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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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A Middle Eastern Star in the Making

The Ragam Tanam Pallavi was in full flow. Nodding my head contentedly, I happened to see the artiste’s parents sitting a little away from me. And it occurred to me that Tiruvalluvar might have been inspired by a similar sight to write his famous couplet about what makes a parent most happy: undisputed evidence of their offspring’s accomplishments. And Archana Murali did just that for her parents on 5th February at the Krishna temple in Muscat. A chance attendee would have found it difficult to believe that this was her first ever solo performance. He or she would have thought yet another star of Carnatic music had come visiting the city.

As the curtains went up, one could see a young, somewhat nervously smiling girl, barely in her teens. But all that was forgotten by the time she finished her opening varnam in Vasantha ragm and launched into Papanasam Sivan’s “ganapathiye” in karaharapriya.

The chittaswarams were crisp and brisk, setting the mood of the concert. “Palimpa” in aarabhi followed, followed by “Muruga” (Periyasami Tooran) in Saveri where she gave ample evidence of her ability to handle a tisranadai talam. She had the attention of the audience fully by now.

When she took up a partimadhyama melakarta Dharmavati for alapana next, I was impressed by her choice. The alapana was elaborate, yet free of any shades of Madhuvanti. Udupi S. Srijith who accompanied on the violin gave a masterful and melodious reply. She went on to sing the popular “bhajana seya rada O Ramuni” of Mysore Vasudevachar.

After a brisk “Maakelara” in Ravichandrika, Archana launched into her main piece of the day, “ Koluvamare” in Todi. In the alapana she revealed her understanding of the wide range offered by Todi. Perhaps because the stage was very warm due to the bright lights, she found her throat going dry when she explored the lower octaves.

The kriti was handled like an expert, and she gave generous opportunities to her senior colleague on the violin, like a seasoned expert! The Tani avartanam that followed, with Muscat’s own Nandagopal on the mridangam and Trivandrum Rajesh on the ghatam, was impeccable, and added glory to the concert, which, by now, had the audience totally engrossed.

Nandagopal, a mentor of sorts for young Archana, produced yet another brilliant exposition on the mridangam, reinforcing this reviewer’s opinion that he belongs in the prime time slots in Chennai’s major sabhas. Rajesh was very impressive with his laya suddham, on his incredibly melodious instrument. This Tani will be remembered for a long time by all those who witnessed it.

For a first timer, wrapping up the concert with a few tukkadas would have been more than acceptable. But Archana had no intensions of being a mere beginner. She went on to prove her mettle by singing a short “bantu reethi” in Hamsanadham which she cleverly chose to start at the anupallavi, and followed it up by a surprisingly elaborate RTP in Kapi.

In both the alapana and tanam, she and Srijith regaled the audience with phrases soaked in bhava. The pallavi itself was not remarkable in its phraseology, but Archana scored again in the ragamalika, exploring charukesi, Misra Sivaranjani and Kalyani to her credit. By now, the concert had gone on for about two and a half hours. Archana has a wonderful voice, and it held steady to the very end, which came after another thirty minutes or so of soulful singing: Papanasam Siva’s “nambi kettavar evarayya” in Hindolam, the popular Maand piece “Muralidhara”, and the Purandara Dasa kriti “ Innu day barade” in Kalyana Vasantham.

She wrapped up her concert with Lalgudi Jayaraman’s lilting thillana in Karnaranajni to a standing ovation by the much impressed, and very discerning Muscat audience.

To have the fortune of being born to parents who are both excellent musicians is one thing, but to have the commitment and application to score so well in her maiden concert, deserved the accolade she got.

Well done Archana! Here is another Middle Eastern Star ready to light up the Chennai sky in the annual seasons to come!

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Fascinating concert by Dr. Pantula Rama

Dr. Pantula Rama
Dr. Pantula Rama

 

In her speech to felicitate the more than hundred odd children who had participated in the Trinity Day celebrations on Friday, 23rd October, at the Krishna Temple Hall in Ruwi, Muscat, chief guest Dr. Pantula Rama said that after hearing so many children sing so well, she felt that the future of carnatic music was safe. She proved this point beyond doubt through her own singing the next day. It was a veritable treat for Muscat’s burgeoning music rasikas. Nearly everyone stayed on till the mangalam which came around 10.30pm, unmindful of the next day being a working day. Such was the magic and classicism of Rama’s music.

She patiently sat through a rather elaborate introduction that went on and on. I have nothing against talented artistes being given their due, but perhaps the organizers should pay attention to starting on time, or pruning their introductions to save time – Rama’s music, as that of her able accompanists, spoke volumes about their collective vidwat anyway! Another suggestion to the organizers: subdued lighting, rather than a display of every available bulb in the city, would have been far more aesthetic and less distracting!

All this was forgotten the moment Rama got going with Tyagaraja’s gem Sadinchane in Arabhi. It set the tone for the rest of the concert, as can only be expected of such a wonderful masterpiece, when rendered with feeling and understanding. The first surprise of the day came in this introductory piece – Rama sang the swara-sahityas of the composition after sadinchane, rather than the conventional way of singing them after samyanidhi. She explained this to the discerning audience, pointing out that it was more appropriate to sing the swara-sahityas after sadinchane as per the sastras. She also emphasized the use of tanam in the singing of the charanams, underlining the boundless genius of the bard, who has packed more into his pancharatna keertanais than generations of researches can ever fully analyze!

She then sang a soulful Gopalaka Pahimam in Revagupti, showing her skill in avoiding any shades of nearby ragas like bowli or bhoopalam. Then came the less heard Tyagaraja kriti chede buddhi manura o manasa in Atana, with brisk swaras in keeping with the bhava of the raga and the kriti.

Rama then took up Bhairavi for a detailed treatment, and followed it up with Syama Sastri’s Kamakshamma, where she showed her sruthi suddham in chowkha kalam singing. She then brought back fond memories of GNB by singing vararagalaya in Chenjukamboji. I cannot but digress here to say that what he had done a good 70 years back still stands as the benchmark for this rare raga composition by Tyagaraja. If this was not evidence enough to say why Tyagaraja is called the sadguru, Rama also sang another of his eka-raga piece, Anadudanuganu in Jingala, apparently on the request on young Nandagopal who was her mridangist for the day. That came after a relaxed exposition of Subhapantuvarali, with Dikshitar’s Sri Satyanarayanam, a kriti that never fails to touch one’s heart.

MSN Murthy
MSN Murthy

She did a nereval at ‘satya gnana nanda mayam’, which was very impressive. She rounded off the tanam with Yathi ‘ananda mayam’, gnana nanda mayam, satya gnana nanda mayam, sarvam Vishnu mayam, in keeping with Dikshitar’s way of alliterative prose. Rama showed her good grasp of Hindustani music in the swaraprastharas. Sri MSN Murthy excelled in his repartee, both in the raga delineation and in the kalpana swaras.

So far, it had already been a veritable feast. We had had tanams in the first piece itself, and again in the Dikshitar kriti. When she started the mohanam alapana, I sat back to enjoy what I was sure would be a grand RTP.

The alapana and tanam were splendid. MSN Murthy displayed excellent bowing techniques, and his playing was very sweet to the ear. He proved, like his illustrious peers of the past, that the violin in indeed extremely well suited to negotiate the nuances of tanam playing. Rama surprised the audience yet again, by taking up nannupalimpa a kriti instead of a pallavi.

Later, when I asked her about it, she said she simply felt like singing nannupalimpa after the elaborate ragam and tanam. One can’t question her choice, but the impish twist was a bit disappointing – I believe a few ragas missed out the caressing treatment they could have otherwise received from a seasoned performer in a Pallavi rendering as raga malika!

The Thani followed. The Muscat audience is known to be very discerning, and there is never an exodus at the thani. Today was also special – the mridangist was Nandagopal, a local lad. And he justified the audience attention. His playing was tone perfect, crisp, and technically flawless. His accompaniment therefore constantly embellished the vocal and violin throughout the concert. In the thani he showed his immense maturity in handling percussion.

Rama was not done yet. Neither was the audience keen to let her go. Requests flowed in, and she accommodated most. A venkatachala nilayam in Sindhubhairavi, Jayadeva’s Ehi Murare in pahadi, and muddukare yasoda in kurinji had the audience swaying to some soulful music. She sang a lilting Sakhi marulu konnane, the male version of a javali in a startlingly different form of chenjurutti composed by Balamurali Krishna.

Rama’s strength lies in her ability to do sancharas in the antara sthayi – she made full use of her ability that day. The concert was thus clamoring for the label of a perfect performance. On a special request from one of the organizers, she decided to sing Papanasam Sivan’s naan oru vilayattu bommaya, and proved she was only human. There is no doubt any number of Andhrites, Kannadigas and Malayalees flinch at the enunciation of their words and phrases by the Tamil singers. Rama proved it was a two way street! The charanam phrase oru pugal indri, meaning without any other refuge, was degraded to oru pughazh iNri (the hard N as in kaNN (eye)), which took away some of the genius of Sivan’s lyrics.

A brisk paraj thillana and mangalam saw to end of a nearly four hour, memorable concert. There is no doubt Muscat is not going to wait very long before demanding Pantula Rama and her concert partner (as well her life’s partner) MSN Murthy return soon. Very soon.

The heartfelt thanks of the audience to the magnanimous grace and patronage of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for such lovely classical music concerts was well expressed by the organizers of the day.

Glossary

Mangalam: Means auspicious ending, A thankful prayer and conclusion to the musical event.
Sadinchane: One of the 5 of the revered compositions known as the Pancharatna kritis.
Tānam: is rhythmic / rhythm based improvisation of the rāgam. It is done with rhythm based syllables like tha, nam, thom and na. It is usually included as second part in a Rāgam Tānam Pallavi renderings.
Thillānā: is a composition consisting of rhythm syllables, like Dheem, thom, tarana and thaani in first two stanzas, followed by a one or two line lyric. In instrumental performances, it is a melodic rhythmic piece
Vidwat: Erudition.
Yathi: is shape of rhythmic pattern and swara rendering pattern which is one of the 10 elements in prosody, particularly used in Telugu and Sanskrit, where the opening letter of a line, repeats at measured intervals.

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Sree Sanmukhananda Sangeetha sabha Festival, Delhi, 04th day concerts

On Monday the 28th Feb’2005, the festival started with the concert of Vechoor
Shri C. Sankar and Party. He started with a Tyagaraja kriti in Sriranjani (Brochevarevarura)
and then ‘Santhamulekha’in Sama raga which was an elaborate piece. Thelialeru
rama in Dhenuka raga of St. Tyagaraja was delivered very well and then the raga
alapana in Madhyamavathi was well rendered with care and good manodarma. The
kirtana – ‘Rama Katha Sudha’ was very ably handled with good tala kattu and kala
pramanam. One can certainly certify the good padandaram in the presentation of
niraval and swara kalpana that is very much appreciable. The accompaniments Sh.
HN Bhaskar gave very good violin support and Kalakad Sh. Srinivasan on the
Mridangam ably supported the artist.In the Second half Smt. Jayanthi Mohan, who is a regular visiting artist of
Shanmukhananda Sabha was staged . As per the trend of the day the concert
commenced with a Kriti of Tyagaraja ‘ Manasuloni ‘ followed by Nasikabhushani –
Maravairi ramani. Perhaps the weather did not cooperate with the artist and a
slightly lower sruti would have been much appreciated and comfortable too. The
raga alapana in Latangi and the kriti of Pattanam Subramaniam Iyer – Marivere in
K. Chapu was well attempted. The raga alapana followed by the violinist is worth
mentioning and was of high order. Sh. Bhaskar’s support to the artist was a boon
and boosted the atmosphere.

The main piece in Thodi – Kadanavariki was a good selection and the niraval
and swara kalpana showed the MLV style of music to which the artist belong to.
Palladam Sh. Ravi on the Mridangam and Trichy Murali on Ghatam gave a very good
Tani Avartanam with clear Chol Kattu presented by them- specially on Ghatam by
Murali.

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Sree Sanmukhananda Sangeetha sabha Festival, Delhi

The third day music and dance festival of Sri shanmukhananda Sangeetha sabha
featured Ragam Sisters and Priya Sisters at Andhra Bhawan.

Ragam Sisters commenced their concert with a Varnam in Ragam Sree followed by
ragam Hamsadwani (Varana Mukha). After a sprite rendering Dikshidar kriti in
Suddha Dhanyasi ( Subramanyena Rakshitoham) the sisters took up Sriranjani raga
alapana which was well attempted and the kriti Sogasugamrudanga Thalamu with its
swara prastharas was very well handled with maturity. The sarvalagu in kalpana
swara was noteworthy. After the Kriti Nenenduvedakutura it was Mohanam-
Bhavanuta of Sri Tyagaraja with good raga alapana and niraval swaras. The main
piece of the evening was Bhairavi with a Tyagaraja kriti – Upacharamu jeseva
which is very rarely heard now a days. It was very well rendered and the way the
kriti was handled by sisters was well appreciable and very promising. Thereafter
the kritis of syama sastry Kanakasaila (Punnagavarali), Narayanathe namo namo
and a Ragamalika- Kuraiyondrumillai was well received by the audience. The
concert was concluded with Lalgudi Thillana in raga Revathi.
The accompaniments Ms. Lakshmi Venkataramani on the violin, Kumbakonam N.
Padhmanabhan on Mridangam and Sh.G. Ravichandran on Ghatam gave a good support.

In the second half of the festival it was Priya Sisters Nadabhushanam
Shanmukhapriya and Haripriya.
The concert started with a spiritly varnam in Abhogi raga followed by Varana
Mukha in Hamsadwani. Then the two rare krities ‘Ranganadude’ in Sourashtram and
Etavuna Nerchitiv O Rama in Yadukulakambhoji were render very well and well
received by the audience. The composition of Koteeswara Iyer ‘Arul Seyya Vendum’
in Rasikapriya excelled with the swara kalpana and handling of Vivadi mela raga
in a very matured way. Even the raga sunadavinodini – Devadi deva of Mysore
vasudevachariar was very well rendered and worth mentioning. The Navavarnam in
Sriragam gave a divine ambiance to the concert. The main raga – Thodi and the
Tyagaraja Kriti- Dasarathi was a good choice and excellently produced both in
the raga alapana and visthara swara prastharas. Here the bow trick of the
violinist Sh. Ragevendra Rao is worth mentioning which was of high class.
Thiruvaruru Sh. Vaidyanathan and Sh. Ravichandran on the mridangam and Ghatam
respectively gave a scintillating tani Avartanam. The sisters continued the
concert with a vrutam and rare tukdas which was a good change for the music
lovers of Delhi.

Both Ragam and Priya Sisters are promosing artists and well projected by Sree
Sanmukhananda Sangeetha sabha.

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Sri Ragam Fine Arts (Chennai)

On November 5th, 2004, Sri Ragam Fine Arts(Chennai), in association with Delhi Tamil sangam, honored musicians Vasantha Sundram (vocal) with the M.L.V. award, and noted top ranking percussionist Kumbakonam N. Padmanabhan(mridangam) the Tanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer Award, Vallivalam Rajendram(nadaswaram) T.N.R. award, and Padma Sampathkumaran (Bala Saraswathi award).

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Concert of the Season, T.N.Seshagopalan

T.N.Seshagopalan (TNS) is a mercurial musician; on a good day
his indefatigable spirit and untiring intellect carries him through to the
heights of unfettered expression. Sometimes his concerts can rise from the deep
depths of depression to the heady heights of pure exhilaration. His concert for
The Ganesh Sewa Samaj in Mayur Vihar Phase”2” in Delhi, India was an example of
a rapid climb from a seemingly irretrievable depth to dizzy heights of release.

Firstly, the concert started 15 minutes late. There were as many as sixteen
(yes, 16) and more kritis . However, unlike the sangeetham that is rendered by
many musicians who sing from a number of preset sangatis, one gets the feeling
that TNS always exercises spot-sangatis in all of his concerts. Although TNS
sang in sangeetham mode, there were many spot-improvised sangatis in every kriti.
Which brings me to the question of whether or not this is a valid katcheri
format. A major advantage was that, after one hour, his voice was set really
well and his every wish was a command. However, one felt restless and
uncomfortable. Perhaps this was a result of us not being ready and prepared for
this format to the concert. TNS commenced with a varnam in Reetigoulai and followed it up with Giriraja
Sutha in Bangla and Merusamana in Mayamalagowlai . He then sang an exquisite ‘Saptagireesam’
in Kaanada. This was followed by “Kaa vaa vaa” in varali. This was then
succeeded by a kriti in neelambari, then bhoopalam, a raagamalika viruttam,
abhang, an ashtapadi of jayadeva and a few more tit bit thukdas. P.Jayabhaskar
performed a superior taniavartanam that was as lofty as the kriti Kaa Vaa Vaa
that preceded it. Of the few concluding pieces the tillana in sindhu bhairavi
was outstanding.

K.Venkatakrishna gave a subdued violin support.This was an excellent concert.
The first half may have left one a bit restless, but the second half was
uplifting. So much so that TNS was afforded a well-deserved full-minute standing
ovation by the Delhi audience. This is something that is rarely seen in Delhi
these days. Well justified…

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Stringed to perfection

Three violins playing in perfect synchrony are always a delight to the ears.
When the artistes are Sneha, Ramya and Kaushik it is like the icing on the cake.
The audience at the Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts & Sangeetha Sabha on the
evening of October 17th were treated to a cascade of music flowing from the
three violins that came together for compositions and played in sequence for
swara passages.Synchrony not only requires hard training and practice, but also complete
understanding and coordination among the players and there should be no effort
to dominate. Ramya led the way but did not impose her will on her two partners.
The concert commenced with the ‘bhairavi’ varnam ‘viriboni’ in Ata thalam.

Hamsadwani was taken up next. Rather than the many Ganesa kritsi in this
ragam it was Dikshitar’s ‘vatapi ganapathim’ which was selected. The succeeding
piece was Tyagaraja’s devotion laden kriti Sobbilu saptaswara in jaganmohini.
Then came “Jaya Jaya Raghurama” in Sahana.

Ramya was given the task of handling the alapana in Vachaspati for the kriti
"Pahi Jagajannani". Her effort was competent. It was clear that Sneha was going
to take centre stage for the day. Succeeding that came two heart warming pieces
Ranidhi and Bhogindrasayinam in Manirang and Kuntanavarali respectively.

The main raga-kriti was Karaharapriya. This is a raga that can never pall on
the ears. It lends itself to endless manodharma and J.Kaushik utilized this
attribute to the full. The kriti was Thyagaraja’s "Chakkani Raja". The move into
the swaras by the trio was so smooth that they seemed virtually part of the
song. There was ‘Azhutham’ in the rendering of the ‘swaras’. Each note fell
clearly on the ears.

There are some artistes who feel that Thyagaraja’s contributions are not
suitable to be taken up after the main piece. The trio is fortunately not one of
them. The rendering of ‘bhajan’ in Misra Bhagasree was soft and poignant. In
contrast was the brisk-paced ‘Alaypayuthe piece in Kanada. Ennathavam followed.
The trio was set to complete the concert after a complicated ‘thillana’ in
Revathi composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman. The unique concert came to an end on a
devotional mangalam in saurasthtram and an auspicious note.

Seasoned laya vidwans Kumbakonam N.Padmanabhan on the mridangam and Delhi
R.Srinivasan on the kanjira were tailor made for their respective roles in this
enjoyable concert.

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