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!

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H K Venkatram, Ashwin Anand & Ravikiran – Odukathur Mutt – February 26, 2017

Very glad to have attended a beautiful Violin – Veena – Venu (VVV) concert by my Guru Sri H K Venkatram (HKV), Sri Ashwin Anand & Sri Ravikiran with the amazing Mridangam Maestro Guru Sri Karaikudi Mani and Sri Guruprasanna on Khanjira, as part of Kalotsav 2017 at Odukathur Mutt Sivaratri celebrations!

  1. Parvathi Pathim Pranaumi Satatam- Hamsadhwani
  2. Thyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam – Ananda Bhairavi
  3. Sobhillu Saptaswara – Jaganmohini
  4. Siva Siva Siva Anarada – Pantuvarali
  5. Dattatreya Trimurti Rupa – Ranjani
  6. Swara Raga Sudha – Sankarabharanam
  7. Shiva Darushana Namagayithu – Madhyamavathi
  8. Thillana – Mohanakalyani
  9. Mangalam – Sourashtram

Concert started with the krithi Parvathi Pathim, a composition of Muttuswamy Deekshitaar, in Hamsadhwani on a very auspicious note. This is a rare krithi and was a perfect pick to start with, for this being Sivaratri time. Kalpana swaras set the tone for the rest of the concert, which indeed turned out to be a memorable one!

Thyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam is one of the remarkable compositions of Muttuswamy Deekshitaar, which is set to chouka kala (Vilambit) Rupaka Talam. The Gopuchcham and Srotaavaham experimentations in Pallavi and Madhyamakala Sahityam are always a treat to listen to! Thanks to Dr. SrinivasaRaghavan who threw some light on these aspects of the composition. A very brief aalapana of Ananda Bhairavi by HKV Sir led to a wonderful rendition of this composition. A unison of three melody instruments Violin, Veena and Flute performing in a great synchrony was a delight – add to it Mani Sir’s Mridangam and Guruprasanna’s wonderful shadowing of him with his Khanjira!

Brisk Sobhillu Saptaswara, a great composition of Saint Thyagaraja was a filler before the sub-main composition. Ashwin presented a very nice and detailed exploration of Pantuvarali. Being Sivaratri season, the krithi Siva Siva Siva Anarada, a composition of Saint Thyagaraja was expected. Grand Niraval on Agamamula Nutiyinchi by all three on VVV explored multiple dimensions of the wonderful ragam. Kalpana swaras followed in multiple rhythmic patterns.

Ravikiran presented a nice Ranjani aalapana. The krithi that followed was Dattatreya Trimurthi Rupa, a composition by Sachchidananda Swamy ji.

Sankarabharanam. My tryst with this amazing ragam continues!! Like I mentioned in a couple of my previous posts, it is a ragam in which I learn new phrases each time I listen to it! As usual, a very soothing aalapana from HKV Sir exploring the majestic ragam to the core, made the audience spellbound! Saint Thyagaraja’s immortal composition Swara Raga Sudha followed as the grand main piece of the evening. An exquisite round of kalpana swaras followed by the most awaited Tani Avarthanam by the Maestro Mani Sir. What an energy!! What a delightful Avarthanam it was, ably complemented by Guruprasanna!! A Thunderous applause almost at the end of every cycle from audience said it all!

Mani Sir took the mic to speak a few words after the mandatory vote of thanks from the organizers. He talked about the Mridanga Saileswari Temple in Kannur, a few words about HKV Sir and his music. He recollected that the last VVV concert he played was for the legendary Maestros Lalgudi Jayaraman – N Ramani – Venkatraman trio, about 4 decades before.

A memorable concert ended with Purandara Dasa’s composition Shiva Darushana Namagayithu in Madhyamavathi, Lalgudi Jayaraman’s Thillana in MohanaKalyani, which is one of the all-time favorite compositions for most musicians and a traditional Mangalam in Sourashtram.

The concert got delayed by about 40 minutes or so, because the dance programme preceding it got extended quite a bit, else we would probably have heard a Ragam Tanam Pallavi. Nonetheless, this 2.5 hours concert will be remembered for long long time!!!

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!!

T M Krishna, H K Venkatram & Ashwin Anand – Bhoomija – 12 November, 2016

This is a special collaboration by Sri T M Krishna (Vocal), Guru Sri H K Venkatram (Violin) and Sri Ashwin Anand (Veena). TMK announced that Veena – Venu – Violin concerts are very popular since being conceptualised by Lalgudi Jayaraman – N Ramani – R Venkataraman many decades back and even today. However, he said, instrumental concerts and vocal concerts have always been in different paths and have seldom converged as a collaboration (not considering the regular concerts with ‘so-called’ accompanying instrument or pakka vadyam) and this Veena – Vocal – Violin concert is one of those attempts to see how it works!

TMK – HKV Sir – AA performed with Sri Arun Prakash (Mridangam) and Sri N Guruprasad (Ghatam). One of the special things I noticed in this concert is, TMK announced almost every composition that was being presented, and with a bit of background, as applicable.

  1. Mallari – GambhiraNaata
  2. Sri Krishnam Bhaja Maanasa – Todi (preceded by Ragamalika in free style)
  3. Ragam Tanam Varnam – Navaragamalika
  4. Thillana – MohanaKalyani
  5. Nottuswaram (Ramachandram)

The concert started with a brief Tanam in GambhiraNaata and the Mallari that followed in Misra Jathi Jhampa Talam, was very nice and refreshing to listen. It started in ultra-slow motion and gradually transitioned into different nadais. After a brief round of swaras, the Tani Avarthanam followed, which marked a great start to the concert!

The next composition preceded with a Ragamalika aalapana in free style, transitioning from one ragam to the other, seamlessly, alternating their turns, in the order – AA, TMK, HKV Sir. Shanmukhapriya, Varali, Asaveri, Mukhari, Salaga Bhairavi, Manirangu, Surati, Desh, Kapi, Dwijavanthi and finally a brief Todi aalapana and slokam in it, by TMK. The krithi Sree Krishnam Bhaja Maanasa was presented together by AA and HKV Sir, with TMK joining in the end, for a delightful Niraval at Shanka Chakra Gadha. Arun Prakash was outstanding with his Mridangam – felt as if a fourth melody track was running!!

Yet another Ragamalika – now in reverse order. Kedaram, Sankarabharanam and Kalyani (ragam) by HKV Sir, Begada (ragam), Kambhoji (Tanam) by TMK and YadukulaKambhoji, Bilahari, Mohanam and Sree (Tanam) by AA. By now, the composition was already guessed! One of my favorite varnams, just in one speed followed. A special round of swaras in the end – in the reverse order, from Sree to Kedaram was taken up by each, alternating among themselves. Very interesting!! A mini, soft Tani Avarthanam made it even special!! Both Arun Prakash and Guruprasad were amazing!

Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir’s MohanaKalyani Thillana followed. This was a tad slower than what I heard a thousand (or more) times from Lalgudis. Nonetheless, as special, as always!

TMK announced how Sri Muttuswami Deekshitaar was inspired (or, [perhaps] tickled) by the Scottish and Irish light music bands in the British India to compose about 38 Nottuswarams. AA and HKV Sir presented the composition and TMK joined again to repeat it along with sahityam.

Overall, it was a very nice concert indeed, with a couple of ragamalika sections. I would have been happier if there was another composition in place of the long ragamalika as a prelude to the second composition.

Thanks to Bhoomija trust for bringing these kind of concerts to reality. Looking forward to many more of these concerts!!

DisclaimerPlease excuse me if I wrote anything incorrectly. I am a mere mortal and my knowledge in music is very limited to understand and explain things in greater detail!

T M Krishna – Kanchi Shankara Mutt, Malleswaram – 8 October, 2016

I feel very good visiting Kanchi Shankara Mutt temple in Malleswaram, especially in Devi Navarathri time. Goddess was decorated very well!

T M Krishna and team’s concert at the venue was a treat to all the listeners. He was singing with Guru Sri H K Venkatram on Violin, Sri Praveen Kumar on Mridangam and Sri Guruprasad on Ghatam.

  1. Gajavadana Sammoditha – Todi
  2. Sapasya (or Tapasya?) Kausalya – Jonpuri (?)
  3. Maye tvam yahi – Tarangini
  4. Shankaram Pranatha Sreedharaham Bhaje – Janjhooti
  5. Vanajaksha – Behag (Varnam)
  6. Rama Rama – Ramakali
  7. Arunachala Natham – Saranga
  8. Dinamani Vamsha – Harikambhoji

TMK’s concerts are special in the sense that, sometimes you need not wait for an hour or so, for the main piece or whatever you may want to call it. This time, it started with a bang, right from minute 0.1!! A short aalapana of Todi followed by “Gajavadana Sammoditha” was the perfect start to the evening. Niraval exchanges on “Vaagvilaasa Karthikeya..” by Vocal and Violin were very soulful. Swara patterns, especially around Nishadham and Gandharam were mind-blowing! Short Tani Avarthanam with both Mridangam and Ghatam playing together made it even special!

Then started a flurry of ragas/compositions that I didn’t know at all! So, please excuse me, if I write anything incorrect and will be happy to be corrected. Gentle Ragam and Tanam in a raga that I couldn’t identify (I found online that the composition that followed is set to tune in Jonpuri), in trademark TMK style was lovely! It had a great Niraval too, around “Kaustubha shobhitham kantham..”.

There was a soulful aalapana by TMK and HKV Sir, in raga called Tarangini. TMK announced the raga name, perhaps looking at the faces of audience who probably had no clue about it. First time! And… mind blown!! Slightly on a melancholic note, the aalapana was my pick of the evening, especially on the Violin!

Janhjooti followed, on a Madhyama-sthayi sruthi. The aalapana was incredible and he started with a slokam and slowly moved to the composition. Again, typical TMK style, slow, classy and rich in bhava! Niraval on “Karunakaram haram chandrasekharam” was again amazing followed by some slow round of swaras. I generally like the slow exchange of kalpana swaras, as much, or perhaps more than the faster ones and they were exquisite! Another round of Tani Avarthanam, again kept sweet and short by Praveen Kumar and Guruprasad, added more flavour to it.

A short Ragam and fast paced Tanam, followed by the Varnam in Behag that lit up the entire hall, was fabulous!! Two back to back compositions of Deekshitar followed, in ragas Ramakali (announced by TMK again) and Saranga, with brief soulful aalapanas preceding them. A very nice concert ended with a wonderful composition in Harikambhoji followed by a slokam (Mangalam Kousalendraya..) in the same raga, to mark Mangalam!!

PS – The waves (taranga) of Tarangini are still ringing in my ears!!

Saketharaman – RT Nagar Cultural Academy – September 25, 2016

Saketharaman and team delivered a fine concert at RT Nagar Cultural Academy, as part of their annual music festival. I was pleasantly surprised to know the sabha has been doing programmes for 26 years now!

Sri Saketharaman was accompanied by Guru Sri H K Venkatram on Violin, Sri Mannargudi Easwaran on Mridangam and Sri B N Chandramouli on Khanjira.

  1. Saranu Siddhi Vinayaka – Sourashtram
  2. Paahi Parvathanandini – Aarabhi
  3. Mamava Meenakshi – Varali
  4. Ramanama payasakke – Ananda Bhairavi
  5. Evaritho Nenu – Manavathi
  6. Satatam tavaka pada sevanam – Kharaharapriya
  7. <Some Tamil Composition> – Ragamalika
  8. Dayamado ranga – Madhukauns
  9. Bhaja bhaja manasa raghavendram – Bhajan
  10. Thillana – Khamas
  11. Pavamana Suthudu – Sourashtram

I generally like concerts starting with a Varnam but this started with a krithi in Sourashtram and was good too. Aarabhi aalapana was lovely on both Vocals and Violin – although I never heard this krithi, it was very pleasing. Kalpana swaras at the end of it were free flowing and with so much of energy to set the stage for next 2 hours or so.

Saketh’s detailed Varali sounded a little different to me but I really liked the wonderful return on the Violin by my Guru. It was very soulful and no wonder I enjoyed it, because Varali is one of my favorite ragas. Niraval on “Shyame Shankari Digvijaya pratapini” was outstanding! When Varali started, I somehow felt like listening to Ananda Bhairavi and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the same as the next item. I have, in fact, asked Saketh, if he knows face/mind reading! 🙂

Ananda Bhairavi is again, one of my favorite ragas and it was a pure delight to hear the aalapana on both Vocal and Violin, followed by the composition. Some phrases are still ringing in my ears!

A very short aalapana of Manavati (first time for me) was intriguing and the composition was sung very fast. He tried to showcase some gamakas even at that speed, which was interesting.

A detailed Kharaharapriya aalapana was indeed very nicely presented. He probably did a Graha Bhedam to some ragam for a very brief while but I couldn’t identify it. I was expecting an RTP but it turned out to be yet another composition that I never heard before. The Niraval on the second line of last charanam was very special with Mannargudi showing his class. Kalpana swaras were again in multiple nadais and there were many special patterns around Rishabham. Tani Avarthanam by Mannargudi and Chandramouli was outstanding. I generally don’t understand most of the Tani patterns but I really liked every bit of it, especially on Mridangam.

The vote of thanks was really long and boring. I understand, it was the last day of the festival and they were perhaps obliged to do it the way they did. Sponsors are of course very very important, but I think, they should keep it short, quick and simple.

Some Tamil song in Ragamalika followed, which I could not figure out. Dayamado Ranga was the repeat from the last concert of Saketharaman that I attended. The concert ended with a nice Bhajan on Raghavendra Swamy, a Thillana in Khamas (by Lalgudi ?), followed by traditional Mangalam.

Overall, it was a nice concert with amazing team of musicians, with a bad sound system that created problems more often, with screeching sound!

Amith Nadig – Vijaya College of Music – May 28, 2016

May marks the end of the famous Rama Navami concert series in Bengaluru, so I generally used to attend at least one concert this month. However, in this season I couldn’t attend any concert till yesterday and this concert by extremely talented Amith Nadig made sure I had attended a mandatory concert for the month of May.

Vijaya College of Music (VCM) organized an excellent concert by Amith Nadig, accompanied by Arjun Kumar on Mridangam, Guruprasanna on Khanjira and Arun Kumar on Morsing. This is a special concert because it’s organized for the benefit of the students of VCM.

  1. Varnam – Kedaragowla
  2. Sri Ganapathi – Athana
  3. Intha Ninne – Mukhari
  4. Ninnujeppa Karanamemi – Mandari
  5. Janani Ninnuvina – ReetiGowla
  6. Evari Maata Vinnavo – Kambhoji
  7. Thillana – SindhuBhairavi
  8. Pavamanasuthudu – Sourashtram

Concert started with a very nice Kedaragowla varnam in Adi Talam followed by a short, yet delightful rendition of Athana ragam and the composition was presented very well with Kalpana Swaras.

Mukhari aalapana was very soulful (perhaps the best I’ve heard on Flute). These days, there is an increasing tendency to get carried away with fancy things while playing but his aalapana was very pristine, full of energy, that was carried all through the concert. He showed extreme brilliance in Kalpana swaras with three percussionists. Oh, when we all felt a light piece follows, it was a gentle Mandari ragam followed by the famous composition Ninnujeppa Karanamemi, again with some nice kalpana swaras.

Janani Ninnuvina was (supposedly) a filler between two sub-main pieces and a main piece. Despite being short, he did complete justice for the composition in ReetiGowla, one of the most fascinating ragas.

By then it was already raining heavily for more than an hour and water slowly started reaching the hall, perhaps to listen to some nice music. It doesn’t seem to have disturbed him as he enjoyed playing a fabulous Kambhoji. While I was expecting an RTP, it happened to be the famous composition “Evari Maata Vinnavo” by Saint Thyagaraja. Again, clean presentation followed by mind blowing kalpana swaras. He exhibited his mastery over laya by demonstrating swaras in various patterns and the Tani Avarthanam added more color to the concert. Amazing Arjun Kumar, groovy Guruprasanna and awesome Arun Kumar proved to be a great combination.

Guru Sri H K Venkatram, the head of the institute, in his thanksgiving, praised the extremely talented Amith for his unbelievable control over laya and also said he wouldn’t have been surprised if he played Tani with his flute. As he rightly mentioned, it’s the humility of all these artistes that we all students should takeaway from the concert.

The concert ended with a marvelous Thillana in SindhuBhairavi, composed by Sri Lalgudi G Jayaraman, followed a traditional Mangalam.

Important thing to note here is, he played without Violin for 2 hours, carrying the energy and enthusiasm all the way!