Monday, 30 May 2016

2016 rAmanavami Season Review

Here is a take representing the best of best of the concerts that I attended during rAmanavami 2016 :
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Being one of the busiest for me (I could cover around 25 concerts in 30 days - 20 odd posts [few combined] and 5400 visits to my page), I had to take a break from both music and work to return to my regular schedule. Hence you see a long break from my previous post to update the whole season experience.

The best part of the season in Bangalore in contrast to Margazhi is that all the concerts are held in evening, barring the budding artists who occupy the first evening slots early. Inspite of early office schedule, I have foregone the whole junior artist concerts and their reviews. That is a great miss as SRSM this year conducted RTP concerts as a competition for the title "pratibhAkAnkshi". Attending them would have helped me add new artists to my "To Attend" list for future.

Soaring heat during the day time ensured smooth traffic as people sought shelter to roads and did drain my energy too. It was for the first time in these many years of listening, I started carrying water to the hall instead of wincheater / rain coat! 

With many artists on my list clashing on few days, I had to make a tough choice to cover the concerts in atleast 1 sabha during the season. 

I regret missing Malladi @ Vani School, MS Sheela @ Vani School, Saketaraman @ SRSM, Mysore Brothers @ SRSM and Aruna Sairam @ SRSM.

This is a ranking of my experience. The categories listed well before the season, and few added on the go during the season, considering the charm out of the performance. I may have certainly missed a better one for the very reason of being possible to attend at one place.

Others can pitch in with their attendance / experience. 

Particular Concert (= Man of the Match)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Best Vocal (solo / duet): 
Vijay Siva @ SRSM
TMKrishna @ SRSM
Malladi @ Seshadripuram

Best violin accompaniment: 
Charumathi Raghuraman for Vijay Siva
HK Venkatram for TMK @SRSM

Best Mridanga accompaniment : 
K U Jayachandra Rao -(ChitavINa ravikiran @ Vani School)
R shankranarayanan ( K-JK @ Vani School)

Best Upa pakkavadya accompaniment : 
Giridhar Udupa - with Sowmya
S Krishna - with Vijay Shiva

Whole Season (Player of the Series)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Best violin accompaniment : Charulatha Ramanujam
Best Mridanga accompaniment : K U Jayachandra Rao
Best Upa pakkavadya accompaniment : Giridhar Udupa

Best Songs of the Concerts
Best opening
Best opening piece: TMK tODI (ShrI kriShNam bhaja mAnasa)

Best Sub Main
Sanjay - kArubAru (mukhari) @ SRSM
Malladi Brothers - nI maDi challaga ( Anandabhairavi)  @ sEshAdripuram

Best main 
?? - tough choice

Most intricate pallavi / Tala
Vijay Siva (7*7 - there were plenty of 8*5s)

Neraval is really tough! 
A tie between 
Aragimpave (Malladi @ Seshadripuram ) with 
mANikya makuTa hAra valaya dhara (VS @ SRSM)

Best non rAma main song
Vijay Shiva with best non Rama main

Best stand alone item: 
Bhairavi swarajathi  (TMK @ SRSM)

Best short AlApanE: 
nAyakI  (Sowmya @ SRSM)

Best violin response to an AlApane : 
Gaula by HK Venkatram (TMK @ SRSM)

Best mELakarta of the season
Quite difficult to zero on one,  many familiar and repeats.. diluted this category

Surprising mELakarta of the season
None worth the mention, many familiar and repeats..

Best each grama janya rendition
A test for myself.. I have not yet put a thought about it

Best Swaras 
nATTakuranji RTP JK @ Vani School 
kharaharapriya ( Nagavalli Nagaraj - Vani shcool)

Best tani
K U Jayachandra Rao  / N Amruth - wtih ChitavINa ravikiran @ Vani School
R shankranarayana / Giridhar Udupa ( K-JK @ Vani School)
ArunPrakash / SKrishna (TM Krishna @ Seshadripuram)

Ranked Double Headers
1. TMK
2. RKM
3. Malladi 

Best Fillers / Best tukkada
guru karuNa honduvudu parama durlabhavayya kIravANi Adi p.dAsa (KJY @ SRSM)
yAre rangana - (K-JK @ vANi SChool)
karuNinchi brOva rAda bangALa Adi mysUru vAsudEva AchArya  (Nagavalli Nagaraj @ Vani School)

Best Viruttam / sloka: 
Tie between S Shankar  and Vijay Shiva

best R .. best T..  best P
Raga: Mohana by Sanjay @ SRSM
Tana: shanmukhapriya by Sowmya @ SRSM
Pallavi : Vijay Siva  @ SRSM

Most seen artist 
Charulata Rmanujam - 7 concerts

Best veteran of the season
K J Yesudas @ SRSM

Best Kannada song rendition by a non kannada mother tongue artist - 
RKM @ sEshAdripiuram and 

Best main worth song rendered in short
pakkala nilabadi (Malladi @ SRSM), (TMK @ SRSM)

Best vilambakala krithi
Sri Krishnam bhaja mAnasa by TMKrishna @ SRSM

Best leisurely ending - 
Mangala by Nagavalli Nagaraj @ Vani School

Most repeated Raga 
(madhyamavati , shankarabharana , manirangu, .. the list goes on..)

Least repeated popular Raga
shankarabharana !

New Songs of the season
- - - - - - - - - - - -
viribONi kEdAragauLa miSra jhampe rudrapaTNam venkaTaramaNayya 
srImati janaka jAte rAmAyana guNa bhUte darbAri kAnaDa Adi Dr shatAvadhAni Ganesh
tillAna sumanEsaranjani Adi Dr shatAvadhAni Ganesh

- - - - - - - - - - - -
1. Best on time delivery sabha
SRSM - Fort High School
Vani School

2. Best ambience / Background Stage Setup
Vani School
Seshadripuram (too much background light)

3. Best sound system engineer
Vani SChool
Fort High SChool

4. Most interesting vot
By Dr Shatavadhani Ganesh @ Vani School after Dr. Nagavalli Nagaraj concert.

5. Refreshing changes of the season
a. pendal at vani shcool- saved atleast 3 concerts from washout in the last leg of this season
b. improved sound system at Seshadripuram
c. canteen at SRSM

6. Desiring for more
a. leakproof SRSM pendal
b. ontime closure of junior concerts at Vani School (to provide full slots for seniors)

It was quite a miracle for organizers and artists to keep performing despite all the soaring heat at Bangalore. The regular rain coat in my bag was replaced by a full water bottle.

The season also introduced me to a couple of new friends who are in touch with me even after the season has ended. The organisers at SRSM made an announcement of start of the next season - Apr 5th 2017. Looking forward for an engaging season and more coverage for larger rasika community.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

2016 May 07 Chitravina Ravikiran Charulata Ramanujam KU Jayachandra Rao Amruth N @ Vani Shool

ChitravINa: Vid. Chitravina N Ravikiran (CNR)
Violin: Vid. Charulata Ramanujam  (CR)
mridanga: Vid. KU Jayachandra Rao 
Khanjari : Vid. Amruth N 

Occasion: 25th Ramanavami Music and Dance Festival @ Vani School, Basaveshwara Nagar, Bangalore

01 ninnu kOriunnara vasantha varNa Adi thachur singracharyalu (O)

02 raghuvIra raNadhIra rArA husEni rUpaka tyAgarAja (O, S)

swara @ raghuvIra

03 mAmava mInAkshi rAjamAthangi varALi mishra chApu m.dhIkshithar (A, N, S)

nereval @ shyAMe shankari

04 vAchAma gOcharuDani nIpAdamulaku aTANA Adi mysUru sadAshiva rAo (A, CS)

05 raghuvamsha suDhAmbudhi chandhra kadhanakuthUhala Adi patNam subrahmaNya iyer

06 tAyE yashOdA tODi Adi UthukADu venkaTa kavi (A, N, S, T)

nereval @ bAla ennai

07 RanjaniMala (rAgamAlika) Adi TanjavurShankaraIyer

08 vishwEshwara dharushanu kar sindhubhairavi rUpaka swAthi thirunAL

09 nInAma rUpamulaku mangaLa sourAshtra Adi thyAgarAja

It was a no brainer as I had to make a decision on attending one of the Brinda/ Mukta school prodigies. When more pristine music v/s long speech is the option on hand, ChitravINA ravikiran got my vote for attendance.

Dark clouds over Bangalore did not deter me / the artists to reach the venue on time. The concert started after a brief introduction to the artists at 19.00 hrs. I was praying atleast today, the concert should start on the scheduled time, the prayer which was not answered too !

Introducing the composition, the concert started with a beautiful sketch of vasantha and a varna set the tone for the rest of the concert to unfold. A very rarely heard composition on the concert stage, my memory goes back to Malladi Bros concert in 2014 / CNR concert in RLKM Spring festival of 2015. So many concerts in between, but this did not find a place.

The husEni outline brought out my worst fears. Such a majestic outline, could have been rendered for hours together, yet one would be left wanting for more. The sowkhya in the short outline indeed cannot be explained in words. The kriti "raghuvIra raNadhIra" was rendered beautifully with nice swarAs at pallavi.

The varALi AlApane that followed was as grand as it could be. manOdharma elements wre pristine. At one point, the single pluck and quick mTu created a long lasting breathless expression of varALi chAya across the 3 registers. There was brief thunder in the applause from the audience. (May be that affected/ created the unpredicted downpour 45 mins later in the concert). 

The first of the VD school composition came in form of "vAchAma gOcharuDani nIpAdamulaku " after a brief AlApane. CNR took time to explain the difference in presentation styles in various schools, and what he would render in this concert. Another rarely heard composition marked the highlight of the evening. It was rather mid paced kAlapramANa than the usual hurried one.

The popular kriti raghuvamsha (rasika request) took the spot of the filler, rendered with much finesse and evoked a lot of appreciation from everyone. 

The tODi AlApane was done flowed with effortless ease. It was a class apart from what I heard yesterday in the same venue ( though its not logical to compare voice v/s vINA). It was elaborate with all the essentials of aesthetics, sowkya and bhAva thrown in. CR responded with confidence and fluency. 

Rain Gods wanted to witness the magic unfold. The sound engineer who doubled up as groundsmen (with other support staff), noiselessly reorganised the speakers and lights to be saved from the downpour. They resembled the pit crew in a F1 race in their speed and finesse. Manodharma was not affected as the artists continued to explore tODi. As the grand alapana was taking shape, my thinking for the song was one of three possibilities: either a tyAgarAja -rAma krithi,  or shyAmA shAstri swarajati (to mark his star birthday /an RTP. But it was none of those,  OVK's krithi as OVK is CNR's favourite composer too the prime slot of the concert. The choice was excellent.

tAye yashOda is a beauitful song, isn't it? What a gift from the composer!. Of all the forms of rendition, vINa is best suited for presentation of this song, and oh boy! what a combination for the day ?? (this is my personal feeling though)

KUJ and NA where was subtle and supportive all through the concert. The thani avarthe between them was good, the thIrmAna being quite interesting (which was also highlighted during the VOT - rendered by a musicologist who was present all through). The sound I felt the mike volumes were perfectly balanced, even with percussion duo being young and energetic, the sound was tuned to a low volume to guarantee sowkhya even during tani.

2 fillers occupied the post main slots.

On the whole, although the ragas were common ones, the rendition and choice of krithis made this concert a perfectly enjoyable one. I think the days of extraordinary violin accompaniments have come with the likes of Charulata ( AKkarai / HM Smitha / HN Bhaskar / BU Ganesh Prasad) getting many opportunities with the masters enabling them to hone their skills. CR has been the player of the series, with me attending 6 of her concerts, each being top class. This one was exceptional.  CR was good in all parts as usual. With every concert she is proving her capabilities of playing as one needs to play accompanying the main artist. She stood up to the main artist all thro' the concert. 

KUJ and NA were quite playing all the kriti on the mridanga / Khanjari. They played with such anticipation and was very good even while accompanying the neraval and swarams. 

The concert was simply electrifying. Each artiste gave his best for a thoroughly enjoyable concert. Though CNR can deliver a standing ovation worthy A-Capella concert,  the accompanists today added their contribution and made the big difference to the whole evening. 

The GRAND FINALE concert of the season was very good and filled with classicism from the word go. Starting though a tad of time late, CNR was in no mood to dilute the music for the accommodating the delay. He was still his fullest.

What a way to end a 25 concert long season with such a high note !!

PS: Season review coming up shortly

Friday, 6 May 2016

2016 May 06 Mahati CharulataRamanujam Prashanth BS Anil Parashara @ Vani Shool

Vocal: Vid. Mahati 

Violin: Vid. CharulataRamanujam 
Mridanga: Vid. Prashanth BS 
Khanjari: Vid. Anil Parashara 

Ocassion: 25th Ramanavami Music and Dance Festival @ Vani School, Basaveshwara Nagar, Bangalore

01 mAte malaya daru varNa khamAs muttiah bhagavatar (O)

02-ninnE bhajana sEyu vADanu-nATa-Adi tyAgarAja (CS, S)
Swara @ sItA 

03 endarO mahAnubhAvulu andarIki vandanamu shrI tyAgarAja

04 Adaddella oLite Aayitu pUrvikalyANi Adi p.dAsa ( A S )
Swara @ AdaddellA oLitE Ayitu 

05-sItamma mAyamma shrI-vasanta-rUpaka tyAgarAja ( N S ) 
Nereval @ dharaNija bhAgavatAgre 

06-kaddnu vAriki kaddukaddani-tODi-Adi thyAgarAja (A, N, S, T)

Nereval @ baddu tappaka bhajiyincE

07 bArO krishNayya mAND Adhi kanaka dhAsa (O)

08 pavanaja stuti pAtra kuranji KhaNda Chapu thyAgarAja

09 shlOka rAgamALika

shAntAkAram bhujaga shayanam. . ShanmukapriyA 
Vishwadharam gagana. .valaji
Lakshmi kAntam. ..SAranga
Vande vishnum. .. Sindhubhairavi followed by 

10 tillAna sindhubhairavi Adi OVK

11 nInAma rUpamulaku mangaLa sourAshtra Adhi thyAgarAja

Vid. Mahati started with the famous daru varNa of Mutthiah Bhagavathar in khamAs. This composition is rarely treated as an opening varNam; past masters like the late KVN invariably sang this as the 3rd or 4th piece in a concert. However, it was a refreshing change to see this first up and it set a brisk pace to the whole concert.

She then followed it up with the not so frequently sung ninnE bhajana of tyAgarAjaswAmi in nATa, with a sprightly chiTTaswarA passage and some rounds of kalpanA swarAs.

It has been a while since I heard one of the pancharatna kritis in a concert, and a rendition of endarO mahAnubhAvulu sans any kalpanA elements was very welcome.

The first major AlApanE of the day followed that in the shape of pUrvikalyANI. It was unambiguous pUrvikalyANI with no hidden shades of pantuvarALI. A purandaradAsA composition that I had not heard before was presented. In its musical setting, it was more like a bhajana sampradAyA composition. In fact, it reminded me very much of a bhadrAchala rAmadasa composition (iDigO bhadrAdrI in varALI) that Sri Balamuralikrishna has rendered. KalpanA swarAs were rendered for the Pallavi, but the structuring of the landing left something to be desired - the attempted poruttams did not flow seamlessly to the eDuppu.

sItamma mAyammA was rendered next - I found it a bit odd to heard vasantA immediately following pUrvikalyANI. Neraval and swarAs were rendered for dharaNija bhAgavatAgrE.

tODI was taken up for the main of the day. An elaborate edifice of tODI was built, with some interesting grahabhEda to mOhanakalyANI - CR in her response played mOhana in grahabhEda. The way the AlApanE was moving had me guessing it was going to be kaddanU vAriki; that proved right, but I was pleasantly surprised when she skipped neraval at the usual nIdurA nirAkarinchi and chose the next like paddU tappaka instead for elaboration.

Tani by the young percussionist was just apt. 

An outline of mAnD preceded bArO krishNayya, and the kalayaNa utsava song sItA kalyANa vAIbhOgamE followed that.

A quickly rendered sloka in ragamAlika was rendered before OVK's Sindhu bhAIravI thillAnA. The younger generation of artistes need to be encouraged to spend more time on slokas / viruttam / ugAbhOgA - most treat this as a checkbox to be ticked and not exploit the musical potential of these pieces.

Overall, I would say it was a good concert, but it was missing some X factor that takes it beyond the pale of the ordinary.

CR as usual was impeccable in her ability to shadow the main artiste; she is really an asset to any main performer.

2016 May 05 Dr S Sowmya CharulataRamanujam HSSudheendra GiridharUdupa @ SRSM

Picture Courtesy: VS (Rasika friend of mine)

Vocal: Vid. Dr S Sowmya 
Violin: Vid. CharulataRamanujam 
Mridanga: Vid. HSSudheendra 
Ghata: Vid. GiridharUdupa

01 vanajAkSirO I viraha kalyANi varNa Adi rAmanathapuram srInivAsa iyengAr (S)

02 alakalalla lAdaga madhyamAvathi rUpaka thyAgarAja (S)

03 mAyUranATham DhanyAsi chApu muththuswAmy dhIkshithar (A)

04 manavi nAlakicha rAdhaTE naLinakAnthi Adhi thyAgarAga (S)

05 amba mIna lOchani nAyaki mAyAvaram vishwanAtha shAstri (A)

06 vande sadA padmanAbham navarasakannaDa Adi swAthi thirunAL

07 RTP shaNmukhapriyA khanDa tripuTa, 1.5 beat edupu after smamam

swarAkshara pallavi line: srI rAma rAgahuvara ... sa dA mA pA hi
tani followed by rAgamAlika swaras in   valaji  sunAdavinOdini rEvati suruTi

08 bAgilanu teredu rEvati kanaka DAsa

09 chaliye kunjanamO brindAvana sArang swAti thirunAL

10 nInAma rUpamulaku mangaLa sourAshtra Adhi thyAgarAja

Light showers around 14.30 hrs in Bangalore already provided the signs of what is going to be in store for the evening. With Vid. Sowmya (SS henceforth) landing in Bangalore, had carried good omen of a peace and prosperity in Bangalore through the showers, which continued in patches throughout the city through the night.

Devoid from my routine which I had to urgently attend to, I reached venue late. Parking was full at the sabha indicating the support that had already gathered inside the pendAl. naLinakAnti was concluding with a flare of short tani as a took my seat amidst the beginning of downpour at sabha area. The concert had a brief interruption to accommodate the artists (wet pitch and players unable to play - in cricket parlance)

She had already served a treat of KalyANi, madhyamAvati, dhanyAsi and naLinakAnti to the delight of the almost full house audience (from the beginning moments of the concert). As I heard from my friend who luckily had a seat empty next to him, varNa was more a warm-up piece rendered leisurely. madhyamAvati had long swarAs which occupied most of the time of the 14 minutes rendition, which was followed up by an explanation of the krithi presented. My rasika friend felt it was hurried. however, the temp if she had sung in the tempo used in demo it could have been fantastic. The beginning notes tA ra na na during AlApane had crystal clear dhanyAsi chAya. Her lower notes were very clear. 

Back to the live show, the nAyaki AlApane was a sedate presentation, contradicting the performance till then. It resembled poise and composure of Rahul Dravid in the middle overs. With a small introduction to the krithi, she presented it without any embellishments. 

Vande sadA padmanAbham was a perfect filler to take off into the main section of the concert. It was very well rendered.

With an eclectic mix of 5 composers till then, she dwelled deep into a long shaNmukhapriya AlApane. There was no clue till the completion of another mind blowing response from CR what was in store for us. Was the voice/ breath not co-operating  to sing higher octaves - I felt so?. But this did not deter her from exploring the bhAva of the rAga in the mid and lower octaves. Elaborate lower octave sanchArAs, vintage and salient pidis of shaNmukhapriyA interpolated between intricate freewheeling passages were the hallmark of the presentation. It was indeed breathtaking and I was left guessing what possible song there could be with rAma as the central figure.

After a brief chat with violinist (lip reading indicated - Pallavi pAdlAma ??) she burst into short cycles of tAna and an equally energetic response from CR delighted the audience. Each cycle of tAna by both the artists.

Pallavi presentation was interesting. With 1.5 atIta eDupu, she dwelled elaborating the Pallavi line: " srI rAma rAgahuvara ... sa dA mA pA hi" nice aligned to swarAkshara in the second half. Elaborate treatment in 3 kAlAs, while the eDupu aligned to samam was an interesting take. Tani occupied a leisurely slot (as though you are chasing at a run rate of 3 or 4 RPO). As the tani came to a conclusion, Vid SS took off to sing a few rAgamAlikAs. Tani once again at the end of rAgamAlika ended the show on a high note.

A detailed VOT followed, including thanking the team of organisers who are running the show behind the scenes. The audience who stayed till then did not miss to applaud their contribution. I feel missing out the SOUND ENGINEER who has been doing a great job this year was a big let down from the organisers.

Other tail lamps (highlights) were a sedate rEvati ("bAgilanu teredu" of kanaka dAsa - emulating PB Srinivas who sung this song for Dr. Rajkumar movie in name of the composer - Bhakta Kanakadasa) and brindaAvana sAranga (" " of swAti thirunAl).

Excellent concert, the lady is in fine form ! And boy... she sure did not disappoint!

I came in dry, challenging varuNa to be faster than me to reach the venue, but got washed away with the pristine music of the evening. An unconventional song list (devoid of her staple list) with a couple of  unfamiliar items (at least to me), yet presented in a manner that appealed to lay rasikAs and connoisseurs alike.  All south Indian crowd (not justTamill Tamil afficionados who had added to the audience strength to what I saw last 2 days) would be extremely pleased with the song selection of most south Indian languages, and to top it, conversed with audience in tamizh. The crowd was very interactive during the key moments in the concerts.

As I rode back in cool breeze in empty roads of Bangalore (Believe me - yes it was empty!), shaNmukhapriyA tAna still lingered in my ears. I only regret, I missed her concert at sEshAdripuram due to other personal engagements that I could not withdraw from.

As the season comes to an end in a couple of days (I plan to attend: Mahati, ChitravINa ravikiran and Visaka Hari) the toughts are lining op for a season review. This concert has entries to be remembered in the 'season's best' sweepstakes. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

2016 May 04 MS Sheela Nalina Mohan HS Sudheendra B Rajashekar @ SRSM

Vocal: Vid. MS Sheela  (MSS)
Violin: Vid. Nalina Mohan  (NM)
Mridanga: Vid. HS Sudheendra (HSS)
Morsing: Vid. B Rajashekar  (BR)

Occasion / Venue: 78th Ramanavami National Music Festival, Sree Ramaseva Mandali, Fort High School 

01 ninnE kOriyunnadi mA nElATa i vEla tAnavarNa kAnaDa Adi tiruveTTiyur tyAgayya (O)

02 garuda gamana samyamidhE nAgaswarAvaLi Adhi patNam subrahmaNya iyer (O S)
swara @ garuDa gamana

03 Emani pogaDudurA shrI rAma nI vIravasantam Adhi tyAgarAja

04 nAradamuni veDalina kAmavardhini Adi thyAgarAja (A N S )

Nereval @ narAyAna nAmamulanu

05 paTTi viDuva rAdhu nA chai manjari Adhi thyAgarAja

06 sarasvatIm bhagavatIm namAmyaham hamsavinOdini Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar (A)

07 telialEru rAma Bhakthi mArgamunu dhEnuka Adhi thyAgarAja (S)
Swara @ teliya lEru rAma 

08 vara rAga laya chenchu kAmbOdhi Adi thyAgarAja (CS)

09 shrI chAmundEshwari pAlayamAm bilahari Adhi mysUru vAsudhEvAchAr (CS)

10 rAma kathA sudhArasa madhyamAvati Adi tyAgarAja (A, N, S, T)
Nereval @ bhAmA maNi 

11 hAgE irabEku samsAradhalli mOhana Adhi Purandhara dhAsa

12 mEluko srI pendEvu manavALa baULi jhampe Composer ??

13 karuNA jaladhE dhAsharaThE pIlu Adhi thyAgarAja (indeed not in regular nAdanAMakriya !!)

14 bhAgyAda lakshmi bAramma madhyamAvati Adhi purandaradhAsa

15 nInAma rUpamulaku mangaLa sourAshtra Adhi thyAgarAja

Date: Sometime in Sept 2012
Opponent : New Zeland
A star batsman walks into the crowd carrying country's expectations and scored 34 off 26 balls in a T20 Match. Later that year, he ended up being the highest wicket taker for India in the tournament though he could not match up to the expectations with his bat. The star player was none other than Yuvraj Singh who returned to International cricket after almost a year+ break.

Today seemed to be a similar day at SRSM. The main artist of the evening, battling her own challenges took on the stage after a hiatus, yet delivered a stellar performance. 

With a brief outline of kAnaDa, MSS started off the brisk-paced Adi tALa varna. Today being tyAgarAjA's gregorian birthday, I was expecting all tyAgarAja concert, however, this was a fine twist to bring in a composition of a vAggEyakAra of a similar name. Since the initiation itself was brisk, the whole composition was rendered in same pace.  Though a bit shaky in the beginning, it ended well

A brief outline of nAgaswarAvaLi paved way for another fast paced performance of garuDa gamana. She refrained from presenting her favourite Sri shankara guruvaram. The swaras were interspersed intelligently directly in the second speed.

The birthday treat came in form of vIravasantha composition. Though the current generation artists present this in brisk pace, today's presentation had all the bhakti bhAva aptly gelled with the slow pace presentation. Though it lasted for about 5 minutes, this subtle difference made it a rendition to remember.

First pratimadhyama came in form of pantuvarALi AlApane followed by nAradamuni. Though this was the first ANS krithi of the concert, it took full 30 mins to be treated as the sub-main of the concert for me to realise at the end of the concert. Kriti was well rendered and the swarAs which followed were too good mostly in the same pace as that of the krithi, except for the conclusion. 

A series of fillers occupied some prime time slots of the concert. PaTTi viDuvaradu in manjari was presented in viLamba kAla, another deviation from the fast paced current generation.

A detailed AlApane in between the fillers for hamsavinOdini was backed up with a JCW composition. No embellishments through swaras / nereval. One of the rare krithis to be presented today. My memory goes back to a couple of years, when Abhishek Raghuram had presented this (source: My concert notes). Hardly remember the rAga traces as it was my initial days into listening. However, this rAga has a unique resemblance to ravichandrika. Any small deviation can tread into ravichandrika zone. However, today it was blissfully controlled. Had a kind of feeling that it could be ravichandrika.. but it is not (as it had something more). As stated in the LINK, "The ragam is quite similar to the ragam Ravichandrika though a genius could discern the difference."

The dhEnuka kriti had a few nice swaras was rendered. It was a kind of wake-up call for NM as she was just bowing only shadja at some points of the krithi..

Vara rAga laya was brisk and resembled GNB's original rendition, probably the same way he wanted it to be rendered by other fellow artists.

Audience request for a bilahari composition was honoured. What a masterly acceptance. There was a momentary thought (recapitulation) and outflowed the rendition. No hesitation what so ever in accepting the challenge.

The main madhyamAvati AlApane was rendered with a lot of classism and showing essential parts of the rAga. The kriti through each sangati kept reminding one of the renditions of old masters. The neraval and swarAs at "bhAma maNi" were very good, with neraval done in 2 kAla. The swara patterns were measured and good. The volley of swaras was very rich in manodharma which was aptly reproduced even by the percussion team.

Vid. NM was good in all parts as usual. Though there were few slack moments in following the artist, her skills/ capabilities of playing to the main artist is unquestionable. She stood up to the main artist most of  the concert. 

Vid. HSS demonstrated his skills in playing the kriti on the mridanga. He played with such anticipation (many bhale-bhale moments and exchange of broad smiles through the concert) and was very good even while accompanying the neraval and swarAs. His tani was outstanding as solo and with Vid BR during the final paired conclusion. There were demonstration of some new stroking and rubbing techniques on mridanga, while BR did not stop showing his blowing (without plucking the morsing) techniques to create different sound effects. It was received with an instant appluase by the audience.

At the end, it was a concert full of learning experience (1. New rAga for the audience- unlike treading the safe waters using tried and tested ones, 2.Change of speed for the fast paced generation etc). MSS repertoire is amazing which was evident in today's concert. The execution, stage presence and mannerisms demonstrated by the team was a lesson worthy of emulation. 

Not a dull moment in the 3 hr 15 min recital, inspite of all the challenges off stage. I would like to end this experience report with a philosophical quote: "our talent and your intelligence don’t play nearly as big of a role as you might think. What makes a bigger impact than talent or intelligence? It’s “mental toughness.” "

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

2016 May 03 Bangalore S Shankar Charulata Ramanujam KUJayachandra Rao BR Ravikumar @ SRSM


Vocal: Vid. Bangalore S Shankar  (BSS)
Vocal Support: Vid. Shankar Ramani (SR)
Violin: Vid. Charulata Ramanujam  (CR)
Mridanga: Vid. KUJayachandra Rao 
Ghata: Vid. BR Ravikumar 

Occasion / Venue: 78th Ramanavami National Music Festival, Sree Ramaseva Mandali, Fort High School 

01 chalamEla jEsEvura sArasa varNa shankarAbharaNa khanda Ata swAthi thirunAL

02 siddhi VinAyakam shaNmukhapriya rUpakA m.dhIkshithar (A, S)
Swara @ prasiddha gANa nAyakam 

03 bhajarE rE mAnasa shrI AbhEri rUpaka x2 mysore vAsudevAcAr (O)

04 shrI venkatEsham tODi chaturaSra rUpaka pUci srinivAsa iyengAr (A, N, S)
Nereval @ mArajanakam mAdhva nAmakam 

05 srIdhara keEshava nArAyaNa kalyANa vasantha Adi nAdOpAsana srInivAsan (O)

06 pakkAla nilabaDi kharaharapriyA tripuTa tyAgarAja (A, N, S)
Nereval @ tanuvu che bandhana 

07 akhilAndEshwari rakshamAm dhwijAvanthi Adhi m.dhIkshithar

08 RTP shankarAbharaNa chaturaSra triputa 2 kaLai 1 beat eDupu
pallavi line: dAsharathe karuNA payOnidhe inakula tilaka

09 rAgamAlika shlOka
shringAram kshitinandini ... khamAs
vIram  dhanurbhanjane..  aTANA
kAruNyam bali bhOjane..  sahAna
adbhuta rasah sindhou..   rEvati  
hAsyam  shUrpanakha...   mOhana 
bhaya maghe..  ranjani   
rOudram rAvaNa mardane.. KApi  followed by 

11 shringa purAdhIshwari shAradE kalyANi Padmacharan (AV Krishnamachar)

12 manave mantralaya shudha sarang Adhi AVKrishnamachar

13 tirupathi vEnkata ramanA sindubhairavi Adhi purandaradAsar

14 thillAna (Dhim nanana tillillana tillana) brindAvani Balamuralikrishna

15 nInAma rUpamulaku mangaLa sourAshtra Adhi thyAgarAja

I recently came across a graffiti: "Music isn't like sports or modelling. Its not something that if you dont reach your goals by age of 25, you're finished. Your playing will only get better as you gow older and wiser. The best music days are ahead of you." If this was designed,with someone in mind, it was the junior RTP concert that was going on as I entered sabha yesterday. Dr. Seshaprasad was practicing something true to his profession: PRACTICE ON THE JOB !!. [ Nice business practice - cause toothache in the audience when they grind their teeth on hearing the "Bhairavi" - the treat them :), Pun intended ].

It was a  "trial and terror" concert when he was attempting to sing bhairavi ! He was almost demonstrating how not to sing on stage ! I may save the ears and teeth of others by sharing this piece of experience, that I pray others should not undergo. Hope he will grow more experienced and tinkered by his next concert :). However, appreciate his efforts to balance his vocational committments and passion. 

As the main artists occupied the stage, Subtle and short mic check indicated the voice sounded fine fettle. An indicator of good things to come around in the evening after a trecherous 30 mins of the junior concert. 

The concert started with a sedate and soulful rendition of the popular shankarAbhara varNam (2 swAti thirunAl starters in 2 days), with each line being sung twice and in two speeds. Vid Shankar Ramani (SR) filled in the silence by is Guru / Father during the very first piece, to indicate he was up there to face the challenges of the day.

I feel it was a brilliant choice to fill in a partimadhyama rAga + AlApane to bring the twist on the very second song of the evening in form of shaNmukhapriya / chAmara. The raga, kriti rendition, and swaras (shared with his son) were soulful. As against the recent brickbats on the sister duo, the pATAntara was perfect and diction was pretty clear, creating goose bumps all around. Very well done ! . The first two songs created a grand concert atmosphere. Evidently, BSS was in fine form and with and all Bangalore team of accompanists, he was giving his best. They were doing their 110% too.

With a brief outline, bhajare re mAnasa was more a filler (as against being a main serving by other artists). During charaNa, while most artists don't aspirate the Dha - so it sounds like vadanam, instead of vadhanam, I could hear clearly it was vadhanam (meaning slain)! Hadn't noticed this subtle difference though I have heard the kriti multiple times.  MVA technically wags a finger at rAma to call spade a spade. 

Then came the second detailed Alapane of tODi. Both BSS and SR shared the AlApane as the dug tODi deeper and deeper. Modelled after his father, SR showed his creative abilites. The team on the stage, decided to deviate from the standard tyAgarAja staple songs, and picked up pUchi SrinivAsa IyengAr's compositions, that is not usually heard in concert circle these days. My hopes for a different kriti was fulfilled. 

The sedate neraval at mArajanakam mAdhva nAmakam was nice, swaras - short and sweet in first speed added to the beauty of the rendition. The bhAva was maintained throughout the rendition.

Next was a tribute to late sri. nAdOpAsana srInivAsan. His composition in kalyANavasantha evoked both beauty and bhakti bhAva. While the outline of kalyANavasantha was being sung, expected something different as the list till then was providing sufficient clue. Without much embellishments, this one more like a filler.

kharaharapiryA was elaborated in all its glory. Father-Son duo traversed all 3 registers to reveal the beautiful facets of this majestic raga. The abundance of shArira helped effortless rendition evoked awe. The prayOgAs in the madhya sthAyi showed his versatility and comfort zones in the octave. Mandra sthyAyi occupied quite less space in the whole AlApane. BSS was enjoying himself all along was evident in the smiles on his face and shabhAsh towards his son and CR, inspite of being a very serious artist on stage. It was complimented by the birds chirping in the roof almost following the rAga crests and troughs in same shruti !

Pakkala nilaBadi was rushed through . 2 rounds of nereval and few cycles of swaras directly in 2nd speed indicated that there was another main to come through. Right after the swaras the rest of the charaNas were delivered without any space for tani.

Aligning to the age old concert tradition of singing varNa and main piece in the same rAga, shankarAbharana was the selected as the main rAga for the day. Multi stage development during rAga tAna exposed the embellished facets of shankarABharaNa. It was 3rd in the last 4 concerts as main for me !! After the rAga, a powerful tAna followed with a text book pallavi - 'dasharathe karuNA payonidhe inakula tilaka' - it was in chaturaSra tipuTa (2 kaLai), 1 beat eDupu, enabled BSS and his son to engage in subtle laya variations during the neraval. No rAgamALika ensured it was pure play shankarAbharaNa all through.

The Tani that followed was true to the fame the percussion duo. Each sollu was crisp and in its place. BR Ravikumar rose up to the challenge presented by Vid. KUJayachandra Rao very well after the first cycle of long solo performance. The entire RTP and Tani occupied the pride of place in the concert lasting almost an hour. It was already 9PM by then. It is heartening to see such an elaborate treatment for the RTP, especially in days of short (meaningless pallavis and short cycles of R and T, the entire exercise over before you realise it.) I have my own qualms over the arudhi of this pallavi. Thats a topic for some other time.

The ugAbhOga section saw a new piece being rendered for Bangalore audience today. Vid. BSS rendered rAmayaNa slOka which deals on navarasa of rama rendered well with appropriate rAga for apprOpriate rasa. Each stanza began with the rasa name and it a bliss point of the concert and rendered leisurely. Vid. CR complimented the rasa in her own style. One can bring out navarasa by raga as well as by the way you present. khamAs though an apt rAga for sringara rasa, hamIrkalyani or navrOz could have been better choice. However, its the manOdharma of the day that decides the rAga. vIra, kAruNya , adbhuta, hAsya, bhaya and rOudra rasAs were delineated with grace. BSS used kApi for both roudra and shAntha, but presented differently to bring the respective rasas. ranjani for bhaya and rEvati for adbhuta was brilliant.

Further tail pieces were filled with compositions in kalyANi, shuddha sArang, sindhubhairavi, brindAvani and staple pavamAna.

The support of the accompanists was great. CR (3rd time for me in this season) enjoyed herself to the fullest, presented contentment throughout the concert. Never stopped short of what she could deliver at her best. The smiles and nodding exchanges with the other artists was pretty easy to decipher - Only music and nothing else, and that too through teamwork. The entire percussion throughout the concert was great. BSS himself kept indicating his next move, helping the percussionist to design silence as required, bringing in a good level of surprising element.

This was a concert where the selection left a lot to be desired (why not something else other than recently covered rAgas on the same platform - This is always a challenge to late season artists), but it was offset by great rendition. Choice of shaNmukhapriya, tODi, kharaharapriya and rAgamAlika in shlOka offset the wanting feeling. One thing to note was the lack of any rakti rAga through the concert. Either they were mElakarthas/scalar ones. Hope for some of these changes as I attend next concert of this Father - Son duo next time.

All in all a great evening of classical music, to be remembered for a long time.

2018 Apr 23 ChitravinaRavikiran LalagudiViji SaiGiridhar GiridharUdupa @ SRSM FHS

ChitravINA : Vid. ChitravinaRavikiran  Violin: Vid. LalagudiViji  Mridanga: Vid. SaiGiridhar  Ghata: Vid. GiridharUdupa Venue/ Occas...