Neyveli Santhanagopalan @ Ayodhya Mandapam, Chennai

Venue: Ayodhya Aswamedha Maha Mandapam, West Mambalam, Chennai

Date: 30 Mar 2007


Vocal: Vid. Neyveli Santhanagopalan

Violin: Vid. M.A. Sundaresan

Mrudangam: Vid. Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman

Khanjira: Vid. B. Sree Sundar Kumar

List of songs:

1) srI rAma rAma rAmEti (slOkam) – mOhanam

2) inta chAlamu (varnam) – bEgaDa – Adi – vINai kuppaiyer (S)

3) mErusamAna – mAyAmALavagowLa – Adi – thyAgarAja (NS)

4) mAkElarA – ravichandrikA – Adi – thyAgarAja (S)

5) raghuvara nannu – pantuvarALi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

6) rAmabhadra rArA – Anandabhairavi – Adi – bhadrAchala rAmdAs

7) durmArga charAdamulanu – ranjani – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (AS)

8 ) hechariga – yadukulakAmbOji – kanDa chApu – thyAgarAja (O)

9) thAyE yashOdA – tODi – Adi – UthukkAdu venkata subbaiyer (AN)

10) kastUri tilakam (viruttam) – yamunA kalyANi

       krishnA nI bEganE bArO – yamunA kalyANi – misra chApu – vyAsarAya

11) ArabhimAnam – rAgamAlikA – Adi – tanangambaDi panchanAda iyer

12) mAnasa sanchararE – sAmA – Adi – sadAsiva brahmendra

13) ni ri ni ri ga ma ga ri sA (tillAnA) – pUrvi – rUpakam – t. vaidyanAta iyer

14) apakAra nindai (tiruppugazh) – chakravAham – kanDa jampai – aruNagirinAtar (T)

15) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja
(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

I was quite excited about attending this concert ever since I came to know about it yesterday. The primary reason for the same was the team of artists that was supposed to perform on stage with each one of them having established a name for themselves in their respective fields. The group gave an enjoyable concert amidst poor amplification arrangement compounded by excessive noise of vehicles from the busy Arya Gowda Road just outside the venue.

Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan sang detailed raga alapanas for pantuvarALi and tODi. Sri M.A. Sundaresan’s alapanas played in reply were quite enjoyable. However the star of the evening to me was Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman (UKS) who was very ably assisted in the percussion department by Sri Sundar Kumar on the khanjira. One look at the group of  popular percussion artists of the present generation seated in the very first row and you could tell what they were all waiting for …. and I think they would have surely gone back satisfied from their experience of watching the maestro hold everyone spellbound with his wizardry on the mrudangam. Sri UKS was unstoppable. The tani he played in a rather fast paced Adi talam (for “raghuvara nannu”) was out of the world. Even at such a fast pace, he played patterns with such great speed, precision and clarity. Some of the lightning fast patterns were simply unimaginable at that speed. And it was not just the tani that was great. The way he played for songs like “hechariga” was too good. He had such a fertile imagination. I think if I don’t stop here, I would simply go on and on and on singing his praise.

Veteran music critic Subbudu passes away

Veteran music critic Sri P.V. Subramaniam, popularly known as Subbudu, passed away in New Delhi yesterday. He was in his 90s. He was known for his frank criticism of performances. Average or poor performances could not escape the wrath of his pen. I have been told that his very presence in a concert venue used to instill fear in the minds of the performers.

I have had the opportunity of hearing Subbudu mama speak a couple of times when I was in Delhi. He was very witty and used to have the audience in splits of laughter whenever he spoke. For instance, he once said that he was speaking with a group of ladies who were showing a book to him. One of them apparently told him “Mama, neenga yen spectacles use panna mattengarel? (Mama, why don’t you use spectacles)” to which Subbudu mama replied:“Naan our spectacle maa …. enakku edhuku spectacles !! (I myself am a spectacle. Why will I need spectacles)”.

The saga of tragedies in this year continues for carnatic music. Senior vocalist Sri Tiruvengadu Jayaraman passed away just 2 days back and now it is Subbudu mama.

Dwayne Leverock lifted !!!!

My strong belief that finally there was something in this world so heavy that it could not be lifted was shattered a few days back when I saw this snap:

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Unbelievable !!!!

 

 

Just when I was wondering how Dwayne was able to maintain himself, I got to know that he is a policeman. No wonder :-)

Here are some more snaps for you to savour:

 

 

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Yeh pakda … ha ha ha

Hmmm … pakad toh liya … ab uthoon kaise ???

 

 

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Pitch – total damage

 

 

 

 

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Aao munna … aao …. himmat hai toh saamne aao

(Pictures courtesy cricinfo.com )

 

Sangeetha Sivakumar @ Asthika Samajam, Chennai

Venue: Asthika Samajam, Venus Colony, Chennai

Date: 29 Mar 2007

Organizer: Asthika Samajam

Vocal: Vid. Sangeetha Sivakumar

Violin: Vid. M.A. Krishnaswamy

Mrudangam: Vid. Manoj Siva

Khanjira: Vid. Anirudh Athreya

List of songs:

1) mErusamAna – mAyAmALavagowLa – Adi – thyAgarAja (ONS)

2) evarikai – dEvamanOhari – misra chApu – thyAgarAja

3) rAma ika nannu – sahAnA – rUpakam – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer (AS)

4) eppaDi manam – husEni – misra chApu – aruNAchala kavi

5) sarasa sAma dAna – kApinArAyaNi – Adi – thyAgarAja (S)

6) endukO nI manasu – kalyANi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

7) kahAn kE pathik – chenchuruTTi – chatusra Eka (tisra gati) – tulsidAs

8 ) mAmava paTTAbhi – maNirangu – misra chApu – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

9) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

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

Vid. Sangeetha Sivakumar presented a quality concert ably supported by her team of accompanists. She sang the kritis beautifully with some very good sangathis put in almost all songs. Her raga alapanas were very enjoyable. She was appreciative of her accompanists and seemed to maintain very good eye contact with the audience almost throughout the concert.

evarikai“, “eppaDi manam” and “mAmava paTTAbhi” were sung really well. Neraval and kalpana swarams were put in the kalyANi kriti at “thyAgarAja hridaya“. Tanivartanam comprised of chatusra naDai, misra naDai, few rounds of kuraippu in misra naDai, a misra kuraippu and mOra-kOrvai.

Hope Vid. Sangeetha Sivakumar gives concerts more frequently.

K.Gayathri @ Ganamukundapriya, Chennai

Venue: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mini Hall, East Mada St., Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 28 Mar 2007

Organizer: Ganamukundapriya

Vocal: Vid. K. Gayathri

Violin: Vid. S. Karthik

Mrudangam: Vid. S.J. Arjun Ganesh

List of songs:

1) sarasijanAbhA (varnam) – kAmbOji – kanDa aTa – swAti tiruNAL (O)

2) chinta dIrcharA – sowrAshTram – Adi – rAmanAtapuram srInivAsa iyengAr (S)

3) shankari nIvE – bEgaDA – rUpakam – subbarAya sAstri (AS)

4) brOvavammA tAmasamElE – mAnji – misra chApu – syAma sAstri

5) krupa jUchuTaku vELarA – chAyAtaraNgiNi – Adi – thyAgarAja

6) rAmA kathA – madyamAvati – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

7) oru tharam saravaNabhava (viruttam) – shanmukhapriyA, bilahari, kAnaDA & kApi

sOdanai – kApi – Adi – pApanAsam sivan

8 ) rAma nAmamE tudi – dEsh – Adi – tanjAvUr sankara iyer

9) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

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

The concert started with a good raga outline of kAmbOji. The kritis were sung well, especially “chinta dIrcharA“. Taniavartanam was played on the mrudangam in chatusra and tisra naDais. This was followed by another taniavartanam played by the sabha secretary in true Kapil Dev style English.

TNS Harikatha on Valmiki Ramayanam – Day 1

 

Multi-faceted genius Sri T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS) began his 5 day harikatha on Valmiki Ramayanam today at the Youth Hostel, Indira Nagar, Adayar, Chennai. The harikatha is being organized by Hamsadhwani. TNS was accompanied on the violin by Sri G. Chandramouli and on the mrudangam by Sri M.S. Varadan.

Sri L. Swaminathan, author of books on Valmiki Ramayanam, ‘inaugurated’ the harikatha. In his speech, he said that Sri Valmiki was worried about the propagation of his veda, the Ramayanam but his worries disappeared when Lava and Kusha joined his ashrama. They set music to Valmiki Ramayanam and made it a ‘musical’. Sri L. Swaminathan went on to say that Valmiki Ramayanam is about enlightenment and not about entertainment and took digs at carnatic music concerts going to the extent of branding them as entertainment. He made some comments like “this is not Ariyakkudi (Ramanuja Iyengar) or Semmangudi (Srinivasa Iyer) concert; this is not enterntainment”, which could have clearly been avoided. In fact almost all compositions sung in carnatic concerts (most of them by the trinity) are about bhakti and are in a way enhanced by the richness of the great music. In fact, Sri TNS himself has said in one of his harikathas on Thyagaraja Ramayanam earlier that “Sri Thyagaraja’s rAmAyaNam or rAmAnubhavam is special and different from other rAmAyaNams in that sangItam is used as a honey and that one who is more inclined towards literature can read/hear/know/experience rAmA through the literary beauty while one who is not can let the sangItam (music) take over and experience rAmA through it”.

 

The harikatha was a very fulfilling experience on day 1 itself. The hard work that TNS must have put is something unimaginable. He was able to quote from Valmiki Ramayanam, Kamba Ramayanam, Sri Thyagaraja’s compositions and from numerous other sources at will. He laced his harikatha with humorous anecdotes, giving simple examples that people could relate to and use to understand the teachings of Ramayanam better. Standing there on stage for close to 3 hours is in itself a difficult task. To rattle off shloka after shloka without using any material for reference, weaving it all together in a nice continuous narration and delivering it as though one has been doing it for years together is very difficult to do in my opinion.

 

Here are some of the notes I took. These however form only a small portion of what TNS told. Any shortcomings in these will mostly be due to my ignorance and limitations in my ability to understand/express what TNS told. Corrections, if any, are welcome:

 

Salutations to the coel Valmiki who sits on the poem like branch and goes on singing sweetly “rAmA, rAmA, …. “

kUjantam rAma rAmeti madhuram madhurAksharam

Aruhya kavitAshAkham vandE valmIkikOkilam

What has dragged so many people here today to listen is not the harikatha performer but Ramayanam itself which is madhuram. Whichever bee comes to taste the nectar of Ramayanam ultimately gets immersed in it.

Who in this world will not attain salvation upon hearing the story of Lord Rama composed by Sri Valmiki, the lion among Poets who always lived in the jungle

 

vAlmIkE muni simhasya kavitA vana chAriNa

shruNvan rAma kadha nAdam kO na yAti parAm gathim

 

One gets sharaNAgati only when one becomes a paramabhakta

TNS with all humility said: “Listen to me like you would to a child at home. So many greats have sung/talked about Valmiki Ramayanam before …… Unqualified though as I may be, I am standing here with the belief that to tell about Rama, you need no qualification except bhakti”

Let the whole world become holy by this river called “Ramayana – The Story of Rama” which originates from the mountain of Valmiki and joins the ocean of Rama.

vAlmIki giri sambhUtA rAma sAgara gAmini

puinathu bhuvanam punyA rAmAyaNa mahA nadi

People who are soaked in Rama bhakti will attain mOksha

Ramayanams other than the “Valmiki Ramayanam” are an adaptation in some form of the “Valmiki Ramayanam” to the authors’ own culture. Even Kamban (author of Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil) has said that he has followed the “Valmiki Ramayanam”

Sloka that refers to the start/beginning of Ramayana: When the God who is know by Vedas was born as the son of Dasharatha, Veda was born again from Sage Valmiki as Ramayana

veda vEdyE parE pumsi jAte dasaradAtmajE

veda prachEthasa dAsIth sAkshAt rAmAyaNAtmanA

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to understand the vEdAs. Even vEdAs and upanishads do not tell what is “brahmam”. Though people do not know about brahmam, they should at least know about “brahmaguNam”. Rama lived and showed that a person can have all the 64 guNAs.

If not for Valmiki, we might not have come to know about Rama’s guNAs

There are many people these days who claim to be gurus and even sadgurus. A person who teaches how to do something is a guru. Sadguru is one, by observing and following whom, we even learn what he has left unsaid. We are able to visualize what he has visualized. He lives and stays as an example of how to lead a life.

Narada makes his entrance at the beginning of Ramayanam and seeks Valmiki. Valmiki asks Narada – a thoughtful meditator, a sagacious thinker and an eternally studious sage – about a man who is an embodiment of all merited endowments in his form and calibre

tapaha svAdhyAya niratAm tapasvI vAgvidAm varam

nAradam paripapracha vAlmIkihi muni pumgavam

TNS said that Narada is the guru here and Valmiki as like a shishya. TNS wondered which shishya asks such beautiful questions to gurus these days. He said these days shishyas ask why India lost to Bangladesh and blame it all upon Indira Gandhi for creating Bangladesh and leading to India’s ouster from the World Cup :-)

Valmiki asks: Oh Narada! Please tell me who is the one who has these 16 characteristics in this world and who is presently living? I should be able to see such a person. I will meditate on him.

kOnvasmin sAmpradam lOkE guNavAn kashcha vIryavAn

dharmagnAnashcha krutagnashca satyavAkyO dhriDa vrataha

On Lord Rama: One emerged from Ikshvaku dynasty and known to people as Rama – he is conscientious, highly valorous, resplendent, steadfast and a controller of vice and vile and his own senses, as well

ikshvaaku vamsha prabhavO rAmO nAma janaihi shrutAhA

niyata AtmA mahAvIryo dyutimAn dhritimAn vashI

On Lord Rama: He equals the Brahma, the people’s God; he is an exalted one for he is the sustainer of all worlds. He eliminates enemies completely. Thus he is a guardian of all living beings and he guards probity, in its entirety

prajApati samaha shrImAn datA ripu nishUdanaha

rakshitA jIvalokasya dharmasya pari rakshitA

On Lord Rama: He is the champion of his own righteousness/values. He is also the champion of his own people’s welfare

rakshitA svasya dharmasya sva janasya cha rakshitA

TNS: “Narada says the complete story of Rama in such a short fashion like I sing a 4-kalai pallavi within 20 min in a concert” :-)

TNS described Valmiki’s anguish on seeing a hunter kill a male krouncha bird using the raga subhapantuvarALi

As the time was nearing 9:26PM which was supposed to be the start of the nakshatra punarpUsam, TNS wanted to tell about Sri Rama’s birth, the day being the auspicious Rama Navami day. TNS then went on to describe, with the help of shlokas from the Valmiki Ramayanam, how Dasharatha who ruled over Ayodhya, a kingdom where all people seemed to have Rama’s guNAs and were very happy with his rule, grieved that he had no descendants. TNS even sang the Arunachala Kavi written verse “piLLai illAda bhAgyam” and said that he cannot sing it in concerts because then people might ask him to put kalpana swarams at say piLLai or even worser say at illAda :-) :-) . TNS then said that King Dasharatha wanted to perform the Ashwamedha Yagna to beget children. One of the King’s ministers Sumantra tells him about the importance of the sage Rishyasringa and requests the king to invite the sage to preside over the Yagna as the sage’s entry into any kingdom is considered very auspicious for the kingdom and for its people.

TNS then went on to describe the story of Sage Rishyasringa and how he got married. As it was almost 9:20PM, TNS quickly led rasikas through a narrative of how King Dasharatha and his wives were blessed with four children – Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha and Shatrugna. TNS said that the sage Vashishtha had already seen that the Lord had chosen King Dasharatha as the appropriate father.

TNS also displayed his prowess in astrology when he spent some time discussing the “jAdagam (kunDli)” of Lord Rama. He told some very interesting significance of the different positions of planets in the jAdagam. He made many interpretations of his own on the same too. For example, he said that the exile period of 14 years was described by Sage Valmiki as 5 + 9 years and this seemed to match with the fact that Sukran (who gives rAjayOgyam) had both the 5th and the 9th pArvai in the jAdagam.

TNS ended the day’s harikatha while describing Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha and Shatrughna as children by saying that children should not be made to stay awake till late in the night. :-) :-)

 

References:

o http://www.valmikiramayan.net/

o http://www.geocities.com/ramya475/ssk.html

 

 

Gayathri Venkataraghavan @ Nadopasana, Chennai

Venue: Dakshinamurthy Auditorium, P.S. High School, R.K. Mutt Road, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 25 Mar 2007

Organizer: Nadopasana

Vocal: Vid. Gayathri Venkataraghavan

Violin: Vid. Padma Shankar

Mridangam: Vid. Melakkaveri K. Balaji


List of songs:

1) tuLasi daLa – mAyAmALavagowLa – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (ONS)

2) evarani – dEvAmrutavarshini – Adi – thyAgarAja

3) lambOdarAya namastE – varALi – kanDa chApu – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (ANS)

4) raghupatE rAmA – sahAnA – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (A)

5) viDajAladurA – janaranjani – Adi – thyAgarAja (S)

6) shrI janaka tanayE – kalakaNThi – Adi – thyAgarAja

7) sAmi ninnE nammiti – bEgaDa – Adi – syAma sAstri (A)

8 ) shrI mAtrubhUtam – kannaDa – misra chApu – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (S)

9) tanayuni brOva – bhairavi – Adi – thyAgarAja (AST)

10) shrI vENugOpAla – kurinji – misra jampa – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

11) akhilAnDEshwari durusuga – karnATaka kApi – Adi – syAma sAstri

12) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

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

After listening to a stunning concert full of rare gems by Vid. Nirmala Sundararajan and Vid. Subhashini Parthasarathy at Musiri Chamber Concerts, I scurried to P.S. High School to be in time for the start of Vid. Gayathr’s concert. This concert had two things one can always have faith upon. One was the fact that only compositions of the trinity (Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Syama Sastri) were to be sung which meant that almost every composition would be thoroughly enjoyable. The second was Vid. Gayathri Venkataraghavan’s music. I think she is arguably one of the best singers of the present generation and I find her concerts to be almost always interesting and well presented. Today’s concert was no exception and was probably the best one I have heard since TNS sang for Nayaki in Chennai a few weeks back.

Vid. Gayathri began her concert with the best rendition of “tuLasi daLa” I have heard till now. She sang the kriti with full involvement and the joy of watching the kriti develop beautifully, sangati by sangati, was very evident from her face. Neraval was done almost using all lines from the charanam. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the concert !!

Everything about the concert was so nice. The alapanas by both Vid. Gayathri and Vid. Padma Shankar were very good. Vid. Melakkaveri Balaji played well for all the songs. The kOrvai he played for chatusra naDai in taniavartanam was the same one he played for Smt. Prema Rengarajan’s concert a couple of days back. It had an avartanam of chatusram, kanDam and tisram each in both the pUrvAngam and the uttarAngam.

Vid. Gayathri sang very beautiful sangatis for almost all the songs. She even used the lower octave very effectively during the alapanas, especially the bhairavi alapana. This is something not many other female singers seem to do. She was very appreciative of her accompanists. Instead of just expressing her appreciation in terms of words like “sabAsh”, “balE”, “bEsh” etc and resorting to star gazing when her turn was over, she actually turned a bit towards their side whenever the violin alapana or taniavartanam was on and could be observed enjoying what they played. Signs of a great artist in making is what I would say.