Kumaresh & Jayanthi Kumaresh – Girinagara Sangeetha Sabha – Feb 3, 2019

Kumaresh and Jayanthi Kumaresh presented a wonderful concert for Girinagara Sangeetha Sabha, with K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam, Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam and Pramath Kiran on Morsing, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Sabha!

  1. Vanajakshi (Varnam) – Kalyani (Adi)
  2. Strings Attached Composition – Chakravakam
  3. Sri Dum Durge – SriRanjani
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Behag

The concert started with a brisk Kalyani Varnam in the higher speed. After a brief soulful aalapana in Chakravakam, it was a creation of Kumaresh & Jayanthi that followed, exhibiting the complete range of the Violin and the Veena. Their compositions are so lilting, appear so simple and have the distinct characteristic, that can perhaps be called Strings Attached mudhra, which is inexplicable in words!

A chaste SriRanjani was the next in line. K & JK’s methodical exposition of this ragam is always a treat to listeners! Muthuswami Dikshitar’s masterpiece, the enchanting Sri Dum Durge was presented amidst a few dozens of students who were sitting on stage to accommodate space for people who were otherwise standing in the hall to listen to their magical presentation! I am fortunate to be one of them witnessing their fingers dance on the respective fingerboards, from the close quarters!! Scintillating SriRanjani swaras poured making it one of the most cherished presentations.

Pallavi in the RTP is usually prepared well in advance by most, if not all of the artistes. Here there is a twist – it was decided that Jayachandra Rao was going to challenge them with the pattern of his choice and they compose a Pallavi on the stage and present it!! A beautiful Behag ragam and sublime Tanam by the duo was the highlight of the evening. Some of Jayanthi’s glides and pauses are mind boggling and Kumaresh’s intense Tanam left us all yearning for more! Jayachandra played a brilliant solo in Misra Chapu highlighting the pattern of Pallavi and the duo responded with an amazing extempore Pallavi. There was no regular Tani Avarthanam segment as such – Udupa and Pramath too played their solos after the Trikalam and Swaras section respectively. Jayanthi played Saveri and Kumaresh played Reetigowla swaras. The duo ended the majestic RTP with a flurry of swaras in different ragas followed by a lovely pattern back in Behag. A spontaneous standing ovation for more than a minute just highlighted how much everyone appreciated and enjoyed the music.

Kumaresh and Jayanthi concluded their concert with a medley HarivasanamKamakshi Lokasakshi and a bit of Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma.

150 minutes of pure and divine music gave an exhilarating experience to everyone. The whole hall was full even at the end of the concert at around 9:20 PM speaking volumes about their music by itself!

Yamini 2019 – IIM Bangalore – Jan 25, 2019

We had a successful Yamini overnight at IIM Bangalore on Jan 25, on the occasion of the 70th Republic Day of India, for a 16th consecutive time!

The overnight started with a brilliant Guru Vandana by Vidwan Ghanakanta Bora. His co-dancers Smt. Anwesa Mahanta and Kum. Sanghamitra Bora have been very good, elevating the whole performance. The piece depicting the fight between Rama and Ravana indeed left the audience spellbound! They had very good musicians who added the aesthetic aural beauty to the concert! It indeed was a great and fitting start to Yamini 2019!

The mesmerizing siblings, Vidwan Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Vidushi Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi presented a sublime concert. It was Pushya Bahula Panchami, the day Saint Thyagaraja attained Moksha and they played some splendid masterpieces like GnanaMosaga raada (raga PoorviKalyani), Ganamurthe (raga Ganamurthi) of the Saint. It is very fitting that they performed on this day, as they belong to the direct Shishya parampara (lineage) of Saint himself! A mellifluous elaboration of raga Mohanam followed by yet another masterpiece of Thyagaraja, MohanaRama, was indeed a treat to listeners. One of the senior most Carnatic Musicians and living legend, Sangitha Kalanidhi Prof. Trichy Sankaran played some exquisite Mridangam strokes to beautify their presentation all the way. I may say, Prof. Sankaran and Lalgudi bani (gharana) are perhaps made for each other! Sri K V Gopalakrishnan on Khanjira provided a great support. They played some popular compositions like Raghuvamsa Sudha on request and ended aptly with a Thillana composed by their Guru, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman, in raga Desh. The standing ovation at the end of their concert was very long and befitting!

Vidushi Manjusha Kulkarni Patil presented a brilliant concert starting with a detailed aalap of raag JogKauns, and a bandish in Vilambit EkTaal and TeenTaal. Sri Prashant Pandav on Tabla and Sri Vyasmurti Katti on Harmonium  played very well complementing her melody. A soulful and enchanting aalap and jor-jhala in Sohni left the audience spellbound. She concluded the concert with a folkish dadra and a couple of Abhangs, on request.

Pt. Debasish Bhattacharya presented a soothing and a detailed JogKauns. He demonstrated the beauty of the raag in a languid way and was very well received by the audience at 3 AM!! Pt. Ravindra Yavagal played extremely well to enhance the presentation and it was all happy faces at the end of the concert!

Trichur Brothers, Vidwans Srikrishna Mohan and Ramkumar Mohan are the recent YSNA awardees and we are extremely happy to have hosted their debut performance for SPIC MACAY. Their much anticipated concert started with a soulful Syama Sastri’s Swarajathi masterpiece, Kamakshi, in raga Bhairavi. Brisk Vatapi Ganapathim Bhajeham in raga Hamsadhwani brought their energy out and the audience were enthralled with a variety of compositions for the next hour or so. Their father, Sri Trichur Mohan, yet another senior Mridangam artiste, played exceedingly well and L Ramakrishnan on Violin and Kovai Suresh on Ghatam provided great support. They concluded their concert with some of the popular pieces, ChinnanchirukiliyeVande Mataram and the famous English notes song composed by Sri Muttaiah Bhagavathar, having been inspired by the band in the Mysore kingdom, and popularized by his prime disciple and one of the most important musicians in Carnatic music history, Sri Madurai Mani Iyer.

Note – Concert info extracted from the e-mail sent to all core volunteers of SPIC MACAY by me, in the capacity of the event coordinator.

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira – Jan 5, 2019

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh gave an astounding concert at Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira Sankranthi Music Festival, with K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam.

  1. Chalamela (Varnam) – Nattakurinji
  2. Pancha Matanga – Malahari
  3. Nannu Vidachi Kadalakura – Reetigowla
  4. Niravadhi Sukhada – RaviChandrika
  5. Amma Ravamma – Kalyani
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Malayamarutham
  7. Sri Rama Chandra Kripalu – YamunaKalyani
  8. Thillana – Desh
  9. Kamakshi Lokasakshi – Madhyamavathi

My first concert of 2019 started with a beautiful elaboration of one of my favorite ragas, Nattakurinji. Varnam Chalamela had some interesting variations for last two Ettugada swaras and the start couldn’t be better! A brief sketch of Malahari followed. She distinctly highlighted Sa-Ri-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa-Ri-Ga-Ri-Sa phrase to bring out the raga flavor in a very short span. I am sure it also helped illiterates like me to easily guess the ragam without further thinking! Dikshitar’s krithi Pancha Matanga was played very well. Mellifluous swaras in Malahari were indeed a treat!

A chaste elaboration of Reetigowla was heavenly. I am fortunate to hear the ragam again in a second consecutive concert of Dr. Jayanthi that I attended. Nannu Vidachi Kadalakura is generally sung in a languid style and is supposed to be very difficult to present on any instrument and this rendition was the best one can hear an instrument sing the composition! Lord Rama would certainly never move anywhere while she played!! Jayachandra followed her very well to beautify the presentation!

A brisk Niravadhi Sukhada was a surprise! The krithi gives a lot of scope to explore in the lovely ChittaSwaram which Jayanthi did, but her variations at start of Charanam Mamava Marakata.. were simply unbelievable! The muktayi at the end of swaras was simply god(dess)ly. She played some outstanding sequences before leading to Mamava Marakata.. back at Madhayam on higher octave!!

Soulful Kalyani was the main piece of the concert. The elaboration was very different and with some of the phrases Jayanthi explored the full octave, which was a crash course of sorts in exploring the queen of ragas! Yet another Thyagaraja’s masterpiece Amma Ravamma was presented beautifully. Some exquisite round of swaras which were repeated well by Jayachandra and Udupa in a sawal-jawaab fashion were concluded with a grand & interesting korvai.

Malayamarutham was another surprise of the evening! Ragam was classy with distinctly showing Nishadham in many ways. It was indeed one of the sublime renditions of the ragam that I ever heard! Tanam was meditative putting audience into a trance, that featured lovely transitions to AbhogiBilahari and back to Malayamarutham. She also sang the Pallavi set to Khanda jaathi Triputa Talam and concluded it with amazing swaras in all three ragas. Tani Avarthanam by Jayachandra and Udupa was interesting.

Sri Rama chandra kripalu was enchanting and upon Udupa’s request she played a Thillana, composition of Lalgudi Jayaraman in Desh, before ending the concert with her trademark Syama Sastri’s composition Kamakshi Lokasakshi.

It was heartening to see the crowd overflowing and some of them sitting outside the premises to listen to Dr. Jayanthi. A packed house till the end of the concert just speaks volumes about how much of an inspiration Jayanthi has been for the youngsters!

Wish you all a happy 2019!!

Saketharaman – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 26, 2018

Saketharaman presented a wonderful concert in the company of Akkarai Subhalakshmi on Violin, Anantha R Krishnan on Mridangam and Anirudh Athreya on Khanjira, at the Madras Music Academy.

  1. Palayasumam – Arabhi
  2. Sundaratara deham – Pantuvarali
  3. Amba Neelambari – Neelambari
  4. VaraNarada – VijayaSri
  5. Marakathavalli – Kambhoji
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Varamu & Saveri (dwi-raga)
  7. Aadu Chidambaramo – Behag
  8. Tirupugazh – Hamir Kalyani

Saketh started the concert with a slokam in Arabhi followed by Syama Sastri’s composition Palayasumam. Thyagaraja’s composition Sundaratara deham in Pantuvarali was very good, with a short yet intense niraval at ragadi samharam raghavam udaram followed by some scintillating swaras and nice poruthams. Both Akkarai and Anantha complemented Saketh well.

A very beautiful aalapana in Neelambari was a treat to the audience. These kind of ragas in slow pace actually add a great variety to the concerts! Having started with a slokam yet again, Manikyaveena.., he brought out his typical soulful rendition of Ponnaiah Pillai’s composition Amba Neelambari in a lovely fashion! A brisk VaraNarada served as a nice filler and lifted the energy in the auditorium. Flashy swaras in a variety of interesting patterns were to be savoured.

A languid Kambhoji aalapana by Saketh was simply outstanding. Akkarai also returned well but it was a bit too long. Dikshitar’s masterpiece Marakathavalli was presented very well. Niraval could have added more beauty. Some very nice swara patterns and poruthams were an absolute treat, with a brilliant korvai structured around Ga and Ma to sum it up. Akkarai returned swaras well with Anantha and Anirudh beautifying them too. Tani Avarthanam was played well but was eternally too long (close to 30 min). I think the co-artistes should keep a check on the time to allow the concert to happen as per the main artistes’ plan and not get carried away with the moments on stage. We were hardly left with 45 minutes to witness the much awaited RTP and other songs.

Saketh started with an amazing Varamu aalapana and transitioned well to Saveri. Violin return could have been shorter again. After elaborating each ragam separately, he sang small phrases alternating between two ragas in a very interesting manner. Certainly it is not the easiest of the jobs! He did similarly in Tanam as well. A dwi-raga pallavi with Poorvangam in Varamu and Uttarangam in Saveri with raga names in it, was composed very well. Varamulosagi Brovavayya Saveri Ragapriya Kaveri Rangayya was set to 35 beat cycle and the Talam chosen was innovative, 5 beats per cycle with kalapramanam decreasing in geometric progression! So first cycle will have 5 * 4 = 20 aksharas, second 5 * 2 = 10 and the last 5 * 1 = 5, with a total of 35. After an amazing Trikalam by Saketh, the swaras included both the ragas in each avarthanam followed by ragamalika swaras in Reetigowla and Kapi before concluding with an impressive korvai in two ragas! Outstanding stuff indeed to come up with such innovative ideas.

viruttam in Behag was followed by Gopalakrishna Bharatiyar’s composition Aadu Chidambaramo. The concert ended with a Tirupugazh in Hamir Kalyani and a traditional Mangalam.

Bhargavi Venkatram – Brahma Gana Sabha – Dec 25, 2018

Bhargavi Venkatram, a senior student of T M Krishna and daughter of senior Violinist H K Venkatram from Bengaluru, presented a fine concert with Shraddha Ravindran on Violin and Kapil Ramnarayan on Mridangam, at the Sivagami Petachi Auditorium under the auspices of Brahma Gana Sabha, in Chennai.

  1. Jaya jaya jaya janaki kantha – Naata
  2. Gnanamosaga raada – PoorviKalyani
  3. Neelayadakshi – Pharas
  4. Nadopasana – Begada
  5. Govardhana Giridhara – Darbari Kaanada

The kutcheri started with a brief outline of Naata followed by Purandara Dasa’s composition. The swaras at Dasarathatmaja.. were short and beautiful.

Bhargavi did a soulful aalapana of PoorviKalyani – although some shades of her Guru were seen, she demonstrated her individual style. Thyagaraja’s masterpiece Gnanamosaga raada was sung beautifully. Some exquisite round of swaras drew applause from the audience! Kapil was following her very closely. A very lilting Neelayadakshi, a composition of Syama Sastri was sung in a languid way. Bhavam has been the hallmark of her singing all the way.

BBB now! 🙂 Bhargavi did a brilliant Begada, which was a top class stuff. She highlighted the Madhyamam characteristic of Begada very well. Shraddha started slowly but played a very nice return! Yet another Thyagaraja’s masterpiece was sung extremely well. The kalpana swaras at Tantri Laya swara.. started in a very languid way and before moving on to the second speed. The muktayi was very well structured around Madhyamam and Kaisiki Nishadham subtly using the Ma-Ma Ni-Ni janta swaras nicely! Kapil played short and sweet Tani Avarthanam.

Bhargavi sang a slokam Vasudevasutam… in ragamalika, seamlessly transitioning from one to the other, in SuratiReetigowlaHamir Kalyani and finally ending in Darbari Kaanada. Narayana Teertha’s composition Govardhana Giridhara in Darbari Kaanada was soulful and it was indeed a great way to end the concert!

Bhargavi planned very well for a 90 minutes concert covering all the elements of a nice concert! Her Guru TMK was also in the audience and it must indeed have been a very happy moment for both Guru and Shishya!

Bombay Jayashri – Mylapore Fine Arts Club – Dec 24, 2018

Bombay Jayashri presented a sublime concert at Mylapore Fine Arts Club, in the company of H N Bhaskar on Violin, Patri Satish Kumar on Mridangam and Shree Sundarkumar on Khanjira.

  1. Jalajaksha nee paadame (Varnam) – Asaveri
  2. Manavi Alakincharadate – Nalinakanthi
  3. Maati maatiki telpavalena – Mohanam
  4. Chakkani Rajamargamu – Kharaharapriya
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Ranjani
  6. Murari Kunja Bihari (Bhajan) – ?
  7. Thillana – Tilang

The concert started with a serene Varnam of Lalgudi Jayaraman, in Asaveri. All-time favorite Manavi Alakincharadate followed that ended with brisk Kalpana swaras. Some of the improvisations in Anupallavi and Charanam were awe inspiring.

Mohanam was presented in a soulful way by Jayashri. It is second time in this series of Margazhi2018 for me, yet it sounded so interesting so fresh! Bhaskar returned extremely well and he showed why he is one of the most sought after Violinists this season, although he was a tad louder (which I assume is the fault of sound person). Yet another Thyagaraja’s composition, rarely heard Maati maatiki was very lovely and the korvai around Dhaivatham was very interesting!

Kharaharapriya was too good. A very soothing and lilting aalapana by Jayashri and Bhaskar was a treat for the audience! Chakkani Rajamargamu, yet another Thyagaraja’s composition was the main piece of the evening. Niraval at Kantiki sundarakara… was top class and swaras poured like rain. Must mention Bhaskar was outstanding in his returns to Niraval and swaras! A nice korvai gave way for Patri Satish Kumar and Sundarkumar to present some thrilling Tani Avarthanam. T V Gopalakrishnan who was sitting in the front row seemed to be very impressed. Overall, yet another ~1 hour affair of this majestic ragam in 4 days was a treat!

A short Ragam and Tanam in Ranjani was wonderful. Some of the Tanam patterns of Jayashri are brilliant. A Tamil pallavi was set to Khanda jaathi Triputa Talam – it is a great coincidence that I hear a lot of Pallavis in Khanda jaati Talams this season!

Jayashri ended her concert with a Bhajan and a lilting Thillana in Thilang, composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman. After listening to it twice in two days, this has become one of my favorite Thillanas and some of the sangathis are beyond imagination! What a great Maestro he is and we are indeed blessed to be in an era that can listen to and popularize his Thillanas! We owe a lot to his prime disciples Lalgudi Siblings, Bombay Jayashri, Saketharaman, and the like, for this!!

Finally I am extremely delighted to have attended a concert of Bombay Jayashri for the first time in Chennai!

Lalgudi GJR Krishnan & Vijayalakshmi – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 23, 2018

Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi presented a great concert at the Madras Music Academy, in the company of Prof. Trichy Sankaran on Mridangam and V Suresh on Ghatam.

  1. Varnam – Huseni
  2. Ramachandram Bhavayami – Vasantha
  3. Rave Himagiri Kumari (Swarajathi) – Todi
  4. Innu dayabarade – KalyanaVasantham
  5. Manasu Vishaya – Nattakurinji
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – SimhendraMadhyamam
  7. Ayye methakadinam – Ragamalika
  8. Thillana – Tilang
  9. Mangalam – Sourashtram

The concert started with a lovely Thillana of Lalgudi G Jayaraman in ragam Huseni. Somehow every composition of the great Meastro sounds so charming and a composition in ragam like Huseni as a starting piece is unbelievable. Only LGJ can do that! Ramachandram Bhavayami is played very well, with Prof. Sankaran’s deft strokes adding beauty to their presentation of composition and swaras that followed it!

Viji played a soulful Todi. I hear a lot of people complaining that this was N’th time this season but it was first for me! Thoroughly enjoyed some of the gamakas in her exploration of the ragam. Syama Sastri’s masterpiece was presented very well. Purandaradasa’s composition in KalyanaVasantham followed before the beautiful Nattakurinji was unleashed by Krishnan. I heard the composition Manasu Vishaya by LGJ many times and could easily connect to the trademark presentation in the Lalgudi Bani. Wonderful swaras embellished greatly by both the percussionists was a treat to listen. A very complex korvai to end the swaras seemed to be very complex indeed!! Tani Avarthanam by Sankaran and Suresh was excellent and I was definitely yearning for more of it!

SimhendraMadhyamam was presented by both, taking turns, each in their own styles and it was outstanding! A brief Graha Bhedam to Bowli by Krishnan in the aalapana was interesting. There is a very unique way in which he plays the Tanam and it is mesmerizing every single time!! Pallavi Ananda Natana Prakasa Sarvesa Natesa Jagadeesa was as usual so complex, in Khanda Jaati Ata Talam (28). It was a tight rope walk for all of them in presenting the same. Viji did an amazing Trikalam and for the swaras they made all lives easier by choosing to continue in Misra Chapu (7). Ragamalika swaras in Kedaram, HamirKalyani, AthanaKuntalavaraliAbhogi were top class before getting back to SimhendraMadhyamam and ending the RTP with a nice korvai!

A quick Bharatiyar’s composition Ayye methakadinam was very good. The concert ended with a Thillana in ragam Tilang, yet another beautiful creation of LGJ.