T.N.Seshagopalan @ YACD, Chennai

Venue: Mylapore Fine Arts Club (MFAC) Hall, Musiri Subramaniam Road, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 25 Feb 2007

Organizer: YACD & Sri Krishna Sweets – “Chennaiyil Tamizh Isai”

Vocal: Sri T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS)

Vocal Support: Sri T.N.S. Krishna

Violin: Sri S.D. Sridhar

Mrudangam: Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao

Khanjira: Sri B.S. Purushothaman

List of songs:

1) nIyE charaNam (viruttam) – nATTai

gaNapati tALai – nATTai – chatusra Ekam – subramaNya bhArati (O)

2) sAmi mayUra giri vaDivElA – khamAs – Adi – kavi kunjara bhArati

3) annavayal pudhuvai ANDAL (viruttam) – pUrvikalyANi – uyyakkonDAr

kUDArai vellum – pUrvikalyANi – misra chApu – ANDAL (A)

4) thaDitha Or maganai (viruttam) – sahAnA

appA nAn vEnDuthal – sahAnA – rUpakam – rAmalinga aDigaL (?)

5 ) siru viralgaL thaDavi parimAra (viruttam) – chArukEsi

kuzhalOsai kETka manam – chArukEsi – misra jampa – ambujam krishnA (AST)

6) ArabhimAnam – rAgamAlikA – Adi – tanangambaDi panchanAda iyer

7) kaNmaNiyE sollaDi – kApi – Adi -mazhavai chidambara bhArati

8 ) yEru mayil – suruTTi – chatusra jampa (kanDa gati) – aruNagirinAtar

9) tadara dIm tana (tillAnA) – nirOshTa – Adi – madurai t.n. seshagOpAlan

10) suragaNanAthanukkum (mangaLam) – suruTTi – Adi – ??

11) vAzhiya senthamizh – madyamAvati – Adi – subramaNya bhArati

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

I simply do not have words to describe this beautiful concert of TNS. It even overshadowed the great concert which he presented for Hamsadhwani in Adyar, a day back. If God sang, he would probably sing like how TNS did today. The strong percussion support that TNS had today in the form of Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao and Sri B.S. Purushothaman made this concert all the more enjoyable. The way Sri Raja Rao played for some of the slow songs that were replete with lyrics is commendable.

The way TNS beautifully sang one raga after another is something that is very hard to describe. So many beautiful patterns were highlighted in the viruttam and in the song in nATTai. The raga alapana of pUrvikalyANi, though much shorter than the extended versions that TNS usually sings, was a delight to hear. sahAnA was brilliantly sung. However the best among the best of alapanas today was that of charukEsi. When TNS sang the viruttam “siru viralgaL thaDavi parimAra”, I could actually feel and visualize every word of what he was singing. The way TNS sang the song that followed with special effects provided at many places like “nI Udhum kuzhalOsai” is commendable. I could actually feel the yearnings of the composer and could almost visualize Lord Krishna come as a child and play the flute in front of my eyes !! TNS sang the words “kU kU ena kUvum” like a kuyil (kOyal). The kalpana swarams in this song witnessed a brilliant round of kuraippus replete with excellent calculations. Sri B.S. Purushothaman especially did an excellent job reproducing whatever calculations TNS used in his kuraippus on the khanjira while playing along with the violinist. The taniAvartanam comprised chatusra and tisra naDais and a good round of kuraippus.

“ArabhimAnam” was sung beautifully culminating in a round of single avartanam kalpana swarams in the different ragas that formed the ragamalika, with each avartanam ending with the raga name. “yEru mayil” proved TNS’ grip over layam. Each avartanam of the chatusra jampa tALam in kanDa gati (total 7 taps with the hand with the kanDa gati counting done silently) was sung to have two lines of the song. The first line was sung in chatusram to fit in the lagu part of the tALam (4 taps with the hand). The second line was sung so as to fit within the shorter anudrutam and drutam part of the tALam (3 taps with the hand). TNS then reversed the order fitting the first line within 3 tappings and the subsequent line within the remaining 4 tappings of the avartanam. The song itself was based in suruTTi, one of my favorite ragas, which meant that I was completely lost in the melody and rythm combination doled out by TNS.

The concert was preceded by a felicitation function and a few speeches. The idea of Chennaiyil Tamizh Isai is to have one Tamizh Isai concert in Chennai every month for the next 12 months. The first in this series was the one presented by TNS today and the whole series was inaugurated today by veteran singer Smt. R. Vedavalli. The other artists who are scheduled to perform in the series at the same venue are Sri Sirkazhi Sivachidambaram (25 Mar 2007), Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan (29 Apr 2007), Sri T.V. Sankaranarayanan (26 May 2007), Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan (24 Jun 2007), Sri P. Unnikrishnan (29 Jul 2007), Smt. S. Sowmya (26 Aug 2007), Sri N. Vijay Siva (23 Sep 2007), Priya Sisters (28 Oct 2007), Sri O.S. Thyagarajan (25 Nov 2007), Smt. Gayathri Girish (09 Dec 2007) and Smt. Sudha Raghunathan (27 Jan 2008). Sri Murali of Sri Krishna Sweets, who was present on the occasion, was praised by the dignitaries assembled on the podium. After hearing about his philanthropic efforts and his constant support for promoting cultural activities, I must say he is doing a really great job.

TNS also spoke briefly before the concert began. The topic he spoke on was “Tamizh Isai”. Here is what I understood. TNS said that “Tamizh Isai” did not just refer to singing songs in Tamil language. His interpretation was that Tamizh Isai is no different from Carnatic music itself and that they are one and the same. To support his interpretation, he quoted the examples of the Tamil work Silappadigaram (the oldest book that depicts the well developed system of music in India as early as 4B.C./2A.D. ) and the fact that ghamaka embellishments that form one of prime characteristics of carnatic music were first used by Tirugnanasambandar (which couldn’t be played on the yAzh by Yazhpanar) when he sang his hymns in Tamil. He further said that languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada etc were like the different silver cups in which you could serve carnatic music (coffee-served-in-silver-cup analogy) and that there was no discrimination against any of the languages nor a bias towards singing compositions in one or more particular language(s). He concluded by saying that music is a language by itself.

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