By Lavanya Narayanan
4 November 2016
Day 3 brought the prospects of new concepts using traditional concert artists to the Narada Gana Sabha stage.
In a festival such as Bharat Sangeet Utsav, the promise of innovative ideas and partnerships between artists of different backgrounds has the potential to overshadow adherence to classicism. Yet, with the inclusion of artists that hail from great lineages and represent banis steeped in traditional music and laden with bhava, Carnatica ensures that the artists do not stray too far from their individual identities. Instead, what results is a sort of culmination of ideas where all artists find a middle ground of creative interest to present together.
Such a result was seen during the Carnatic jam which brought together vocalists Tiruvarur Girish, Vishnudev Namboothiri, and Ashwin Bhogendra in a unique vocal presentation, paying special tribute to the jawans of the nation. Though Girish helmed the effort, Vishnudev Namboothiri’s vocal display was easily one of his best in recent times. Ashwin could benefit from minimizing his modulations though his sketch of Yaman Kalyani was vivid and soulful.
The second event of the day had Nithyashree Mahadevan at the reins, directing her sishyakulam in a cohesive choir format with each of her 16 students representing a sruti on the Carnatic music scale. While the idea showed considerable promise, execution of the event fell flat, with the artist choosing consistent harmonies and interspersing vocalizations of film music scores in renditions of Tyagaraja’s Pancharatna kriti Jagadananda Karaka. Wiser use of harmonics and vocal dynamics could have resulted in a cleaner overall performance.
The day ended with another film-classical music crossover, ‘Mylapore to Kodambakkam,’ curated and directed by P. Unnikrishnan. Although melodious and nostalgic, the repeated presence of such a topic throughout the year detracted slightly from the impact of the content. Yet, the medley presented was pleasurable and when joined with the orchestra, a nice end to day 3.