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.

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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…

Bombay Jayashri & Shubha Mudgal – Times SwarSangam – March 12, 2017

A delightful Jugalbandi to end a wonderful double-header on a Sunday forenoon, by Smt. Bombay Jayashri (Carnatic Vocal) and Smt. Shubha Mudgal (Hindustani Vocal) served as a lunch feast for the packed audience of Chowdaiah Memorial Hall. Bombay Jayashri (BJ) and Shubha Mudgal (SM) performed with Sri Embar Kannan on Violin, Sri Manoj Siva on Mridangam, Sri Aneesh Pradhan on Tabla and Sri Sudhir Nayak on Harmonium.

  1. SubhaPantuvarali / Todi
  2. Sankarabharanam / Devgiri Bilawal
  3. Sree / Desi
  4. Madhuvanthi (?)

The concert started with soul stirring aalaps from both BJ & SM and they chose to present different compositions from each classical system, by trying to show similarities and dissimilarities in both systems with regard to the raga chosen (as quoted by SM). While I am an illiterate in Hindustani Music, I am just writing whatever I heard or perceived today at the concert from SM. This statement in no way intends to mean that I know anything in Carnatic Music! SM chose to sing a piece by her Guru Pt. Ramashreya Jha in Todi while BJ performed a rare krithi Nee samanamevaru lerani in SubhaPantuvarali by one of the greatest Carnatic Musicians, G N Balasubramanian. Both systems were weaved into a very beautiful structure, alternating between the wonderful musicians.

The second ragam was Devgiri Bilawal. The grand Sankarabharanam of Carnatic tradition closely moves with this raga (as quoted by BJ). Interesting to see the melodic instruments’ jugalbandi in this set, by Embar Kannan on Violin and Sudhir Nayak on Harmonium. Embar’s rendition of Sankarabharanam was pristine and well, my tryst with the ragam continues! While I don’t know the composition SM took up, BJ sang the beautiful krithi of Saint Thyagaraja, Swara Raga Sudha. Let me not try to explain about the renditions as I can never do justice to it. Soulful! Enough said!!

Time for Sree ragam and it’s closer sister Raag Desi. Muttuswamy Deekshitaar’s composition Sree Varalakshmi was presented by BJ while SM presented a composition of her Guru Pt. Ramashreya Jha. It sounded as if both systems of music are trying to showcase the richness of ragas owned, in a very lucid way. While it highlighted similarities, it also highlighted how they are dissimilar to each other too!

Tani Avarthanam as a start of the song was an innovative experiment, allowing the percussion artistes to demonstrate their ideas without being affected by the composition or the swara patterns that usually follow. Manoj Siva and Aneesh Pradhan did a fabulous job of presenting the jugalbandi of Mridangam and Tabla. The krithi that followed brought back fond memories of a recent jugalbandi by BJ and Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh that I attended. BJ took up Sadasiva Brahmendra’s Tunga Tarange Gange while SM presented a composition by Aneesh Pradhan. Earlier I heard the Hamsadhwani version of it, composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman and it is the Madhuvanthi version of it (composed by BJ herself) that was presented in this concert. This composition marked a perfect end to a Jugalbandi, like Ganga flowing all the way till South and perhaps meeting Godavari, to make all the lands fertile in the process!

TOI did a great job of bringing great combinations in this jugalbandi festival and my first “vocal” jugalbandi can’t get any better than featuring two stars of both traditions!

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!!!

Akkarai Sisters – Odukathur Mutt – February 21, 2017

My first concert of the Sivaratri season is a Vocal concert by Akkarai Sisters at Odukathur Mutt. Always had pleasant memories there!

Akkarai Subhalakshmi and Sornalatha gave a wonderful vocal duet with Mathur Srinidhi on Violin, K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Arun Kumar on Morsing.

  1. Era Naapai – Todi (Varnam)
  2. Alavadennalo Shivame – Pharaz
  3. Ananda Tandavam – Vachaspati
  4. Ardhanaareswaram – Kumudakriya
  5. Brova Bharama – Bahudari
  6. Akshaya Linga Vibho – Sankarabharanam
  7. Eppo varuvaro – Jonpuri
  8. Ayye metha kadinam – Ragamalika
  9. Karpakame – Madhyamavathi
  10. Mangalam – Sourashtram

Akkarai Sisters demonstrated as much virtuosity in singing as they would normally on Violin! Todi Varnam in 4 speeds is a cracker of a start!!

Alavadennalo Shivame in a rare ragam Pharaz is a first timer for me. It’s one of the Sapta Ratnas of Uttukadu Venkatasubbayyar. Lovely exploration of Vachaspati by Sornalatha followed, with a nice return from Mathur on Violin. Ananda Tandavam is the composition to follow, and I really liked the composition. It is apparently a composition of their grandfather and the charanam has swara aksharams right from Madhya sthayi Gandharam till tara sthayi Panchamam. It was indeed amazing to see them reach higher Pa with ease! KUJ and Arun were soft, yet always in the frame, elevating the concert to a different level.

Kumudakriya expansion by Subhalakshmi is fabulous. Muttuswamy Deekshitaar’s Ardhanaareswaram was rendered with so much bhavam and devotion. Kalpana swaras showed their rhythmic excellence! A quick Brova Bharama in Bahudari followed, to leave the stage to the main composition.

Sankarabharanam, like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, is a ragam that I keep knowing something new about every time I listen to it from anyone! Subhalakshmi treated the ragam like a child, caressing it with so much of care and affection! Violin return by Mathur was nice too. Within the span of a month, I heard the composition of Deekshitaar, Akshaya Linga Vibho, twice (that too as main piece) and I am in love with the song and the wonderful sahityam. Charanam even as a text is also a treat to the ears without music. Beauty of Sanskrit and the masterpiece of a composition!! Niraval on Badari vanamuna naayika sahitha and kalpana swaras were weaved very well to make the composition grand. Fantabulous Tani Avarthanam by Jayachandra Rao and Arun Kumar kept everyone on the edge of their seats, in excitement.

The concert ended with a few Tamil compositions which made everyone happy in the hall. Overall, a very nice concert. I had initially planned to stay for sometime and leave to finish other work, but I was glued to the seat and ended up sitting through full concert. First vocal duet concert by the Akkarai Sisters was indeed charming as they always are!!

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!!