Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Oothukaadu Vaibhavam

Sikkil Gurucharan at Singapore temple  
By Sruti Pegatraju
7 September 2012

It was a damp Friday evening with the pitter-patter of a dwindling Singapore storm still making its presence felt as we settled in our seats. The resonance of the tambura rippled in the air as Carnatic music’s rising star Sikkil Gurucharan, violinist Sanjeev, veteran mridanga vidwan TR Sundaresan and N Devarajan on the morsing geared up for an evening of music at the Krishnan Temple, Singapore.

Titled Oothukaadu Vaibhavam, the concert revolved around the compositions of Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyer. Gurucharan launched into a Shanmukhapriya alapana that went into a Ganesa stuti of Oothukadu’s navavarnam opera. Next came a piece on the composer’s ishtadevata, a lively Mohanam number Swagatam Krishna saranagatam Krishna in tisra gati Adi talam switching to a chatusra gati in the charanam. Krishna’s welcome by the bhakta was aptly underscored by the bright tisram of the mridangam interspersing the swaying vocal notes. The emphasis on selected karvais evoked images of a temple procession.

The popular Parvai onru pothume in the raga Surati was followed by a Kharaharapriya piece Neethan mechikolla venum, with exquisite alapana and swaram. A break in tempo was produced by a quick Athana composition Madhura madhura venu geetam, where Charan’s voice and the mridangam seemed to sing in unison.

No piece was as emotionally stirring as the main item for the evening Asai dan mayil onru Kanna in Simhendramadhyamam. Heavy gamakas cascaded with ease, and impromptu holds between lines revealed the singer’s control. The second half of the concert came much too quickly, including a soothing viruttam and tukkadas such as Taaye Yasoda, and concluding with a fast-paced Sindhubhairavi tillana. Oothukadu’s bhakti towards Krishna revealed itself in every piece, from the soft melodies of the viruttam to the sparkling sangatis in Athana and Mohanam. The shifting plastic seats, open-air staging and occasional distraction of crowds passing did not take away from the gift of an evening of heartfelt music.

The writer is a student of finance, music and dance, based in Singapore.

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