T M Krishna – Sree Rama Seva Mandali – April 17, 2016

Disclaimer – I wrote in one of my previous posts in the last year that I was not going to write about concerts that my great Guru Sri H K Venkatram plays, because of two reasons. One, I can go on and on talking about his music & greatness, and two, I don’t want to give anyone a feeling that my posts are biased to someone. Having said that, I am amending it today, because I am afraid I will be missing out on gems of concerts (already missed a couple or more) like the one this post is talking about.

Sree Rama Seva Mandali organized Sri T M Krishna’s concert, accompanied by Guru Sri H K Venkatram on Violin, Sri Manoj Siva on Mridangam and Sri B S Purushottaman on Khanjira. Just for the kick of it, I am naming this concert, “Kaanda” (कांड, కాండ), which roughly translates to “a chapter”. In Ramayana, the story is divided into chapters, like “Aranya Kaanda”, talking about the part of the mythology when Lord Rama went for Vana vasam, etc. You will know more about the naming as you read this along!

  1. Sukhi Evaro – Kaanada
  2. Kaanada Tanam + Neranammithi (Kaanada Ata Tala Varnam)
  3. Sri Maatrubhootam – Kannada
  4. Entha vedukondu raghava – Saraswathi Manohari
  5. Kamakshi – Bhairavi (Swarajathi)
  6. Nee bhajana gaana rasikulane – Naayaki
  7. Ille vaikunta – Varali
  8. Enna tavam – Kapi
  9. Muchukunda varada – Sankarabharanam

The concert started with a wonderful Kaanada aalapana, very elaborative indeed and the krithi Sukhi evaro was a fabulous rendition along with amazing kalpana swaras. When everyone thought the composition was over, TMK started singing Tanam in Kaanada! To clear doubts of audience, he announced, “Kaanada is not over” and what a fantabulous Tanam it indeed was!! TMK always does the unthinkable – he started singing the Ata Tala varnam in Kaanada with a few extra swara patterns in the end, which were mind blowing! Another intriguing thing is that, he requested percussionists to play Tani avarthanam (typically very early in a regular concert), which was too good. He ended with a couple of more swara patterns and a round of Tanam! Hmmm… it was around 1 hour into the concert already!

A beautiful aalapana of the ragam called “Kannada” (thankfully he announced, I didn’t know this before) was followed by a delightful rendition of the krithi Sri maatrubhootam. What I noticed is, unlike many other singers, he enjoys the sahityam (lyrics) so much that he goes into a different world himself, immersed in the bhava of the sahityam. Fabulous swara exchanges by both TMK and Guru and I was awe struck when he sung non-stop at a lower octave that is very difficult to execute!

So, now you have the answer why I named this concert “Kaanda”.. derived from Kaanada and Kannada! Half of the scheduled concert time went in these two!!

TMK then requested Guru to play some ragam and my Guru played a majestic “Saraswathi Manohari”. It was as beautiful (manoharam) as Goddess Saraswathi will be while playing Veena (yes, she indeed will be – I have seen her!). The composition was easily guessed and a great presentation of it was a treat to the ears. The niraval “chintha teerchuta entha modi raa” was filled with so much of bhavam that I can’t express in words!

Kamakshi swarajathi in Bhairavi is one of the remarkable compositions in Carnatic music. A short aalapana followed by the TMK style of presentation of it just made the day which has already been excellent, even better (I am running short of words please!). He went on and on as he made a delightful recipe out of the composition and ragam for everyone present there. At one point when people started clapping acknowledging the happening on stage, TMK with folded hands said, “please.. please”. He was so much immersed in that and didn’t want to come out of it soon!

A very short aalapana of ragam called Naayaki (again first time for me) was followed by a wonderful presentation of krithi which ended with a mini Tani avarthanam. Ille Vaikunta in Varali was another great piece that everyone was mesmerized with.

There was a request for Enna tavam in Kapi.. I think he wanted to sing another composition in Kapi as he asked that person “do I have liberty to sing another composition in same ragam?”, for which I think the answer was “No”. So the Kapi aalapana followed. Although short, both Vocals and Violin touched the strings of many hearts and it was a sheer bliss! Enna Tavam was followed by Muchukunda varada, a Nottuswaram by Sri Muttuswamy Dikshitar and thus ended a great concert that will be remembered for long long time!

Dr. L Subramaniam – Sree Rama Seva Mandali – April 16, 2016

It’s been really long since I attended a Violin concert and that too by Padma Bhushan Dr. L Subramaniam and hence decided to give TMK’s concert in another venue, a miss. While I am happy to have met the great man and he recollected that we met in Intel (June 2015), I must say I am not satisfied with this concert.

Dr. L Subramaniam and Ambi Subramaniam were accompanied by Vid. V V Ramanamurthy on Mridangam, Vid. T N Radhakrishnan on Ghatam and Vid. G Satyasai on Morsing.

First of all, the Mandali was doing honors to some personalities from various domains and LS was chief guest. It ate up all the time and patience of audience as it went on and on. The concert that was supposed to start at 6:30 PM finally started at 7:30 PM.

  1. Bhairavi Ata Tala varnam
  2. Vatapi Ganapatim – Hamsadhwani
  3. Teliyaleru Rama – Dhenuka
  4. Niravadi Sukhada – Ravi Chandrika
  5. Venkatachala Nilayam – Sindhu Bhairavi

The concert started with Bhairavi Ata Tala varnam in 5 speeds – the LS trademark style. He stopped for something after playing 5 speeds and the percussionists assumed he stopped composition and played ending tani phrases. To everyone’s surprise, LS picked up the charanam and swaras from nowhere and that was a good end to varnam, although I didn’t like the break (LS sometimes does stop in the middle of compositions, and I never understood why he does!)

Then came, a detailed aalapana of Hamsadhwani and I was already guessing the composition that they were going to play… I wasn’t wrong. Some sangathis in the song were too good and it ended with some nice swara exchanges between both of them.

Very short Dhenuka aalapana followed by one of my favorite songs, Teliyaleru Rama was rendered with so much feel that I wish it went on for some more time. Again, he abruptly stopped, signalling VVR to start Tani avarthanam. Perhaps, none in auditorium, not even the percussionists expected this! VVR was surprisingly very dull, but was covered up by Radhakrishnan and Satya Sai very well. Tani avarthanam finally picked up and ended well.

Niravadi Sukhada was a straightforward presentation but the ending Sindhu Bhairavi aalapana was so soulful! I guess, he actually went into his “zone” by then, but alas, it was already 9:00 PM and he had to end his concert with very delightful rendition of Venkatachala Nilayam, followed by exquisite swara exchanges on both Violins. What a pity that we could only see him entering into his “zone” in the last piece of the night!! I wish he had continued for a while but the organizers already indicated to him earlier that the programme was till 9 PM only!

The sound system was very bad. I was hardly able to hear LS’ Violin and voice (whenever he talked anything) and every other instrument other than his Violin were sounding louder. My favorite musician, Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh says, “sound, along with silence between two notes are very important in classical music” and I could only understand the importance of that statement, very well, in this concert!

Strings Attached – Sri Vani Vidya Kendra – April 12, 2016

Been very long since I penned down my report of any concert as I haven’t been attending many concerts but I can’t afford to miss Sree Rama Navami concerts in Bengaluru!

Strings Attached concert by Sri Kumaresh (Violin) and Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh (Veena) at Sri Vani Vidya Kendra, Basaveshwaranagar, as part of Sree Rama Navami celebrations was an amazing one. I enjoyed this thoroughly even though I didn’t know 75% of the compositions that were presented! They were accompanied by Vid. Shankaranarayanan on Mridangam and Vid Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam.

  1. Kalyani Adi Tala varnam (Vanajakshi)
  2. Gowla
  3. Kanada
  4. Hindolam (?)
  5. Nattakurinji RTP
  6. Sindhu Bhairavi
  7. Harivarasanam (Bhajan)
  8. Madhyamavathi

The concert started with the grand Kalyani varnam, which was played in only one speed as they started at a very higher speed. A brief introduction of Gowla ragam followed by a composition that I don’t know set the tone for the rest of the concert. Scintillating swara prasthara. Enough said!

Kanada aalapana was very elaborate on both Violin and Veena and their sheer brilliance on swaras was quite evident in the end. Hindolam composition was a filler between the sub-main and main pieces of concert. Nattakurinji Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi was very grand with long aalapana and great Tanam (especially from Dr. Jayanthi, equally responded well by Vid. Kumaresh) with a very attractive pallavi in Adi Talam. Swara prasthara was mesmerizing and the Tani Avarthanam was good, albeit a bit louder.

Some chief guest presided over the gathering for the evening, which was quite looonnng. He actually said Veena is the queen of instruments and Violin, the King. That is fine, but many didn’t appreciate when he said something on the lines that instrumental music is next to vocal music. Everyone was waiting for him to finish as they finished concert with last few short pieces. Sindhu Bhairavi is the trademark of Dr. Jayanthi, the Bhajan that followed was very soothing to the ears and the mandatory Mangalam came in the form of Madhyamavathi.

Overall, an amazing concert indeed! One of those very few concerts that I happened to enjoy a lot, despite not knowing what compositions are being played. I was very happy though, that I could identify all ragas and I hope I was correct! 😉

PS: Who said instrumental music is next to Vocal? In my view, it’s the most divine form of music and I am sure many will agree with me.