H K Venkatram & Murad Ali Khan – Sree Rama Seva Mandali – April 24, 2017

April 24 is Sachin Tendulkar’s birthday and his 44th Birthday will be remembered for a grand century scored by the Carnatic Violin & Hindustani Sarangi Jugalbandi of Sri H K Venkatram (HKV) and Ustad Murad Ali Khan (MAK), at the Fort High School Grounds, under the aegis of Sree Rama Seva Mandali.

HKV and MAK performed with Sri K V Prasad on Mridangam, Pt. Ravindra Yavagal on Tabla and Sri Guruprasanna on Khanjira.

  1. Sami Ninne – Sree Ragam (Varnam)
  2. Adamogi Galade – Charukesi
  3. ? – Poorvi
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kalyani / Yaman
  5. Bhagyada Lakshmi / ? – Madhyamavathi / Bhoopal Todi (?)
  6. Vaishnava Jana to
  7. Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram
  8. Mangalam

The concert was planned in such a way that HKV and MAK played solo for 30 minutes each followed by the most awaited Jugalbandi.

A brisk start to the evening in the form of Sree Raga Varnam in two speeds set the stage for some soulful music to follow. Charukesi is one of my most favorite and haunting (for good) ragas. Soul stirring aalapana by HKV left the audience in awe and the krithi that followed was Adamodi Galade, one of the remarkable compositions of Saint Thyagaraja. It ended with some interesting patterns of kalpana swaras, in multiple nadais, with all three wonderful percussionists embellishing them through their anticipations.

MAK took off to play a short & a very soothing Poorvi aalap, and followed it up with a composition. Ravindra Yavagal provided great accompaniment to the composition and the swaras that followed. The timber of the wonderful instrument Sarangi and the atmosphere already created earlier by Charukesi made it more lively!

Time for Jugalbandi. It started with Kalyani and Yaman and gradually transitioned seamlessly to a few ragas, the scales of which are similar in both styles of music. Hindolam / Malkauns and Keeravani (which is common name in both styles) were the pairs to follow, with short aalapanas before coming back to Kalyani / Yaman. Tanam / Jod was only in Kalyani / Yaman and there were many “wow” moments that kept audience enthused all the way. Pallavi Rama Rama Kalyana Rama Raghurama Maampaahi is set to Adi Talam. Ragamalika swaras followed in BegadaNalinakanthiPilu (Kapi) and couple of other ragas which I couldn’t identify, before ending it in a grand way in Hamsanandi / Sohini. HKV played the swaras till the AtiTara Sthayi Shadjamam that left audience spell-bound and marked a fitting end to a wonderful RTP. I understand it must be very complex and the way MAK played swaras at high speeds was a treat to watch and listen! Tani Avarthanam by K V Prasad, Guruprasanna and Ravindra Yavagal was quite exciting though it was a tad long. They had to beat all the odds created by the sound guy and they did it with finesse!

The next piece is a Jugalbandi in compositions that were somewhat similar. Bhagyada Lakshmi in Madhyamavathi was the pick from Carnatic and I don’t know the composition from Hindustani music. The ragam sounded a bit like Carnatic Bhoopalam. A couple of famous Bhajans Vaishnava Jana To and Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram followed, before concluding the concert with Mangalam in both systems of music.

It indeed was a beautiful concert to be remembered for long long time. This was my second concert (only) of the Rama Navami season (which is very less by my standards) and all I can say is the sound system needs a lot of improvement. Sree Rama Seva Mandali has been doing a great service to the cause of music every year but the sound has been a bit of a problem many a time. I hope it too gets improved over time, as does the quality and lineup of concerts every year!

Kumaresh & Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Times SwarSangam – March 12, 2017

A packed hall of the beautiful Chowdaiah Memorial Hall witnessed a great concert with new compositions, lovely experiments and innovative climaxes! Sri Kumaresh (K) and Smt Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh (JK) presented a fabulous “Strings Attached” concert with Sri Patri Satish Kumar on Mridangam and Sri Trichy Krishnaswamy on Ghatam.

  1. Kalyani
  2. Kaanada
  3. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Shanmukhapriya & Nattakurinji

As I parked my car at the auditorium, a soulful Kalyani aalapana by Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman had just started on my audio system. In a hope of the ragam getting continued inside the auditorium, I turned it off and got off the car. Guess what! The first ragam of this concert was a delightful Kalyani. What a sheer coincidence it indeed was!! Both K and JK presented a very soothing aalapana! Lovely composition took off and I was wondering what it was as I never seemed to have heard it before. Thankfully for the benefit of people like me, K announced it was a “Strings Attached” special composition! The composition sounded as beautiful as Goddess Saraswathi! Kalpana swaras in a variety of combinations enthused the audience a lot.

Kaanada. Well, if God grants me a wish now, I would probably ask him what is the connection between me and this amazing raga! It just soothes me so much that I can never put in proper words. Yet another “Strings Attached” special composition in this ragam made by day! I am in love with this composition in Khanda Chaapu, the start of which sounded a bit closer to Sukhi Evaro in the same ragam. The composition ended with delightful kalpana swaras with some amazing follow-up by Satish Kumar and Krishna, to elevate the performance!

As we started to hear a soul stirring Shanmukhapriya, many including me thought it was RTP in that ragam. After the ragam was explored by both for very good amount of time, there came a twist. Nattakurinji took off from the hands of JK. I have heard it from her many times and I can easily claim, she owns the ragam. So this turned out to be a dwi-raga RTP and I may call it “Mysterious Duality” from here on (with permission)! Free flowing and fabulous Tanam by K and JK in both ragas had everyone on the edge of their seats. A beautiful pallavi was presented in both ragams mysteriously transitioning from one to the other and when the audience were expecting kalpana swaras, the stage was left for the percussion maestros. As they finished the typical initial avarthanam that had many wow moments, it was the time for kalpana swaras alternating between Nattakurinji by K and Shanmukhapriya by JK. I think the idea was to follow the same pattern an otherwise Tani Avarthanam would have concluded with. This experiment was interesting and the mukthayi was left for Satish Kumar and Krishna again to conclude their Tani and the RTP.

Standing ovation at the end of this RTP said it all! A wonderful concert with some refreshing ideas and new compositions was indeed a memorable treat on a Sunday morning!!

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!!!

Lalgudi Krishnan & Vijayalakshmi – M A Narasimhachar Music Foundation – 18 November, 2016

Lalgudi siblings, Sri Krishnan and Smt. Vijayalakshmi, presented a delightful Violin duet concert, with Sri K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Sri Phanindra Bhaskara on Ghatam.

  1. <Missed a few compositions, as I arrived late>
  2. Seethapathe – Khamas
  3. Mayamma yanine – Ahiri
  4. Manasu karugademi – Hamsadhwani
  5. Kaligiyunte – Keeravani
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kosalam
  7. <Couldn’t identify composition> – Kapi?
  8. Thillana – Pahaadi
  9. Pavamana Suthudu – Sourashtram

I had unfortunately missed initial 30 minutes or more of this beautiful concert and while I was driving to this concert, I was hoping to listen to Khamas. Bang on! The first composition that I heard in the evening was in Khamas! A short and beautiful aalapana followed by Saint Thyagaraja’s Seethapathe. A very delightful Niraval towards the end, from both, was a treat for the ears!

Syama Sastry’s Mayamma in Ahiri was full of bhavam and I wouldn’t have been surprised if any one in the audience had actually wept listening to it! Oh, that bowing!! It probably requires a tapas of an entire life to be able to do that kind of controlled bowing!

Brief Hamsadhwani followed by Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s Manasu Karugademi pumped the energy levels of everyone, with a wonderful rounds of fast paced Kalpana swaras.

Keeravani. What should I write about this?! Very detailed, soulful aalapana by both the siblings. It was like being in a different world altogether, and wished it could go on forever!! I would have heard the composition Kaligiyunte by the great Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir, which is in my collection, many times. I felt he was playing it in their form, on the stage this evening! Kalpana Swaras are a special feature of Lalgudi Bani and what a remarkable way to end the main composition it was! Soft, elegant and melodious! I have often confessed that KUJ is my favorite current generation Mridangam artiste and he was fabulous in this concert. Very gentle, as soft as the sound from Lalgudis’ Violin! Lovely Tani Avarthanam by him and Phanindra made the main piece, grand!

Krishnan announced the concert is going to end exactly at 9 and hence directly jumping into Ragam Tanam Pallavi. Kosalam (71st Melakarta ragam) this time. I have never heard the ragam on stage and this was fabulous. Pallavi Kamalavadani Karunakari KamaladalaNayani, was in Khanda Triputa Talam. I liked the pallavi very much, more so, because I understood it! Ragamalika swaras in Sahana, Ananda Bhairavi (well, I wanted to request Ananda Bhairavi if I had reached early – but it was checked too in some way!), Varali, Janaranjani, ? (couldn’t notice) and Hamir Kalyani ended, what was a lovely RTP!

The concert ended with Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir’s Thillana in ragam Pahaadi, followed by traditional Mangalam.

Overall, a great concert with sound quality way better than many places, and my fond memories with this Our School Auditorium continue!!

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!!

Lalgudi Krishnan & Vijayalakshmi – Vishesha Fine Arts – July 2, 2016

Lalgudi has and will always have a special place in Carnatic Music, even after several generations. To me, with his unique style, Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir brought the life to Violin so it can sing, express and touch hearts. That style, popularly called the Lalgudi Bani, does the same through any instrument, may it be human body (Gaathra Veena), Saraswathi Veena or Violin.

Vishesha Fine Arts arranged a Violin duo concert by the Lalgudi siblings, Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi. In a jam-packed venue, they were accompanied by Bangalore V Praveen on Mridangam and Guruprasanna on Khanjira.

  1. ? – Sama
  2. ? – DeviManohari
  3. ? – Kannada
  4. Narayanaa – Suddha Dhanyasi
  5. Apparama Bhakti – Pantuvarali
  6. Ae naati nomu phalamu – Bhairavi
  7. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – BinduMalini
  8. Jagadodharana – Kapi
  9. Karpakame – Madhyamavathi
  10. Chinnanchiru Kiliye – Ragamalika
  11. Thillana – Mohanakalyani
  12. Pavamana Suthudu – Sourasthram

I had unfortunately reached about 30 minutes past scheduled time and by the time I was entering the packed hall, amazing swaras in Kannada are flowing from both Violins. So, missed first three compositions but noted the ragas from others in the hall. Narayanaa in Suddha Dhanyasi, a Purandaradasa’s composition was the first I heard this evening.

Soulful Pantuvarali has flown from Vijayalakshmi’s Violin. She did exhibit some wonderful patterns in raga aalapana before starting the all-time favorite Apparama Bhakti, a composition of Saint Thyagaraja. Kalpana Swaras, as is in case of Lalgudi style, included different patterns. Gentle playing even at moderately high speeds.

A heart-warming Bhairavi followed from Krishnan this time, he played it so gently that I was actually wondering how is the sound coming off the Violin. The bowing had silken touch. Perhaps Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir would have taught everyone in his school of music, to handle the Violin as carefully as you would handle an infant! A rare composition of Saint Thyagaraja followed, which also had a brief Niraval and ended with some pristine and mind-blowing swara patterns. Short and sweet Tani Avarthanam by Praveen and Guruprasanna added more flavor to the main piece.

As I heard BinduMalini, I thought they were playing the famous composition, Entha Muddo but it turned out to be a surprise choice for the Ragam Tanam Pallavi. A very pleasant, detailed aalapana and short Tanam by both was a treat to listen! The Pallavi was in Khanda jathi Jhampa Talam in Khanda gathi (oh well, it took me a while to understand the pattern). Different combinations of Pallavi followed and they did a Ragamalika in the end, alternating between both, in ragas Nalinakanthi, ReetiGowla, RasikaPriya and Hamsadhwani, with Krishnan summing all up in the end to finish a fabulous RTP.

Other small compositions followed and they ended the concert with the trademark Lalgudi Thillana in Mohanakalyani, followed by traditional Mangalam in Sourasthram.

I have been waiting to attend their concert for long time and it eventually materialized today!

Great people aided with Lalgudi Bani, that is rich in melody, pure in Bhava, innovative in laya, made a wonderful evening!