S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Master class by Rama Ravi

The Concert Scene
By R Narayanan

Age cannot wither nor custom stale the infinite variety of Sangita Kala Acharya Rama Ravi's music.

It is music of pristine purity,-straight from the heart,completely uncontrived,therefore flows like a perennial river.

I am nobody to presume to review Rama Ravi's music. I can only pay obeisance before it. Truth to tell, it was more a master class than a concert. All the fortunate rasikas who came to listen took away learning added to pleasure.

To cite the example of Kharaharapriya, the great spatial raga with deep valleys hidden behind its cliffs, that can trip the best. Many can sing it at length and competently, yet missing its heart, and the impact on the listener. Rama Ravi sang the raga for a mere five minutes, yet the listener experienced what I call "the Grand Canyon effect" more than once. Wow! I sensed how a master transfers her own musical vision to the listener. To her credit, Rama's daughter Nanditha Ravi completed the rest of the raga elaboration in total sync with the vast canvas deftly sketched by her mother. The grand Tyagaraja kriti Rama niyeda prema rahitulaku just merged with the tide of the raga.

Again the same thing happened in Natakurinji. You can experience it only if I say it in Tamil.

வழி மறைத்திருக்குதே மலை போலே ஒரு மாடு படுத்திருக்குதே..

Tears welled up in the listeners' eyes when, through repeated arohana statements, the huge mountain of a bull hiding the Lord from poor Nandanar's eyes was evoked.

Sahana, Saveri and Khamas all stood out in their own ways. Space alone is the bull standing between me and more writing!

Nanditha Ravi was a picture of composure as she rendered the support voice to her distinguished mother. She was spot on during kuraippu exchanges.

Dr Hemalatha rose to the occasion with her impeccable bowing which blended with the nuanced vision of the vocalist. No mean task, that.

I came away regretting I was not 60 years younger and able to enrol as a student of Acharya Rama Ravi.

In 150 minutes, Rama Ravi showed us the hidden treasures in a dozen ragasSahana, Saveri, Begada, Gowlipantu, Kannada, Kharaharapriya, Dhanyasi, Natakurinji, Behag, and Khamas. Without ado or artifice, she went straight to the heart of the ragas, so much so, with or without alapana, kritis rendered with or without niraval or swarakalpana, the ragas shone lustrously through a firm stay on the jeevaswaras. As her natural voice merged with the swarasthanas in melsthayi, one felt: "Oh, this is how this raga is to be sung."

J Vaidhyanathan observed, absorbed and responded in a suitably subdued percussion support. Harihara Sharma on the khanjira played the perfect foil through the concert, until he participated assertively in a brilliant joint venture tani with JV.

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