Kumaresh & Jayanthi Kumaresh – Girinagara Sangeetha Sabha – Feb 3, 2019

Kumaresh and Jayanthi Kumaresh presented a wonderful concert for Girinagara Sangeetha Sabha, with K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam, Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam and Pramath Kiran on Morsing, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Sabha!

  1. Vanajakshi (Varnam) – Kalyani (Adi)
  2. Strings Attached Composition – Chakravakam
  3. Sri Dum Durge – SriRanjani
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Behag

The concert started with a brisk Kalyani Varnam in the higher speed. After a brief soulful aalapana in Chakravakam, it was a creation of Kumaresh & Jayanthi that followed, exhibiting the complete range of the Violin and the Veena. Their compositions are so lilting, appear so simple and have the distinct characteristic, that can perhaps be called Strings Attached mudhra, which is inexplicable in words!

A chaste SriRanjani was the next in line. K & JK’s methodical exposition of this ragam is always a treat to listeners! Muthuswami Dikshitar’s masterpiece, the enchanting Sri Dum Durge was presented amidst a few dozens of students who were sitting on stage to accommodate space for people who were otherwise standing in the hall to listen to their magical presentation! I am fortunate to be one of them witnessing their fingers dance on the respective fingerboards, from the close quarters!! Scintillating SriRanjani swaras poured making it one of the most cherished presentations.

Pallavi in the RTP is usually prepared well in advance by most, if not all of the artistes. Here there is a twist – it was decided that Jayachandra Rao was going to challenge them with the pattern of his choice and they compose a Pallavi on the stage and present it!! A beautiful Behag ragam and sublime Tanam by the duo was the highlight of the evening. Some of Jayanthi’s glides and pauses are mind boggling and Kumaresh’s intense Tanam left us all yearning for more! Jayachandra played a brilliant solo in Misra Chapu highlighting the pattern of Pallavi and the duo responded with an amazing extempore Pallavi. There was no regular Tani Avarthanam segment as such – Udupa and Pramath too played their solos after the Trikalam and Swaras section respectively. Jayanthi played Saveri and Kumaresh played Reetigowla swaras. The duo ended the majestic RTP with a flurry of swaras in different ragas followed by a lovely pattern back in Behag. A spontaneous standing ovation for more than a minute just highlighted how much everyone appreciated and enjoyed the music.

Kumaresh and Jayanthi concluded their concert with a medley HarivasanamKamakshi Lokasakshi and a bit of Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma.

150 minutes of pure and divine music gave an exhilarating experience to everyone. The whole hall was full even at the end of the concert at around 9:20 PM speaking volumes about their music by itself!

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Yamini 2019 – IIM Bangalore – Jan 25, 2019

We had a successful Yamini overnight at IIM Bangalore on Jan 25, on the occasion of the 70th Republic Day of India, for a 16th consecutive time!

The overnight started with a brilliant Guru Vandana by Vidwan Ghanakanta Bora. His co-dancers Smt. Anwesa Mahanta and Kum. Sanghamitra Bora have been very good, elevating the whole performance. The piece depicting the fight between Rama and Ravana indeed left the audience spellbound! They had very good musicians who added the aesthetic aural beauty to the concert! It indeed was a great and fitting start to Yamini 2019!

The mesmerizing siblings, Vidwan Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Vidushi Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi presented a sublime concert. It was Pushya Bahula Panchami, the day Saint Thyagaraja attained Moksha and they played some splendid masterpieces like GnanaMosaga raada (raga PoorviKalyani), Ganamurthe (raga Ganamurthi) of the Saint. It is very fitting that they performed on this day, as they belong to the direct Shishya parampara (lineage) of Saint himself! A mellifluous elaboration of raga Mohanam followed by yet another masterpiece of Thyagaraja, MohanaRama, was indeed a treat to listeners. One of the senior most Carnatic Musicians and living legend, Sangitha Kalanidhi Prof. Trichy Sankaran played some exquisite Mridangam strokes to beautify their presentation all the way. I may say, Prof. Sankaran and Lalgudi bani (gharana) are perhaps made for each other! Sri K V Gopalakrishnan on Khanjira provided a great support. They played some popular compositions like Raghuvamsa Sudha on request and ended aptly with a Thillana composed by their Guru, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman, in raga Desh. The standing ovation at the end of their concert was very long and befitting!

Vidushi Manjusha Kulkarni Patil presented a brilliant concert starting with a detailed aalap of raag JogKauns, and a bandish in Vilambit EkTaal and TeenTaal. Sri Prashant Pandav on Tabla and Sri Vyasmurti Katti on Harmonium  played very well complementing her melody. A soulful and enchanting aalap and jor-jhala in Sohni left the audience spellbound. She concluded the concert with a folkish dadra and a couple of Abhangs, on request.

Pt. Debasish Bhattacharya presented a soothing and a detailed JogKauns. He demonstrated the beauty of the raag in a languid way and was very well received by the audience at 3 AM!! Pt. Ravindra Yavagal played extremely well to enhance the presentation and it was all happy faces at the end of the concert!

Trichur Brothers, Vidwans Srikrishna Mohan and Ramkumar Mohan are the recent YSNA awardees and we are extremely happy to have hosted their debut performance for SPIC MACAY. Their much anticipated concert started with a soulful Syama Sastri’s Swarajathi masterpiece, Kamakshi, in raga Bhairavi. Brisk Vatapi Ganapathim Bhajeham in raga Hamsadhwani brought their energy out and the audience were enthralled with a variety of compositions for the next hour or so. Their father, Sri Trichur Mohan, yet another senior Mridangam artiste, played exceedingly well and L Ramakrishnan on Violin and Kovai Suresh on Ghatam provided great support. They concluded their concert with some of the popular pieces, ChinnanchirukiliyeVande Mataram and the famous English notes song composed by Sri Muttaiah Bhagavathar, having been inspired by the band in the Mysore kingdom, and popularized by his prime disciple and one of the most important musicians in Carnatic music history, Sri Madurai Mani Iyer.

Note – Concert info extracted from the e-mail sent to all core volunteers of SPIC MACAY by me, in the capacity of the event coordinator.

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.

Kumaresh & Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Ragigudda Anjaneya Temple – Dec 15, 2018

Margazhi Music Season 2018 started for me in Bengaluru this year, with a scintillating Strings Attached concert by Kumaresh and Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh, in the company of K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Pramath Kiran on Tabla/Morsing, at the Ragigudda Anjaneya Temple as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations.

  1. Kanugontini – Bilahari
  2. Veera Hanumathe Namo Namo – Kaanada
  3. Strings Attached composition – Pantuvarali
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Bahudari
  5. Mangalam

The concert started with a lilting Thyagaraja’s composition, Kanugontini in Bilahari that was embellished with amazing Kalpana Swaras.

Soothing Kaanada followed with some mesmerising passages between Kumaresh and Jayanthi. The rare composition of Dikshitar was very enchanting and Kumaresh singing the Pallavi certainly helped! Sheer brilliance in swaras again left me in awe made me wondering how can this wonderful couple always come up with great ideas!!

Soul stirring Pantuvarali demonstrated virtuosity of both the gifted musicians. Kumaresh played just on the Mandra Sthayi Shadjam string for more than a minute exploring the complete octave with such amazing control! They played one of my favorite compositions while Jayachandra and Pramath did an exceptional job in embellishing it further!!

Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Bahudari will be remembered for the bahudari (many ways) of reaching Gandharam (Ga) by Jayanthi in her exploration of the ragam. Tanam was outstanding by both, putting the audience into trance with their magic. Pallavi Rama Raghukula Soma Tanayuni Brova Bharama.. Dasaratha Tanaya is set to Adi Talam (16). Jayanthi sang the Pallavi for the delight of audience. Trikalam was played well and Tani Avarthanam was entertaining but for the sound system marring it at the crescendo of Jayachandra’s stunning playing. The RTP was concluded with a beautiful garland of ragamalika swaras that lasted one avarthanam each!

The concert ended with a Mangalam comprising of HarivasanamKamakshi Lokasakshi, and a bit of Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma.

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.

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.