Saketharaman – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 26, 2018

Saketharaman presented a wonderful concert in the company of Akkarai Subhalakshmi on Violin, Anantha R Krishnan on Mridangam and Anirudh Athreya on Khanjira, at the Madras Music Academy.

  1. Palayasumam – Arabhi
  2. Sundaratara deham – Pantuvarali
  3. Amba Neelambari – Neelambari
  4. VaraNarada – VijayaSri
  5. Marakathavalli – Kambhoji
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Varamu & Saveri (dwi-raga)
  7. Aadu Chidambaramo – Behag
  8. Tirupugazh – Hamir Kalyani

Saketh started the concert with a slokam in Arabhi followed by Syama Sastri’s composition Palayasumam. Thyagaraja’s composition Sundaratara deham in Pantuvarali was very good, with a short yet intense niraval at ragadi samharam raghavam udaram followed by some scintillating swaras and nice poruthams. Both Akkarai and Anantha complemented Saketh well.

A very beautiful aalapana in Neelambari was a treat to the audience. These kind of ragas in slow pace actually add a great variety to the concerts! Having started with a slokam yet again, Manikyaveena.., he brought out his typical soulful rendition of Ponnaiah Pillai’s composition Amba Neelambari in a lovely fashion! A brisk VaraNarada served as a nice filler and lifted the energy in the auditorium. Flashy swaras in a variety of interesting patterns were to be savoured.

A languid Kambhoji aalapana by Saketh was simply outstanding. Akkarai also returned well but it was a bit too long. Dikshitar’s masterpiece Marakathavalli was presented very well. Niraval could have added more beauty. Some very nice swara patterns and poruthams were an absolute treat, with a brilliant korvai structured around Ga and Ma to sum it up. Akkarai returned swaras well with Anantha and Anirudh beautifying them too. Tani Avarthanam was played well but was eternally too long (close to 30 min). I think the co-artistes should keep a check on the time to allow the concert to happen as per the main artistes’ plan and not get carried away with the moments on stage. We were hardly left with 45 minutes to witness the much awaited RTP and other songs.

Saketh started with an amazing Varamu aalapana and transitioned well to Saveri. Violin return could have been shorter again. After elaborating each ragam separately, he sang small phrases alternating between two ragas in a very interesting manner. Certainly it is not the easiest of the jobs! He did similarly in Tanam as well. A dwi-raga pallavi with Poorvangam in Varamu and Uttarangam in Saveri with raga names in it, was composed very well. Varamulosagi Brovavayya Saveri Ragapriya Kaveri Rangayya was set to 35 beat cycle and the Talam chosen was innovative, 5 beats per cycle with kalapramanam decreasing in geometric progression! So first cycle will have 5 * 4 = 20 aksharas, second 5 * 2 = 10 and the last 5 * 1 = 5, with a total of 35. After an amazing Trikalam by Saketh, the swaras included both the ragas in each avarthanam followed by ragamalika swaras in Reetigowla and Kapi before concluding with an impressive korvai in two ragas! Outstanding stuff indeed to come up with such innovative ideas.

viruttam in Behag was followed by Gopalakrishna Bharatiyar’s composition Aadu Chidambaramo. The concert ended with a Tirupugazh in Hamir Kalyani and a traditional Mangalam.

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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.

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 21, 2018

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh presented a memorable concert in the company of Arjun Kumar on Mridangam and Trichy Krishnaswamy on Ghatam, at the Madras Music Academy Annual Concert, that truly gave an exhilarating experience for the audience.

  1. Varnam – Mandari
  2. Tatvamariya Tarama – Reetigowla
  3. Narasimha Aagacha – Mohanam
  4. Mayamma – Ahiri
  5. Palintuvo – Kantamani
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kharaharapriya
  7. Kandanaal Mudalai – Madhuvanthi
  8. Thillana – Khamas
  9. Kamakshi Lokasakshi – Madhyamavathi

A brief sketch of Mandari followed by the Varnam provided a great start to the concert. Reetigowla aalapana was lilting. Papanasam Sivan’s composition Tatvamariya Tarama was lovely. Kalpana Swaras were just a sample to show Jayanthi’s rhythmic excellence! Arjun Kumar and Krishna played a pivotal role in embellishing the presentation.

Mellifluous Mohanam aalapana was one of the highlights of the evening. Truly exhibiting Jayanthi’s hallmark of soulfulness in presentation, the aalapana remains etched in the memory for long time. It can be a textbook of sorts for presenting Mohanam so aesthetically. Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s masterpiece Narasimha Aagacha was played so well that the lord Narasimha himself would have come down. As explained by Jayanthi in one of her videos, this composition is a wonderful demonstration of the command Dikshitar has on Sanskrit – the second half of Charanam was completely without any deergha aksharams (elongated syllables). The swaras poured soaked in melody and both percussionists played very well complementing her amazing rhythmic patterns!

A brief outline of Ahiri was soul stirring and the Syama Sastri’s masterpiece Mayamma was presented with divinity. For the lack of words in my limited vocabulary, I will skip mentioning about the rendition anymore!! Now I understood why they say you don’t get food when you perform Ahiri. Actually, you don’t need any food as it fills you up completely. Some of the phrases are still lingering in my ears even after a few hours!!

Kantamani is a very special vivadi ragam which has Suddha Dhaivatham and Suddha Nishadham and the combination evokes a very haunting kind of a feeling. One could easily hear the oohs-aahs in the Music Academy, as Jayanthi was presenting the ragam in an outstanding way! A brisk Palintuvo, Saint Thyagaraja’s composition was presented that ended in scintillating swaras.

Kharaharapriya is one of the ragas which is very difficult to get the rasa out of it. Although it is very famous ragam, I have heard only a few handle it carefully bringing out the raga devatha with ease! Jayanthi was in her own element this evening and this ragam was explored delightfully in the Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi that lasted for more than 45 minutes (excluding Tani Avarthanam). An outstanding Tanam which also comprised seamless ragamalika with SaveriHamsanandi and Bahudari will be cherished for long time. Pallavi was in Khanda Triputa Talam and so magically presented that the audience gave a long round of applause at the end of it. Arjun and Krishna did great job in enhancing the overall rendition. Swaras were played in all four ragas, the approach to korvai and the ending was just mind boggling! Jayanthi played swaras in Hamsanandi till perhaps the highest note possible on the Veena, extending beyond the frets that left everyone mesmerised. Tani Avarthanam was extremely good, just apt in enhancing the grandeur of the RTP.

Beautiful composition in Madhuvanthi and the charming Thillana of Lalgudi Jayaraman in Khamas were presented in an unhurried manner. Jayanthi ended the concert with her trademark Kamakshi Lokasakshi, yet another Syama Sastri’s composition of the evening.

A long standing ovation from the audience year after year at the Music Academy just signifies how much Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh’s music is adored and it stands a testimony of her purity in music, chastity and divinity in presentation!!

One must note the importance the Carnatic Music trinity get in her concerts, all the last 4 of her annual concerts at Music Academy featured at least one composition of each of them. Also, the way Jayanthi plays her concerts in a leisurely manner with no overdose of the number of songs is certainly a guideline that every musician can pickup in this era of singing a lot of songs especially towards the end of concerts!

I am glad I could attend this masterly concert despite having to travel all the way from Delhi, arriving just right in time!

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Indira Sivasailam Endowment Concert – Oct 12, 2018

Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal got a feather in it’s cap by awarding herself to Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh, or the Veenai, as she put it in her acceptance speech! The programme at The Music Academy, Chennai, was a high profile grand affair, with a lots of musicians, dignitaries and media persons attending it. Everyone who attended the event followed by her concert, witnessed a wonderful speaker that Dr. Jayanthi is, that very few people know, apart from her trademark Veena recital! Jayanthi read out a heartening letter that the Saraswathi Veena wrote to her, to be read on her behalf, to a discerning audience for having awarded the prestigious honour on her (the Veena)!!

Jayanthi presented her Indira Sivasailam Endowment Concert with Anantha R Krishnan on Mridangam and Pramath Kiran on Tabla/Morsing.

  1. Maate Malayadhwaja – Khamas (Daru Varnam)
  2. Ekamresa Naayike – Karnataka Suddha Saveri
  3. Sri Dum Durge – SriRanjani
  4. Kamakshi Kamakoti – SimhendraMadhyamam
  5. Thillana – Mand
  6. Kamakshi Lokasakshi – Madhyamavathi

It being a Navarathri season, one expected a lot of compositions on Goddess Durga – Jayanthi too announced her intention right away. The stage was just perfect with the most beautiful decoration one can ever witness and it was awaiting Goddess Durga herself to take a seat to give it a complete look! Jayanthi started with a very brief outline of Khamas, and to me it sounded very fresh and pleasantly different! Muttaiah Bhagavathar’s masterpiece Daru Varnam Maate Malayadhwaja started the proceedings in a very grand fashion.

Ekamresa Naayike, one of my favorite Dikshitar Krithis, was beautiful. The aalapana preceding it was meditative and the swaras were top class, with Anantha Krishnan providing great embellishment. A soulful SriRanjani followed. The rare krithi of Dikshitar Sri Dum Durge would have made him proud from heavens. The Veena was literally singing his masterful choice of words in the praise of Goddess Durga. The swaras were brilliant – a fabulous muktayi just left everyone in awe.

Main ragam of the evening was SimhendraMadhyamam, something which I haven’t heard in a concert in a long time. Jayanthi always has a beautiful knack of making it look easier for novices like me with her charming smile and she enjoying her presentation only doubled the apparent ease. Sublime elaboration of the ragam, caressing the notes in all three octaves with great ease, was certainly a treat to witness! Tanam was flowing freely like a river and in the process, showing the different majestic strides of it through Ragamalika in SahanaRanjani and Aarabhi before concluding back in it’s main stream SimhendraMadhyamam. Scintillating swaras section, where Anantha and Pramath played extremely well to match her style was outstanding. A short and entertaining Tani Avarthanam brought to close, what I would call an epic!

Lalgudi Jayaraman’s composition, a Thillana, yet again on Goddess Kamakshi, in Mand was as grand as ever and Jayanthi ended her concert with her trademark song Kamakshi Lokasakshi in Madhyamavathi, a composition of Syama Sastri.

Goddess Kamakshi came all the way to the Music Academy on the third day of Navarathri, sat in a heaven like stage with awe inspiring background, played on the Veena, conquered everyone with soulful music and stamped with authority that Jayanthi Kumaresh is the Voice of Veena!

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 22, 2017

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh presented a wonderful concert at the Madras Music Academy, with Arjun Kumar on Mridangam and Udupi Sridhar on Ghatam.

  1. Chalamela – Nattakurinji (Varnam)
  2. Gowri Manohara – GowriManohari
  3. Appa! Rama Bhakti – Pantuvarali
  4. Kamakshi – Bhairavi
  5. Shankaram Abhirami Manoharam – KamalaManohari
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kapi
  7. Muralidhara Gopala – Maand
  8. Kavadi Chindu – Behag
  9. Kamakshi – Madhyamavathi

The concert started with Chalamela in Nattakurinji in one speed. Brief outline of GowriManohari and Papanasam Sivan’s composition Gowri Manohara followed. The swaras were scintillating and it was just a small intro to what was in store for the next 135 minutes!

Pantuvarali aalapana was soul stirring. Appa! Rama Bhakti entho goppara.., the composition of Saint Thyagaraja was presented with great poise to aptly bring out the meaning of the sahityam. Arjun and Sridhar played nice exchanges in the swaras for a variety of patterns that Jayanthi played.

One of the all-time favorite ragas of Carnatic musicians and rasikas, is Bhairavi. The aalapana was so meditative and it was as if Goddess Saraswathi was doing a Tapas with her instrument. Syama Sastri’s masterpiece Kamakshi was so soulful that the Goddess would have certainly come to the Music Academy to enjoy the rest of the proceedings. Arjun Kumar did a great job in enhancing the beauty of the song! So when Kamakshi is in the hall, she had to be served a nice treat before safely sending her off, right! Shankaram Abhirami Manoharam, a composition of Muthuswamy Deekshitar, served as the starter for her.

Kapi is one of the ragas that sound so pleasing to the listeners. A sense of great devotion was expressed all the way in Jayanthi’s expansion of the amazing ragam, while showing her virtuosity and versatility on the complex instrument the Saraswathi Veena is! Tanam should be heard only on the Saraswathi Veena, and more so, by Jayanthi. Some of her glides were mesmerizing and appeared so effortless that only she can make it look so easy! She also presented Tanam in Madhukauns, a chaste Carnatic ragam Begada and haunting Kanthamani! Pallavi was in Adi Talam, that was played in different patterns before moving on to the Ragamalika swaras featuring the three ragas in the same order before ending it with a grand muktayi in Kapi. Arjun and Sridhar played brilliant Tani Avarthanam that made the RTP, a complete package!

Muralidhara Gopala was beautiful. A lovely aalapana of Behag brought the typical folk flavour that everyone seemed to have enjoyed. It was the Ganesh-Kumaresh composition that she played and popularized on many platforms.

Goddess Kamakshi was sent off safely with yet another Syama Sastri’s composition Kamakshi Lokasakshi in Madhyamavathi and the concert ended 4 minutes ahead of time!

I have been attending a few concerts this season, the RTP segment was just being Naam ke vaste by quickly finishing it in 20 minutes or so. However, Jayanthi always gives the RTP.. the time it deserves and it enthralled audience for almost an hour including Tani Avarthanam! There was at least one song from each of the Carnatic Music Trinity and there was not even an iota of hurriedness in the entire 2.5 hours of presenting the Saraswathi Veena! The audience gave her a long round of applause with standing ovation at the end of the concert, something that remains etched in memory for a long long time!!

Blessed are the audience who could witness it live! Jayanthi surely keeps inspiring the students of music – the number of students who sat on either sides of the stage for an instrumental music concert in Chennai, showed the amazing inspiration she has been for all the students (including me too!) over the years!!

Sarve janaah sukhino bhavanthu..

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!

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Music Academy – December 26, 2016

This was perhaps the most awaited concert of the December season 2016 for me! Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh’s performance in the Music Academy is one of the most remarkable concerts and it deservedly received a standing ovation by everyone at the end of it!

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh performed with Sri R Sankaranarayanan on Mridangam and Sri Trichy Krishnaswamy on Ghatam.

  1. Karunimpa – Sahana (Varnam)
  2. Ekambresa Naayike – Suddha Saveri
  3. Sree Narada – Kaanada
  4. Ninnu vinaga mari dikkevarunnaru – PoorviKalyani
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Charukesi
  6. Akhilandeswari – Dwijavanthi
  7. Radha Sametha Krishna – Yamuna Kalyani
  8. Thillana – Kapi

It all started with a brief aalapana in Sahana followed by my favorite Varnam Karunimpa Ide, by Thiruvotriyur Thiyagaiyer, in a brisk pace. Muttuswami Deekshitar’s composition Ekambresa Naayike in (Karnataka) Suddha Saveri, that ended with a wonderful round of kalpana swaras, set the tone for what turned out to be a memorable evening.

Kaanada will be beautiful always. It’s beauty gets doubled when Dr. Jayanthi plays it! In the past, I have had some phrases of Kaanada haunting me (say, KaanadaMukhi [word borrowed from a very special person of my life] similar to ChandraMukhi) for many days and this particular aalapana was even special! Saint Thyagaraja’s immortal composition, Sree Narada was the composition to follow, that ended with Jayanthi-isque Kalpana swaras, if I may call it!

PoorviKalyani is an amazing ragam that is known to induce pleasant feeling. This aalapana from Dr. Jayanthi would have taken everyone in the auditorium to an eternal tranquility! Such a meditative feeling, and one would feel it should go on and on. Syama Sastri’s composition Ninnu vinaga mari dikkevarunnaru was presented with so much poise that there were goosebumps with aahs, oohs heard all over in the auditorium! Kalpana swaras showed why she is the master of both ragam and laya! Very well played by Sankaranarayanan and Krishna complementing her elegance and enhancing the beauty of the presentation.

Charukesi. Well, what should I write about it? Should I have counted the number of moist eyes in the hall? Or, should I talk about how people were stuck to their seats till the end, perhaps untypical of Chennai rasikas in an instrumental concert?

Charukesi was played to exhibit a deep sense of poignance, and every phrase of it around Dhaivatham and Nishadham would have touched all hearts there. I had actually wept!! Bringing the flavour of a ragam is not an easy job and can only be done with such ease by extremely gifted musicians like her. Blessed are a few of us who could witness it live in Ragam and Tanam! If Goddess Saraswathi had played Charukesi Tanam, she would have perhaps played it that way. Or, she may have herself played in the form of Dr. Jayanthi on that evening! Ragamalika Tanam in another more sorrowful ragam SubhaPantuvarali, pleasing Aarabhi and graceful Shuddh Sarang added a great dimension to the RTP. Pallavi, which was played seamlessly in all 4 ragams, was in Adi Talam. She exhibited the same in multiple rhythmic patterns. Fabulous Tani Avarthanam made this RTP, one to be cherished for the lifetime!!

Muttuswami Deekshitar’s Akhilandeswari in Dwijavanthi and Radha Sametha Krishna in Yamuna Kalyani (Misra Yaman) by G N Balasubramanian followed before the all-time favourite Kapi took off! A short aalapana followed by Kumaresh’s composition, a Thillana in it, marked the end of a very grand concert.

Such a wonderful concert, with extreme planning – right from the choice of ragams to the choice of compositions. If you noticed, she took up at least one composition by each of the Carnatic Music trinity and focused more on qualitative presentation than on the quantity in terms of number of compositions!

One feels concerts like these should go on and on. Alas, they say, great things are available only in rarity and I am blessed to have witnessed one such thing, LIVE!

I have always mentioned that Dr. Jayanthi is divinity personified and one can only second it after listening to her performance at the Music Academy, Chennai!

Om Saraswathyay Namaha!! _/\_