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.

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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.

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.

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!!

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!

Bombay Jayashri & Shubha Mudgal – Times SwarSangam – March 12, 2017

A delightful Jugalbandi to end a wonderful double-header on a Sunday forenoon, by Smt. Bombay Jayashri (Carnatic Vocal) and Smt. Shubha Mudgal (Hindustani Vocal) served as a lunch feast for the packed audience of Chowdaiah Memorial Hall. Bombay Jayashri (BJ) and Shubha Mudgal (SM) performed with Sri Embar Kannan on Violin, Sri Manoj Siva on Mridangam, Sri Aneesh Pradhan on Tabla and Sri Sudhir Nayak on Harmonium.

  1. SubhaPantuvarali / Todi
  2. Sankarabharanam / Devgiri Bilawal
  3. Sree / Desi
  4. Madhuvanthi (?)

The concert started with soul stirring aalaps from both BJ & SM and they chose to present different compositions from each classical system, by trying to show similarities and dissimilarities in both systems with regard to the raga chosen (as quoted by SM). While I am an illiterate in Hindustani Music, I am just writing whatever I heard or perceived today at the concert from SM. This statement in no way intends to mean that I know anything in Carnatic Music! SM chose to sing a piece by her Guru Pt. Ramashreya Jha in Todi while BJ performed a rare krithi Nee samanamevaru lerani in SubhaPantuvarali by one of the greatest Carnatic Musicians, G N Balasubramanian. Both systems were weaved into a very beautiful structure, alternating between the wonderful musicians.

The second ragam was Devgiri Bilawal. The grand Sankarabharanam of Carnatic tradition closely moves with this raga (as quoted by BJ). Interesting to see the melodic instruments’ jugalbandi in this set, by Embar Kannan on Violin and Sudhir Nayak on Harmonium. Embar’s rendition of Sankarabharanam was pristine and well, my tryst with the ragam continues! While I don’t know the composition SM took up, BJ sang the beautiful krithi of Saint Thyagaraja, Swara Raga Sudha. Let me not try to explain about the renditions as I can never do justice to it. Soulful! Enough said!!

Time for Sree ragam and it’s closer sister Raag Desi. Muttuswamy Deekshitaar’s composition Sree Varalakshmi was presented by BJ while SM presented a composition of her Guru Pt. Ramashreya Jha. It sounded as if both systems of music are trying to showcase the richness of ragas owned, in a very lucid way. While it highlighted similarities, it also highlighted how they are dissimilar to each other too!

Tani Avarthanam as a start of the song was an innovative experiment, allowing the percussion artistes to demonstrate their ideas without being affected by the composition or the swara patterns that usually follow. Manoj Siva and Aneesh Pradhan did a fabulous job of presenting the jugalbandi of Mridangam and Tabla. The krithi that followed brought back fond memories of a recent jugalbandi by BJ and Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh that I attended. BJ took up Sadasiva Brahmendra’s Tunga Tarange Gange while SM presented a composition by Aneesh Pradhan. Earlier I heard the Hamsadhwani version of it, composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman and it is the Madhuvanthi version of it (composed by BJ herself) that was presented in this concert. This composition marked a perfect end to a Jugalbandi, like Ganga flowing all the way till South and perhaps meeting Godavari, to make all the lands fertile in the process!

TOI did a great job of bringing great combinations in this jugalbandi festival and my first “vocal” jugalbandi can’t get any better than featuring two stars of both traditions!