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!

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H K Venkatram, Ravikiran & Ashwin Anand – Samarasa 2017 – November 12, 2017

Samarasa 2017 conducted by the PES University in Banashankari has some interesting concerts lined up and one of them I could catch is the Violin-Venu-Veena trio of H K Venkatram, Ravikiran and Ashwin Anand, with the legendary Guru Karaikudi Mani Sir on Mridangam and Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam.

  1. Sami Ninne – Sree Ragam (Varnam)
  2. Maha Ganapathim – Naata
  3. Janani Ninnuvina – Reetigowla
  4. Niravadhi Sukhada – Ravichandrika
  5. Gnanamosagarada – PoorviKalyani
  6. RTP – Brindavana Saranga
  7. Jagadodharana – Kapi

Brisk Sree Raga varnam Sami Ninne served as a starter for a beautiful concert that was quickly followed up with Muthuswamy Deekshitaar’s composition MahaGanapathim in Naata.

Ravikiran presented a nice Reetigowla before moving on to Subbaraaya Shastry’s masterpiece Janani Ninnuvina. Saint Thyagaraja’s masterpiece Niravadhi Sukhada was amazing, the kalpana swaras lit up the entire auditorium.

Ashwin played a soothing PoorviKalyani – we could guess the song that was coming next! Gnanamosagarada, yet another masterpiece of Saint Thyagaraja was presented with great poise, lifting the spirit of composition!!

Soulful BrindavanaSaranga ragam presented by HKV that left everyone in awe was the highlight of the concert, despite so many issues with the sound system (all through the concert). Tanam was presented by all three of them in turns. Ragam and Tanam together were so wonderful that it felt like being in Vrindavan! Pallavi AravindaPatra Nayana Brindavana lola Govinda is set to Adi Talam. Kalpana swaras included Ragamalika in KaanadaNalinaKanthiBehagVaraliKapi and ended with the grand AmruthaVarshini which HKV played till AtiTara Sthayi to leave the stage for the most awaited Tani Avarthanam in a grand way. It was a fabulous Tani Avarthanam by Guru Karaikudi Mani Sir and Giridhar Udupa. While the Maestro showed what differentiates him from the rest, Giridhar did a brilliant job of shadowing him with utmost respect, not just in Tani Avarthanam, but in the entire concert!

The concert ended with Jagadodharana in Kapi.

A great team of HKV, Ravikiran and Ashwin, accompanied by the stalwarts in their own fields, presented a memorable concert. Although the entire concert could have been elevated to higher levels if there had been a better sound system and engineer, the audience were definitely treated to the best in the paucity of time and resources!

Ramakrishnan Murthy – Gayana Samaja 48th Annual Music Conference – October 27, 2017

Ramakrishnan Murthy and team delivered a classic concert as part of the 48th Music Conference of the Bangalore Gayana Samaja. RKM performed with H K Venkatram on Violin, Arjun Kumar on Mridangam and Anirudh Athreya on Khanjira.

  1. Mohana Rama – Mohanam
  2. Koluvai Unnade Kodandapani – Devagandhari
  3. Etti Janmamidi – Varali
  4. Ennaga Manasuku – Neelambari
  5. Haridasulu Vedalu – Yamuna Kalyani
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Bhairavi
  7. Sri Rama Jaya Rama Sringara Rama – Yadukula Kambhoji
  8. Karuna Jaladhe – Nadanamakriya
  9. Pavamana Suthudu (Nee Naama Roopamula) – Sourashtram

The festival is dedicated to Saint Thyagaraja and hence understandably the concert had all songs composed by him!

Concert started with a “so-called main piece” (sans a long aalapana though)!! Mohana Rama was mellifluous. Niraval on the first line of charanam.. dhara manujavatara mahima.. was grand and the kalpana swaras that followed, were exquisite. Brilliant start to the concert indeed!! Koluvai Unnade in Devagandhari that ended with brisk swara exchanges filled the hall with more energy and enthusiasm.

Detailed expansion of Varali by RKM and HKV was very soulful. Etti janmamidi was sung to express the emotion Thyagaraja inscribed in the sahityam very well. Niraval on the last line Sagara Sayanuni Thyagarajuni.. was amazing, the swara exchanges between RKM and HKV were top class. We were just about 1 hour 15 min into the concert and it was time for Tani Avarthanam already. It was a nice Tani Avarthanam by Arjun Kumar and Anirudh Athreya. Two quick compositions in Neelambari and YamunaKalyani were followed by the much awaited Ragam Tanam Pallavi.

Bhairavi is one of the all-time favorite ragas and the audience were treated to some wonderful periods of bliss in the RTP section. RKM sang some slokam all the way instead of normal way of singing ragam and HKV ‘s return, though short, was a treat to the ears! Tanam was lovely and the first part of the pallavi Uraga raga sayana.. Sri Rama looks like having been inspired from yet another masterpiece of Thyagaraja, Upacharamulu chekonavayya and he actually sung some stanzas of the composition as part of the Niraval expansion of the Pallavi. The experiment was interesting and the ragamalika section had many ragas of short cycles weaved together to make everything even more exciting!

The concert ended with one of my favorite compositions from childhood, Karuna Jaladhe and it was very refreshing to listen to the complete song Nee nama roopamula (Pavamana Suthudu) in Sourashtram.

A beautiful concert by RKM and team. I am in awe with his singing with clear diction and incredible voice!!

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!

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!