H K Venkatram & Murad Ali Khan – Sree Rama Seva Mandali – April 24, 2017

April 24 is Sachin Tendulkar’s birthday and his 44th Birthday will be remembered for a grand century scored by the Carnatic Violin & Hindustani Sarangi Jugalbandi of Sri H K Venkatram (HKV) and Ustad Murad Ali Khan (MAK), at the Fort High School Grounds, under the aegis of Sree Rama Seva Mandali.

HKV and MAK performed with Sri K V Prasad on Mridangam, Pt. Ravindra Yavagal on Tabla and Sri Guruprasanna on Khanjira.

  1. Sami Ninne – Sree Ragam (Varnam)
  2. Adamogi Galade – Charukesi
  3. ? – Poorvi
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kalyani / Yaman
  5. Bhagyada Lakshmi / ? – Madhyamavathi / Bhoopal Todi (?)
  6. Vaishnava Jana to
  7. Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram
  8. Mangalam

The concert was planned in such a way that HKV and MAK played solo for 30 minutes each followed by the most awaited Jugalbandi.

A brisk start to the evening in the form of Sree Raga Varnam in two speeds set the stage for some soulful music to follow. Charukesi is one of my most favorite and haunting (for good) ragas. Soul stirring aalapana by HKV left the audience in awe and the krithi that followed was Adamodi Galade, one of the remarkable compositions of Saint Thyagaraja. It ended with some interesting patterns of kalpana swaras, in multiple nadais, with all three wonderful percussionists embellishing them through their anticipations.

MAK took off to play a short & a very soothing Poorvi aalap, and followed it up with a composition. Ravindra Yavagal provided great accompaniment to the composition and the swaras that followed. The timber of the wonderful instrument Sarangi and the atmosphere already created earlier by Charukesi made it more lively!

Time for Jugalbandi. It started with Kalyani and Yaman and gradually transitioned seamlessly to a few ragas, the scales of which are similar in both styles of music. Hindolam / Malkauns and Keeravani (which is common name in both styles) were the pairs to follow, with short aalapanas before coming back to Kalyani / Yaman. Tanam / Jod was only in Kalyani / Yaman and there were many “wow” moments that kept audience enthused all the way. Pallavi Rama Rama Kalyana Rama Raghurama Maampaahi is set to Adi Talam. Ragamalika swaras followed in BegadaNalinakanthiPilu (Kapi) and couple of other ragas which I couldn’t identify, before ending it in a grand way in Hamsanandi / Sohini. HKV played the swaras till the AtiTara Sthayi Shadjamam that left audience spell-bound and marked a fitting end to a wonderful RTP. I understand it must be very complex and the way MAK played swaras at high speeds was a treat to watch and listen! Tani Avarthanam by K V Prasad, Guruprasanna and Ravindra Yavagal was quite exciting though it was a tad long. They had to beat all the odds created by the sound guy and they did it with finesse!

The next piece is a Jugalbandi in compositions that were somewhat similar. Bhagyada Lakshmi in Madhyamavathi was the pick from Carnatic and I don’t know the composition from Hindustani music. The ragam sounded a bit like Carnatic Bhoopalam. A couple of famous Bhajans Vaishnava Jana To and Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram followed, before concluding the concert with Mangalam in both systems of music.

It indeed was a beautiful concert to be remembered for long long time. This was my second concert (only) of the Rama Navami season (which is very less by my standards) and all I can say is the sound system needs a lot of improvement. Sree Rama Seva Mandali has been doing a great service to the cause of music every year but the sound has been a bit of a problem many a time. I hope it too gets improved over time, as does the quality and lineup of concerts every year!

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Bombay Jayashri – Sree Rama Seva Mandali – April 5, 2017

The inaugural concert of the 79th edition of the “Rama Navami” concerts at the Fort High School grounds, organized by Sree Rama Seva Mandali was a beautiful Carnatic Vocal concert by Bombay Jayashri Ramnath for a packed audience!

Smt. Bombay Jayashri performed with Sri Embar Kannan on Violin, Sri Manoj Siva on Mridangam, Sri K V Gopalakrishnan on Khanjira, Smt. Chaitra and Kum. Sahana on Tambura.

  1. Jaya Jaya Swamin – Naata
  2. Manavi Aalakinchara – Nalinakanthi
  3. Akhilandeswari – Dwijavanthi
  4. Rara Rajeevalochana – Mohanam
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Bhairavi
  6. Ayi Khaga vahini – SubhaPantuvarali
  7. Jagadodharana – Kapi
  8. Thillana – Desh
  9. Gopala Govinda (Bhajan)
  10. Mangalam – Sourashtram

Vakratunda Mahakaya… slokam in Naata that started on a devotional note, led to Jaya Jaya Swamin, a wonderful composition by Narayana Teertha and ended with brisk round of kalpana swaras!

A short aalapana in Nalinakanthi followed by the famous krithi Manavi Aalakinchara, a composition of Saint Thyagaraja, was a surprise! We rarely get to hear this song in vocal concerts, which is treated as one of the all-time favorite krithis in instrumental concerts, especially Violin. This has surely excited everyone present.

Soothing Akhilandeswari, one of the remarkable compositions of Muttuswami Deekshitar followed, to leave the stage for the main ragas of the evening!

Mellifluous Mohanam was a treat for the ears. Ugadi marks the start of Vasanth Rithu, the first fortnight of which is generally known for pleasantries the nature offers. The birds making some sweet music in the early mornings, behind the mango trees with some mangoes hanging out of them, is a very picturesque sight. Mohanam was as melodious as what the nature offers us at this time of the year! Kannan did a fabulous job in his return with some exquisite swara patterns and gamakas! Mysore Vasudevachar’s RaRa Rajeevalochana was a great choice to present ode to Lord Rama on the occasion of Rama Navami. Niraval initially started at Pavanajaapta Sri Vasudeva and she actually sang the entire sahityam from Pallavi till the charanam in each cycle. It was very interesting and Kannan again did a brilliant job in making his Violin sing along with Jayashri, following her style beautifully. Manoj and KVG did very well in enhancing the beauty of this song and the whole concert all the way. Tani Avarthanam by them was brilliant, soft, yet enthused the audience a lot.

It is all about serious music. No fillers between main piece and the RTP! Bhairavi is again a beautiful ragam that never fails to captivate audience! Pallavi Ramam Indeevara Shyaman Dasarathatmajam.. Vande is beautiful. Tanam, Pallavi and Kalpana Swaras were also sung in Simhendramadhyamam and Kapi too. A very good RTP but somehow the heart felt like wanting a bit more which was covered up with a soul stirring SubhaPantuvarali. Santana Lakshmi stotram Ayi Khaga vahini in it, was perhaps the pinnacle of soulfulness one could ever achieve!! The rain God also arrived towards the end of RTP and has shown his happiness with a loud quick burst who was otherwise calm till then. Mind you, the timing of the louder burst was exactly when audience starting applauding at the end of the song in SubhaPantuvarali! Coincidence? Maybe!

The concert ended with a few small compositions sung in a very unhurried manner, for the satisfaction of everyone present there!

The sound quality was very average and I could understand the artistes always had issues with the sound (or lack of it) on monitor. I hope it gets improved as we still have a month long concerts scheduled at the same venue!