Launching Sruti Digital Magazine Subscription

Launching Sruti Digital Magazine Subscription

Monday, 17 February 2020

Melbourne round up

The Australia-India bond goes beyond just the ‘cricket’ connection. As a musician living in Melbourne for more than a quarter of a century, I have seen the proliferation of Indian classical arts in this country. The arts calendar Down Under brims with activities year-round. Here is a summary of some of the events that took place in the latter half of 2019.
Conference on music therapy
The Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA) hosted the 2019 National Conference in Melbourne. Alongside this conference, a special symposium focusing on ‘Music, Adolescents and Trauma’, in partnership with the University of Melbourne was held on 29 and 30 November 2019. Hosted at the beautiful and brand new Ian Potter Southbank Centre, Melbourne—the new home of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music—the theme for the symposium was ‘Changing the future - through Advocacy, Equity, and Partnership’.
After the official welcome, the keynote address was delivered by Dr. Philippa Derrington (Scotland) on working alongside a young adolescent who experienced childhood trauma. The conference acknowledged the important contribution of therapists, especially music therapists, and the future of music therapy. The ways that clients, communities, and stakeholders can access and engage with these specialised services were explored. As a non-invasive treatment with no side-effects, it was acknowledged that music therapy as a procedure should be integrated with cure and well-being of the general public. Its introduction among children has boosted kinetic energy, and in aged homes the spirited involvement has brought back pleasant memories in dementia patients.
The conference had delegates participating from around the world, and it was heartening to hear their inputs on the therapeutical facets of music.
10th Anniversary of FIMDV
The Federation of Indian Music and Dance Schools (FIMDV) is a flagship body that encompasses all the top schools of music and dance in Victoria. The Federation celebrated its tenth anniversary in August 2019 and hosted a mega event, appropriately titled, Dashavatar. Curated with an innovative approach, it encapsulated the Dasavatarams or ten incarnations; linking multimedia presentations along with dance, music, and kathakalakshepam to the theory of evolution and incorporated climate change and its impact in the Kalki avatar. The message for the fully-packed audience was to be more socially aware and be responsible for sustaining our planet for future generations. The Consul General of India, Rakesh Malhotra, and councillors from Manningham Council and Victorian Multi-Cultural Commission were among the dignitaries who attended the event.
Shobha Sekhar and her ensemble at FIMDV
Apoorva and the Quintet
Ravi Ravichandhira OAM has been one of the earliest promoters of Indian classical music in Melbourne. On 27 November 2019, he curated a programme  jointly presented by Melbourne Recital Centre and Multicultural Arts Victoria. The event began with an interesting multi-nadai varnam by Narmatha Ravichandhira (vocal), accompanied by Apoorva Krishna (violin) and Ravi Ravichandhira (mridangam). Apoorva Krishna showcased the Lalgudi bani in the Charukesi varnam and moved on to collaborate with the Australian Sruti Laya Ensemble featuring Jonathan Dimond, Adrian Sheriff (bass trombone), Sai Nivaeithan and Sai Sarangan (mridangam), and Athavan Wijeyamanoharan (khanjira/ konnakol). The programme featured contemporary and traditional pieces—Blues Jog by Jonathan and Bahudari tillana by Apoorva. The transition created an impressive impact on the listeners.
Apoorva Krishna with Australian Sruti Laya Ensemble
Annual veena fest
The Iyer Brothers (Ramnath and Gopinath), Melbourne based vainikas, have been the forerunners of the Pichumani School of Carnatic Music in Melbourne since the 1990s. They have been instrumental in establishing the primacy of the veena Down Under. In their interest to propagate this grand instrument, the Iyer Brothers started an annual veena festival in Melbourne which is now in its third year. They have been well-supported in this endeavour by local arts bodies such as The Boite, Victorian Multicultural Commission, and established business houses.
The event held in August 2019 witnessed impressive performers ranging from an ensemble of senior students of the Pichumani School to young talent. The festival began with an invocation by vocalists from the Pichumani School—the prayer on Lord Ganesa was penned by Shoba Iyer and set to tune by R.K Shriramkumar. Malathi Vasudevan from  New Zealand,  a disciple of the late Mangalam Muthuswamy, treated the audience to select compositions including a less-heard raga such as Veeravasantam. Mridangam support for the festival was provided by local talents—Vignesh Ravi, Athavan Wijeyamanoharan, Nanthesh Sivarajah, and senior mridangam players Sridhar Chari and Ravi M. Ravichandhira.
The capstone event of the festival was by the Iyer Brothers. Their veenas were in synchrony as always and the brothers played with their customary gravitas and classicism.
Ravi M. Ravichandhira (mridangam) and Iyer Brothers (veena)
(Scholar and arts aficionado)

Monday, 10 February 2020

Padma Awards 2020 -- for the Performing Arts

By Samudri

The Padma Awards for 2020 were declared on the eve of India’s Republic Day. Out of the 141 names announced, the number of awards for personalities in the performing arts is less than 20. Veteran Hindustani vocalist Chhannulal Mishra of the Banaras gharana is the sole artist among the seven Padma Vibhushan awardees, while famous Hindustani vocalist Ajoy Chakraborty bags the Padma Bhushan (among 23 awardees). There are only a few musicians, dancers and theatre personalities (out of 118) selected to receive the Padma Shri. Among classical musicians, octogenarian Hindustani sitarist Manilal Nag, two Carnatic music duos—veteran vocalists Bombay Sisters (Saroja & Lalitha), and the nagaswaram duo of Sheik Mahaboob Subani and wife Kaleeshabi Mahaboob, find a place. It is a pity that no classical exponents of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Mohini Attam and Kathakali feature in the Padma awards list. Art and culture reflect the integral  identity of a nation. A country as diverse as India is symbolized by the plurality of its culture. We hope that more practitioners and custodians of the arts will be recognised by the government in the years to come.

Padma Vibhushan
Channulal Mishra (H-vocal), Uttar Pradesh

Padma Bhushan
Ajoy Chakravorty (H-vocal), West Bengal

Padma Shri
C. Saroja and C. Lalitha (Bombay Sisters)  (C-vocal)
Kalee Shabi Mahaboob and Sheik Mahaboob Subani (C-nagaswaram)
Manilal Nag  (H-sitar)
 Purushottam Dadheech (Kathak)
Indira P. P. Bora  (Sattriya)
Shashadhar Acharya (Chhau)
Vajira Chitrasena (Kandyan dancer)
 Utsav Charan Das (folk dance - Ghoda Nacha)
Ustad Anwar Khan Manganiyar (folk artist)
Mitrabhanu Gountia (lyricist, composer Sambalpuri)
Shanti Jain (folk, literature)
Madan Singh Chauhan (music teacher, sufi and ghazal)
Munna Master (bhajan)
 Yazdi Naoshirwan Karanjia (doyen of Parsi theatre)
Yadla Gopalarao  (theatre artist)
Sarita Joshi (film, theatre actor)
Daya Prakash Sinha (theatre, Hindi playwright and director)
Madhu Mansuri Hasmukh (singer, song writer and activist)
Moozhikkal Pankajakshi  (puppetry)
Dalavai Chalapathi Rao  (puppetry)

Friday, 31 January 2020


Come February, and as promised, we offer you a sumptuous fare of reviews of concerts held during the season. It is only this month and the next that we concentrate on individual reviews of music and dance, so that our readers too can savour the season—those who could not attend can get a good update, while those who did can relive it and compare notes.  

There were concerts aplenty, and our correspondents were busy attending kutcheris and lecdems, taking notes in order to recreate the 2019-20 season for you. This time, however, we are not writing about the regular lecdems because many sabhas have posted them online for public viewing. Our critic C. Ramakrishnan who almost touched the century mark in attending concerts, takes you on a musical sojourn at the Music Academy as he diligently describes the rare kritis and the ragam-tanam-pallavi suite presented by several artists. S. Sivaramakrishnan, one of our earliest subscribers and a vainika himself, comments on several concerts held at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in T. Nagar. They have together also covered the Lec Dem Mela focusing on musical instruments, held in the first week of December. Around the same time was organised a dance conference called Navadhisha—on the syntax and semantics of dance; we present an overview. Just as the flavour of the season lingers on, so will our coverage of it: a lot more on dance conferences and programmes will be published in the next issue.

The Carnatic musicians who drew a full house in most venues were Sanjay Subrahmanyan and the RaGa Sisters Ranjani-Gayatri. It is interesting to watch their large fan-following not only in Chennai but also in foreign countries and on social media. Next in the race in ticket sales and in attracting audiences in major sabhas like Narada Gana Sabha were Bombay Jayashri, Abhishek Raghuram, Trichur Brothers and Ramakrishnan Murthy. On the whole, the audience turnout this season seemed to have improved not only in numbers but also in drawing more youngsters. Bodes well for Carnatic music!

An analysis of season concerts over the years will reveal that instrumental music hardly gets its due—with all the solo instrumentalists competing for only 25 per cent of the total slots. Our ‘spotlight’ highlights the voices of some popular instrumentalists.

A peep into the past reveals interesting information about the famous MKT’s less known Carnatic concert career. Our News & Notes section has an interesting mix of events in India and abroad: a cultural concourse organised by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi, a round up from Down Under, as well as the golden jubilee celebration of Priyamvada Sankar’s Bharatanatyam school in Quebec where she is disseminating the legacy of her guru T. Balasaraswati.

You will be happy to read about the new initiative launched by the Greater Chennai Corporation under the UCCN umbrella—the Chennai UNESCO Creative Cities Network—to take the arts to the people in public spaces. S. Natarajan who heads Aanmajothi – Cultural Wing of Saraswathi Vidyalaya, along with other members of the UCCN Committee (including Sruti represented by Sukanya Sankar), makes sure that Chennai lives up to its description of “cultural capital”. The committee members will also be involved in exchange programmes in other “classical cities of music” in India and abroad.

Talking about government patronage of art and artists, the Padma Awards were announced on the eve of India’s Republic Day. The number of awards for personalities in the performing arts is less than 20 out of the 141 names released. Veteran Hindustani vocalist Chhannulal Mishra of the Banaras gharana is the sole artist among the seven Padma Vibhushan awardees, while famous Hindustani vocalist Ajoy Chakraborty bags the Padma Bhushan (among 23 awardees). There are only a few musicians, dancers and theatre personalities (out of 118) selected to receive the Padma Shri, including two Carnatic music duos—the veteran vocalists Bombay Sisters (Saroja & Lalitha), and the nagaswaram duo of Sheik Mahaboob Subani and wife Kaleeshabi Mahaboob. It is a pity that versatile Bharatanatyam artists from Tamil Nadu do not find a place in the Padma Awards list. Several points to ponder!

Atul Desai

                                                              Birthdays & Anniversaries
31.1.1934 - 20.01.2013