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!!

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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…

Kanyakumari – Srivani Vidya Kendra – April 12, 2018

Kanyakumari presented a blockbuster concert at Srivani Vidya Kendra with Vittal Rangan on Violin support, Bangalore Praveen on Mridangam and Bangalore Amrith on Khanjira.

  1. Mahaganapathim – Naata
  2. Nenendu Vetukudura – Karnataka Behag
  3. Mamava Pattibhirama – Manirangu
  4. Bhavayami Raghuramam – Ragamalika
  5. Nanuganna Talli – Kesari
  6. Ennallu Urake – Subha Pantuvarali
  7. Sarasa Sama Daana – KapiNarayani
  8. Mokshamu Galada – Saramati
  9. Raghuvamsa Sudha – Kadana Kutoohalam
  10. Ragam Tanam Krithi (Dinamani Vamsa) – HariKambhoji
  11. Karadara Barabarade – ?
  12. Muralidhara Gopala – Maand
  13. Pibare Rama Rasam – Ahir Bhairav
  14. Venkatachala Nilayam – SindhuBhairavi
  15. Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma – Madhyamavathi

Mahaganapathim in Naata, especially the Kalpana Swaras that built up the intensity gradually, just gave a glimpse of what was in store for the next 2.5 hours. A soothing Nenendu Vethukudura settled the things up. Sound was a little unstable initially but it gradually got better.

My request of the day was honoured in the form of Mamava Pattabhirama in Manirangu. A brief raga sketch followed by the krithi was nice. It was followed by all-time favorite Bhavayami Raghuramam. I must thank her for accommodating both my requests! Kanyakumari did justice to all ragas… SaveriNattakurinjiDhanyasiMohanamMukhariPoorviKalyani and Madhyamavathi, through beautiful aalapana and Kalpana swaras, seamlessly transitioning to one from the other and ending in Saveri. A quick Nanuganna Talli was a delight, and Praveen played superbly here to complement her.

A soul stirring Subha Pantuvarali aalapana was presented by Kanyakumari and supported well by Vittal. A rare Thyagaraja Krithi Ennalu Urake ended with scintillating kalpana swaras. After playing a quick Sarasa Sama Dana, she talked for a few minutes. She mentioned about how instrumental concerts have to be given equal weightage vis-a-vis Vocal and appealed to both the audience and organizers to support instrumental music. She also specially thanked H K Venkatram, who is one of the organizing members of the festival for lining up a good number of instrumental concerts.

Mokshamu Galada was soulful. The highlight of the evening was Raghuvamsa Sudha, that followed after a brief aalapana of Kadana Kutoohalam. She played many variations of the Anupallavi and Chitta Swaram, which was presented in slow, medium and fast speeds. Percussion team spiced up the presentation as well, so much so, that everyone looked so drained after that one piece!!

After a brief Ragam and short Tanam in HariKambhoji, she took up Dinamani Vamsa instead of a Pallavi. Mellifluous swaras yet again were enticing. Tani Avarthanam was short and played very well by Praveen and Amrith.

The concert ended with a few small quick pieces. Overall, a great concert though percussion was felt a tad louder sometimes. However, there can’t be major complaints about it and sound system also was kind to the artistes and audience!

Hyderabad Brothers – Sri Krishna Gana Sabha – Dec 22, 2017

Hyderabad Brothers Seshachary and Raghavachary presented a good concert at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, with H K Venkatram (Violin), Kotipalli Ramesh (Mridangam) and Sethuraman (Khanjira).

  1. Sami Ninne – Sankarabharanam (Varnam)
  2. Arunachala Natham – Saranga
  3. Korina Varamosagu – Ramapriya
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Bhairavi
  5. <Missed the rest>

The concert started with Sankarabharanam Varnam SamiNinne in two speeds. Brief sketch of Saranga followed by Muthuswamy Deekshitar’s Arunachala Natham was lovely.

Ramapriya was a nice choice of ragam. Both the brothers rendered the aalapana soulfully, demonstrating their rich base voice and HKV returned beautifully. The brothers are indeed known for their repertoire consisting very rare ragas and songs and it has to be appreciated. Korina Varamosagumayya Kodandapani, a Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s composition was presented well with brief exchange of swaras in the end!

Bhairavi Ragam Tanam was long and some rare phrases were presented by both. The Violin return was very soulful. Pallavi is set to Trisra jathi Triputa Talam in Tamil, so I couldn’t comprehend it completely. It was catchy and was presented in different Nadais. Ramesh probably had tough time as Seshachary was adamant he plays the Pallavi on Mridangam also the same way they were singing, after the Violin return before taking up Kalpana Swaras. It was funny, as he was not getting it right but was being pushed to do it till he gets it right, as if he was in a practice session. Swaras were good, Ragamalika in SaveriBilahari, ?, Hindolam was nice. Tani Avarthanam started and there would have been a few more songs but I had to leave for the Music Academy for another concert.

It was a spectacle for me to see my sister’s Guru’s Guru (Raghavachary) with my Guru (HKV) on same stage, yesterday. Concert was certainly a good experience, except for the antics of Seshachary which were funny all through the concert!

Sikkil Gurucharan – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 21, 2017

Sikkil Gurucharan (SGC)  presented an excellent concert, with H K Venkatram (HKV) on Violin, H S Sudhindra (HSS) on Mridangam and V Suresh (VS) on Ghatam, at the Madras Music Academy.

  1. Tharuni – Kambhoji Varnam
  2. Sri Ganeshwara – Shanmukhapriya
  3. Mayuranatham Anisham – Dhanyasi
  4. Tatvameruga Tarama – Garudadhwani
  5. Intha Paraakelara – Kharaharapriya
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi (& krithi) – Kumudakriya
  7. Kanna Va – Ragamalika
  8. Thillana – Poorvi

The concert started with the Varnam Tharuni in Kambhoji in two speeds. Brief sketch of Shanmukhapriya followed by Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi’s composition Sri Ganeshwara was brilliant. SGC announced that the Sangitha Kalanidhi designate Chitravina Ravikiran polished and popularized this composition. Swara exchanges between SGC and HKV were top class!

Dhanyasi aalapana by both SGC and HKV was very soulful. Mayuranatham Anisham, a Muthuswamy Deekshitar’s composition was lovely. Brisk Tatvameruga Tarama was the energetic filler between two long items. Swaras in Garudadhwani at blistering speed and in special patterns, were a treat for the audience and students alike!

Kharaharapriya aalapana by SGC was beautiful, trying to present some rare phrases amidst typical raga flavour. I am floored by his control in some gamakas and in the way he sustained some notes quite long. HKV did an amazing return of Kharaharapriya in his typical style. Intha paraakelara, a composition of Pallavi Sesha Iyer was presented very well. Niraval at the Pallavi line and the kalpana swaras that followed, were so nice! HSS and VS did a fantastic job in Tani Avarthanam, both competed in bettering the other’s returns. The entire concert was indeed embellished by their performance!!!

My pick of the evening is Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Kumudakriya. The aalapana was soul stirring, especially the Violin return drew many aah-s and bhale-s from audience. Pallavi ArdhaNaareswaram Aaradhanayaami Satatam Abhayakaram Bhayakaram Shivakaram was nice except for the word break “ArdhaNaa Reeswaram” that was annoying. There was definitely space for him to make it “ArdhaNaari Iswaram” which would have made Lord Shiva more happier. I am sure he would have been happier anyways, the way the Pallavi Niraval and swaras following it were presented. A very quick Ragamalika (with no Violin return) happened in no time and I understand he had to rush it through as he had plans of singing the famous krithi Ardhanareeswaram quickly. Nice support by HSS and VS all the way!

The concert ended with a Viruttam in Kapi followed by Kanna Va in Ragamalika, again quickly followed by Thillana which he started at half minute past 18:29 to finish off just 1.5 minutes late to the scheduled time 18:30.

Overall, a beautiful concert – Kumudakriya certainly had a nice effect that it was ringing in my ears for quite some time after the concert. It was good to see nice camaraderie among the musicians, as I saw Ramakrishnan Murthy, Sandeep Narayan and few others attend the concert!

O S Thyagarajan – Ragigudda Temple – December 10, 2017

O S Thyagarajan (OST) conquered all the odds the sound system could provide, to present a brilliant concert with H K Venkatram (HKV) on Violin, Thiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam on Mridangam and Karthik on Khanjira, at the Ragigudda Prasanna Anjaneya Swamy Temple, as part of Hanumajjayanthi celebrations.

  1. Evari Bodhana – Abhogi (Varnam)
  2. Terateeyaga raada – GowliPantu
  3. Ragarathna Maalika che – Reetigowla
  4. Marivere Dikkevarayya Rama – Shanmukhapriya
  5. Nambi Kettavar Illavo Rangayya – Kalyani
  6. Rama Katha Sudha – Madhyamavathi
  7. (H)Anumanai Anudhinam – Ragamalika
  8. Mangalam – Sourashtram

The concert started around 35 minutes late because OST was supposedly stuck in traffic and further went to the temple for darshan. OST wanted to get going as quickly as possible, but the sound guy had other plans. It took a lot of time for Bhaktavatsalam to get satisfied to start the proceedings. Evari Bodhana in Abhogi took off but we could hardly hear anything except Mridangam.

The same saga continued even in the next song, Terateeyaga raada. The sound guy disturbed the already bad setup that made sure OST had to stop the next song after having sung the first line, with Bhaktavatsalam’s intervention. Raga rathna maalika che.. in Reetigowla finally took off safely in the second attempt and the sound started getting slightly better by the time Niraval and Kalpana Swaras were sung. Though short, very lovely exchanges between OST and HKV!

Soulful Shanmukhapriya relieved everyone from the frustration that we had to undergo due to sound system. Some old person sitting next to me actually quipped, “concert started now!”. It is so amazing how effortlessly OST sang some very peculiar complex phrases and very well returned by HKV too. Marivere dikkevarayya Rama was brilliant except for the fact that OST had broken the word dikku into two (Mari vere di, kkevarayya), inappropriately in a few sangathis, which sounded a bit weird. Niraval at Sannutanga Sri Venkatesa neevu followed by Swaras was lovely and soft all the way!

Madhyamavathi was the highlight of the evening. Some interesting phrases by OST in his long aalapana were treat to the ears. HKV’s return received great applause too, as he presented the chaste Madhyamavathi in a typical languid style. Rama katha Sudha Rasa was presented with poise and kalpana swaras were mellifluous. Bhaktavastalam and Karthik presented a nice Tani Avarthanam to add more beauty to the concert.

Overall, the audience were certainly treated with great music, that was marred with pathetic sound system. I think it’s the time artistes have to put their foot down and inform the organizers to get proper sound system with engineer before accepting the programmes!