Akkarai Sisters – Odukathur Mutt – February 21, 2017

My first concert of the Sivaratri season is a Vocal concert by Akkarai Sisters at Odukathur Mutt. Always had pleasant memories there!

Akkarai Subhalakshmi and Sornalatha gave a wonderful vocal duet with Mathur Srinidhi on Violin, K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Arun Kumar on Morsing.

  1. Era Naapai – Todi (Varnam)
  2. Alavadennalo Shivame – Pharaz
  3. Ananda Tandavam – Vachaspati
  4. Ardhanaareswaram – Kumudakriya
  5. Brova Bharama – Bahudari
  6. Akshaya Linga Vibho – Sankarabharanam
  7. Eppo varuvaro – Jonpuri
  8. Ayye metha kadinam – Ragamalika
  9. Karpakame – Madhyamavathi
  10. Mangalam – Sourashtram

Akkarai Sisters demonstrated as much virtuosity in singing as they would normally on Violin! Todi Varnam in 4 speeds is a cracker of a start!!

Alavadennalo Shivame in a rare ragam Pharaz is a first timer for me. It’s one of the Sapta Ratnas of Uttukadu Venkatasubbayyar. Lovely exploration of Vachaspati by Sornalatha followed, with a nice return from Mathur on Violin. Ananda Tandavam is the composition to follow, and I really liked the composition. It is apparently a composition of their grandfather and the charanam has swara aksharams right from Madhya sthayi Gandharam till tara sthayi Panchamam. It was indeed amazing to see them reach higher Pa with ease! KUJ and Arun were soft, yet always in the frame, elevating the concert to a different level.

Kumudakriya expansion by Subhalakshmi is fabulous. Muttuswamy Deekshitaar’s Ardhanaareswaram was rendered with so much bhavam and devotion. Kalpana swaras showed their rhythmic excellence! A quick Brova Bharama in Bahudari followed, to leave the stage to the main composition.

Sankarabharanam, like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, is a ragam that I keep knowing something new about every time I listen to it from anyone! Subhalakshmi treated the ragam like a child, caressing it with so much of care and affection! Violin return by Mathur was nice too. Within the span of a month, I heard the composition of Deekshitaar, Akshaya Linga Vibho, twice (that too as main piece) and I am in love with the song and the wonderful sahityam. Charanam even as a text is also a treat to the ears without music. Beauty of Sanskrit and the masterpiece of a composition!! Niraval on Badari vanamuna naayika sahitha and kalpana swaras were weaved very well to make the composition grand. Fantabulous Tani Avarthanam by Jayachandra Rao and Arun Kumar kept everyone on the edge of their seats, in excitement.

The concert ended with a few Tamil compositions which made everyone happy in the hall. Overall, a very nice concert. I had initially planned to stay for sometime and leave to finish other work, but I was glued to the seat and ended up sitting through full concert. First vocal duet concert by the Akkarai Sisters was indeed charming as they always are!!


Bombay Jayashri – Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira – February 5, 2017

An eventful weekend came to an end by attending a soulful concert by Smt. Bombay Jayashri, with Sri H N Bhaskar on Violin, Sri V V Ramanamurthy on Mridangam, Sri B S Purushottam on Khanjira and Master Amrit Ramnath on Tambura.

  1. Sri Varalakshmi Namastubhyam – Sree
  2. Makelara Vicharamu – RaviChandrika
  3. Narayana Ninna Namada – Suddha Dhanyasi
  4. Mokshamu Galada – Saramati
  5. Bhuvaneshwariya – MohanaKalyani
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Bhairavi
  7. Ondu baari smarane saalade – Sindhu Bhairavi (?)
  8. Thillana – Madhuvanthi
  9. Mangalam – Sourashtram

The concert started with a prayer to Goddess Saraswathi, Saraswathi Namastubhyam… before moving on to Sri Varalakshmi Namastubhyam in Sree! So soulful was the rendition, that would have made Muttuswamy Deekshitaar proud! A brisk Makelara Vicharamu in RaviChandrika followed, which ended with wonderful exchange of Kalpana Swaras between Jayashri and Bhaskar.

Suddha Dhanyasi was taken up for elaboration to everyone’s delight. Amazing aalapana by Jayashri, complemented equally well by Bhaskar, was a treat for the ears! Narayana Nimma Namada is a composition that I heard for first time. Purandara Daasa’s composition was rendered with so much of devotion. The Niraval segment would have taken many audience into a different world of pure tranquility. Soulfulness in rendition is the hallmark of the entire concert, which is a rarity these days. The composition ended with a brilliant round of kalpana swaras.

Starting from the Anupallavi Sakshatkara ni… the immortal composition of Saint Thyagaraja, Mokshamu Galada was rendered at a leisurely pace, allowing the audience to settle in the divine environment already created through the wonderful music by then. Ramanamurthy and Purushottam were soft, fabulous and did a great deal of job in elevating the concert to greater heights!

MohanaKalyani is a very beautiful ragam and a detailed aalapana by Jayashri showed multiple new phrases of it. Bhaskar’s return was lovely both in aalapana and swaras, while following her eloquently in Muttaiah Bhagavathar’s composition Bhuvaneshwariya...

Bhairavi was the main ragam for the evening. It’s been very long since I heard chaste elaboration of it and I was completely drenched in its beauty with the ragam and tanam from Jayashri and Bhaskar. His returns in Tanam especially drew a great appreciation from the audience. Tanam was also probably rendered in a couple of other ragams (?) too, which I could not notice, but Kaanada was definitely one of them. Beautiful Pallavi on Goddess Durga, Parameswari Jagadeeswari Bhairavi Sree Tripura Sundari was set to Khanda Jathi Triputa Talam. Kalpana swaras included Charukesi, Rakeshri (?), Behag and I may have possibly missed one or two more ragas. Tani Avarthanam was fabulous by Ramanamurthy and Purushottam and it turned the RTP into a complete package with great team work!

A great concert ended with a Thillana by Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir in Madhuvanthi and traditional Mangalam.

Saketharaman – Sreerama Seva Mandali, Mysuru -January 22, 2017

This is my first concert in Mysuru! I had a lovely time travelling with my Guru to and from Mysuru, add a beautiful concert by Saketharaman to make it a special day!!

Saketharaman performed with my Guru Sri H K Venkatram on Violin, Sri Arjun Kumar on Mridangam and Sri G S Ramanujam on Ghatam. This is a concert themed on Lord Shiva, as it was held as part of a week long celebrations on him.

  1. Saranu Siddhi Vinayaka – Sourashtram
  2. Naada tanumanisham – Chittaranjani
  3. Siva Siva Siva – Pantuvarali
  4. Enneramum – Devagandhari
  5. Rama Rama Rama Rama Ramayaniro – Vasantha
  6. Akshaya linga vibho – Sankarabharanam
  7. Chandra chooda Siva Sankara – Darbari Kaanada
  8. Ayye metha kadinam – Ragamalika
  9. Thillana – Rakeshri
  10. Pavamana Suthudu – Sourashtram

After a couple of brisk krithis in Sourashtram and Chittaranjani, the soulful Pantuvarali aalapana took off! Even more soul stirring was the return on Violin! Knowing that the concert was themed on Lord Shiva, I expected the krithi Siva Siva Sivayana rada that had an excellent Niraval on Agamamula Nutiyinchi… which ended with some excellent round of kalpana swaras.

A pleasing aalapana in Devagandhari followed. Interestingly, the same afternoon I was trying to understand the differences between this and Aarabhi, while I was travelling with my Guru. Saketh sings these kind of ragas very well, in a light voice! A Tamil composition Enneramum, which I never heard before was presented. The famous Rama Rama Rama Rama Ramayaniro in Vasantha served as filler before Sankarabharanam took off!

Sankarabharanam is probably one of those ragas that I always hear some new phrases in, despite listening to it many times. Great aalapana followed by a delightful Violin return by HKV Sir will be remembered for long time! Akshaya Linga Vibho was again a krithi that I heard for the first time. Niraval exchanges on Badari vanamuna naayika sahitha… was again a delight and kalpana swaras, especially some phrases around Gandharam and Nishadham were exquisite. What a treat! Tani Avarthanam by Arjun Kumar and Ramanujam was nice.

One of my favorite ragas, Darbari Kaanada, was very briefly presented leading upto Chandra Chooda Siva Sankara followed by Ayye metha kadinam in Ragamalika. The vote of thanks was soooooo long, owing to the last day of a week long celebrations on Shiva, and there was not much time left for the artistes by the time they were done with it.

The concert ended with Lalgudi Sir’s Thillana in ragam Rakeshri followed by traditional Mangalam!

My picks of the evening were Saketh’s Devagandhari aalapana and HKV Sir’s Sankarabharanam aalapana!!

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Music Academy – December 26, 2016

This was perhaps the most awaited concert of the December season 2016 for me! Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh’s performance in the Music Academy is one of the most remarkable concerts and it deservedly received a standing ovation by everyone at the end of it!

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh performed with Sri R Sankaranarayanan on Mridangam and Sri Trichy Krishnaswamy on Ghatam.

  1. Karunimpa – Sahana (Varnam)
  2. Ekambresa Naayike – Suddha Saveri
  3. Sree Narada – Kaanada
  4. Ninnu vinaga mari dikkevarunnaru – PoorviKalyani
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Charukesi
  6. Akhilandeswari – Dwijavanthi
  7. Radha Sametha Krishna – Yamuna Kalyani
  8. Thillana – Kapi

It all started with a brief aalapana in Sahana followed by my favorite Varnam Karunimpa Ide, by Thiruvotriyur Thiyagaiyer, in a brisk pace. Muttuswami Deekshitar’s composition Ekambresa Naayike in (Karnataka) Suddha Saveri, that ended with a wonderful round of kalpana swaras, set the tone for what turned out to be a memorable evening.

Kaanada will be beautiful always. It’s beauty gets doubled when Dr. Jayanthi plays it! In the past, I have had some phrases of Kaanada haunting me (say, KaanadaMukhi [word borrowed from a very special person of my life] similar to ChandraMukhi) for many days and this particular aalapana was even special! Saint Thyagaraja’s immortal composition, Sree Narada was the composition to follow, that ended with Jayanthi-isque Kalpana swaras, if I may call it!

PoorviKalyani is an amazing ragam that is known to induce pleasant feeling. This aalapana from Dr. Jayanthi would have taken everyone in the auditorium to an eternal tranquility! Such a meditative feeling, and one would feel it should go on and on. Syama Sastri’s composition Ninnu vinaga mari dikkevarunnaru was presented with so much poise that there were goosebumps with aahs, oohs heard all over in the auditorium! Kalpana swaras showed why she is the master of both ragam and laya! Very well played by Sankaranarayanan and Krishna complementing her elegance and enhancing the beauty of the presentation.

Charukesi. Well, what should I write about it? Should I have counted the number of moist eyes in the hall? Or, should I talk about how people were stuck to their seats till the end, perhaps untypical of Chennai rasikas in an instrumental concert?

Charukesi was played to exhibit a deep sense of poignance, and every phrase of it around Dhaivatham and Nishadham would have touched all hearts there. I had actually wept!! Bringing the flavour of a ragam is not an easy job and can only be done with such ease by extremely gifted musicians like her. Blessed are a few of us who could witness it live in Ragam and Tanam! If Goddess Saraswathi had played Charukesi Tanam, she would have perhaps played it that way. Or, she may have herself played in the form of Dr. Jayanthi on that evening! Ragamalika Tanam in another more sorrowful ragam SubhaPantuvarali, pleasing Aarabhi and graceful Shuddh Sarang added a great dimension to the RTP. Pallavi, which was played seamlessly in all 4 ragams, was in Adi Talam. She exhibited the same in multiple rhythmic patterns. Fabulous Tani Avarthanam made this RTP, one to be cherished for the lifetime!!

Muttuswami Deekshitar’s Akhilandeswari in Dwijavanthi and Radha Sametha Krishna in Yamuna Kalyani (Misra Yaman) by G N Balasubramanian followed before the all-time favourite Kapi took off! A short aalapana followed by Kumaresh’s composition, a Thillana in it, marked the end of a very grand concert.

Such a wonderful concert, with extreme planning – right from the choice of ragams to the choice of compositions. If you noticed, she took up at least one composition by each of the Carnatic Music trinity and focused more on qualitative presentation than on the quantity in terms of number of compositions!

One feels concerts like these should go on and on. Alas, they say, great things are available only in rarity and I am blessed to have witnessed one such thing, LIVE!

I have always mentioned that Dr. Jayanthi is divinity personified and one can only second it after listening to her performance at the Music Academy, Chennai!

Om Saraswathyay Namaha!! _/\_

Gayathri Venkataraghavan – Music Academy – December 26, 2016

This is my first concert of Smt. Gayathri Venkataraghavan and a power packed one. At the Music Academy, she sang with Dr. Narmadha on Violin, Sri Neyveli Skanda Subramaniyam on Mridangam and Sri Nanganallur S.Swaminathan on Ghatam.

  1. Slokam in Kalyani, followed by Adi Tala Varnam (Vanajakshi)
  2. Pranamamyaham Sree Gourisutham – Gowla
  3. Seshachala Nayakam – Varali
  4. Paramathmudu Velige – Vaagadheeswari
  5. Samikku sari evvare – Kedaragowla
  6. Varagana laya – ?
  7. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Bhairavi
  8. Abhang – ?

A good concert with interesting choice of ragams and compositions. Varali aalapana was soulful and the return on Violin was amazing and in typical MSG style. She played very well complementing Gayathri and sometimes outplayed her too. Seshachala Nayakam was presented very well. Niraval too was very well executed by both as a team and it ended with some excellent round of kalpana swaras.

Paramathmudu Velige is a nice composition in Vagadheeswari which I don’t get to hear much in concerts. It was refreshing to listen to it in the Music Academy.

Kedaragowla raaga elaboration was fabulous by both Gayathri and Narmadha. Some phrases on Violin drew lots of fascination among the audience. Again typical MSG style of playing. Skanda did a great job in Tani Avarthanam while I felt Swaminathan could have been better to make it a lovely team.

Bhairavi elaboration was heartening to listen from both, in the form of ragam and tanam, Gayathri announced pallavi was popularized by Alathur Brothers and tweaked by one of her friends to sing it in Chaturasra jathi Ata Talam with first 4 beats in Trisram, next 4 in Chaturasram and final 4 in Khandam. It looked a complex Talam to keep track of, for a naive listener like me, but very well presented as a team indeed.

Overall, a very nice concert.

G Ravikiran – Music Academy – December 26, 2016

G Ravikiran is from Bengaluru, but I heard him for the first time. At the Music Academy, he gave a nice concert with H M Smitha on Violin, N C Bharadwaj on Mridangam and Thirunakkara Rethish on Morsing.

  1. Karuna Samudra Rama – Devagandhari
  2. Tulasi Jaga janani – Saveri
  3. Yemani veginthune – Huseni
  4. Sri Mangalambike – Kalyani
  5. Chalamelara Saketharama – MargaHindolam
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Surati
  7. Jagadeesa Panchakshara – Naadanaamakriya

Very nice Saveri aalapana and nice composition in Tulasi Jagajjanani that was very pleasing. Devagandhari and Huseni are interesting choices I felt!

Very long Kalyani aalapana preceding the main composition Sri Mangalambike was delightful, slow and detailed, and it sounded similar to TMK’s style. Smitha did a wonderful job and knowing her potential, I felt she could have scaled even higher. Bharadwaj was excellent on Mridangam but Rethish on Morsing could have been much better.

Surati RTP is lovely with Ragamalika swaras in Kedaram and Poorvikalyani. Top class stuff!! The concert ended with a krithi in Naadanaamakriya, a ragam that always pleases listeners!

Sikkil Gurucharan – Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha – December 25, 2016

I have been waiting for long time to listen to Sikkil Gurucharan and I could finally catch him at the Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha in Chennai! Sri Sikkil Gurucharan, with Sri V Sanjeev on Violin, Sangeetha Kalanidhi Prof. Trichy Sankaran on Mridangam and Sri Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam, delivered a wonderful concert.

  1. Tharuni – Kambhoji varnam
  2. Pavanamaatmaja – Naata
  3. Parama pavana paapa mochana – Ranjani
  4. Vagarani – Kapi (?)
  5. Eduta Nilichite – Sankarabharanam
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Saveri
  7. ? – Dwijavanthi
  8. Bhajan? – Vasantha (?)
  9. Sreerama Jayamangalam – Surati

Kambhoji varnam was an excellent start to what turned out to be a great concert. Ranjani elaboration was too good and my pick of the evening, the Niraval on Paapa Mochana Sri Raghu… was simply outstanding!

Sankarabharanam was the main ragam of the concert, with both Charan and Sanjeev presenting it leisurely while exhibiting multiple dimensions of the ragam. Charan sang with so much ease in three octaves with the lovely Violinist Sanjeev following him very well. There were a very few boring moments in the long Violin return but it was a nice presentation. Eduta Nilichite is a fabulous composition in this grand ragam and it was presented in even grander way, with some exquisite round of kalpana swaras. Tani Avarthanam by Sangeetha Kalanidhi Trichy Sankaran and Giridhar Udupa was fabulous! As a whole, the main composition took about 70-75 minutes roughly and in the hindsight, I felt it was a tad long, as I probably felt he had to rush through the RTP that was to follow.

Saveri was presented with so much elegance to bring out the flavour of it in Ragam and Tanam by both Charan and Sanjeev. The pallavi was excellent and sung in different rhythmic patterns, with excellent support on Mridangam and Ghatam. Though he spent about 25 minutes on RTP, I personally felt, the Pallavi deserved a bit more time. However, I understand the time constraints and he did a commendable job, nonetheless!

The concert ended with some mandatory light pieces and it was heartening to see a lot of people glued to their seats till the end. Overall, a great concert with some of the songs I have heard for the first time. Happy to have attended Charan’s concert finally, after a long time!