Friday, 30 September 2016
Thursday, 29 September 2016
The Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal to be
conferred on sisters, Ranjani-Gayatri on October 7, 2016
Chennai: The unequivocal choice for the Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal and Concert 2016 are sisters, Ranjani and Gayatri, popularly known as RaGa. For the last seven years, the Indira Sivasailam Foundation has recognized an outstanding Carnatic musician based on an established set of criteria, which includes excellence in performance, audience appeal, adherence to classical tradition while innovating within its framework, depth of knowledge, demonstrated efforts to disseminate knowledge and the ability to bring about a greater and deeper public appreciation of Carnatic music.
The artist is selected by a panel comprising of members from the Endowments Committee of
The Music Academy, Madras, and Ms. Mallika Srinivasan (Chairman – Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited), daughter of Late Sri. A. Sivasailam (Former Chairman – Amalgamations Group) and the Late Smt. Indira Sivasailam.
The Indira Sivasailam Endowment Fund was established by Ms. Mallika Srinivasan in 2010 under the auspices of The Music Academy, Madras as a tribute to her mother Smt. Indira Sivasailam – a lifelong disciple and patron of Carnatic music, who was also an exceptional practitioner.The endowment fund is a realization of Smt. Indira Sivasailam’s strong conviction that south Indian classical musicians par excellence should be encouraged and recognized.
Ranjani and Gayatri are world renowned Indian classical musicians with professional experience of twenty five years. Known for their versatility and multi-faceted capabilities as artists, Ranjani-Gayathri forayed into the world of Carnatic music as children learning to play the violin. Training under Sangita Bhooshanam Prof. T. S. Krishnaswami in Mumbai, they made a name for themselves as gifted violinists, performing in leading sabhas all over the country and overseas. Their musical journey can be traced back to their family; having received their initial vocal training from their mother Smt. Meenakshi Balasubramanian – a Carnatic vocalist, and their father, Sri. N. Balasubramanian, who was instrumental in shaping their musical values.
Ranjani-Gayatri made the transition from violin to vocals under the tutelage of Padma Bhushan Sangeeta Kala Acharya Sri. P. S. Narayanaswamy and commenced giving vocal concerts since 1997. Their music honed over the years is unique, as their two voices blend and contrast to strike a fine balance between tradition and innovation. Their concerts resound with energy, ingenuity and emotional fervor.
The Indira Sivasailam Endowment Concert will be held, at The Music Academy, Madras, on October 7, 2016, marking the beginning of the Navaratri season.
By Impana Kulkarni
The songs of Mirabai have touched the lives of many. Amongst them stand two great artists of the past century - M S Subbulakshmi and Smt Rukmini Devi Arundale. MS sang for the film Mira (1947) and Rukmini Devi's last production was 'Mira of Mewar' (1984). Gowri Ramnarayan becomes the connecting link between them. Grand neice of MS and vocalist for Rukmini Devi's production on Mira, she learnt and enjoyed both their renderings of Mira's songs and brought them together artistically, in the recent production on Sept 17 by JustUs repertory in collaboration with Kalakshetra - 'Miradasi'.
the evening began with a book release by the Director of Kasturi and Sons, Sri N. Ravi, on M S Subbulakshmi, containing episodes of her life through the eyes of The Hindu. The stage lights then dimmed, creating a retrospective atmosphere; with two fluorescent light columns at the back, an installation of Krishna by Smt Gowri Gopalan on the right, seven musicians and Smt Gowri Ramnarayan – the sutradhari in the centre. With a bell’s sound she sprung into a picturesque description of Rajasthan, guiding the audience through the desert sands, till a palace window overlooking a pond, Mira’s seat of reverie. The musicians then echoed her thoughts – ‘Kamala nayana, kakamala charana…’ Savita Narasimhan, Nisha Rajagopalan, Amritha Murali and Vignesh Ishwar minstrelled to instruments recorded by Sai Shravanam,Eashwar Ramakrishnan, and Vishnu Vijay, and composed by Dilipkumar Roy and Pandit Falguni Mitra.
Gowri Ramnarayan walked through Mira’s life, pausing at every milestone moment, as the musicans sang pieces relevant to that time. Little Mira fell in love with Krishna's idol and sang hugging it. Vignesh Eashwar, the only male vocalist in the group, lulled the audience into a deep meditative mood singing ‘Jaun tore charan baladhari’, a Raidas bhajan. Golden verses of Mira like ‘Prabhuji tum chandan hum paani’ and ‘Baso more nainan me nanda lala’ instantly struck a familiar chord with the audience.
To Mira, her dream was her truth. She defied clan rules, family expectations and followed her heart. The Mughal emperor Akbar himself is said to have come down to hear her. When her husband wanted her dead, she wrote to Saint Tulsidas. Here Priyadarshini Govind and Professor A. Janardhanan of Kalakshetra enacted what might have transpired between Mira and Tulsidas, to Amritha and Vignesh’s music. Mira’s plea for guidance and Tulsidas’s gentle reply was simply and beautifully performed by them.
Gowri Ramnarayan's narration drove the audience's emotions high and low with every change in Mira's situation. The choice of ragas further strengthened the mood. For instance, while a 'Mayi mhane supane me' in Raag Talaka Bhairavi made us empathise with little Mira who dreams of Krishna, a 'Chaahkar raakhoji' in Raag Bilawal immediately lifted everyone's spirits.
Mira liked to call her Lord Giridhari; and Giridhari loved holi. Two students of Kalakshetra - Amalnath and Aryamba- presented a fun-filled raas to 'Jhoolat radha' in Raag Hindol, choreographed by Sri Haripadman.
In a time of war and conquest, Mira prayed to the Lord who dropped his weapons and conquered her heart; 'Mhara mann har leenya Ranchod re'. In him she saw the saviour. 'Hari tum haro jann ki peedh'. In just twenty four songs the show summed Mira's life and love through her own writings. Mira truly was, in Gowri Ramnarayan's words, an immortal artist and a constant lover.
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
By Shankar Ramachandran
(Photographs by Shankar Ramachandran and Radha Satyadev)
(Photographs by Shankar Ramachandran and Radha Satyadev)
Dance Conversations 2016, said the brochure about the two-day, four event seminar being presented at Irvine, California, by Ramya Harishankar and Dr. Priya Srinivasan. The event was scheduled on the Labor Day holiday weekend and, when Sruti Editor V. Ramnarayan suggested I join him at Irvine and take some photographs, I readily agreed. I didn’t know what to expect of the sessions but the California weather was bound to be salubrious. So I packed my cameras and a few iddlies and headed west. I’m really glad I did.
On the first day I was treated to a visceral conversation about the diminishing role of the media in covering and creating visibility for the arts. The panellists were as diverse in their views as their backgrounds would suggest.
Paul Hodgins painted a bleak picture of the rapid demise of the professional journalist and arts critic in the world of print and newspaper.
Mallika Rao spoke about the energetic world of Internet reporting and blogging which places an enormous potential audience to be tapped by the right kind of writing and coverage.
Ramnarayan addressed the challenges of steering a monthly magazine devoted to the classical performing arts and the difficulties of recruiting and retaining good writers willing to produce reliable and regular content.
The panellists led a discussion which underlined the importance of media coverage as one of the sustaining pillars of the performing arts. Visibility, dialogue and discernment which come from media coverage, were alluded to.
Mallika’s presentation using U-tube video viewership statistics for dance videos shed light on both the potential audiences available on the Internet as well as the fickle nature of the type of content, which attracts and receives the most views.
The role of local media in promoting performances is still undergoing big changes and declining readership was one of the major causes. Ramnarayan pointed out that the situation is significantly different in India where the daily newspaper still commands a very large and influential readership.
The panel discussion opened into a dialogue with the diverse audience which included both Indian and western dancers, teachers and students.
On the second day, the events began with a presentation at the local park adjoining the Irvine City hall. Here, in an open space surrounding a pool, a diverse group of dancers walked and swayed gracefully to the sounds of Carnatic music.
Choreography: Dr. Priya Srinivasan and Susan Rose (Professor Emerita of Choreography, UCR)
Dancers: Danish Bhandara, Josiah Cortez, Nitya Dholakia, Andrea Garcia, Viviana Zhu, Mangala and Saru Janahan
Musicians: Mayuri Vasan, Kiran Athreya and Arun Ramabathiran
Percussionists produce an insistent pulse at once reminiscent of a temple in South India calling out to devotees and the hills. Yet the instruments and the rhythms are different. Besides tabla played by the talented Rabindra Deo, we hear a variety of percussion, including instruments from Central America. They sing and throb to the pulse of a single person, Christopher Garcia. He produces an extraordinary array of sound and rhythms, effortlessly weaving in and out of familiar Indian patterns to those of traditional Central America. We know we are not in India. This is the music and dance that has come to reside in Orange County, California.
The crowds gather in to sit, squat and stand n the large courtyard under a receding pacific sun. The Stars and Stripes flutters above a clock tower to the gentle breezes. To those same breezes, the tall trees whisper and sway. The dancers begin their movements. Students of Ramya Harishankar put on an effective show beginning with a traditional alarippu and finishing with Shiva Panchakshara stotram.
Bharata Natyam Reimagined used light costumes, minimal jewellery and makeup as if to bring the dancers closer to the audience and impressive music by Ramya and her students. This was punctuated with a variety of familiar and new rhythms to make the old new and the new old as it were. The dance was joyful, effervescent and full of energy.
ALARIPPU – Original choreography by Anusha Kedhar
Dancers: Shilpa Rajagopal, Shefali Appali and Visalini Sundaram
Musicians: Rohan Ramanan, Ravi Deo and Ramya Harishankar – Choreography by Ramya Harishankar
Dancers: Bala Janahan, Nidhi Satyadev, Sumani Sadam, Raashi Subramanya, Pallavi Malladi, Nitya Parthasarathy, Gayatri and Anjali Subramaniam
Musician: Chris Garcia
HEART BEATChoreography by Ramya Harishankar
Dancers: Bala Janahan, Nidhi Satyadev, Sumani Sadam, Raashi Subramanya, Pallavi Malladi, Nitya Parthasarathy, Gayatri & Anjali Subramaniam
Musician: Chris Garcia
DANCER SUPREMEOriginal choreography by Ahila GulasekaramDancer: Shreya Patel
Musicians: Ravi Deo, Visalini, Varshini & Vinodini Sundaram
Musicians: Ravi Deo, Visalini, Varshini & Vinodini Sundaram
Together they explore the historical significance of Bharatanatyam as it reemerges in the 20th century in India and later spread across the world with the dispersing population. Notable here was Priya’s dance evocative of her efforts as a student in Australia; and later, her earnest explorations seeking a deeper understanding in her interactions and study with Ramya.
Ramya’s own story as narrated, of her emergence as a dancer and teacher, are touchingly personal.
Her singing seated while doing abhinayam to the most exquisitely delicate padams reminds us of a world we have perhaps lost. Rich poetry sung to haunting melodies with nuanced emotions and detailed and etched movements; she brought us glimpses of that old world natyam that we don’t often see today.
This presentation may very well be a work in progress that will evolve and branch out as these artists reach out and work with others and seek to find greater relevance to dance in life and to life in dance.
At times, they were able to communicate their message without the words that seem to be ubiquitous in the world of Bharatanatyam today. It seemed that all three of the “performances” were fully expressive as dance per se and could be both presented and received without translation into words or commentary. Graceful, thought provoking, uplifting and inclusive, these conversations will surely continue.
Choreography by Ramya Harishankar and Priya Srinivasan with Susan Rose.
By Chitra Mahesh
The Director’s Note in a beautifully produced brochure says:
‘’Born in an age of battles, bloodshed, betrayals –when God was worshipped as a warrior, an avenger and an exterminator!’’
And here she was, a significant member of royalty who saw God as
‘’A dancer, flautist, lover and a healer.
She saw society without gender and caste bias, faith as freedom not slavery, and creativity as grace.’’
The note continues:
‘’In our age of extremism, terrorism, we need to see God as an artist, art as wisdom, imagination as survival.
Miradasi reinterprets poetry and music to reclaim human responsibilities.’’
The production presented at the gracious Rukmini Arangam, Kalashetra Foundation recently actually brought all these strands of thoughts together to be woven into a simple yet superbly eloquent ode to the woman who knew her mind and went after what she believed in.
In that context it has so much relevance and so much to offer even today! And if one were to draw parallels between different art forms and their exemplification of what is empowerment – one would like to point out how in sync this is with the popular medium of cinema too- the film Pink being a case in point- where attention is drawn to the important fact that a woman does know her mind. And if she says something, she probably means it. And she can follow her heart if she chooses! Isn’t that what Mira did so long ago? That essential strength and determination? It was there then and it is relevant even more now! Just as peace, compassion and love are the foundations of true Divinity.
Miradasi by Justus Repertory starts out as a tribute to MS Subbulakshmi and Rukmini Devi Arundale, but goes on to draw a larger picture to a discerning audience – that of a world where music and inspiring tales heal, soothe and bring diverse people together instead of divisions and strife!
At the base of it all was a simple, tender narration of the well-loved story of Mira, the Rajput princess whose life was ruled by her love and devotion to Lord Krishna. Krishna, the beloved of the gopis, of Radha of Rukmini and Sathyabama, of the Bhagwat Gita and the great charioteer.
The Krishna who captures her heart as a little girl and blossoms into an intense longing for the Paramatma. Every thought, every gesture was offered to Him and He in turn danced to the music of her life.
Written and narrated by Gowri Ramnarayan, Miradasi was at heart a gentle production aimed at bringing back the healing power of music. The simplicity of the presentation was the core of the charm and the story was interspersed with the most impeccably sung devotionals – sometimes plaintive, sometimes hauntingly evocative and sometimes playful and joyous. One could imagine the mother Yashoda, the soul mate Radha, the angry Gopis and the earnest devotee through all the songs composed by Dilipkumar Roy and Pandit Falguni Mitra and put together by Gowri – the stage was set in a semi circle with Gowri in the middle engaged in the narration and the singers around, who took turns to take the breath away with their beautiful voices- Savita Narsimhan, Nisha Rajagopal, Amrita Murli and Vignesh Ishwar. Says Gowri, ‘’the songs are those I was privileged to grow up with and sing as MS Subbulakshmi’s grandniece and vocal accompanist- I was equally fortunate to sing for Rukmini Devi’s Mira Of Mewar.
Hari Tum Haro was set to music by R Vaidyanathan, who had also taught in Kalashetra- and according to Gowri, students Rajamani and Anjali Mehr contributed some compositions, as did Prof Srinivasa Rao and MS Subbulakshmi. Folk singers from Rajasthan came to teach traditional wedding pieces- the Raidas songs (Jaoon Tore, Kamal Lochan) came from Rukmini Devi’s sister, Visalakshi and from Kalashetra’s Dr Padmasini.’’
Adding to the soulful renditions of the songs were some background scores that included violin by Easwar Ramakrishnan, flute by Vishnu Vijay- so apt and well blended- tabla by Sai Shravan.
There was not much to distract from the singers and the narrator – all the stage had were the platforms on which they sat and strands of fabric that caught the lights (designed by B Charles) as they changed according to the mood of the song and the portion of the story. Audio projection by Akhila Ramnarayan, brochure paintings by Gowry Gopalan and production by V Ramnarayan completed the team.
Monday, 26 September 2016
Friday, 23 September 2016
Thursday, 22 September 2016
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Monday, 19 September 2016
Saturday, 17 September 2016
Friday, 16 September 2016
Thursday, 15 September 2016
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
August 23. 2016. KNKP New Committee Formation.
KNKP Festival: Planned for 1 year. Tentative.
Sep. 25. 2016. Dharani festival. Parampara auditorium. only kuchipudi. 30 mins.
Oct. 3. 2016. CALICUT. 90 mins.
Oct. 24, 25, 26.. 2016. Ankura festival. Seva sadan. 120 mins.
Nov. 19, 20 2016. India International Dance Festival. 30 mins.
Indira nagar sangeet sabha.
Dec. 24, 25. 2016. Sagar National Dance festival. 30 mins.
Jan. 2017. Mangalore. Bharathamuni Festival.
Jan. 15. 2017. Mysore. Articulate India. festival. 30 mins.
Feb. 12. 2017. Sneha Kappanna Theatre. 120 mins.
Mar. 2. 2017. Nataraja Nrityotsav. Bharatiya vidya bhavan. 120 mins.
Apr. 29. 2017. World dance day.
May. 14. 2017. Tumkur festival. 120 minutes.
June. 11.2017. Mysore. festival. 120 mins.
July. 9. 2017. NRI festival 120 mins.
Aug. 15. 2017. Independence day programme.
WORKSHOPS: Lecture Demonstrations:
1. Praveen.d.rao. Music for Dance dramas.
2. Kanak raju. Dance make-up.
3. Prasanna. Basics of Nattuvangam.
4. Guru murthy sir. Jatis composition for Dance.
5. sai venkatesh. Lighting Dance Dramas.
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Monday, 12 September 2016
By V Ramnarayan
Hindi film music was for long a meaningful bridge between classical and light music. In the 1950s and 60s, for every hundred popular songs based on westernised, fast numbers, Hindi cinema offered at least a handful of raga-based songs, including some that filled entire films. Music directors like Naushad, Shanker-Jaikishen, Roshan, Madan Mohan, S.N. Tripathi and even Ravi Shankar gave us melodious songs some of which were adaptations of bandish, thumri or tarana. A parallel stream of light classical music – mainly ghazals by such maestros as Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali and Jagjit Singh, as well as Sufi music by the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – constantly followed a pleasant middle path, so that the chasm between art and popular music was never too wide. Unfortunately, the typical Hindi film music director no longer seems interested in or capable of composing pure raga based songs.
In the south, film music was completely dominated by classical music in the time of M.K. Tyagaraja Bhagavatar, K.B. Sundarambal and T.R. Mahalingam. Concert singers of the calibre of G.N. Balsubramaniam, Dandapani Desigar, M.S. Subbulakshmi, D.K. Pattammal and M.L. Vasanthakumari sang songs which became bestsellers in their time. Popular singers like T.M. Soundararajan, Sirkazhi Govindarajan and P. Leela were classically trained and known to have performed in the kutcheri circuit. Music directors G. Ramanathan and K.V. Mahadevan readily come to mind as outstanding purveyors of raga music in films.
Film music in the south had moved away from Carnatic music when the Telugu film Sankarabharanam in the 1970s promised to bring back audience interest in the genre, by featuring a principled bhagavatar rooted in tradition as the protagonist, though it offered at best a “filmi” form of the classical genre. In later decades, geniuses like Ilayaraja and A.R. Rahman have proved time and again that they can be masters of classical music including Indian and Western, along with world music of great variety, but films celebrating Carnatic music have been rare.
Classical musicians like Sriram Parasuram, Dr. S. Sunder and Chitravina Ravikiran, to name just a few, have been authors of outreach efforts of varied kinds. The recent past has seen attempts by T.M. Krishna to take classical music to those not overly exposed to it so far. His attempts at inclusiveness have been much in the news, especially since the announcement of the Magsaysay Emerging Leadership Award to him, with several critics questioning the merit and timing of the honour. While his fan base continues to be loyal in its total support to him, other admirers of his music have questioned his experiments with the kutcheri format among other things. They feel the award could have waited for a few more years of solid contribution in the field by Krishna. A third category of critics continues to respect his musical prowess, but questions his politics and ideology.
Assuming that the propagation of classical or art music on a mass level is a desirable objective, can it be done effectively through the medium of cinema? T.M. Krishna was involved in two films celebrating Carnatic music – one was a concert from varnam to mangalam along with Bombay Jayashri, and the other was of raga music amidst nature.
There have not been too many Tamil feature films on the lives of classical musicians or films with a predominance of raga music in recent decades. Is it time to produce quality films of the kind in order to take art music to a wide audience, and will there be genuine music patrons willing to invest in them? Will senior musicians and modern day composers be interested in composing the music for such initiatives? For such an effort to have any chance of succeeding, the film needs to be a box office hit, and it therefore becomes imperative for it to have a good storyline, a winsome star cast and top class music – and of course loads of luck. Carnatic music through cinema, anyone?
Saturday, 10 September 2016
Raga Identification Competition
Organised by TAG Corporation and Ramu Endowments along
with The Music Academy, specifically for Carnatic music rasikas. There will be two age groups, below 25 and above 25.
Date: 16 October 2016. Venue: Music Academy, Chennai
Time: 10.00 a.m. Registration 9 a.m.
Last date for registration: 1 October 2016.
Send your name, age, e-mail Id and phone number to
firstname.lastname@example.org and to email@example.com.
Friday, 9 September 2016
By Sapna Rangaswamy
“I am dance, dance is me,” says Mrinalini Sarabhai in her autobiography titled Voices from my Heart. The famous Bharatanatyam dancer married scientist Vikram Sarabhai and made Ahmedabad her home. She performed and propagated fine arts in the city in a big way. She launched the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts to nurture traditional and experimental arts. On 3 July, the arts community in Ahmedabad congregated to celebrate the memory of Amma (that is how Mrinalini liked to be called). Antarnaad – the Gujarati translation of Mrinalini Sarabhai’s autobiography – translated by Bakula Ghaswala and published by Gurjar Prakashan was released in the presence of dignitaries like architect B.V. Doshi, Bharatanatyam guru Ilaxiben Thakor, Kuchipudi dancer, teacher and Darpana alumnus Smita Shastri, artist and art curator Amit Ambalal and sitarist Manju Mehta.
“As Amma lived in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, the Gujaratis should know about her life, and work, hence her autobiography in Gujarati," said daughter Mallika Sarabhai. The book has also been translated into Malayalam.
It was an evening of dance dedicated to Mrinalini's memory. It began with a mallari – malla kusti with the god. The concept was playful and so was the dance performed by Pooja Purohit, Manoj Bagga and Hemvati. This was followed by alarippu by D. Padmakumar (Pappan sir) and Hemvati, an item rarely presented today in dance programmes. Mallika Sarabhai and students of Darpana performed a traditional varnam, and it was refreshing to see Mallika perform traditional Bharatanatyam.
After the varnam, the backdrop came alive with video clippings of Mrinalini talking about her best friend Lord Krishna. She described how her mother had closed her eyes and led her to the pooja room – a child's first memory of being introduced to Krishna. There were other clippings of Amma explaining to a journalist about her choreography, feelings and emotions as a dancer, and rare footage from Darpana’s old production Rigveda. Chatunni Pannikar, Bhaskar Menon, Mrinalini and several great gurus of Indian classical dance came alive on the screen. It was a memorable journey down memory lane.
The high point of the evening was Natanam Adinar danced by Revanta, grandson of Mrinalini and son of Mallika Sarabhai. He got a standing ovation. It was heartwarming to see the third generation take up the dance for which Mrinalini lived. A contemporary tillana by Mallika Sarabhai, Anahita, Pooja, Hemvati and Padmakumar was the concluding performance for the evening.
Educationist H.C. Kapasi, Kishan Trivedi, and Damini Maheta recalled their close collaboration with Mrinalini in Gujarati theatre. When Mrinalini – a trained classical dancer from south India – was introduced to Rangmanch, Gujarati theatre, not only did she learn Gujarati in just fifteen days, she even directed a Gujarati play Chando che Shyamlo by Pannalal Patel. She also directed another Gujarati play Koi Pan Ek Pool nu Nam Kaho along with H.C. Kapasi, in which Kishan Trivedi and Damini Maheta also participated. Damini later became an integral part of Darpana and its drama department. These veteran artists of the Gujarati Rangmanch remembered ‘Ben’ (Mrinalini Sarabhai) and shared their memories of their bonding over art.
Even as everyone was celebrating Mrinalini the creative artist, Kartikeya Sarabhai, spoke about his mother Mrinalini. He recalled how she had kept awake the whole night holding his hand when he was ill and how she had cancelled her dance tour because her young son needed her by his side.
Although Mrinalini Sarabhai passed away on 21 January 2016, Ahmedabad continues to celebrate her life and achievements.