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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Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira – Jan 5, 2019

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh gave an astounding concert at Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira Sankranthi Music Festival, with K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam.

  1. Chalamela (Varnam) – Nattakurinji
  2. Pancha Matanga – Malahari
  3. Nannu Vidachi Kadalakura – Reetigowla
  4. Niravadhi Sukhada – RaviChandrika
  5. Amma Ravamma – Kalyani
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Malayamarutham
  7. Sri Rama Chandra Kripalu – YamunaKalyani
  8. Thillana – Desh
  9. Kamakshi Lokasakshi – Madhyamavathi

My first concert of 2019 started with a beautiful elaboration of one of my favorite ragas, Nattakurinji. Varnam Chalamela had some interesting variations for last two Ettugada swaras and the start couldn’t be better! A brief sketch of Malahari followed. She distinctly highlighted Sa-Ri-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa-Ri-Ga-Ri-Sa phrase to bring out the raga flavor in a very short span. I am sure it also helped illiterates like me to easily guess the ragam without further thinking! Dikshitar’s krithi Pancha Matanga was played very well. Mellifluous swaras in Malahari were indeed a treat!

A chaste elaboration of Reetigowla was heavenly. I am fortunate to hear the ragam again in a second consecutive concert of Dr. Jayanthi that I attended. Nannu Vidachi Kadalakura is generally sung in a languid style and is supposed to be very difficult to present on any instrument and this rendition was the best one can hear an instrument sing the composition! Lord Rama would certainly never move anywhere while she played!! Jayachandra followed her very well to beautify the presentation!

A brisk Niravadhi Sukhada was a surprise! The krithi gives a lot of scope to explore in the lovely ChittaSwaram which Jayanthi did, but her variations at start of Charanam Mamava Marakata.. were simply unbelievable! The muktayi at the end of swaras was simply god(dess)ly. She played some outstanding sequences before leading to Mamava Marakata.. back at Madhayam on higher octave!!

Soulful Kalyani was the main piece of the concert. The elaboration was very different and with some of the phrases Jayanthi explored the full octave, which was a crash course of sorts in exploring the queen of ragas! Yet another Thyagaraja’s masterpiece Amma Ravamma was presented beautifully. Some exquisite round of swaras which were repeated well by Jayachandra and Udupa in a sawal-jawaab fashion were concluded with a grand & interesting korvai.

Malayamarutham was another surprise of the evening! Ragam was classy with distinctly showing Nishadham in many ways. It was indeed one of the sublime renditions of the ragam that I ever heard! Tanam was meditative putting audience into a trance, that featured lovely transitions to AbhogiBilahari and back to Malayamarutham. She also sang the Pallavi set to Khanda jaathi Triputa Talam and concluded it with amazing swaras in all three ragas. Tani Avarthanam by Jayachandra and Udupa was interesting.

Sri Rama chandra kripalu was enchanting and upon Udupa’s request she played a Thillana, composition of Lalgudi Jayaraman in Desh, before ending the concert with her trademark Syama Sastri’s composition Kamakshi Lokasakshi.

It was heartening to see the crowd overflowing and some of them sitting outside the premises to listen to Dr. Jayanthi. A packed house till the end of the concert just speaks volumes about how much of an inspiration Jayanthi has been for the youngsters!

Wish you all a happy 2019!!

Bombay Jayashri – Mylapore Fine Arts Club – Dec 24, 2018

Bombay Jayashri presented a sublime concert at Mylapore Fine Arts Club, in the company of H N Bhaskar on Violin, Patri Satish Kumar on Mridangam and Shree Sundarkumar on Khanjira.

  1. Jalajaksha nee paadame (Varnam) – Asaveri
  2. Manavi Alakincharadate – Nalinakanthi
  3. Maati maatiki telpavalena – Mohanam
  4. Chakkani Rajamargamu – Kharaharapriya
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Ranjani
  6. Murari Kunja Bihari (Bhajan) – ?
  7. Thillana – Tilang

The concert started with a serene Varnam of Lalgudi Jayaraman, in Asaveri. All-time favorite Manavi Alakincharadate followed that ended with brisk Kalpana swaras. Some of the improvisations in Anupallavi and Charanam were awe inspiring.

Mohanam was presented in a soulful way by Jayashri. It is second time in this series of Margazhi2018 for me, yet it sounded so interesting so fresh! Bhaskar returned extremely well and he showed why he is one of the most sought after Violinists this season, although he was a tad louder (which I assume is the fault of sound person). Yet another Thyagaraja’s composition, rarely heard Maati maatiki was very lovely and the korvai around Dhaivatham was very interesting!

Kharaharapriya was too good. A very soothing and lilting aalapana by Jayashri and Bhaskar was a treat for the audience! Chakkani Rajamargamu, yet another Thyagaraja’s composition was the main piece of the evening. Niraval at Kantiki sundarakara… was top class and swaras poured like rain. Must mention Bhaskar was outstanding in his returns to Niraval and swaras! A nice korvai gave way for Patri Satish Kumar and Sundarkumar to present some thrilling Tani Avarthanam. T V Gopalakrishnan who was sitting in the front row seemed to be very impressed. Overall, yet another ~1 hour affair of this majestic ragam in 4 days was a treat!

A short Ragam and Tanam in Ranjani was wonderful. Some of the Tanam patterns of Jayashri are brilliant. A Tamil pallavi was set to Khanda jaathi Triputa Talam – it is a great coincidence that I hear a lot of Pallavis in Khanda jaati Talams this season!

Jayashri ended her concert with a Bhajan and a lilting Thillana in Thilang, composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman. After listening to it twice in two days, this has become one of my favorite Thillanas and some of the sangathis are beyond imagination! What a great Maestro he is and we are indeed blessed to be in an era that can listen to and popularize his Thillanas! We owe a lot to his prime disciples Lalgudi Siblings, Bombay Jayashri, Saketharaman, and the like, for this!!

Finally I am extremely delighted to have attended a concert of Bombay Jayashri for the first time in Chennai!

Lalgudi GJR Krishnan & Vijayalakshmi – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 23, 2018

Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi presented a great concert at the Madras Music Academy, in the company of Prof. Trichy Sankaran on Mridangam and V Suresh on Ghatam.

  1. Varnam – Huseni
  2. Ramachandram Bhavayami – Vasantha
  3. Rave Himagiri Kumari (Swarajathi) – Todi
  4. Innu dayabarade – KalyanaVasantham
  5. Manasu Vishaya – Nattakurinji
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – SimhendraMadhyamam
  7. Ayye methakadinam – Ragamalika
  8. Thillana – Tilang
  9. Mangalam – Sourashtram

The concert started with a lovely Thillana of Lalgudi G Jayaraman in ragam Huseni. Somehow every composition of the great Meastro sounds so charming and a composition in ragam like Huseni as a starting piece is unbelievable. Only LGJ can do that! Ramachandram Bhavayami is played very well, with Prof. Sankaran’s deft strokes adding beauty to their presentation of composition and swaras that followed it!

Viji played a soulful Todi. I hear a lot of people complaining that this was N’th time this season but it was first for me! Thoroughly enjoyed some of the gamakas in her exploration of the ragam. Syama Sastri’s masterpiece was presented very well. Purandaradasa’s composition in KalyanaVasantham followed before the beautiful Nattakurinji was unleashed by Krishnan. I heard the composition Manasu Vishaya by LGJ many times and could easily connect to the trademark presentation in the Lalgudi Bani. Wonderful swaras embellished greatly by both the percussionists was a treat to listen. A very complex korvai to end the swaras seemed to be very complex indeed!! Tani Avarthanam by Sankaran and Suresh was excellent and I was definitely yearning for more of it!

SimhendraMadhyamam was presented by both, taking turns, each in their own styles and it was outstanding! A brief Graha Bhedam to Bowli by Krishnan in the aalapana was interesting. There is a very unique way in which he plays the Tanam and it is mesmerizing every single time!! Pallavi Ananda Natana Prakasa Sarvesa Natesa Jagadeesa was as usual so complex, in Khanda Jaati Ata Talam (28). It was a tight rope walk for all of them in presenting the same. Viji did an amazing Trikalam and for the swaras they made all lives easier by choosing to continue in Misra Chapu (7). Ragamalika swaras in Kedaram, HamirKalyani, AthanaKuntalavaraliAbhogi were top class before getting back to SimhendraMadhyamam and ending the RTP with a nice korvai!

A quick Bharatiyar’s composition Ayye methakadinam was very good. The concert ended with a Thillana in ragam Tilang, yet another beautiful creation of LGJ.

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.

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.

Lalgudi GJR Krishnan & Viji – Sree Ramaseva Mandali – April 9, 2018

My first concert of the season at the prestigious Sree Ramaseva Mandali, at Fort High School Grounds happened to be a stupendous concert by the Lalgudi Siblings, GJR Krishnan and Viji, with Trichy Harikumar on Mridangam and Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam.

  1. Varnam – MohanaKalyani
  2. Rama Bhakti Samrajya – SuddhaBangala
  3. Ramachandram Bhavayami – Vasantha
  4. Rave Himagiri Kumari (Swarajathi) – Todi
  5. Hechcharikaga Raa Raa – Yadukula Kambhoji
  6. Sri Venkatesa – PhalaManjari
  7. Eduta Nilichithi – Sankarabharanam
  8. Sobhillu Saptaswara – Jaganmohini
  9. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Dharmavathi
  10. Baaro Krishnayya – RagaMalika
  11. Thillana – Sindhu Bhairavi
  12. Pavamana Suthudu – Sourashtram

The concert started with MohanaKalyani varnam by Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman. It sounded as pleasing as the famous Thillana the Maestro composed in the same ragam! It went on with some incredible music marred by the sound system that frustrated the artistes and audience alike! Swaras in SuddhaBangala were lovely. Ramachandram Bhavayami was beautiful with some exquisite swaras.

Viji played an amazing and elaborate Todi ragam and the song that followed, was a pleasant surprise for the audience. The Syama Sastri’s masterpiece Swarajathi was soul stirring. Trichy Harikumar played appropriately with gentle touch that enhanced the beauty of the presentation. A quick Hechcharikaga raa raa followed before a brief PhalaManjari outline by GJR. Again a rarely heard song, Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s composition, Sri Venkatesa was presented which ended with mellifluous kalpana swaras.

GJR’s Sankarabharanam made my day! Various special phrases that he played, with the swift bowing was a treat to the audience. But for the disturbance caused by the spoiler man of the match, the sound engineer, this would have remained one of the memorable explorations of the majestic ragam on the Violin! Trichy Harikumar played extremely well complementing the grand composition Eduta Nilichiti. We couldn’t hear a complete Tani from Udupa as he was visibly frustrated by the sound system already. However, Harikumar continued his brilliance all through the concert.

A brisk Sobhillu Saptaswara was a filler between the main composition and the much awaited Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi. Dharmavathi was presented extremely well by the siblings and GJR played a superb Tanam with some remarkable bowing. Lalgudis are known for their Pallavis in complex patterns and this was no different. Pallavi Sada Ramachandram Bhajeham, Janaka Sudha Ramana was in Khanda Triputa Talam with the first part (Poorvangam) in Trisram and latter half (Uttarangam) in Chaturasram and was presented in different patterns. Phewww… how difficult do they make the lives of students like me in understanding the Pallavi! Ragamalika swaras in SaveriReetigowlaBinduMaliniHuseni and Behag blossomed into a garland of flowers that beautified the Dharmavathi (Devi)!

My favorite Thillana, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman’s composition in Sindhu Bhairavi ended what was a sublime concert.

Sree Ramaseva Mandali has been organizing the festival for 8 decades now – a commendable thing in it’s own right but after seeing many concerts (especially instrumental) disturbed in the past, I appeal to the organizers to get a better sound system. The life of an instrumental concert is in the sound and a little more effort makes their efforts transform into the experience in a much better way.