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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Dhaara – Chowdaiah Memorial Hall – Oct 20, 2018

It is indeed very rare to see unique collaborations like Dhaara, more so, for a great cause like helping flood-hit Kerala and Kodagu to regain their glory. Strings Attached couple Kumaresh – Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh and Kathak dancing couple Nirupama – Rajendra, in the company of brilliant percussionists Praveen D Rao and Pramath Kiran presented a wonderful treat to the eyes, ears and soul, in the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall.

It was overwhelming to see the wonderful music of Kumaresh and Jayanthi choreographed so beautifully by Nirupama and Rajendra, highlighting the small nuances in their music through their expressions. Kapi Thillana, a composition of Kumaresh, was the starting item which just gave a glimpse of what was in store for the next 2 hours.

Jayanthi played eloquent AmruthaVarshini and Khamas, while Nirupama depicted beautifully the majesty of nature, a small child playing with water and in rain. Kumaresh played an enticing Hamsadhwani while Rajendra depicted Veera rasa. The choice of ragas and playing styles was so great that the dancing couple could do complete justice to both items.

Kumaresh – Jayanthi played a soulful Vasantha and Nirupama – Rajendra choreographed a wonderful duet exhibiting the beauty of nature. It was time for a thrilling percussion segment and by Pramath on drums and Praveen Rao on Tabla. ChalaNata composition was amazing and was choreographed so well – like a dancing couple trying to learn and get inspired from each other, which ended in a playful way.

Charukesi was the solo segment of Kumaresh and Jayanthi. “Soul stirring” is the expression that naturally comes due to their playing style of this grandeur raga. Kumaresh left everyone in awe while demonstrating his virtuosity in exploring the ragam.

NasikaBhushani and Abheri are vividly different ragas and they chose to depict a small story on Radha & Krishna here. The ideas were very innovative. Radha was in extreme love for Krishna that she was seeing him in herself while she was trying to get ready to meet him. Imagine this with a Ragapravaham composition in a ragam like NasikaBhushani! Radha and Krishna were deeply engrossed in making love, at the same time they know that it is the last time they are meeting. This sort of a different characterisation with mixed emotions, for a composition in a ragam like Abheri is simply outstanding!

A visual and musical treat ended with Vande Mataram and exploration of ragam Desh. It is only in these kind of concerts that you feel two eyes are not sufficient to witness. So brilliant were both the couples that my eyes always struggled on the choice between seeing Kumaresh – Jayanthi and Nirupama – Rajendra! Of course, there were two brilliant percussionists in Praveen and Pramath, who contributed a lot to enhanced visual and aural experience.

Dhaara – an outpour of music, expression, dance, rhythm, emotion – a perfect blend of everything!

A word of appreciation to all sponsors and supporters who have supported a unique collaboration like this – hope this opens doors to many more such interesting collaborations for the cause of Indian Arts!

Kala Ramnath & Jayanthi Kumaresh – Bhoomija – Oct 14, 2018

Bhoomija always tries to come up with special collaborations and it is no different as the ace musicians, Kala Ramnath (Hindustani Violin) and Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh (Saraswathi Veena) adorned the stage at the beautiful Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in Bengaluru. Accompanying them were K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Ojas Adhiya on Tabla.

The buzz in the auditorium was evident as this was the first concert for Bangaloreans after Jayanthi received Indira Sivasailam award from the Music Academy just a couple of evenings earlier. It only got enhanced when the audience knew at the start of the concert that Kala flew all the way from San Francisco and back, just for this programme.

They started the concert with soulful PuriyaDhanashree/Pantuvarali aalaps in their respective traditions. Breathtaking Tanam by Jayanthi where she didn’t use her right hand for more than 30 seconds, thus demonstrating her virtuosity, was one of the highlights of the evening! They played Jayanthi’s composition (I think) in this beautiful ragam and the scintillating swaras left everyone mesmerized. Jayachandra and Ojas played a brilliant Tani Avarthanam.

The next set of ragas were Kalavathi/Valachi. Off late Valachi has become one of my favorite ragas, thanks to listening to a beautiful RTP on it and Abhogi by one and only Balamurali garu on a repeat mode for a couple of days. I really enjoyed the way Kala and Jayanthi presented the ragam with such pristine beauty. Ojas brilliantly complemented the presentation all the way!

The concert was concluded with brief aalaps of Yamuna Kalyani followed by Sri Ramachandra Krupalu.. with Krishna Nee Begane Baaro sneaking in the middle. A spontaneous standing ovation by the almost-full house of Chowdaiah Memorial Hall was very befitting and Kala had to announce “it’s over” as people didn’t even move, perhaps in the awe of what was experienced in the past 90 minutes or so.

I was one of the early bird ticket buyers for the show and I managed to get a front row seat right in front of the stage. Little did I know I will be surrounded by musicians with me feeling like the only alien and an illiterate there! On my immediate right was Smt. Lalgudi Rajalakshmi (Jayanthi’s mother), next to her was Smt. Padmavathy Ananthagopalan (Jayanthi’s Guru) and sitting behind me was Violin virtuoso Kumaresh. However, I am truly blessed to be a part of the wonderful show that Bhoomija curated, sitting in the midst all the great musicians.

The sound was perfectly managed and I appreciate Bhoomija for curating such nice collaborations and wish them many more such projects.

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!

Kumaresh & Jayanthi Kumaresh – Srivani Vidya Kendra – Mar 23, 2018

Srivani Vidya Kendra has been organizing the RamaNavami concerts for 26 seasons now and the lineup for 27th season looks very impressive too, with a good number of top stars performing in the month long festival. It is also heartening to see opportunities for the youngsters being given, for 30 minutes every day before the main concerts begin!

Kumaresh and Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh performed a scintillating concert, with K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Pramath Kiran on Tabla/Morsing.

  1. Sarasuda – Saveri (Varnam)
  2. Kanugontini Sri Ramuni – Bilahari
  3. Instrumental composition – Abheri
  4. Neekela Daya Raadu – Sarasangi
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Saraswathi
  6. Muralidhara Gopala – Maand
  7. Thirupughal – Sindhu Bhairavi
  8. Kamakshi Lokasakshi – Madhyamavathi

Varnam Sarasuda in Saveri and the improvisations in the Chitta Swaras just gave a glipmse of what was in store for the next couple of hours!

A little sketch of Bilahari was followed by Saint Thyagaraja’s composition Kanugontini, that ended with some brilliant Kalpana Swaras. I think, they also played a nice Chitta Swaram (I never heard before) – the beauty was amplified by Kumaresh who played on a harmonic scale to it.

A beautiful Abheri aalapana followed. The composition they played was lilting and sublime, that made my day, having drove more than 20 km (mind you, in the Bengaluru traffic) to attend this concert! It must be one of the many instrumental melodies the amazing couple composed.

Sarasangi is an interesting scale that differs only in Nishadham from Charukesi and Dhaivatham from Sankarabharanam but gives a wonderful effect, altogether! The duo presented a classy aalapana before the nice unheard Ramaswami Sivan’s composition Neekela Daya raadu (thanks to Kumaresh for announcing) was played, that ended with some exquisite Kalpana Swaras.

Saraswathi is a ragam that has divinity in the name and the texture already. The evening couldn’t be better with divinity personified musician Jayanthi performing it in a divine way only she can! It is always a treat to listen to her Tanam and Kumaresh’s virtuosity left everyone in awe! Pallavi was again interesting, in Khanda Triputa Talam and the percussion duo of Jayachandra and Pramath played extremely well to enhance the beauty of the presentation. Tani Avarthanam was entertaining and the experimentation at the end of it with both melody instruments joining was extempore, gutsy and brilliant!

Jayanthi’s Guru, Smt. Padmavathy Ananthagopalan was invited to felicitate the artistes and the audience were treated with a spectacle for the lifetime – Jayanthi being felicitated by her Guru! It must have been an emotional moment for both the Guru & Shishya and the organizers must be appreciated for this great gesture!

There were a couple of compositions in Maand and Sindhu Bhairavi before the Syama Sastri’s composition Kamakshi in Madhyamavathi ended a super concert.

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..

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!