By Lavanya Narayanan
4 November 2016
The tenth and final day of the festival was a grand culmination of all the occurrences of the ten days, with the crowd in the Mylapore area flocking in as early as the first performance, which featured many young artists coming together for a Carnatic Combo concert.
The unique partnership of Sriranjani Santhanagopalan (vocal) and Ramana Balachander (veena) was introduced as the first program of the final day. Carnatica called their program a Carnatic Combo concert, bringing to stage not only the vocalist and vainika but also an ensemble of accompanists made up of B. Ananthakrishnan (violin), Vijay Natesan (mridangam), K.V. Gopalakrishnan (khanjira), and Chandrasekhara Sharma (ghatam). Most notable was the tri-raga pallavi, weaving together Dharmavathi, Sarangi, and Hamir Kalyani in a pallavi set to chathurasra jathi dhruva talam. The challenge in layam was handled masterfully by both artists, with Sriranjani guiding young Ramana through certain kanakkus, and the presence of more percussionists on stage than one is used to in a Carnatic kutcheri actually worked to enhance the performance. At moments, the combination of only khanjira and ghatam was quite satisfying, making the re-entrance of the mridangam even more impactful.
The concerts that have been the most anticipated in this festival have still been the traditional, Sampradaya kutcheris, and the final day was no different. The crowd filed in to see the combination of Vijay Siva (vocal), S. Varadarajan (violin), and K. Arunprakash (mridangam) and they definitely weren’t disappointed. Siva chose the magnificent Maa Janaki in Harikambhoji and did not disappoint, though I was pleasantly surprised by Arunprakash’s brief tani, something I am told is reflective of his unique playing style. In a time when every mridangist is focused on showcasing all their abilities in a matter of 7-8 minutes, Arunprakash’s pacing is a breath of fresh air and something that we all lapped up.
After a felicitation of chief guest B.V. Jagadeesh, a California-based businessman, and his family, the Trichur Brothers took the stage to present a grand finale: Anuboothi. The band brought together well-known young musician Navneeth Sundar along with many others including Trichur R. Mohan, mridangam vidwan. The brothers presented an interesting amalgamation of numbers that highlighted their Keralite roots and also gave the crowd some time-tested film favorites. At one point, Srikrishna Mohan – the elder brother – said to the audience: “We were told never to present this in Mylapore of all places.” The crowd laughed and a gentleman behind me said to his wife, “Well, this is Alwarpet.” Indeed, it reflected the somewhat more open-minded nature of the audience, willing to vary their musical palate to suit changing presentations.