T M Krishna – Unnati – August 4, 2017

Sri T M Krishna and his wonderful team of musicians Sri R K Shriramkumar (RKS) on Violin, Sri K V Prasad (KVP) on Mridangam and Sri Chandrasekhara Sharma (CS) on Ghatam, presented a nice concert for a packed audience at the Unnati Center.

  1. Sri Dum Durge – Sriranjani
  2. Viruttam – Sankarabharanam
  3. Kamakshi – Bhairavi (Swarajathi)
  4. Perumal Murugan’s composition – Kambhoji
  5. Dwaithamu Sukhama – Reetigowla
  6. Krishna Nee Begane Baaro – Yamuna Kalyani
  7. TulasiDas Bhajan
  8. Amor Janmobhumi

The start to the concert was fabulous. Sriranjani take off was brilliant and the languid presentation of Muttuswamy Deekshitaar’s Masterpiece Sri Dum Durge was a treat to the ears. Niraval around Karunasalaye… was amazing, so were the kalpana swaras that followed. The highlight was the bhavam while singing swara sangeethalaye.. I had goosebumps and am sure many in the hall would have had too. This presentation will be remembered for long long time.

A serene Sankarabharanam followed, the typical TMK style of presentation of the raga. A beautiful virutham followed and I would have been more happier if a song followed it too, but it just ended there. Nonetheless, the exchanges between TMK and RKS in the ragam were beautiful.

Kamakshi Swarajathi is a masterpiece by Syama Sastri. It is so amazing that a Swarajathi can also be so popular, particularly in a ragam like Bhairavi, which has hundreds of compositions. Again a nice presentation of this, but my heart was wanting for more, more so with the rendition of this song in TMK’s 2016 Rama Seva Mandali concert, that is etched in my memory forever!

Surprise.. surprise!! A small raga aalapana in Kambhoji, brisk and interesting Tanam that rightfully earned applause from full house, was followed by a composition of Perumal Murugan in Tamil (on palm tree), set to tune by the Violin Maestro RKS. Though I couldn’t understand any bit of it (being in Tamil), I could sense the Tamil audience enjoyed it thoroughly – must be real gem of a song on social consciousness!

Dwaithamu Sukhama is yet another masterpiece of Thyagaraja. Kalpana swaras around Nagadha Raja… were interesting, especially various ways of reaching Shadjamam (Sa) and Nishadham (Ni). This segment showed the depth of his voice – he sang swaras in the lowest octave possible to human voice and I don’t think they can be played on Violin. RKS did a brilliant job the way he does always! KVP and CS presented a delightful Tani Avarthanam to make it even special.

Krishna Nee Begane Baro.. well I think Lord Krishna would have definitely arrived and enjoyed the song as TMK soulfully called out begane baaro, equally well responded by RKS. It felt like both were competing (healthily) to make sure who brings Krishna first to the hall!

A very nice concert ended with TulasiDas’ bhajan and Amor Janmobhumi, a composition that is perhaps owned by TMK.

I must say, RKS stole the entire show with his soothing Violin while KVP and CS followed TMK very nicely and embellished the concert!

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T M Krishna, H K Venkatram & Ashwin Anand – Bhoomija – 12 November, 2016

This is a special collaboration by Sri T M Krishna (Vocal), Guru Sri H K Venkatram (Violin) and Sri Ashwin Anand (Veena). TMK announced that Veena – Venu – Violin concerts are very popular since being conceptualised by Lalgudi Jayaraman – N Ramani – R Venkataraman many decades back and even today. However, he said, instrumental concerts and vocal concerts have always been in different paths and have seldom converged as a collaboration (not considering the regular concerts with ‘so-called’ accompanying instrument or pakka vadyam) and this Veena – Vocal – Violin concert is one of those attempts to see how it works!

TMK – HKV Sir – AA performed with Sri Arun Prakash (Mridangam) and Sri N Guruprasad (Ghatam). One of the special things I noticed in this concert is, TMK announced almost every composition that was being presented, and with a bit of background, as applicable.

  1. Mallari – GambhiraNaata
  2. Sri Krishnam Bhaja Maanasa – Todi (preceded by Ragamalika in free style)
  3. Ragam Tanam Varnam – Navaragamalika
  4. Thillana – MohanaKalyani
  5. Nottuswaram (Ramachandram)

The concert started with a brief Tanam in GambhiraNaata and the Mallari that followed in Misra Jathi Jhampa Talam, was very nice and refreshing to listen. It started in ultra-slow motion and gradually transitioned into different nadais. After a brief round of swaras, the Tani Avarthanam followed, which marked a great start to the concert!

The next composition preceded with a Ragamalika aalapana in free style, transitioning from one ragam to the other, seamlessly, alternating their turns, in the order – AA, TMK, HKV Sir. Shanmukhapriya, Varali, Asaveri, Mukhari, Salaga Bhairavi, Manirangu, Surati, Desh, Kapi, Dwijavanthi and finally a brief Todi aalapana and slokam in it, by TMK. The krithi Sree Krishnam Bhaja Maanasa was presented together by AA and HKV Sir, with TMK joining in the end, for a delightful Niraval at Shanka Chakra Gadha. Arun Prakash was outstanding with his Mridangam – felt as if a fourth melody track was running!!

Yet another Ragamalika – now in reverse order. Kedaram, Sankarabharanam and Kalyani (ragam) by HKV Sir, Begada (ragam), Kambhoji (Tanam) by TMK and YadukulaKambhoji, Bilahari, Mohanam and Sree (Tanam) by AA. By now, the composition was already guessed! One of my favorite varnams, just in one speed followed. A special round of swaras in the end – in the reverse order, from Sree to Kedaram was taken up by each, alternating among themselves. Very interesting!! A mini, soft Tani Avarthanam made it even special!! Both Arun Prakash and Guruprasad were amazing!

Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir’s MohanaKalyani Thillana followed. This was a tad slower than what I heard a thousand (or more) times from Lalgudis. Nonetheless, as special, as always!

TMK announced how Sri Muttuswami Deekshitaar was inspired (or, [perhaps] tickled) by the Scottish and Irish light music bands in the British India to compose about 38 Nottuswarams. AA and HKV Sir presented the composition and TMK joined again to repeat it along with sahityam.

Overall, it was a very nice concert indeed, with a couple of ragamalika sections. I would have been happier if there was another composition in place of the long ragamalika as a prelude to the second composition.

Thanks to Bhoomija trust for bringing these kind of concerts to reality. Looking forward to many more of these concerts!!

DisclaimerPlease excuse me if I wrote anything incorrectly. I am a mere mortal and my knowledge in music is very limited to understand and explain things in greater detail!

T M Krishna – Kanchi Shankara Mutt, Malleswaram – 8 October, 2016

I feel very good visiting Kanchi Shankara Mutt temple in Malleswaram, especially in Devi Navarathri time. Goddess was decorated very well!

T M Krishna and team’s concert at the venue was a treat to all the listeners. He was singing with Guru Sri H K Venkatram on Violin, Sri Praveen Kumar on Mridangam and Sri Guruprasad on Ghatam.

  1. Gajavadana Sammoditha – Todi
  2. Sapasya (or Tapasya?) Kausalya – Jonpuri (?)
  3. Maye tvam yahi – Tarangini
  4. Shankaram Pranatha Sreedharaham Bhaje – Janjhooti
  5. Vanajaksha – Behag (Varnam)
  6. Rama Rama – Ramakali
  7. Arunachala Natham – Saranga
  8. Dinamani Vamsha – Harikambhoji

TMK’s concerts are special in the sense that, sometimes you need not wait for an hour or so, for the main piece or whatever you may want to call it. This time, it started with a bang, right from minute 0.1!! A short aalapana of Todi followed by “Gajavadana Sammoditha” was the perfect start to the evening. Niraval exchanges on “Vaagvilaasa Karthikeya..” by Vocal and Violin were very soulful. Swara patterns, especially around Nishadham and Gandharam were mind-blowing! Short Tani Avarthanam with both Mridangam and Ghatam playing together made it even special!

Then started a flurry of ragas/compositions that I didn’t know at all! So, please excuse me, if I write anything incorrect and will be happy to be corrected. Gentle Ragam and Tanam in a raga that I couldn’t identify (I found online that the composition that followed is set to tune in Jonpuri), in trademark TMK style was lovely! It had a great Niraval too, around “Kaustubha shobhitham kantham..”.

There was a soulful aalapana by TMK and HKV Sir, in raga called Tarangini. TMK announced the raga name, perhaps looking at the faces of audience who probably had no clue about it. First time! And… mind blown!! Slightly on a melancholic note, the aalapana was my pick of the evening, especially on the Violin!

Janhjooti followed, on a Madhyama-sthayi sruthi. The aalapana was incredible and he started with a slokam and slowly moved to the composition. Again, typical TMK style, slow, classy and rich in bhava! Niraval on “Karunakaram haram chandrasekharam” was again amazing followed by some slow round of swaras. I generally like the slow exchange of kalpana swaras, as much, or perhaps more than the faster ones and they were exquisite! Another round of Tani Avarthanam, again kept sweet and short by Praveen Kumar and Guruprasad, added more flavour to it.

A short Ragam and fast paced Tanam, followed by the Varnam in Behag that lit up the entire hall, was fabulous!! Two back to back compositions of Deekshitar followed, in ragas Ramakali (announced by TMK again) and Saranga, with brief soulful aalapanas preceding them. A very nice concert ended with a wonderful composition in Harikambhoji followed by a slokam (Mangalam Kousalendraya..) in the same raga, to mark Mangalam!!

PS – The waves (taranga) of Tarangini are still ringing in my ears!!

T M Krishna – Sree Rama Seva Mandali – April 17, 2016

Disclaimer – I wrote in one of my previous posts in the last year that I was not going to write about concerts that my great Guru Sri H K Venkatram plays, because of two reasons. One, I can go on and on talking about his music & greatness, and two, I don’t want to give anyone a feeling that my posts are biased to someone. Having said that, I am amending it today, because I am afraid I will be missing out on gems of concerts (already missed a couple or more) like the one this post is talking about.

Sree Rama Seva Mandali organized Sri T M Krishna’s concert, accompanied by Guru Sri H K Venkatram on Violin, Sri Manoj Siva on Mridangam and Sri B S Purushottaman on Khanjira. Just for the kick of it, I am naming this concert, “Kaanda” (कांड, కాండ), which roughly translates to “a chapter”. In Ramayana, the story is divided into chapters, like “Aranya Kaanda”, talking about the part of the mythology when Lord Rama went for Vana vasam, etc. You will know more about the naming as you read this along!

  1. Sukhi Evaro – Kaanada
  2. Kaanada Tanam + Neranammithi (Kaanada Ata Tala Varnam)
  3. Sri Maatrubhootam – Kannada
  4. Entha vedukondu raghava – Saraswathi Manohari
  5. Kamakshi – Bhairavi (Swarajathi)
  6. Nee bhajana gaana rasikulane – Naayaki
  7. Ille vaikunta – Varali
  8. Enna tavam – Kapi
  9. Muchukunda varada – Sankarabharanam

The concert started with a wonderful Kaanada aalapana, very elaborative indeed and the krithi Sukhi evaro was a fabulous rendition along with amazing kalpana swaras. When everyone thought the composition was over, TMK started singing Tanam in Kaanada! To clear doubts of audience, he announced, “Kaanada is not over” and what a fantabulous Tanam it indeed was!! TMK always does the unthinkable – he started singing the Ata Tala varnam in Kaanada with a few extra swara patterns in the end, which were mind blowing! Another intriguing thing is that, he requested percussionists to play Tani avarthanam (typically very early in a regular concert), which was too good. He ended with a couple of more swara patterns and a round of Tanam! Hmmm… it was around 1 hour into the concert already!

A beautiful aalapana of the ragam called “Kannada” (thankfully he announced, I didn’t know this before) was followed by a delightful rendition of the krithi Sri maatrubhootam. What I noticed is, unlike many other singers, he enjoys the sahityam (lyrics) so much that he goes into a different world himself, immersed in the bhava of the sahityam. Fabulous swara exchanges by both TMK and Guru and I was awe struck when he sung non-stop at a lower octave that is very difficult to execute!

So, now you have the answer why I named this concert “Kaanda”.. derived from Kaanada and Kannada! Half of the scheduled concert time went in these two!!

TMK then requested Guru to play some ragam and my Guru played a majestic “Saraswathi Manohari”. It was as beautiful (manoharam) as Goddess Saraswathi will be while playing Veena (yes, she indeed will be – I have seen her!). The composition was easily guessed and a great presentation of it was a treat to the ears. The niraval “chintha teerchuta entha modi raa” was filled with so much of bhavam that I can’t express in words!

Kamakshi swarajathi in Bhairavi is one of the remarkable compositions in Carnatic music. A short aalapana followed by the TMK style of presentation of it just made the day which has already been excellent, even better (I am running short of words please!). He went on and on as he made a delightful recipe out of the composition and ragam for everyone present there. At one point when people started clapping acknowledging the happening on stage, TMK with folded hands said, “please.. please”. He was so much immersed in that and didn’t want to come out of it soon!

A very short aalapana of ragam called Naayaki (again first time for me) was followed by a wonderful presentation of krithi which ended with a mini Tani avarthanam. Ille Vaikunta in Varali was another great piece that everyone was mesmerized with.

There was a request for Enna tavam in Kapi.. I think he wanted to sing another composition in Kapi as he asked that person “do I have liberty to sing another composition in same ragam?”, for which I think the answer was “No”. So the Kapi aalapana followed. Although short, both Vocals and Violin touched the strings of many hearts and it was a sheer bliss! Enna Tavam was followed by Muchukunda varada, a Nottuswaram by Sri Muttuswamy Dikshitar and thus ended a great concert that will be remembered for long long time!

T M Krishna – Seshadripuram College – March 29, 2015

It was the first time that I could finally watch T M Krishna live! What a performer he is!! Just adds that dynamism along with experimentations all the way..

Sri T M Krishna was accompanied by Sri HK Venkatram on Violin, Sri H S Sudhindra on Mridangam and Sri Omkar Rao on Ghatam.

  1. Intha soukhyamani – Kapi
  2. Ragam – Tanam – Varnam (Nava Raaga Maalika)
  3. Upacharamulu Chesevaru – Bhairavi
  4. Pranatha Arthimbhaje – Janjhooti
  5. Irakkam Varaamal – Behag
  6. Vanita ro ee vannelela ne – Ananda bhairavi (Javali)
  7. Deva Deva Kalayamithe – Mayamalavagowla
  8. Couldn’t understand (sorry 😦 )
  9. Pavamana suthudu – Sowrashtram

Kapi elaboration both by vocals and Violin was beautiful. Nava raaga maalika Ragam, Tanam and Varnam was amazing. TMK acknowledged HKV that “if he is playing so well like this, how can I sing!”.

Notable point is that he did Niraval for 3 compositions with subtle delicacy in expressions. Overall, a treat to the ears. Again, what a performer!!