Saketharaman – 49th Gayana Samaja Annual Conference – Oct 26, 2018

Saketharaman, accompanied by Akkarai Subhalakshmi on Violin, Patri Satish Kumar on Mridangam and Guruprasanna on Khanjira, delivered a wonderful concert at the 49th Annual Conference of Gayana Samaja.

  1. Sri Guruguha – Devakriya
  2. Tala Beku – Bhairavi
  3. Paripahimam – Vakulabharanam
  4. Amba Neelambari – Neelambari
  5. Mukhyaprana enna – Neelamani
  6. Tulasi Bilva – Kedaragowla
  7. Maasil Ayodhiyil – Ragamalika
  8. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Sindhu Bhairavi
  9. Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma – Madhyamavathi
  10. Thillana – Pahad
  11. Pavamana Suthudu – Sourashtram

Saketh very thoughtfully weaved a nice concert around the compositions popularized by or composed by Smt. D K Pattammal and HH Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, as this music festival is dedicated to them on their birth centenary.

I was a bit late to this kutcheri and while I was entering the hall, I could hear the scintillating swaras for Sri Guruguha in Devakriya. Glad that I was not too late! A brief outline of Bhairavi followed and the rare song Tala Beku was presented very well. Vakulabharanam aalapana by Subhalakshmi was very serene and soulful! Wodeyar’s composition Paripahimam ended with a brilliant swara muktayi. Top class stuff from all, just that Satish Kumar was a tad louder in the end.

Brilliant aalapana of Neelambari was presented by Saketh and Subhalakshmi. He started with slokam Manikyaveena.. and presented the Ponniah Pillai’s composition Amba Neelambari with great devotion to the Goddess. Satish Kumar played very well here complementing the soulful singing by Saketh.

Kedaragowla was again a top class stuff from Saketh which will be in my mind for long time. Very soulful and soothing indeed! Niraval at uramuna mukhamuna shiramuna bhujamuna karamuna netramuna charana yugambuna was amazing, although you expect much longer Niraval from Saketh’s concerts typically. Swaras were outstanding – at one point he demonstrated multiple ways of reaching Nishadham and muktayi was quite interesting. Saketh is always amazing in getting those different challenging permutations and combinations and what a treat it was for the ears! Transition to Bilahari and back through GrahaBhedam both in raga and swaras section was good. Subhalakshmi also played very well though it felt a tad louder on the ears especially at the swaras! Brilliant Tani by Satish Kumar – while Bhagyalakshmi struggled to keep up with him, it was a commendable performance from the only female Morsing artiste!

Beautiful SindhuBhairavi ragam sung by Saketh where a couple of phrases exactly sounded like they do on the great Lalgudi’s Violin and a wonderful Tanam by Subhalakshmi reminded of a bit of MSG. It is a Pallavi in Trisra jaathi Triuputa Talam in Khanda Gathi, as announced by Saketh – it was a pallavi sung by DKP in Todi which he presented in Sindhu Bhairavi. He announced the ragamalika was going to include some of the famous ragas in which DKP sung pallavis, which included Vachaspati, Todi and a brilliant Kapi!

As the organizer mentioned, it was Friday and there were SubhaLakshmi and BhagyaLakshmi on stage. I think it was an impromptu decision by Saketh to take a cue from the statement and quickly sing Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma highlighting Bhagya Lakshmi at the start and Akkarai in the last charanam ..akkaraeyulla.. Such a nice wordplay that audience and artistes seem to have enjoyed.

He concluded a very well planned concert with Lalgudi’s Thillana in ragam Pahad and Mangalam in Sourashtram.

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Dhaara – Chowdaiah Memorial Hall – Oct 20, 2018

It is indeed very rare to see unique collaborations like Dhaara, more so, for a great cause like helping flood-hit Kerala and Kodagu to regain their glory. Strings Attached couple Kumaresh – Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh and Kathak dancing couple Nirupama – Rajendra, in the company of brilliant percussionists Praveen D Rao and Pramath Kiran presented a wonderful treat to the eyes, ears and soul, in the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall.

It was overwhelming to see the wonderful music of Kumaresh and Jayanthi choreographed so beautifully by Nirupama and Rajendra, highlighting the small nuances in their music through their expressions. Kapi Thillana, a composition of Kumaresh, was the starting item which just gave a glimpse of what was in store for the next 2 hours.

Jayanthi played eloquent AmruthaVarshini and Khamas, while Nirupama depicted beautifully the majesty of nature, a small child playing with water and in rain. Kumaresh played an enticing Hamsadhwani while Rajendra depicted Veera rasa. The choice of ragas and playing styles was so great that the dancing couple could do complete justice to both items.

Kumaresh – Jayanthi played a soulful Vasantha and Nirupama – Rajendra choreographed a wonderful duet exhibiting the beauty of nature. It was time for a thrilling percussion segment and by Pramath on drums and Praveen Rao on Tabla. ChalaNata composition was amazing and was choreographed so well – like a dancing couple trying to learn and get inspired from each other, which ended in a playful way.

Charukesi was the solo segment of Kumaresh and Jayanthi. “Soul stirring” is the expression that naturally comes due to their playing style of this grandeur raga. Kumaresh left everyone in awe while demonstrating his virtuosity in exploring the ragam.

NasikaBhushani and Abheri are vividly different ragas and they chose to depict a small story on Radha & Krishna here. The ideas were very innovative. Radha was in extreme love for Krishna that she was seeing him in herself while she was trying to get ready to meet him. Imagine this with a Ragapravaham composition in a ragam like NasikaBhushani! Radha and Krishna were deeply engrossed in making love, at the same time they know that it is the last time they are meeting. This sort of a different characterisation with mixed emotions, for a composition in a ragam like Abheri is simply outstanding!

A visual and musical treat ended with Vande Mataram and exploration of ragam Desh. It is only in these kind of concerts that you feel two eyes are not sufficient to witness. So brilliant were both the couples that my eyes always struggled on the choice between seeing Kumaresh – Jayanthi and Nirupama – Rajendra! Of course, there were two brilliant percussionists in Praveen and Pramath, who contributed a lot to enhanced visual and aural experience.

Dhaara – an outpour of music, expression, dance, rhythm, emotion – a perfect blend of everything!

A word of appreciation to all sponsors and supporters who have supported a unique collaboration like this – hope this opens doors to many more such interesting collaborations for the cause of Indian Arts!

Kala Ramnath & Jayanthi Kumaresh – Bhoomija – Oct 14, 2018

Bhoomija always tries to come up with special collaborations and it is no different as the ace musicians, Kala Ramnath (Hindustani Violin) and Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh (Saraswathi Veena) adorned the stage at the beautiful Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in Bengaluru. Accompanying them were K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Ojas Adhiya on Tabla.

The buzz in the auditorium was evident as this was the first concert for Bangaloreans after Jayanthi received Indira Sivasailam award from the Music Academy just a couple of evenings earlier. It only got enhanced when the audience knew at the start of the concert that Kala flew all the way from San Francisco and back, just for this programme.

They started the concert with soulful PuriyaDhanashree/Pantuvarali aalaps in their respective traditions. Breathtaking Tanam by Jayanthi where she didn’t use her right hand for more than 30 seconds, thus demonstrating her virtuosity, was one of the highlights of the evening! They played Jayanthi’s composition (I think) in this beautiful ragam and the scintillating swaras left everyone mesmerized. Jayachandra and Ojas played a brilliant Tani Avarthanam.

The next set of ragas were Kalavathi/Valachi. Off late Valachi has become one of my favorite ragas, thanks to listening to a beautiful RTP on it and Abhogi by one and only Balamurali garu on a repeat mode for a couple of days. I really enjoyed the way Kala and Jayanthi presented the ragam with such pristine beauty. Ojas brilliantly complemented the presentation all the way!

The concert was concluded with brief aalaps of Yamuna Kalyani followed by Sri Ramachandra Krupalu.. with Krishna Nee Begane Baaro sneaking in the middle. A spontaneous standing ovation by the almost-full house of Chowdaiah Memorial Hall was very befitting and Kala had to announce “it’s over” as people didn’t even move, perhaps in the awe of what was experienced in the past 90 minutes or so.

I was one of the early bird ticket buyers for the show and I managed to get a front row seat right in front of the stage. Little did I know I will be surrounded by musicians with me feeling like the only alien and an illiterate there! On my immediate right was Smt. Lalgudi Rajalakshmi (Jayanthi’s mother), next to her was Smt. Padmavathy Ananthagopalan (Jayanthi’s Guru) and sitting behind me was Violin virtuoso Kumaresh. However, I am truly blessed to be a part of the wonderful show that Bhoomija curated, sitting in the midst all the great musicians.

The sound was perfectly managed and I appreciate Bhoomija for curating such nice collaborations and wish them many more such projects.

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Indira Sivasailam Endowment Concert – Oct 12, 2018

Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal got a feather in it’s cap by awarding herself to Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh, or the Veenai, as she put it in her acceptance speech! The programme at The Music Academy, Chennai, was a high profile grand affair, with a lots of musicians, dignitaries and media persons attending it. Everyone who attended the event followed by her concert, witnessed a wonderful speaker that Dr. Jayanthi is, that very few people know, apart from her trademark Veena recital! Jayanthi read out a heartening letter that the Saraswathi Veena wrote to her, to be read on her behalf, to a discerning audience for having awarded the prestigious honour on her (the Veena)!!

Jayanthi presented her Indira Sivasailam Endowment Concert with Anantha R Krishnan on Mridangam and Pramath Kiran on Tabla/Morsing.

  1. Maate Malayadhwaja – Khamas (Daru Varnam)
  2. Ekamresa Naayike – Karnataka Suddha Saveri
  3. Sri Dum Durge – SriRanjani
  4. Kamakshi Kamakoti – SimhendraMadhyamam
  5. Thillana – Mand
  6. Kamakshi Lokasakshi – Madhyamavathi

It being a Navarathri season, one expected a lot of compositions on Goddess Durga – Jayanthi too announced her intention right away. The stage was just perfect with the most beautiful decoration one can ever witness and it was awaiting Goddess Durga herself to take a seat to give it a complete look! Jayanthi started with a very brief outline of Khamas, and to me it sounded very fresh and pleasantly different! Muttaiah Bhagavathar’s masterpiece Daru Varnam Maate Malayadhwaja started the proceedings in a very grand fashion.

Ekamresa Naayike, one of my favorite Dikshitar Krithis, was beautiful. The aalapana preceding it was meditative and the swaras were top class, with Anantha Krishnan providing great embellishment. A soulful SriRanjani followed. The rare krithi of Dikshitar Sri Dum Durge would have made him proud from heavens. The Veena was literally singing his masterful choice of words in the praise of Goddess Durga. The swaras were brilliant – a fabulous muktayi just left everyone in awe.

Main ragam of the evening was SimhendraMadhyamam, something which I haven’t heard in a concert in a long time. Jayanthi always has a beautiful knack of making it look easier for novices like me with her charming smile and she enjoying her presentation only doubled the apparent ease. Sublime elaboration of the ragam, caressing the notes in all three octaves with great ease, was certainly a treat to witness! Tanam was flowing freely like a river and in the process, showing the different majestic strides of it through Ragamalika in SahanaRanjani and Aarabhi before concluding back in it’s main stream SimhendraMadhyamam. Scintillating swaras section, where Anantha and Pramath played extremely well to match her style was outstanding. A short and entertaining Tani Avarthanam brought to close, what I would call an epic!

Lalgudi Jayaraman’s composition, a Thillana, yet again on Goddess Kamakshi, in Mand was as grand as ever and Jayanthi ended her concert with her trademark song Kamakshi Lokasakshi in Madhyamavathi, a composition of Syama Sastri.

Goddess Kamakshi came all the way to the Music Academy on the third day of Navarathri, sat in a heaven like stage with awe inspiring background, played on the Veena, conquered everyone with soulful music and stamped with authority that Jayanthi Kumaresh is the Voice of Veena!