Song of Surrender

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The legacy of Ariyakudi

A tribute on his 50th death anniversary

By Samudri

On 23 January this year, on the 50th death anniversary of Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Carnatica, in association with the Ariyakudi Legacy Centre, presented a musical homage under the overall theme Sri  Ariyakudi: the Legacy Lives On at Arkay Convention Centre, Mylapore, Chennai. The programme was followed by two more commemorative events in quick succession at different venues.

The first programme was highlighted by a lecture by Alepey Venkatesan Ariyakudi's Tunesmithy on the wealth of compositions by Ariyakudi, with particular reference to the Tiruppavai, with songs from the repertoire rendered by Alepey Venkatesan'ss disciples Vaishnavi Anand and Shruti Jayaraman. 

This was followed by a delightful lecture-cum-concert programme by senior vocalist S. Sowmya on Arunachala Kavi's Ramanatakam, with some excellent singing by young musicians Bharat Sundar, Aswath Narayanan, and Gayatri.

"In the fitness of things, this musical homage is to be paid by generations of singers, hailing from different schools of music, " said Venkatesan, stressing that the Ariyakudi influence on musicians went beyond his own disciples and followers of his bani.. It is with this idea that various singers have come together to participate.

On 27 January, Venkatesan gave a weighty yet enjoyable lecture on the Ariyakudi bani at the Sivagami Pethachi hall on Luz Church Road. "A Compendium on Ariyakudi" an illuminating DVD created and performed by Venkatesan was released by chief guest N. Gopalaswami, Chairman, Kalakshetra and received by guest of honour vidushi Sudha Ragunathan. The highlight of the evening was a concert in the Ariyakudi by by vidushis Ranjani and Gayatri. 

The 50th anniversary event culminated in a concert of Ariyakudi's pallavis, presented by Venkatesan and star vocalist Abhishek Raghuram on 28 January at the Mylapore Fine Arts Auditorium, Mylapore, Chennai. The audience enjoyed an in-depth talk on Ariyakudi's pallavis by Venkatesan.

The whole tribute to Ariyakudi, fifty years after his demise, was conducted in a fittingf manner, with great warmth and attention to detail.

Monday, 20 March 2017

A Peep into the Past

Many veterans of the previous century had always been against the microphone, notable among those being Palghat Mani Iyer and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. So it was intriguing for a youngster like me to see how a concert without mikes would be, having been used to hearing music with micrpohones. This led me to the mikeless concert organised by The ARTery in Royapettah. The proximity of the audience to the performing musicians is a great boon in this venue. The way rasikas maintained talam and didn’t use mobile phones or get up during the Thani Avarthanam highlighted the need for more such spaces.

The concert was by Smt. S Sowmya and Sri D Seshachari, one of the Hyderabad Brothers. What struck the listener was the stark difference between both the styles. Seshachari had a masculine style dominated by straight notes, reminding one of Alathur Subbier. Also, the kanakku element was dominant in his rendering of kalpanaswaras. On the other hand, Sowmya was at her feminine best, expressing the best ideas of the Dhanam school. The intricate gamakas reminded one of T Brinda and T Muktha. While the individuality was visible in the alapanas, the duo combined well to give a wholesome offering.

The bill of fare comprised of a good mix of popular and not so oft heard krithis. In the beginning, there was Chinna Nadana (Kalanidhi), followed by a concise exposition of Suruti (Aadidum Arase). The Suruti krithi is a composition of Dr. S Ramanathan, Sowmya’s guru whose centenary year is being observed. The pallavi was beautifully structured and reminded one of the music of the doyen with its simplicity. Dhyaname Varamaina in Dhanyasi followed. A quick Ni Bhakthi Bhagya Sudha in Jayamanohari enlivened the proceedings. The highlight of the concert was a serene Veena Pusthaka Dharini in Vegavahini. The slow pace of the krithi in the serene atmosphere was sheer bliss.

The main piece of the evening was Ethavunara, preceeded by an elaborate alapana. The differing styles were so refreshing to hear. It was reflective of the variety which Carnatic Music offered. BU Ganesh Prasad’s reply on the violin was refreshing. The krithi followed with niraval and swaram at the traditional Seetha Gowri. The Thani Avarthanam by Mannargudi Eswaran was energetic and well received by the audience.

The post thani segment had a lot of padams and javalis which included Ososi (Mukhari), Taarumaaru (Natakurinji), Nithirayil (Panthuvarali) and Telesunura (Saveri). The musicians rendered the pieces alternatively. The brilliance of the Dhanam school was evident from Sowmya’s rendering. The pathantharam of Dhanam school is truly rich in its content and was soaked with intricate gamakas, voice modulation and so many different phrases. The magic of the Dhanam school is something truly one of its own and Dr Sowmya needs to be appreciated for her adherence to that style in its entirety.

The concert was one which would linger for a long time in the minds of the rasikas who attended the same. The atmosphere without electric lighting, without mikes and chairs made one wonder whether the doyens were actually right in what they said. While technology has definitely aided in taking Carnatic Music to the masses, a doubt lingers whether chamber music in this type of setting is the best setting possible. One more thing which could set in is higher interaction between the audience and the artistes. That would truly take us back to the good old days. Kudos to the organisers “The ARTery” for this idea and putting the show together.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Neela Ramgopal honoured

As a part of their Spring Music Festival, Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira conferred the title Sangita Vedantha Dhurina on renowned vocalist, Sangita Kala Acharya Neela Ramgopal along with a purse of Rs. One lakh and a silver medal. The award was presented by His Holiness Sri Sri Yadugiri Yathiraja Narayana Ramanuja Jeeyar, Melukote on Sunday 12 February 2017 at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja Auditorium.