Tag Archives: Indian classical music

Scintillating Concert by an Unsung Musician Vidushi Geetha Sundaresan

Geetha Sundaresan

Carnatic Music has a large number of heroes and heroines. But the list of its unsung stars is even larger. This list is crowded with great musicologists and teachers who are responsible for the success of many performing stars. Such people preserve the greatness of our rich heritage alive by their selfless service. They happily pass on their expertise to others, many of whom go on to become performers of repute. More importantly, many such students go on to emulate their teachers, training more students; thus exponentially increasing the spread and reach of Carnatic Music. Geetha Sundaresan is one such teacher of teachers in the field of Carnatic Music.

Geetha was felicitated by a grateful gathering of her students of all ages, parents of many of these students, and admirers, in a special concert organized to honor her on 22 September 2018. She was accompanied by Sudha Ramasubramanian on the violin, who had been flown in from Chennai for the occasion, and local percussionists Sri Rama Mohan and Sri Nandagopal on mridangam and kanjira respectively.

Geetha started her concert with Saveri Varnam (Sarasuda by Kothavasal Venkatarama Iyer) which immediately set the tone for the evening’s program. This was followed by the Purandara Dasa kriti Saranu janakana kanaka rupane In Bilahari after a neat alapana. I have heard this sung by MLV in Latangi, but the Bilahari version sounded equally satisfying, including the chittaswarams in anupallavi and charanam. Later, I found out that the kriti has also been sung in Saurashtram. Wonder what raga the great saint sang it in originally?

Next was a brilliant Suddha Dhanyasi alapana, followed by Dikshitar’s Subramanyena rakshitoham. Geetha’s kalpana swarams were exquisite, yet not excessive. Young Sudha’s responses were equally impressive. At this point, the teacher in Geetha surfaced. She announced the details of the kritis she had sung so far, and prepared the audience for the Tyagaraja composition in the rare raga Manoranjani (Atu karaadani). The raga is a janya of the 5th Melakarta Manavati, although in the Dikshitar School of classification, it is itself designated as the 5th Melakarta.

Geetha Sundaresan

By now, the audience, already very aware of the singer’s status in the city, were totally hooked. Here was someone who could make the transition from an oft heard composition to a rarely heard one with consummate ease. The stage had been set by Geetha for a scintillating evening of music.

An elaborate alapana in panthuvarali was followed by Sambo Mahadeva of Tyagaraja. Geetha enlightened the audience with details of this kriti: it is one of the Kovur Pancharatna compositions, which sheds light on Tyagaraja’s devotion to Lord Siva. Her interaction with the audience continued with the next piece, Kannan maligaikke marubadi vandeno in Atana where Kuchela, on his way back from visiting his friend Krishna, unaware of the Lord’s graciousness, finds his house replaced by a palatial building, and wonders if he has wandered back to Krishna’s palace again. She informed the audience about Papanasam Sivan composing this song for the movie “Bhakta Kuchela” in 1961. Geetha then launched into her main piece of the evening – Syama Sastri’s “Ni sari evaramma” in Bhairavi, giving it the detailed attention that such a heavy composition deserves. A brilliant thani avarthanam by Sri Rama Mohan and young Nandagopal followed. If the mridangam sounded sweet to the ears, the Kanjeera was no less. Many in the audience declared they had never expected a limited-scope instrument like the Kanjeera to sound so melodious. The local percussion duo once again did all Muscat music lovers proud with their synchronization and laya precision.

Geetha Sundaresan

Eschewing an RTP, Geetha rounded off her concert with Kuntalavarali (Bhogeendra Sayeenam, Swati Thirunal), a lilting Bageshwari piece (Madhura Madhura Meenakshi by Swami Dayanada Saraswathi – Geetha mentioned about the honour she had of singing this song in the presence of the great Swamiji) and a Behag (muruganin maru peyar azhagu by Swami Surajananda), and a Kilippandu composed by her grandfather A K Mahadeva Iyer in praise of Tyagaraja. It was befitting that she invited all her students in the audience to join her as a chorus.

Geetha’s concert was an enriching experience for students and connoisseurs alike. Though Muscat will be the loser in Geetha’s repatriation to India, it was clear to all present that we rasikas here could not allow our selfishness to interfere with her class – she truly belongs in Chennai, where she will be able to rub shoulders with other artistes of her caliber.

Author: Dr (Col) Koduvayur M Harikrishnan with inputs from Mr. Ravishankar Rajamani.

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Darbar Indian Classical Arts Festival 2018

Part of the Darbar Festival 2018 will take place in London during October 25-28. The event promotes Indian classical arts and showcases some of the best current improvised music. The festival is dedicated to Bhai Gurmit Singh Ji Virdee (1937-2005), an inspirational teacher of the tabla. Darbar Festival was first established in 2006 in his memory.

This autumn Darbar Festival will take place at London music venue Barbican for the first time, featuring remarkable world-class musicians:

Thu October 25, 2018

Milton Court, 6.30 p.m.
Rupak Kulkarni + Meeta Pandit

Friday, October 26, 2018

Milton Court, 6.30 p.m.
Soumik Datta + Malladi Brothers

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Milton Court, 10:00 a.m.
Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar

Milton Court, 2:00 p.m.
Sanju Sahai

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Milton Court, 6:30 p.m.
Lalgudi GJR Krishnan & Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi + Omar Dadarkar

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Barbican Hall, 5:30 p.m.
Ustad Shahid Parvez + Parveen Sultana

headline photo: Meeta Pandit

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Artist Profiles: Vasumathi Badrinathan

Vasumathi Badrinathan

Vasumathi Badrinathan comes from a family with an intense musical background. She is an accomplished vocalist of Carnatic music, the classical style of music from Southern India. She was initiated into this art at a very young age by her mother, the late Smt. Padma Seshadri, who was a talented singer. Subsequently, Vasumathi learned music from Smt. T. R. Balamani, the reputed music guru.

Vasumathi has imbibed in her style the fine tradition passed on by her mother – disciple of the late Yageneswara Bhagavathar and Smt. Balamani – disciple of the legendary late Musiri Subramanya Iyer and Sri. T. K. Govinda Rao. Vasumathi enjoys a rich traditional paathanthara by virtue of her training. Her distinct undiluted classical style reveals itself in her rendition of Kritis, raga contours and niraval passages. Endowed with a rich bass voice, Vasumathi uses it to explore the profound melodies of Carnatic music.

Vasumathi has been performing widely within and outside India for several years and has toured extensively in Europe and Asia Pacific countries. Apart from her concerts, her skill in presenting lecture-demonstrations and workshops has been well appreciated. Vasumathi is a recipient of the Junior Fellowship for music from the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, Government of India, awarded to outstanding young artistes. Vasumathi is the recipient of the title “Sur Mani” for her proficiency in music by the Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai. Her music is often broadcast over the All India Radio, one of India’s strongest upholders of classical music.

Vasumathi has released four CDs: Tamil Padams and Nayika portray the love songs of Tamil Naidu and Andra Pradesh, rarely performed and at risk of disappearing. Tamil Marai Isai contains the most beautiful verses of musical poetry by the Alwars -saints-philosophers-poets- of Tamil Naidu during the 8th to 13th centuries. Swara Dhwani presents songs that are typical of Carnatic music.

Besides music, Vasumathi is also an able dancer of Bharata Natyam, a classical dance style of South India. She has been groomed in this art by one of India’s s most revered and celebrated masters in the field – Kalaimamani Guru T.K. Mahalingam Pillai, of Sri Rajarajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, Mumbai. Vasumathi represents in her style of dancing, the pristine beauty of the Tanjavur school of Bharata Natyam. Vasumathi has many performances and choreographic efforts to her credit. For her proficiency in dance, the Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai awarded Vasumathi the title of “Singar Mani” given to young dancers.

As an artist, Vasumathi derives joy as a performer of both music and dance. Her intense involvement in both these streams gives her an added advantage and helps her present her art with more feeling, awareness and aesthetic appeal. Vasumathi’s grip over music nourishes her dance endeavors and her dancer’s intuition invests her singing with feeling and sensitivity.

She directs the Sivubadra Institute of Indian Art and culture that she founded to propagate the Indian arts.

Vasumathi lives and works in Mumbai in India.

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Artist Profiles: Veena Sahasrabuddhe

Veena Sahasrabuddhe
Veena Sahasrabuddhe was born on September 14, 1948 in Kanpur, India. She came from from a family of musicians. Her father, Pundit Shankar Shripad Bodas, was a disciple of Pundit Vishnu Digambar Palsukar. Young Veena started her musical education with Kathak dance. She was initiated into Khayal singing by her father and her brother, late Pundit Kashinath Shankar Bodas. Padmashri Balwantrai Bhatt, late Pundit Vasant Thakar and late Pundit Gajananbua Joshi also contributed to her education.

The style she created for herself retained the fundamental values of Gwalior Gharana while borrowing somewhat from Kirana and Jaipur gharanas. The vidwans lauded the authenticity of her music while most listeners were moved by its directness and intensity.

Apart from Khayal, she was sought after for her rich repertoire of bhajans.

She sang at all the prestigious venues and occasions including Tansen Samaroh in Gwalior and Sawai Gandharva in Pune. At the Vokalfestival in Stockholm and at the Voices of the World festival in Copenhagen she represented Indian Classical Voice. She recorded under many leading labels. She was awarded the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for the year 1993.

Besides being a popular performer, she was also a composer and a teacher. Her compositions adorned many of her recordings. She taught voice at institutions as well as privately.

In 2005 Abaton Book Company released One Thousand Minds (ABC#Ol2). It is a special edition numbered release with a 20-page booklet and folded bilingual lyric sheet, enclosed in 5″ audio-reel box. This special edition was limited to 1000 numbered copies and included a 20-page photo journal of Veena Sahasrabuddhe’s musical history and a lyric sheet in Devanagari with English translations and phonetic spellings.

Veena Sahasrabuddhe died on June 29, 2016 in Pune, India.

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Artist Profiles: Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam

Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam

Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam Born in a family with a rich musical heritage, Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam started her training in Carnatic Music at the age of five. Her keen sense in grasping musical nuances was evident from a young age. A captivating, melodious and rich voice, good control on rhythm, diction and bhava have earned her noteworthy attention in the music field.

Appearing in her first concert at the age of twelve, Vijayalakshmy has an impressive record of performance with several concerts in India and abroad. Vijayalakshmy was invited by the KI Tropentheater, Amsterdam, for a series of programs in Belgium and Holland in Jan 2005. Vijayalakshmy was invited to present a paper on Music Communication, Raga and Tala, a bridge across- at the Sims 2004, Melbourne, Australia in July 2004. She also conducted a workshop for the students of the Victoria Academy, Wellington, New Zealand in July 2004. Vijayalakshmy presented a concert and a workshop on Carnatic music at the World Vocal Music Festival, Tampere, Finland, 2003.

She has performed widely in Delhi, Nagpur, Chennai, other cities of Tamilnadu, Andhra, Kaanataka and Kerala. In Chennai, she has given concerts for all the well-known Music institutions. She has participated in lecdems organized by music institutions in Chennai as also by the Tyagaraja Aradhana Festival Committee in Tirupati. She has participated in the Swati Tirunal Sangeetotsavam organized by the Kerala Sangeet Natak Academy in 2002. In addition she has given concerts in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland. She participated in the Asia Pacific Music Festival in New Zealand in 1992. She has conducted workshops in Carnatic Music in New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland.

With her extensive repertoire, Vijayalakshmy has presented exclusive concerts of composers like Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Syama Sastri, Swati Tirunal, Purandara Dasa, Annamacharya, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Koteeswara Iyer, Oothukadu Venkata Subbier, Arunagirinathar Tiruppugazh and Jayadeva Ashtapadis.

Vijayalakshmy is an ‘A’ grade artiste with the All India Radio. She has performed in the prestigious Akashvani Sangeet Sammelan Concerts and sings regularly over the Chennai Station of All India Radio.

After an illustrious career with All India Radio Chennai as a Programing Executive, Vijayalakshmy worked as Program Director (South) till March 2002, with the FM division of Sa Re Ga Ma India Limited, at Chennai.

Discography:

Apoorva Kriti Manjari
Kritis of Annamayya (Charsur Digital Workstation)
Raga Series – Todi (Charsur Digital Workstation)
Kshetra Sringeri (Charsur Digital Workstation)
Muruga Muruga (Rajalakshmi Audio)
Madrasil Margazhi (Rajalakshmi Audio)
Sarvanandham (Rajalakshmi Audio)
Shaktam-Shakti (Disques dom, 2004)
Nada Sukham (Saregama, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Vikku Vinayakram

Vikku Vinayakram

Vikku Vinayakram, one of India’s finest ghatam (a large clay pot percussion instrument) players, studied with his father, Harihara Sharma. He is in great demand in India and has accompanied nearly all the leading South Indian musicians and vocalists like Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, MS Subbulakshmi, Balamurali Krishna, Bhimsen Joshi, Hariprasad Chaurasia and VG Jog.

Vinayakram became known in the West as a member of the group Shakti, an innovative acoustic jazz/Indian fusion band with guitarist John McLaughlin, violinist L. Shankar, and Zakir Hussain on tabla. He has also played under the direction of Zubin Mehta and shared the stage with internationally acclaimed musicians like Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel and Larry Corryell.

In 1991 he participated in the recording of Planet Drum as a music composer and co-producer together with The Grateful Dead’s drummer, Mickey Hart. The album featured other world class percussionists like Zakir Hussain and Airto Moreira. Planet Drum won the Grammy for Best World Music Album in 1991.

The extraordinary speed and precision of his duets with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain and mrdangam player Ramnad V. Raghavan have captivated listeners throughout the world. Vikku devotes much of his time to teaching at his own ghatam school in Madras. In addition to touring with Shankar and Zakir Hussain and accompanying other musicians, he has performed with J.G. Laya in an experimental group that includes pianists and other percussionists.

Recently Vinayakram was featured in a percussion show called Drums of India, along with Zakir Hussain, sarangi maestro Ustad Sultan Khan, drummers Sivamani and Taufiq Qureshi and enchanted the audience with his dazzling performance.

Vinayakram has won numerous prestigious awards in India. He has many recordings to his credit and is also the author of several books on percussion in Tamil and English. Vinayakram forged and led the group “The Mahaperiyava,” an ensemble of young, talented artists from Chennai.

Discography:

A Handful of Beauty, with Shakti (1976)
Natural Elements (1977)
Planet Drum (1991)
Mysterium Tremendum (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Vivek V Krishna

Vivek V Krishna, a talented flutist was initiated into this art form of carnatic music at the age of 12 years. He acquired basic lessons and flute technique from Sri Vijay and Vidwan H.S. Venugopal. His innate desire to acquire deep insight over this music was nurtured and took shape under the scholarly guidance of rasika kala ratna Neyveli R. Santhanagopalan where in he under went a vigorous training in the traditional gurukulam style. This may be considered as the golden period in the life of vivek where he not only learnt the nuances of music but every aspects of life.

Vivek began to bloom as an artiste and rendered his first performance in the year 1998. There on he never looked back. Unstinting support from his parents and vigorous training from his gurus has taken him way ahead in this art form.

He has been exceptionally gifted with wonderful blowing and bhava and he has acquired different fingering techniques and produces different tonal quality in flute using different lengths of flutes to produce base and shrill sounds and he also has an delightfully appealing personality both on and off the stage which has been commended by connoisseurs and critics.

He has been performing in almost all the major festivals, organizations and sabhas all over India he has bagged enormous prizes in recognition of excellence of performance. he has extensively traveled all over united states of America. In recognition of his talent he has been awarded “Venu Gana Praveena” from Savitri Arts Academy (California).

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Artist Profiles: Ronu Majumdar

Ronu Majumdar

Ronu Majumdar grew up in Varanasi where he was originally taught flute by his father Dr Bhanu Majumdar and then by Pandit Vijay Raghavrao. Ronu’s father was a close disciple of Pt. Pannalal Ghosh, the first Indian flute player to take the flute to concert level and the musician responsible for bringing this folk instrument into the classical era.

Ronu Majumdar’s principal teacher (guru) was the legendary Pandit Ravi Shankar. Ronu has recorded on the groundbreaking Private Music (BMG) album entitled Passages with Pt. Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass. He also performed on Pt. Ravi Shankar’s 1997 release Chants Of India on Angel (EMI) and toured with him in 1988. He has recorded with other legends such as Beatle George Harrison who championed Indian music to young people in the West, Ry Cooder and Zakir Hussain.

He enjoyed a close 10-year association with RD Burman the illustrious film maker, performing on the Bollywood film score Love Story-1942; he also recorded with Zakir Hussain and Ustad Sultan Khan on the 1994 Merchant Ivory film In Custody which won the President of India Gold Medal for Best Picture.

Discography:

In Custody (1994)
Remembrance: Melodies of India (1995)
Rag Jog (1996)
Hollywood Hit: Primary Colours (1998)
Hollow Bamboo (Water Lily Acoustics, 2000)
Krishna’s Journey (2002)
Raga Miyan Ki Malhar / Bhatiali (India Archives, 2002)
Ekatman: Spiritual bonding of the Indian Ragas (2005)
Jewels of India (Sense World Music, 2005)
Fusion Yatra (2006)
A sacred space (Sense World Music, 2006)
Natural (Sense World Music, 2007)
Music for Pranayam (2008)
Breathless flute (2009)
Lady Astride the Tiger (2011)
Timeless Tagore (2013)
Flute Symphony (2015)
Divine Flute (2015)
Krishna dancing with the flute (2015)
Journey: Folk music of India (2017)
Seven Raagas (2017)
North India – Sangeet Trio en concert (Outhere, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Yogesh Samsi

Yogesh Samsi

Pandit Yogesh Samsi was born in the family of the renowned vocalists Pandit Dinkar Kaikini and Shashikala Kaikini. He was initiated into tabla by his father at the age of six, and continued under the guidance of Pandit H. Taranath Rao; from the age of ten he studied with the late Ustad Alla Rakha.

An ‘A’ grade artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan, he has given numerous solo performances as well as accompanied many distinguished artists. He has also accompanied Ustad Allah Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain in their solo performances. He has performed in music festivals throughout India as well as Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan and South Africa. Pandit Yogesh Samsi also teaches tabla workshops.

Discography:

The Tabla Series (Sense World Music SENSE061, 2005)

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Artist Profiles: Debu Nayak

Debu Nayak

Devapriya Nayak (Debu) was born in West Bengal, India, and began learning tabla at the age of three from his grandfather, Chaudhury Kausalya Nandan, who was an accomplished pakhawaj and tabla player of the Punjab Gharana. Later, Debu became a disciple of Pt. Radhakanta Nandi of the Benaras Gharana. In 1981, Debu came to the US to pursue higher studies and continued his tabla taalim from Maestros like Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Anindo Chattergee and Pt. Samir Chatterjee.

Currently Debu remains a ?Ganda Bandha? shishya of Pt. Samir Chatterjee. Debu is an accomplished soloist and accompanist. He has performed with renowned artists like Pt. Vinayak Torvi, Pt. Ramesh Mishra, Ustad Fahimuddin Dagar, Habib Wali Mohammad, Asif Ali Khan, Shahanaz Begum, Gaurav Mazumdar, Partha Bose, Mitali Banerjee-Bhawmik, Tulika Ghosh and many others.

Recently, his tabla was featured in a collaborative effort of Indian Classical Music and Jazz titled Probe. Debu, along with the members of Probe, have also performed at the Smithsonian Institution.

He is also the director of the Washington DC Chapter of Chhandayan, a tabla school dedicated to the promotion of tabla and Indian Classical Music in the Washington DC metro area.

His new CD is called Tabla Rising where he has showcased his 16 years of concert experience with various artists, vocalists & instrumentalists.

Discography:

Probe

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