalist, teacher, researcher, composer and builder.

He began playing the bagpipes in 1982. His taste for the instrument was born in Alto Minho where he spent his vacations in the village of his paternal family, São Pedro da Torre – Valença. In this area, bordering Galicia (Spain), he saw and heard Galician pipers who led to an early fascination for the bagpipe.

In 1983 he joined iconic Portuguese band Sétima Legião and the following year he joined the dance and song group “Anaquiños da Terra” based out of the Galician Center of Lisbon. In 1992 he was one of the founders of another seminal band, Gaiteiros de Lisboa.

In 1999 he was one of the founders of “APEDGF – Portuguese Association for the Study and Dissemination of Bagpipes”. He has participated and collaborated in shows and recordings with various musical projects.

Discography:

Gaitas de Fole em Portugal (Fundacao GDA, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Baraka Moon

Baraka Moon

Baraka Moon is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group mixes mystical Sufi trance songs, Indian ragas, African rhythms and the Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo.

Baraka Moon Members:

Sukhawat Ali Khan – Baraka Moon’s passionate vocalist draws from his celebrated family’s 600 year-old Pakistani singing tradition. He also plays ragas and blues riffs with his harmonium.

Stephen Kent – A one-man band didgeridoo/percussion virtuoso, Kent is a pioneer in bringing the ancient Aboriginal Australian instrument to the contemporary world.

Peter Warren – drummer and percussionist, Warren is responsible for Baraka Moon’s dance rhythms. He has performed many years with African musicians and dancers in the U.S. and his native Canada.

Anastasi Mavrides plays seasoned guitar with chordal voicings and soaring anthemic melodies. He also provides supporting vocals to Sukhawat’s singing.

Discography:

Eternal (Baraka Moon Music, 2014)
Wind Horse (Baraka Moon Music/Six Degrees, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Becky Buller

Becky Buller in 2016

Becky Buller grew up in Minnesota. She played fiddle with her parents and Gordy and Roxy Shultz in the group Prairie Grass. She studied classical violin with both Patti Tryhus and Charles Gray and participated in the Mankato Area Youth Symphony and the Minnesota All-State Orchestra while in high school. Becky won the junior division of the 1996 Minnesota State Old Time Fiddle Championship in Cotton, Minnesota.

She graduated in 2001 with a public relations degree from East Tennessee State University (ETSU), where she took part in the prestigious Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music program. That same year, Becky’s songwriting won first-place in the bluegrass category of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in Wilksboro, North Carolina.

Her journey as a professional musician included ten-years with Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike. She is featured on several of that group’s recordings, wrote for the group and toured internationally with them as well. She also produced several of Val’s records.

Becky was also a significant part of three albums with the award-winning Daughters of Bluegrass: Pickin’ Like A Girl (2013), Bluegrass Bouquet (2008), and Back To The Well (2006), which won the 2006 IBMA Recorded Event Of The Year award.

In 2018, Becky performed with the all-female bluegrass super-group, The First Ladies Of Bluegrass, which includes all the first women to win in their respective categories at the IBMA awards: Alison Brown (banjo, 1991); Becky (fiddle, 2016); Sierra Hull (mandolin, 2016); Missy Raines (bass, 1998); Molly Tuttle (guitar, 2017). This configuration took home the 2018 IBMA Recorded Event Of The Year award for their work on “Swept Away”, written by Laurie Lewis and recorded by the First Ladies on Missy Raines’ solo album, Royal Traveller.

Crêpe Paper Heart, Becky’s fourth solo album and second release for the Dark Shadow Recording label, came out on Valentine’s Day 2018. The album featured Becky’s renowned road band: Ned Luberecki (banjo); Professor Dan Boner (mandolin/guitar/vocals); Brandon Bostic (guitar); Daniel “Hulk” Hardin (bass/vocals); and Nate Lee (fiddle); along with award-winning guests Rhonda Vincent, The Fairfield Four, Sam Bush, Frank Solivan, Claire Lynch, Rob Ickes, Stephen and Jana Mougin, and Erin Youngberg (FY5).

In 2018, Becky Buller released a music video featuring special guest artist, Sam Bush. “The Rebel And The Rose,” co-written by Buller, appeared on her Crepe Paper Heart album. “This song is special to me on so many levels, from writing it with my dear friend, Tony Rackley, to recording it with my hero, Sam Bush,” Becky said. “The message of hope in this song is timeless; not one of us is so broken that love can’t mend us.

Becky Buller and Sam Bush

Becky is very active in the bluegrass music business community, serving on the IBMA Foundation board. She was on the IBMA Board of Directors from 2013-17 and did a three-year term as chair of the IBMA Songwriter Committee from 2013-16.

Discography:

Little Bird (Bell Buckle Records, 2004)
Rest My Weary Feet (2000)
Here’s A Little Song, with Valerie Smith (Bell Buckle Records, 2007)
Tween Earth and Sky (Dark Shadow Recording, 2014)
Crêpe Paper Heart ‎(Dark Shadow Recording, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Omiri

Omiri

Omiri is the project of Portuguese multi-instrumentalist and composer Vasco Ribeiro Casais. Omiri combines Portuguese traditional folk music with electronics and stunning live visuals.

In 2019, Omiri released Alentejo Vol.I: Évora. Invited by the Évora City Council, Omiri collected the traditions, arts, cante (traditional singing from Alentejo), crafts and rituals of the local people with the goal of creating a unique show and an album. The project features the cowbell craftsmen, weavers, sculptors, singers, washerwomen, the Cante Alentejano, typographers, barbers, carpenters, cobblers, the campaniça guitar and everything else that is alive in Évora.

Vasco Ribeiro Casais says about the project: “The collections for this work were carried out between January and June of 2019, a temporary window that made me leave out many traditions that I would like to have included, like the picking of cork, the wine making process from harvesting to bottling, the harvesting of the olive, among many others. The Municipality of Évora has a lot to offer, much more than what I could capture and include in this work, but, as its title says, a first volume is just the beginning of something and who knows what the future will bring?”

Domingos Morais from the Institute for Literature and Tradition Studies at the School of Social and Human Sciences of the New University of Lisbon says: “The reinvention of traditional music is one of the sources that Vasco uses, for his knowledge of the records made by ethnomusicologists and disseminators of the songs of the peoples (all those who sensitize him). He is a poly-instrumentalist by choice, when he looks for each one of the instruments searching for its tone and potential sound as well as their unique performative potentialities.”

Alentejo Vol.I: Évora features guest appearances by Afonso Branco, Cantares de Évora, Vozes do Imaginário, Teresa Branquinho and Gigabombos do Imaginário.

Discography:

Baile Electrónico (2017)
Alentejo Vol.I: Évora (2019)

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Artist Profiles: Pekko Käppi

Pekko Käppi – Photo by Ninni Luhtasaari

Composer, producer, researcher and ethnomusicologist Pekko Käppi was born in 1976. He is a jouhikko player from Tampere and a part-time instructor at the Sibelius Academy.

He has a band called K:H:H:L.

Pekko Käppi’s style combines folk, rock and blues.

Discography:

Kalastajia ja kaivostyöläisiä, EP (Amerikan Peikko Records, Kuusi Pientä Kustantajaa, 2001)
Бубнить Себе под нос, EP (267 lattajjaa, 2003)
Minun päiväkunnissani, EP (Imvated, 2004)
Jos ken pahoin uneksii (Peippo, 2007)
Vuonna ’86 (Singing Knives, 2010)
Rammat Jumalat (Helmi Levyt, 2013)
Sanguis Meus, Mama! (GAEA Records, 2015)
Matilda (Svart Records, 2017)
Väärä Laulu (Svart Records, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Pauanne

Pauanne – Photo by Pekka Sinikoski

Finnish band Pauanne explores the pagan traditions of Finnish folk music. The trio has uncovered and collected long-lost folk music that includes stories of spells and curses, the dreams of a shepherd, 17th century witch hunts and magical iron fences that repel invaders.

The trio includes Kukka Lehto on violin; Tero Pennanen on Hammond organ and other keyboards; and Janne Haavisto on drums.

Band leader Kukka Lehto searched through Helsinki’s music archives and discovered exciting material from the early 20th century. Pauanne’s material includes traditional folk songs and new compositions as well.

Discography:

Pauanne (Nordic Notes, 2019)

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Latin Jazz Maestro Ray Santos Dies at 90

Ray Santos receiving an honorary doctorate of music at the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest on March 20, 2016. From left: Luis Alvarez, producer of the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFestwell; Ray Santos; and Darla Hanley, dean of the Professional Education Division at Berklee College of Music. Photo by Joe Colón.

Musician and composer Ray Santos died October 17, 2019.

Ray Santos was born December 28, 1928 in New York City to Puerto Rican parents. Known as “El Maestro” by his fans and fellow musicians, was a leading expert on Afro-Caribbean music. His Juilliard School training allowed him to cross borders with success, honesty and class. Over his 90 years, Santos became a legend in the world of Latin music and left a deep-rooted mark with his artistry. The Latin Recording Academy honored him with 2011 Board of Trustees’ Award.

Known for the layered complexity of his arrangements, for more than 50 years, Santos performed, composed, and arranged for leading Latin music orchestras, including the legendary ensembles of Tito Puente, Tito Rodríguez, Mario Bauzá, and Machito.  He was also essential in albums recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Eddie Palmieri and Paquito D’Rivera, to name a few. In addition, he was a respected professor of music at the City College of New York, where he taught for nearly 30 years and directed the college’s Latin band.

We are forever thankful to the amazing gentleman Mr. Ray Santos, who was also committed to music education, fostering the next generation of music makers,” said Gabriel Abaroa Jr., President/CEO of The Latin Recording Academy. “His legacy lives on in his music and the hearts of our music community, forever inspired by his commitment and remarkable craft.  Our hearts go to his family during this difficult time.”

 Ray Santos received an honorary doctorate of music on March 20, 2016.

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The Nine Day Navaratri Sangeetothsavam 2019 by Ekata Muscat at Muscat

The Ekata Muscat Team

Ekata Muscat hosted a 9-day Navaratri Sangeetothsavam from September 29 to October 7, 2019 at Al Masaa Hall, Ruwi Muscat which was well organized and well attended by music lovers in large number on all the days. This is the second year of this organization celebrating Navaratri sangeethothsavam.

Artists and musicians from all over Muscat and from India (Chennai and Kerala) performed during these days.

The best feature of the music festival was that it was a success story of fait accompli (done deal) in the effort of Ekata Muscat to explore with young promising artists and not including even one of the top notch branded artist for adding value in the fare like say a Sangeeta Kalanidhi TV Shankaranarayanan or an Aruna Sairam.

The test of the pudding is in its eating and the success of the event was evident in the full house on all the days.

The venue Al Maasa Hall was full of divine vibration with chanting of Lalitha Sahasranamam by ladies from different places in Oman on all the nine day. This was chanted before the commencement of the music concerts. It was very spectacular to see all the ladies attired in colorful saris and dresses appropriate for the days of Navaratri/Dussehra and rendering very well.

The functions were presided over by the high dignitaries from various enterprises in Muscat. The first day was inaugurated by His Excellency Munu Mahawar, Ambassador of India to Oman on September 29, 2019 and the closing day was presided by luminary Shri PK Prakash, Cultural Counsellor, Indian Embassy, Oman.

The programs were scheduled for the evening from 6:30 pm onwards with lighting of lamp (Kutthuvilaku) by the chief guest along with the performing artists of the evening. This was adhered to with utmost reverence and decorum and this with the deep founded belief that Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness, ignorance.

Day 1

The first day concert was by Konniyoor Suresh from Muscat who is a seasoned musician with rich background in the music field. He was accompanied by Sh. CS Syam on the violin and Sh. Killikurushi Mangalam PK Rammohan on mridangam and Delhi Sh. Srinivasan Raman on the kanjeera.

Konniyoor Suresh & ensemble

The concert began with an AtaTala varnam in Bhairavi- followed by traditional Ganesha stuthi in the raga Hamsadwani. Sh. Suresh is a versatile violinist along with being a vocalist also. He covered the concert paddathi and sang a Ragam Tanam in the raga Sankarabbharanam following by a kriti Devi Jagat Janani – 1st day Navaratri kriti by Maharaja Swathi Tirunal very appropriate for the day. He also rendered a syama sastry kriti in the raga Neelambari – Brovavamma Bangaru vamma which is very rarely heard kriti. He covered compositions by various composers which was well appreciated. Shri Syam gave good support on the violin which was subtle. The percussionists showed their expertise in tani avartanam with good coordination.

Day 2

The second day was again by a prominent musician Smt. Deepa Narayanan from Muscat. She commenced with a Daru Varnam in raga Khamas, a composition of Sh Muthaiah Bhagavatar which was very pleasing to listen to.

Daru varnam is the one with swara, jati and sahitya with usual pallavi, anupallavi and charanam. Her rendition of Purvikalyani had a clear ragalakshanas followed by Swathi Tirunal kriti Deva Deva Jagadeeswara which was pleasing.

The main piece of the concert was in the raga Kalyani- Needu charana Pankaja, a composition of Pallavi Gopala Iyer in Adi Tala. Then the Kamalaambikaya in Punnagavarali was very appropriate for the occasion and was very well rendered. The Sankarabarana Thillana is very rarely heard in the concerts now a days. It was nice to hear. Shri CS Syam gave able coordination on the Violin and Sh. Delhi Srinivasan Raman gave a very befitting percussion support.

Day 3

The third day concert by an artist from India Smt. Rethna Prabha. Every day, each concert was a class of its own and gave a different experience to the audience present there with various varnams, kritis, Thillana etc.

Mrs. Rethna Prabha

Rethna started with a Pada Varnam in the raga Shanmukhapriya composed by Dr. Balamurlikrishna followed by a brisk begada- Vallabha Nayakasya, a Dikshitar kriti. Yedayya gathi in Chalanattai was a pleasing kriti. Rethna has a rich voice which kept the audience spellbound. Rudrapriya kriti – Amba Paradevathe of Krishnasami Ayya followed by Navaratri kriti in Saveri was an excellent selection for the festival.

The Thillana composed by Mavelikara R. Balachandran kept the audience guessing. It was very well rendered. The accompanist on the violin Sh Konniyur Suresh gave an able support. He is a versatile violinist apart from being a vocalist also. On the percussion, Sh Mavelikara R. Balachandran on mridangam and Sh. Aluva R. Rajesh on ghatam gave a rich treat to the ear. Very good coordination and the tani avartanam was rendered with apt synchronization.

Day 4

The fourth day of the Sangeethothsavam featured a young celebrity from India, Sh. Tushar MurleeKrishna who is a playback singer apart from being a vocalist in Carnatic music. He has been doing several music shows and has won various prizes. The august audience present in the hall were excited and eagerly waiting for them to hear Thushar performing. He started the concert with Abhogi Varnam which filled the hall with music vibration. After rendering Vinayaka stuti in Shanmukhapriya and Banturiti in ragam Hamsanadam he elaborately sang raga Sankarabharanam followed by a Tyagaraja kriti Mariyada kadura which was an excellent rendition and exhibited his expertise in handling the presenting of raga alapana, swara prasthara and the clarity of sahithyam in the kriti.

Thushar Muralikrishna.

The able support of the accompanist both on violin by Sh. Vishnu Chandramohan, Maveliara R. Balachandran on mridangam and Sh. Aluva R. Rajjesh on ghatam was very well appreciated by the audience. A perfect coordination of rhythmic nuances. Sh. Vishnu Chandramohan, a seasoned artist from Tirupanthura Kerala, performed his part excellently in sync with the main artist Sh. Thushar. What a scintillating concert it was.

Day 5

The fifth day concert was by Kum. Sreelakshmi and Kum. Sreedevi accompanied by Sh. Aluva R. Rajesh on the mridangam and Sh. Vishnu Chandramohan on the violin. They commenced their performance with a brisk Hamsadwani varnam – Jalajakshi in Adi tala followed by a Nattai Kriti on lord Ganesha.

Kum. Sreelakshmi & Kum. Sreedevi

Their rendition of Mohanam kriti – Sada palaya had a good raga bhavam and esthetics. The main kriti was in the raga Kalyani –a composition of Pattnam Subramania Iyer was well presented. The accompanist gave an able support. The young girls have bright future with their rich voice and dedication in the field.

Day 6

On the sixth and seventh day Ekata Muscat gave exposure to the young talent of Muscat, Oman. Each and every artists exhibited their talents even though it was for a short duration. It was delighting to see the sincere commitment of the young and upcoming artist on the stage. A very hearty congratulations to the teacher/gurus who trained them in Carnatic music in this part of the world. A brief jugalbandi on veena, venu (Flute) was well appreciated by the audience. Though it was for a short period of 45 minutes, the artists had good coordination and kept the audience charmed.

In the evening of the sixth day there was a concert by Shri Saaju Raman, musician from Muscat. He started with a kriti on lord Ganesha in Mohana Kalyani followed by Sri Saraswathi in the raga Aarabhi. Then a Dikshitar kriti Kaaya roha in the raga Abheri. A rare rendered kriti which was handled very well. There was no repetition of any kriti of what we heard from the earlier concerts. A kriti in Shanmukhapriya- Parvathi Nayakane- Papanasam Sivan kriti was the main piece with raga, niraval and swara prasthara. Thani Avartanam by Palakad Gautam was very crisp and bright. Sh. Vishnu Chandramohan was in full support, as usual, and showing his talent very well.

Saaju K Raman

Day 7

The seventh day event was followed by a young and seasoned musician from South India, Chennai: Sh. Aditya Madhav, a disciple of Sangeetha Kala Nidhi Sh. Sanjay Subramaniam. His concert was very appropriate for the august audience present in the venue hall. As per the saying goes, he played to the gallery keeping them spellbound. Aditya started the concert with a Tyagaraja Kriti in Bahudari Raga followed by Nanda Gopala, a Dikshitar Kriti in the raga Yamuna Kalyani.

Raga Alapana in the raga Natabhairavi was an innovative and scholarly rendition and the kriti of Papanasam Sivan was very well presented with niraval and kalpana swaras. His presentation of Ragam Tanam Pallavi in the raga Hamsaanandi was very well enjoyed by the audience. The ragas chosen for ragamalika following the pallavi were pleasing to the ear.

The concert was crisp and audience were mesmerized by his voice modulation. The accompanist Sh. Vishnu Chandramohan on violin and Delhi. R. Srinivasan on mridangam gave an able support to the main artist. The concert concluded with a Thillana in raga Dhanashri of Swathi Tirunal.

Day 8

The eighth day program was a scintillating concert by the Muscat sisters Kum. Sruti and Kum. Sahana. Both the girls are now under the tutelage of Bombay Jayashree, a senior and well known musician from south. The concert commenced with the Navaraga mallika Varnam which was well rendered. The coordination between the two was well presented. Both have bright future to become a seasoned musician. Sh. Vishnu Chandramohan and Delhi R. Srinivasan on violin and mridangam respectively, gave good befitting support to the artist.

Day 9

The ninth day was the closing day ceremony of the music festival. The chief guest of the evening was Sh. P.K. Prakash, Cultural counselor from the Indian Embassy.

Ekata Muscat has been honoring musicians with high contribution to Carnatic music and awarding them with title. This year award was conferred to Dr. Saroja Raman who is a musician and continues her efforts to contribute to the Carnatic music field in various ways. It is a great honor for the persons who are conferred with the title.

Dr. Saroja Raman receives the citation and memeto

This day, the concert was by Shri Mathew Thomas, a senior musician from Muscat, Oman. He commenced with Thodi Varnam followed by a Ganesha Stuti in the raga Hamsadwani, a composition of Papanasam Sivan. Further, a kriti in the raga Ritigowla- Janani Ninnu vina of Subbaraya Sastri was well rendered by the artist. Kritis in the ragas Sarasangi, Sama and then Poorvikalyani was well justified and appreciated by the music lovers present there.

Mathew Thomas

The main piece of the concert was in the raga Sankarabharanam – Swara Raga Sudha of Tyagaraja which was an elaborate presentation followed with a brief and brisk Thani avartanam by Killikkurishi Mangalam PK Rammohan and Konniyur Suresh on mridangam and kanjeera. Sh. Vishnu Chandramohan gave a very good violin support.

Kudoes to the Ekata Muscat who sincerely made all efforts to bring out the sangeethothsavam in a grand manner.

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