S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Sruti and Music Forum present Lec Dem Mela


Krishna has been celebrated in verse and prose  by several poets and composers, in different languages and dialects. This god is the most popular hero for musicians and  dancers across India. All his  wondrous facets were explored in the two-day Lec Dem Mela focussing on ‘The Dark Lord’ organised on 10 and 11 December 2016 at the Arkay Convention Centre in Chennai. It was the fourth edition of the lecdem series organised together by the Sruti Foundation and the Karnatik Music Forum. 

The programme began with an invocation beautifully rendered by three young visually challenged musicians—Manoj, Akshaya and Shreelekka. After brief speeches by V. Ramnarayan, Editor-in-Chief, Sruti, and chief guest R. Thyagarajan, founder and Chairman - Shriram Group, endowment scholarships were given away to young artists. The Manna Srinivasan Endowment Scholarships were received by S.R. Swarna (Carnatic vocal) and Kali Veerapathiran (Bharatanatyam). Vocalist Shreelekka received the Meenakshi-Ramakrishnan Endowment Scholarship instituted in 2016. 

Each day had five two-hour long sessions during which music scholars and performing artists sang or danced  and spoke at length about a specific theme. It featured presentations by Sriram Parasuram, Pappu Venugopala Rao, Aniruddha Knight, Chitravina N. Ravikiran, Gowri Ramnarayan, on the first day, and by M.A. Venkatakrishnan, Isaikavi Ramanan, K. Ganesh Kumar, Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar, and Dr. S.  Sunder on the second day.

Dr. Sriram Parasuram made a presentation on the concept of surrender as an act of celebration, even though it comes but fleetingly and through a variety of experiences. 

Pappu Venugopala Rao
Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao made a comprehensive audio-visual presentation explaining the uniqueness of Jayadeva’s Geeta Govinda, and its influence on literature, music, paintings, dance, and films. 

Aniruddha Knight, grandson of T. Balasaraswati, well supported by vocalists Usha Sivakumar and Vidya Sankaranarayanan, and veteran flutist T.R. Murthi, presented an interesting  demonstration of items from Bala’s repertoire which also highlighted the close communion of music and dance. 

Chitravina N. Ravikiran’s presentation focussed on the nuances in Oothukadu  Venkata Kavi’s compositions. He was ably supported by vocalists Anahita and Apoorva Ravindran, M.R. Gopinath (violin), and K. Arunprakash (mridangam). 

In Mohamaana, Gowri Ramnarayan recalled a time of bhava-rich music as performed by stalwarts, mainly padams and javalis. The songs were sung by Savita Narasimhan. 

Day two commenced with a lecture by scholar in Vaishnavism M.A. Venkatakrishnan on Azhwargal Anubhavitta Krishnar. The impassioned elucidation was enhanced by the musical presentation of Tiruppavais sung by Anahita and Apoorva, and abhinaya by Bharatanatyam dancer Radhika Vairavelavan. Pappu Gyandev (violin) and Sathyanarayana (mridangam) were the accompanying artists. 

Isaikavi Ramanan’s presentation of Bharatiyin Kannan threw light on how Subramania Bharati engaged in different ways, especially as a friend, with his favourite Kannan. The vocal-venu presentations of J.B. Keerthana and J.B. Sruthi Sagar embellished the talk. 

K. Ganesh Kumar explained the role of abhangs and rasa padams in invoking  bhakti among the masses. His lilting yet energetic rendition of abhangs built up  devotional fervour amidst the audience. 

Mala Chandrasekhar
In her session titled Baare Panduranga, flautist Mala Chandrasekhar drew attention to the musical intricacies in the renditions of M.S Subbulakshmi. She found it was a herculean task to notate the varied nuances in every sangati of the Madhurashtakam as sung by MS. She played several songs from the doyenne’s repertoire as a tribute to MS in her centenary year.

A fitting conclusion to the lecture demonstration was Dr. S. Sunder’s presentation on the childhood pranks of Krishna, presented with a good mix of wit and humour. His tales of Krishna’s boyhood were interwoven with soulful renditions by siblings Sruthi Sagar (flute) and Keerthana (vocal) to illustrate the prankster’s impish charm.

The two-day programme was supported by the Minstry of Culture, Govt of India.

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