Yamini 2018 – IIIT Bangalore – Oct 31 / Nov 1, 2018

SPIC MACAY Bengaluru and IIIT Bangalore collaborated to present Yamini 2018, an overnight series of concerts on Oct 31, on the occasion of Karnataka Rajyotsava (Nov 1).

Dr. Rajam started the proceedings with her melodious aalap in Raag Yaman, which was the main piece of her concert. The way she made her Violin sing was amazing and her virtuosity left everyone in awe. Her granddaughter Kum. Nandini Shankar accompanied her ably on the Violin and Sri Ravikiran Nakod followed them closely with his soft playing. She played a couple of Bhajans in Vaishnava Jana to and Payo ji mein ne.. to end her short concert and the start to Yamini couldn’t be better.

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh presented the National Instrument of India, the Saraswathi Veena as the second concert of the overnight, to a packed audience. IIIT-B student team arranged a few LED screens for people who couldn’t afford to get a seat in the hall and it helped everyone to witness the proceedings. She started with an aalap and composition in a chaste Carnatic ragam Nattakurinji and the swaras were scintillating. She presented a mellifluous aalap of the beautiful ragam AmrithaVarshini. The swaras that followed the song literally poured down like a calm rain with an inch-perfect precision. Kapi is one of the beautiful ragas which has similar scale and structure in Hindustani system as well, and a composition of Saint Thyagaraja was presented after a soulful aalap in it. Sankarabharanam, a majestic scale – common to Carnatic, Hindustani and Western Classical systems of music, was the main piece of her concert. Dr. Jayanthi presented a delightful and an intense Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi in it, demonstrating her virtuosity and the voice of the Saraswathi Veena. A sublime ragamalika Tanam in SankarabharanamHamsanandiValachi and Revathi will be cherished by the students for long time. She was in company of two excellent percussionists – Sri K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Sri Trichy Krishnaswamy on Ghatam, who complemented her beautifully all the way!

After an intense couple of hours, Dr. Jayanthi ended her concert with a Thillana, a composition of her maternal uncle, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman, in raga Misra Sivaranjani to leave the stage to another wonderful musician from Lalgudi school, Sri Saketharaman.

Sri Saketharaman started his concert in an unusual style with a Mallari in ragam GambhiraNaata. Mallari is typically performed by Nadaswaram artistes inviting the deity inside temples. His songs in raga Todi (very different from Hindustani Todi) and a typical Carnatic ragam Aahiri were soul stirring. The main ragam of the concert is a chaste Begada, and it was so beautiful that audience enjoyed some of the phrases subtly presented by him in a delicate manner. Sri H K Venkatram on the Violin beautified it in his return in his typical style. The ragam is often referred to as Begada-Meegada to highlight the smoothness of ragam like a fresh cream (Meegada in Telugu means cream over milk) and is known to be very difficult to present. Sri Saketh and team presented an amazing Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi in ragam Shuddh Saarang, one of those typical ragas that got introduced into Carnatic System by getting inspired from Hindustani system. He composed a special Pallavi on Bengaluru on the account of Karnataka Rajyotsava Sumadhura Kannada vaniyu nelasiha Namma ooru swargake mihilagudu. Percussion duo of Sri Patri Satish Kumar on Mridangam and Sri Guruprasanna on Khanjira played brilliantly throughout the concert. He concluded the concert with Baaro Krishnayya and a Meera Bhajan in ragam MisraSurya.

Sri Margi Madhu presented an inspiring Koodiyattam performance in the play, Anguleeyakam. It is an interesting play highlighting the significance of the ring carried by Hanuman in finding whereabouts of Sita. He hands over the ring to her on behalf of Rama and destroys the whole of Lanka with his tail when Ravana set it on fire, after being annoyed by the destruction Hanuman caused in Lanka. In the end, Hanuman returns to Mount Malyavan to meet Rama in ecstasy and hands over the tiara given by Sita in return to the Anguleeyakam given by Hanuman.

Dr. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande raised the symphony of Yamini to great crescendo in the final concert of the night. She shared her deep perspective of awakening of the soul in three mellifluous own compositions in Raag Lalat so apt for the first Prahar of the night. The environment lit up with aggressive taans of Ab to jaago kanhaiyya. Moving from the brahm muhurt to dawn, she caressed swaras with melodious uncommon Raag Mangal Bhairavpresenting madhya lay bandish “tum palan haar” and drut cheej “jaago re jaago bhayi parbhat”. Keeping the tradition, Ashwini ji concluded concert on a high note with a Marathi Abhang in raag Bhairavi. Sri Ravindra Yavagal on Tabla and Sri Vyasmurti Katti on Harmonium complemented her very well, and Dr. Radhika Joshi gave good vocal support.

Note – This is a copy of the report (with a few minor changes) I published to all core members of SPIC MACAY across the world, as the co-coordinator of the event.

Thanks to my colleague Mandar Bokil for his wonderful write-up about Dr. Ashwini’s concert!

Yamini 2018 was indeed a great success with excellent contributions from students, faculty and staff of IIIT-B and of course from the volunteers of SPIC MACAY.

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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.

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!

T M Krishna – Sree Ramaseva Mandali – April 22, 2018

It started drizzling heavily as I was about to leave for the concert and I was contemplating if I should go ahead in the rain or not! In the hindsight, I made a good choice as T M Krishna (yet again) delivered an outstanding concert for Sree Ramaseva Mandali, with H K Venkatram on Violin, K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and B S Purushottam on Khanjira.

  1. Nagna Vipina Nagna Gagana – Kalyani
  2. Janaki Pathe – Kharaharapriya
  3. Manava Janma Doddadu – PoorviKalyani
  4. Nee Maatale (Javali) – PoorviKalyani
  5. Aanandeshwarena Samrakshitoham – AnandaBhairavi
  6. Vatapi Ganapathim – Hamsadhwani
  7. Brovamma Tamasamele – Manjhi
  8. Ragamalika Slokam followed by Vaishnava Janatoh

TMK was in a T20 mood as he hit a sixer with the first ball. A brief sketch of Kalyani followed by Nagna Vipina.., a composition that is part of Shishira Modha by Putina Narasimhachar. Brilliant Niraval!! HKV played an amazing Kharaharapriya and the Papanasanam Sivan‘s composition that followed had a top class Niraval yet again, at Sakala Mahidendra Nilamani Nibha Shareera paahi saketha naayaka.. and ended in some exhilirating swaras.

PoorviKalyani by TMK was meditative, with no Violin following him in the aalapana. The silence between the phrases was elevating it to a different level. I was expecting (rather hoping) Meenakshi Memudam Dehi but the composition happened to be Purandara Dasa‘s Manava Janma Doddadu. I believe he wanted to continue the same mood of the majestic ragam for some more time and requested HKV to play Tanam in PoorviKalyani. Both TMK and HKV did a beautiful Tanam before the former took off a rare Javali from nowhere and it was fabulous. The transition was interesting.. Tanam to Javali and back to brief Tanam again to end the PoorviKalyani for the night.

TMK announced that he was singing Ananda Bhairavi in Dikshitar‘s Sampradaya. It was so lilting and soulful, both from TMK and HKV. It was not the typical AB that is sung in concerts and had some Mukhari like passages which was interesting. A brief Hamsadhwani aalapana surprised everyone. How many times can you get to hear the one and only Vatapi Ganapathim as a main piece in a concert?! It was languid in typical TMK’s style including the swaras. Jayachandra Rao and BSP played wonderfully all through the concert and presented an enchanting Tani Avarthanam. BSP was outstanding!

Shyama Sastri‘s Brovamma in Manjhi is an icing on the cake. It was soul stirring and more importantly the way TMK presented, took the concert to a different level. I am not sure why there was a brief pause while singing the Charanam, but it appeared so timely and just provided the silence that made the impact effective.

The concert ended with a ragamalika Slokam followed by Vaishnava Janatoh, which he initially presented in a different ragam and eventually transitioned into the popular version of it.

Sound system played quite well luckily and had no hiccups. It was pure music with no disturbance for 3 full hours, which drenched the packed house of the huge pandal in the Fort High School Grounds!!

Ronu Majumdar & H K Venkatram – Sree Ramaseva Mandali – April 18, 2018

The collaboration between ace flautist Ronu Majumdar and senior Violinist H K Venkatram happened to be a memorable one indeed. They performed Jugalbandi for Sree Ramaseva Mandali, with Arjun Kumar on Mridangam and Rajendra Nakod on Tabla.

  1. Vatapi Ganapathim – Hamsadhwani
  2. Manavi Alakincharadate – NalinaKanthi
  3. ? – Bageshri
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Charukesi
  5. Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram

A meditative Hamsadhwani aalapana started the proceedings in an auspicious manner, with Ronu playing the ragam in typical Hindustani style and HKV in the chaste Carnatic way. They took the Pallavi and Anupallavi of Vatapi Ganapathim as the common composition and played some exquisite Kalpana Swaras. Wow!!.. the concert couldn’t get a divine better start than this!

HKV played an amazing NalinaKanthi before presenting the famous composition of Saint Thyagaraja, Manavi Alakincharadate in his typical style with some brilliant sangathis. The Kalpana Swaras were mellifluous and in a variety of patterns that left everyone in awe. Arjun Kumar enhanced the presentation very well.

Ronu played a soulful Bageshri before moving on to a lovely composition in Teen Tal. The extempore elaboration of the ragam in the form of Swaras was a treat for the audience. Rajendra Nakod played well to complement Ronu.

Charukesi is one of my favorite ragas and no wonder I was overwhelmed by their choice of the raga for the Jugalbandi. In my opinion it is one of the most interesting ragas, which gives happy feel in the first half of the notes S R2 G3 M1 and pathos feel around Dhaivatham and Nishadham in the latter half P D1 N2 S. One of my favorite musicians calls it a happy-sad raga! Soul stirring aalap and pristine Tanam was presented by both HKV and Ronu taking turns and the entire huge pandal was filled with the typical mood of the wonderful ragam. Pallavi was set to Adi Talam and was presented in a few wonderful patterns before moving on to the Ragamalika section. Ronu played NandMishra Pilu (?) and HKV played Revathi and Hamsanandi. The swaras played by both were melodious and energetic, with HKV playing till the Ati Tara Sthayi Shadjam in Hamsanandi before winding up the RTP with some scintillating swaras back in Charukesi. Tani Avarthanam by Arjun and Rajendra was top class and we didn’t know the time at all as we progressed this beautiful journey. The brief vote of thanks from the organizers perhaps reminded the audience it was already 10 minutes past 9 PM.

The concert ended with Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram played in multiple speeds. It was also nice to hear Ronu singing the composition too. He is absolutely a multi-faceted musician!

An amazing concert and the first collaboration between the two wonderful people and artistes, H K Venkatram and Ronu Majumdar, was a great success. May there be many more such collaborations for the benefit of audience who crave for melodious music!!

T M Krishna – Srivani Vidya Kendra – April 15, 2018

I am extremely delighted to have witnessed one of the best vocal concerts in the recent past. T M Krishna performed for Srivani Vidya Kendra’s RamaNavami festival with H K Venkatram on Violin, ArunPrakash on Mridangam and Guruprasanna on Khanjira.

  1. Thyagaraja Palayasumam – Gowla
  2. Ragam Tanam Krithi (Gopanandana Valaripu) – Bhushavali
  3. Nee mattume en engil – Mishra Kaapi
  4. Enduku Peddala vale Buddhi Iyyavu – Sankarabharanam
  5. Sagara Sayana Vibho – Bageshri
  6. Amar Janmobhumi

A brief outline of Gowla followed by the Thyagaraja Palayasumam, kicked off the concert in a grand way. Close to 25 minutes of pure bliss, with excellent Niraval at Bhogadiprada Srinagara sthila bhusuradhi vinutha valmika linga… and the delightful Kalpana swaras in three speeds. Arunprakash and Guruprasanna played excellent all through, subtly embellishing the melody.

A short Bhushavali ragam and Tanam by both TMK and HKV was sublime. The song Gopanandana followed by the brisk swaras lit up the entire auditorium.

TMK demonstrated his rich voice culture in more than 3 octaves, with a soulful Mishra Kaapi aalapana. He possibly reached the highest possible note on human voice (you never know, only he can better that next time) which left everyone in awe. As pristine as that, were his sancharas in the lowest octave too. He finally allowed the audience to take a breather after his awe-inspiring effort in presenting the ragam. Though there was no Violin return, it was already fulfilling by then. It was a composition of Perumal Murugan, set to tune beautifully by Arunprakash.

HKV was requested to play some ragam and he chose the grand Sankarabharabam! It is easily be one of the best renditions of the majestic ragam, that I have ever heard on the Violin. The composition Enduku Peddala vale buddhi iyyavu was first started by HKV and later continued by TMK. He had presented in an interesting pattern of Niraval (@ Veda Shastra Purana Tatvarthamu..) in three stages, separated by short bursts of Tani. Soukhyam is rarely found these days in the vocal music with the focus primarily on the power-packed concerts but TMK’s concerts are always different. Niraval in three speeds was not just lilting and soothing but also built the intensity in a way that left the audience mesmerized. Brilliant Tani Avarthanam by Arunprakash and Guruprasanna was enjoyed by everyone. It was already more than 1 hour into Sankarabharanam by then and we never felt even an iota of boredom. It was just the music at it’s very best!

A soul stirring Bageshri followed by MDR’s composition Sagara Shayana Vibho just elevated the concert to greater heights. These days it has perhaps become mandatory that TMK ends his concerts with his trademark Amar Janmobhumi, with the requsts pouring in for the same almost everywhere!

Overall, a classy typical TMK concert, with no hurriedness whatsoever and presenting the best of the music to the audience in the entirety, will be remembered for long long time. One has to appreciate the way TMK makes his accompanying artistes (or, co-artistes as he often wants them be called) feel the importance in a concert that they rightly deserve! May the tribe only increase…