Sikkil Sisters @ Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam, Chennai

Venue: Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam, 5, Thiagarajapuram, Chennai

Date: 25 Nov 2006
Flute Duet: Sikkil Sisters – Smt. Kunjumani & Smt. Neela

Violin: Sri M.R. Gopinath

Mridangam: Sri Pathri Satish Kumar

Khanjira: Sri K.V.R.S. Mani

List of songs:

1) sikkil singAravEla (varnam) – rItigOwLa – Adi – sikkil sisters

2) srI raghukula – hamsadwani – Adi – thyAgarAja (OS)

3) nATimATa marachitivO – dEvakriyA – Adi – thyAgarAja

4) dorakuNA – bilahari – Adi – thyAgarAja (AS)

5) Eti janma – varALi – misra chApu – thyAgarAja (O)

6) raghunAta nannu – suraranjani – Adi – ramanAtapuram srInivAsa iyengAr

7) srI kAntImatim – hEmavati – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (AST)

8 ) rAma nAmamE – dEsh – Adi – tanjavUr shankara iyer (O)

9) amudam Urum (tiruppugazh) – sindhubhairavi – Adi – aruNagirinAthar (O)

10) pavamAna (mangaLam) – sOwrAshtram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram,  T=taniavartanam)

It was a fitting finale to the Veterans Music Series organized by Sri Thiagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam. Sikkil Sisters, whose name is synonymous with the flute, gave a great performance at the Samajam. Age has taken its toll on the sisters, who walk and talk very slowly. However, once they take the flute in their hands, its only heavenly music that comes out. The sisters started the concert by welcoming the few people who were present in the name of an audience. They introduced their accompanists and spoke highly of each of them. A very good way to start a concert which is missing from the concert scene these days. They also announced the song details before every song they played, which again is very very essential in instrumental music concerts where it can become difficult for many at times to identify the song being played.

Detailed alapans were done for bilahari and hEmavati. Neraval was however not done for any song. Their rendition of the songs on the flute were so good that one could feel as though someone is sitting on the stage and soulfully singing them. Years of experience playing concerts together also meant that whenever both of them played, they played in perfect unison.

Sri M.R. Gopinath faithfully followed whatever they played. His individual essays of the raga alapanas very melodious. Sri K.V.R.S. Mani provided decent accompaniment.

But the true star of the day for me, yet again, was Sri Satish Kumar on the mridangam. He was, as usual, awesome … simply awesome. He is like a blotting paper. He quickly absorbs whatever the main artist sings/plays and immediately  translates them on the mridangam. He is a mridangam artist par excellence and one of the best accompanists I have ever heard. His imagination also knows no bounds. This can be seen for example in the way he plays the endings for songs quickly composing them based on how the song ends or based on a korvai which the main artists have sung/played or for example in the way he plays the ending korvai during the taniavartanam which just fuses into the beginning of the verse at which the taniavartanam had been given to him. He is sure to enter the hall of fame as one of the best mridangam artists of all times if he continues like this.

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