|Group rendering of the Pancharatna kritis|
The Academy of Indian Music Australia and Sruthi Laya Kendra celebrated the 30th edition of the annual Melbourne Trinity Festival – dedicated to the trinity of Carnatic music – Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastry – from 27 to 29 May, at Kel Watson Theatre, Forrest Hill College in Melbourne.
Over the years, the Melbourne Trinity Festival has evolved into a space shared in equal measure by talented young artists as well as renowned senior musicians. Much appreciated by all were the mini-kutcheris (lasting about 20 to 25 minutes) by young musicians from the Carnatic music community of Melbourne. The group rendering of Tyagaraja’s Pancharatna kritis by an ensemble of over 30 vocalists, violinists, vainikas and percussionists on the morning of Day 2 was another highlight of the three-day festival. Performances by an array of international artists, including vocalist Bhushani Kalyanaraman from India, vocalist Prof. S. Venkateswaran from Malaysia and vainika Emani Kalyani Lakshminarayan, added distinction to the festival. Yamini Ramesh and Arushi Ramesh, the mother-daughter violinist duo from New Zealand, showcased the Lalgudi bani with finesse and passion.
Melbourne is home to as many as 15 highly accomplished Carnatic musicians originally from India, Sri Lanka and the UK. This year’s edition of the Melbourne Trinity Festival was made possible by the unstinting efforts of Vasumathi Subramanian, Ravi M. Ravichandhira, Narmatha Ravichandhira, Iyer brothers (Ramnath and Gopinath), Jayshree Ramachandran, Adrian Sherriff, Balasri Rasiah, Shobha Sekhar, Murali Kumar, Ahilan Sivanadan, Uthra Vijay and Sundari Saripalle. The active involvement of youth volunteers in the administrative tasks – from stage management to managing marketing and box office – was another noteworthy feature. Narayanan Ramakrishnan, Pallavi Susarla, Athavan Wijeyamanoharan and Prashanthi Sivakumar deserve kudos for their able management of the festival.
In his speech, guest of honour Robin Scott MP, Minister for Finance and Multicultural Affairs, remarked on the great sophistication of Carnatic music and its contribution to the cultural fabric of Australia. He also gave away mementos to senior visiting artists, audio technical director Charles Walker and Jayshree Ramachandran who co-ordinated the congregational singing this year. Other prominent dignitaries present included Anna Burke MP, former Speaker of the Commonwealth Parliament and Member for Chisholm; Stefanie Perri, new Labor Candidate for Chisholm; Chidambaram Srinivasan, Commissioner, Victorian Multicultural Commission; and Abeselom Nega, Chief Executive Officer, iEmpower. Srinivasan stressed upon the importance of integration of music in all dance forms and requested dance educators of Melbourne to incorporate the mass choir/ensemble session of the festival into their teaching curriculum.
Ravi M. Ravichandhira and Narmatha Ravichandhira, Artistic Directors of the Festival, said that the Trinity Festival was recognised as an integral part of Melbourne’s cultural calendar by leaders in government, arts organisations and the wider community. “This event has grown over the last 30 years to become one of the largest festivals outside of India in celebration of the Trinity’s contribution to Carnatic music,” Ravichandhira said. “Melbournians are known for their love of all music and this event is a great opportunity to experience the richness and diversity of one of the world’s oldest classical art forms.”
A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT