LEC DEM MELA 2019

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Ramakant Gundecha passes away


Ramakant Gundecha (57), younger  of the renowned Gundecha Brothers, passed away on Friday 8 November 2019 in Bhopal.  The brothers had performed the day before at the Vishwa Rang - Tagore International Literature and Arts Festival in the city. Ramakanth suffered a heart attack at Habibganj Railway Station while waiting for a train to Pune.

The brothers founded the Gurukul Dhrupad Sansthan in Bhopal for the propagation of dhrupad and have collaborated with veteran dancers like Astad Deboo and the late Chandralekha. Recipient of several awards, Ramakanth, along with brother Umakanth, was honoured with  the Padma Shri in 2012 and the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2017.

Ramakanth’s sudden demise comes as a shock to the music fraternity.


Saturday, 16 November 2019

Thanthei Nada Sangamam


By Varalakshmi Anandkumar

Jugalbandis have become a common feature in today's concert scenario where variety is indeed the spice of life. But this was a concert with a difference. The concert featured an interesting jugalbandi of violin and nagaswaram. The rasikas at the Arkay Convention Centre, Mylapore, Chennai, were treated to a unique coming together of two versatile artists Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, representing the Lalgudi bani and young Mylai Karthikeyan, an up-and-coming nagaswaram artist.

The percussion wing too featured a delightful blend of a budding artist—Sarangan Ravichandhira from Australia on the mridangam, along with seasoned khanjira artist Aniruddh Athreya.

To those who imagined that the nagaswaram would drown the dulcet tones of the violin, this concert proved them wrong. Combined with the well-equipped acoustics of the hall, the violin and nagaswaram combo seemed made for each other, blending perfectly to give an amalgamation of melody, to the rich tones of the percussion.

The concert began with the Viriboni varnam and was followed by obeisance to Lord Ganesa with Sri Ganapatini in Saurashtram. Arunachalanatham in Saranga was rendered line by line exquisitely between the violin and nagaswaram. Hindolam is a raga which never fails to please and in the hands of the two artists, it was sheer delight. Viji went into the root of the raga, to extract its full bhava. Young Karthikeyan was equally skilful with his briga, sangatis and his long, sruti-perfect karvai; he never failed to create an impact on the delighted audience. Following the alapana was the evergreen Samagana lolane of Papanasam Sivan.

Blending with raga, the bhava of the rendition by the duo suffused the air with bhakti, not to mention the response of the percussionists who knew exactly what to play at each sangati. The swara sequences and 'poruttams' were a sheer delight and it was a moment of regret when the song ended! Yet, there was much more in store. The poignant Ganamoortey was followed by the main piece.

Lalgudi Viji's long bowing strokes contrasting with the fast phrases found an echo in Karthikeyan who was evidently inspired by her expertise and quiet guidance. The effect created in Kharaharapriya and the kriti Pakkala nilabadi only served to accentuate the listening pleasure.

Artists from abroad coming to perform in India has become a common occurrence, but the effort of young Sai-Sarangan Ravichandhira was notable. It was evident that the youngster had put in hours of toil to play on a kappi mridangam effectively for concerts of this calibre. Sarangan's korvais shone bright and announced his bani with clarity and appropriate modulations.

Aniruddh Athreya is always brilliant and went into his element during the Tisra nadai kuraippu segment where the exchange of phrases between Saranagan and Anirudh was a treat. The combined effort by these two supporting artists was a significant contributory factor to the success of the concert.

Coincidentally, the concert was held on guru Surajananda's samadhi day and Lalgudi Viji paid tribute to the composer by playing the piece Muruganin marupeyar tuned by T.M. Thiagarajan  in Behag. Three other compositions—Tamarai poota tadagamadi, Chinnanchiru kiliye and a tillana in Sivaranjani—were rendered skillfully and all four musicians complemented one another.

The concert was attended by many vidwans including,  guru Kaaraikkudi Mani, G.J.R. Krishnan, Bhushany Kalyanaraman and Sarangan's father Ravi Ravichandhira. All in all, the three-hour concert was a Sunday treat for the rasikas and one hopes that there will be many such combinations that bring in novelty without compromising on tradition.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

FROM THE EDITOR


Deepavali, the festival of lights, must have lit up hearts and minds in different parts of the world, spreading the message of joy, love and peace. It brings to mind the oft-quoted lines Asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya .... (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad). A prayer to lead us from the ignorant state of darkness towards the light of knowledge; to lead us away from fraud and deception to truthfulness; to help us all to practise and propagate the arts with honesty and integrity.

The Vigilance Awareness Week this year—observed from 28 October to 2 November—coincided with Deepavali, focusing on the theme “Integrity — a way of life”. The Central Vigilance Commission believes that this theme will help to draw the attention of all sections of society, especially the youth, to the significance of ethical conduct in the building of an honest, non discriminatory and corruption free society. The objective is to promote integrity and probity in public life through citizen participation. Combating corruption is not just a matter of making laws and creating institutions, but is deeply rooted in human values and morals of individuals. It calls for the numerous players in the arts scenario— including artists, organisers, writers, teachers and administrators—to come forward to weed out corrupt practices in the system. Giving a bribe is as bad as asking for one; so shouldn’t musicians and dancers refuse to “pay to perform” rather than simply bemoan the malpractice? Do not pay in cash or kind to secure a performance slot. But pay to attend good programmes, lecdems and conferences for they can be a learning experience.

Wonder why there is this mad rush to get up on stage and perform even if one is half-baked! Watch out we could come across a lot of mediocrity during the extended season. Students are told to learn art for art’s sake but what is happening is to the contrary—art has become competitive like sports. Competitions are being conducted by all and sundry while parents seem to be ever ready to pay a considerable fee to enable their “budding talent” to compete and get a printed certificate! Does it serve any purpose? Most often it is not a record for excellence!

Coming to Sruti magazine, our readers can be proud that Sruti stands for objectivity and integrity. Sruti has never made any compromises along the way nor has it succumbed to pressures, power or money in publishing articles—we turn such offers down with a firm “No”. On completing 36 years we have received innumerable congratulatory messages. Till a few years ago, we used to receive letters by post and email which we would publish in Sruti Box. Times have changed and letter writing is on the wane. This time we have received hundreds of congratulatory messages and comments on Facebook. In step with the times, we hope you will “like” to read some of them in the Sruti Box section. This month we have interesting stories for you about south Indian classical dancers—Raja Radha Reddy and Jayalakshmi Eshwar—who have made the Capital their home; and about two Carnatic percussionists—T.A.S. Mani and Manoj Siva—with different approaches to their art. I remember watching the Kuchipudi duo of Raja and Radha Reddy in the late 1970s and 1980s. They made a very attractive pair on stage—he tall and dark with striking looks and she petite and lovely like a “paavai vilakku” idol come alive. Their speed and timing, brilliant coordination in nritta, eloquent abhinaya, their bold sringara poses and dynamic presentations have won them fans worldwide. The Reddys have successfully established a home for Kuchipudi in Delhi.

With rising costs of publication, we are going in for a small hike in our subscription rates. Henceforth one issue of Sruti will cost 85 rupees only. Am sure you will continue to support your favourite magazine as it still costs less than a plate of dosa with beverages during the season! And mark your dates on 7 and 8 December 2019 for the Lec Dem Mela organised by Sruti and The Music Forum at Arkay Convention Centre, Chennai. The theme is Vadya Sammelan—on the origin, history, styles and intricacies of musical instruments.

S. JANAKI

A modern-day gurukulam in Minneapolis

By Nirupama Vaidhyanathan 

I dozed in the backseat as the car whizzed on the highway, plying me to the Koinonia Retreat Center situated outside Minneapolis. When I got out, the smell of tree bark and fresh earth filled the air. As I stood in the driveway taking in my unfamiliar surroundings, I could hear the all-too-familiar stamping of the tattukazhi with sollukattu rolling out effortlessly from Indian-American youngsters. In the first week of July, the best of Chennai descended upon a retreat centre located at a two-hour drive outside Minneapolis.

Navadarshana, a residential dance camp for Indian-American dancers was in full swing. The brainchild of Bharatanatyam dancer Priyadarsini Govind, the participants were immersed in an environment that promoted intense learning and absorption. Participants had been divided into three groups according to their skill level and received instruction in nritta and abhinaya.

“Navadarshana”, was a camp that revealed an approach to learning Bharatanatyam; Senior gurus shared their expertise in all areas of learning each song. Dancers Aler Krishnan from San Diego and Chitra Ramaswamy from New Jersey dealt with the operational logistics for the programme and everything on the schedule hummed along perfectly.

At the crack of dawn, the participants attended body conditioning classes conducted by Odissi artist Bijoyini Satpathy and Kalari classes by Muralikrishan. After breakfast, they attended classes in nritta and abhinaya. Nritta classes were conducted by dancers Anjana Anand and Priyadarsini Govind; Priya Govind handled the teaching of abhinaya for all the groups. Nithyakalyani Vaidyanathan taught nattuvangam for the songs that they learnt, while Venkat Venkatakrishnan from Dallas, Texas, taught the participants how to sing those songs, enunciating each phrase clearly. To explain the lyrics of the songs that they were learning, scholars S. Raghuraman and V.A.K. Ranga Rao participated via Skype sessions. Violinist and senior musician R.K. Shriramkumar led the senior participants in a Skype session and taught them how to sing the Desh tillana, a composition of Lalgudi G. Jayaraman. Carnatic musician  Subhashini Parthasarathy explained the nuances of raga Sankarabharanam as she brought out the beauty of the padam Intha mohamemira. In the post-lunch sessions, there were lectures by North American artists. Ramya Harishankar spoke on abhinaya, while I dealt with storytelling narratives and authenticity, urging each of them to search for authenticity in portrayal. After dinner, the participants heard from Gandhian scholar and arts writerV.R. Devika, about various personalities and forces that have helped create the practice of modern-day Bharatanatyam.

Each session created impact within the hearts and minds of the dancers. No mean feat—I thought to myself as I sat at the back of the room observing sessions in progress. Thaka dheem tadhim natru dheem the strains of the Desh tillana were played over and over as the senior dancers lined up to stamp the korvais in unison, yearning to best the previous iteration. Priya Govind spoke earnestly as she walked around the room, “the hand has to be extended to its fullest, the knees have to be turned out, and of course, the back has to be straight. There can be no shortcuts, right?” As she spoke, one could see the tiredness in the limbs as
they stood—but, as she said - 1,2,3,4 - suddenly the back was straighter and the hand swept downwards in the kitatakatarikitathom with fluidity and speed, reaching the endpoint with precision. I then entered Nithyakalyani’s nattuvangam class in progress and found students in the intermediate level enunciating clearly the sollukattu for the kavuttuvam that they were learning. Hands resting on the tattukazhi, looking eagerly at her for the next request, their American accents had disappeared!

The most heartwarming presentation of the retreat came on the final day, where the
youngest set of dancers stole the show. They sang the mallari that they had learnt from Venkat Venkatakrishnan flawlessly and then demonstrated the rhythm without missing a single beat. They took turns making an announcement about the song that they had learnt from Priya Govind based on a Panchatantra fable and in an instant, they transformed into silly crows and wily foxes! When they did their final namaskaram, their eyes were shining, the back was straight and they deserved every applause in full measure.

To acquaint young Indian-American dancers
to a holistic approach to dance while exposing them to the best that Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam and dance scholarship has to offer is a laudable initiative. All over America, there are teachers dedicated to the preservation and practice of the art form, and their students are drawn from various backgrounds. The overall message of the Navadarshana dance camp to the youngsters was to do it right, as that is the only way to approach the learning of this art form.

The teachers worked and the students worked cohesively helping each other;  there
was palpable excitement to learn and absorb new material in class. “We all love the pursuit of natyam,” seemed to be the message that bound teacher and student together.

The camp taught Indian-American dancers the experience of living in what comes close to a gurukulam in the 21st century.  And, for conceiving and implementing this feat, kudos to Priya Govind, Vidya Prasad, Aler Krishnan and Chitra Ramaswamy.

(Nirupama Vaidhyanathan is the Artistic Director of the Sankalpa School of Dance in Fremont, California and the Managing Director of India Currents magazine. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania.)

Birthdays & Anniversaries


Madurai N. Krishnan - Buy a Digital Issue Contact - sruti.magazine@gmail.com

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Aruna Sairam

Birthdays & Anniversaries


Aruna Sairam, the Sangita Kalanidhi designate, opens the door and ushers me in with a warm welcome on a languid Sunday morning to her house, named Mantralayam, a neat compact structure nestled inside a street in Abhiramapuram, Chennai. The large picture of Aruna’s favourite Krishna stands tall overlooking the entrance and welcoming the guests. Her love for Krishna began even as a child because of her mother Rajalakshmi Sethuraman who used to organise congregations in their simple flat in Mumbai.

The city was a melting pot of cultures, languages and ethnicities. The migrant population was seeking self expression and preservation of the roots they belonged to. Aruna is a recipient of this rich heritage and culture which her parents zealously guarded and instilled in her brother S.K. Raja and herself, creating an ambience whereby she could learn from numerous masters and shape herself as an artist. According to Raja, Aruna’s strengths are her innate curiosity, her grit and her ability to communicate.

Her early love for music started with the bhajan sessions and musical soirees conducted at home. Her parents, a young couple in the early 1950s, started building bridges with musicians, litterateurs, theatre artists, dancers and the like who came to Bombay to perform. They also housed many of these visiting artists from all over the country and this opened for Aruna, a vast vista into the world of music, literature and dance.

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Guru Purnima Utsav in Mumbai

NEWS & NOTES

Guru-sishya parampara—the traditional way of transmission of our classical arts—has played a significant role in preserving and perpetuating the rich heritage of classical music through centuries. As prescribed in our scriptures, there is no better way to redeem the ‘guru rina’ (debt of the guru) than to produce your own disciples, carry forward the tradition and offer their swaranjali (musical offering) to your departed guru.

One of the principal inheritors of the Vilayatkhani baaj, veteran Arvind Parikh is perhaps the true extant guru of this tradition who has painstakingly carried forward the legacy of this gharana, both in terms of expression and content. His relentless zeal as a dedicated guru and his meticulous teaching has passed on the essence of this gharana to numerous disciples at home and abroad.  Arvind Parikh is a staunch believer in the guru-sishya parampara and believes that this old style of teaching has meaning and purpose. ‘Palta’ for example, he explained, is practised not just to master the technique; after long hours of regular riyaz or practice, there comes a time when your mind can wander and the subconscious starts working. This bifurcation of mind enables the conscious mind to create music and the subconscious to execute it,” he said.

The two-day Guru Purnima utsav, he organised at the Rangaswar Sabhagar, Y.B. Chavan Pratishthan in Mumbai, featured nearly 30 of his disciples in vocal, surbahar, rudra veena, shehnai and sitar and was dedicated to his guru  Ustad Vilayat Khan. 

In her introduction, Suvarnalata Rao, a senior disciple of Arvind Parikh and the music programme executive at the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) Mumbai, acknowledged her 91-year old esteemed guru as a ‘maharishi’, teaching for the past 65 years without charging a penny from any of his students. He has prepared an enormous amount of material for his disciples including 400 gat compositions in more than 100 ragas and many video recordings. 

A special feature of the utsav was also the open-minded approach of Arvind Parikh going beyond the confines of gharanas. He had invited vidushi Manju Mehta, a senior disciple of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar last year and Purbayan Chatterjee, the young sitarist of Senia Maihar gharana as the guest artist this year.

The doyenne of the Patiala gharana, Begum Parveen Sultana, chief guest of the day, expressed her appreciation for Arvind Parikh as a guru and also admired his warmth towards artists of other gharanas. Remembering her own gurus, Parveen mentioned that she had personally witnessed the ultimate guru bhakti in two sishyas. One of them was Dilshad Khan (her guru and husband) who would carry his ailing guru Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, and climb three floors to reach the hospital;  and the other is Arvind Parikh who served his guru Vilayat Khan with utmost respect and affection. 

In 2017, Arvind Parikh instituted the 'Unsung Heroes of Indian Music' award to felicitate quiet contributors like instrument makers, sound engineers, and writers. This year, four journalists dedicated to music—Amarendra Dhaneshwar (Mumbai),  Deepa Ganesh (Bengaluru), Meena Banerjee (Kolkata) and this writer, were felicitated by Parveen Sultana.

Several senior disciples of Arvind Parikh offered their musical tributes on Guru Purnima. Sharada Mushti played a serene alap of raga Malkauns on the rudra veena, and Ashwin Dalvi etched out the contours of Suddha Sarang on the deep and resonant surbahar. Rajiv Janardan underlined the vakra chalan (gait) of Gaud Sarang supported by the vocal rendition of raga Bairagi by Purvi Parikh. Sitar player Ramprapanna Bhattacharya rendered electrifying taans in Jonpuri, Amrita More presented a melodious Jhinjhoti, and Amrita Kulkarni portrayed Jaijaivanti. A mesmerising Yaman by Gopal Shah and the gripping Gorakh Kalyan on shehnai by Hassan Haidar were some of the noteworthy performances. No wonder the concluding guest artist Purbayan Chatterjee was inspired to give his best!

Purbayan played a melodious alap and a couple of compositions in raga Nand, set to the seven beats cycle and in drut Ektal. He  remembered his guru and father Partho Chatterjee, Ali Akbar Khan and Ajoy Chakrabarty, who had groomed him and thanked Arvind Parikh for keeping up this healthy interchange between gharanas that challenges and encourages artists to come out of their comfort zone and try something new.

MANJARI SINHA
(music scholar and critic)

Lit Fest on Music

NEWS & NOTES

The town of Patna was the venue of an unusual festival—a literature festival devoted to books on music and musicians, and books written by musicians. Carefully curated by Ajit Pradhan, and his organisation Navras School of Performing Arts, the festival was spread over two days and included six sessions on music, and three concerts. Inevitably, with artists talking about their art, the sessions also ended with impromptu demonstrations, which were a true delight.

The festival was dedicated to the late “Ganasaraswati” Kishori Amonkar, as it was she who awakened in the organiser Ajit Pradhan the desire to delve into the written word of musicians. It was fitting that her disciple, the venerable Padma Talwalkar was honoured on the inaugural day with a lifetime achievement award.

The first session was a discussion by authors Yatindra Mishra, Vikram Sampath and Namita Devidayal on the subjects of their books, entitled Music and the Maestros. Yatindra Mishra, the only non-musician author on the panel, has written books on Bismillah Khan, Lata Mangeshkar, and Girija Devi amongst others. Vikram Sampath has written on the veena maestro S. Balachander, and thumri queen Gauhar Jan. Namita Devidayal, a disciple in the Jaipur Attrauli tradition, has written on her gharana and its exponents, and more recently a book on Ustad Vilayat Khan. The informal interactive free-flowing discussion, moderated sensitively by Shinjini Kumar, touched on the problems faced by the authors—how not knowing the subject personally impacted their writing, how music being an aural experience could never adequately be examined in text, the importance of steering away from controversies and scandals that were not necessary to portray the subject. The evening ended with a vocal recital by Gwalior gharana sixth-generation exponent Meeta Pandit, whose book Pandits of Gwalior is a milestone work on the history of her illustrious family. Incidentally, it has also boldly explored the shortcomings in the outlining of the ‘thaat” system of north Indian ragas established by Bhatkhande.

The next morning started with a dhrupad concert by the 13th generation representatives,Prashant and Nishant Mallick from the princely state of Darbhanga, the biggest patron of music in the region. The pakhawaj accompaniment by Kaushik Mallick enhanced the brief concert immensely; interestingly the brothers chose to sing raga Parameswari created by sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, and thus was not part of their taleem, showing how their singing tradition remains innovative and creative even today.

Next was a session entitled ‘Nazakat, Riwayat, Ada’ dealing with the tawaif tradition. Sadly, author of Tawaifnama, Saba Dewan could not attend this session as planned; the panellists were vocalist Vidya Shah (author of Women on Record), music lover and Patna based journalist Arun Singh and Akhilesh Jha who has written a book on Mehdi Hasan. The session was moderated by Shankar Jha, an organiser of music festivals and a music connoisseur. The session touched upon the low status of tawaifs in society despite their vital role in keeping alive cultural traditions over generations. A touching story was recounted about Patna’s Zohra bai, who had lived in the court of Maharaj Rameswar Singh of Darbhanga as a young girl. After his death, his son Kameshwar Singh located her and invited her to perform at his coronation ceremony; and tried to pay her with gifts and cash. Deeply wounded, Zohra bai gently refused saying she was like a daughter of the house of Darbhanga and could not accept payment for its festivities. Such was the relationship between the tawaif and the patron. Vidya Shah broke into a lovely song, twice, to make her point musically.

The next session focused on the devadasi tradition of the south, wherein Swarnamalya Ganesh traced the history of the tradition to current times, following it with a demonstration of abhinaya. The other panellist author Pavan Varma was not able to make his point lucidly.

A discussion on gharanas followed—Jaipur Atrauli represented by Padma Talwalkar, and Gwalior by Meeta Pandit. Archivist Irfan Zuberi from the Dagar tradition and Ajit Pradhan were the other co-panellists. Padma Talwalkar who has learnt from three gharanas made the valid point that the disciplined confines of a gharana was necessary initially; then later on, as a musician one could rise above the confines. Her impromptu rendition of raga Tilak Kamod was interesting, as was Meeta Pandit’s demonstration of a “tap-tarana” (a tarana sung in the staccato tappa style; a speciality of the Gwalior tradition).

The next session focused on the problems of writing on musicians. The panellists were tabla exponent and author Aneesh Pradhan, Namita Devidayal and Akhilesh Jha. Sadly the session of Bombay Jayashri in conversation with disciple-author Vikram Sampath was cancelled; the last session of the festival was entitled “Riwayati Purab ang Gayaki” and featured Banaras based Saira Begum from the tawaif tradition, and author and thumri singer Vidya Rao, whose book about her guru  Heart to Heart – Remembering Naina ji, gives invaluable insight into the world of thumri of the 1950s to the 1970s. The session was conducted by Irfan Zuberi, who gently delved and brought out beautiful memories of both singers.

The conclusion of the festival was with a thundering concert, by tabla maestro Suresh Talwalkar and his team, in which uniquely he was accompanied by a vocalist rather than the other way around.

One hopes this innovative initiative of  Lit Fest is taken forward to other cities too, as a non-intimidating dialogue with musicians and about books on musicians paves the way for a general listening audience to engage more with the arts, and listen more to hardcore classical music. 
SHAILAJA KHANNA
(writes on music, musicians and matters of music)

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Book with compositions of the Tanjai lineage


By Samudri

A book titled "Tanjai Naalwarin Bharata Sangeeta Varnamalika", edited by K.P.S. Chinnaiah (son of the late K.P. Sivanandam) and published by R.R. Sabha and Rukmini Arts Academy,  was released on 5 October 2019 at the R.R. Sabha in Chennai. Veteran Bharatanatyam exponent and torchbearer of the Tanjavur bani,  Vyjayantimala Bali, released the book and presented the first copies to A.R. Santhanakrishnan (President, R.R. Sabha), Aruna Ranganathan (Trustee, Rukmini Art and Music Trust), Bharatanatyam dancer Nartaki Nataraj, Rama Kousalya (musicologist and retired Principal of Tiruvaiyaru Govt. Music College), and S. Janaki  (Editor-in-Chief, Sruti magazine). Music and dance concerts and a lecture were also organised on the occasion.

Special edition on Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar


By Buzybee

Lalitha Kala Tarangini’s special edition on Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar was released by Carnatic musician Bombay Jayashri in Mysore to mark the composer-king’s centenary.

Dr. V. Raghavan's book released



The book titled Studies in Abhinavagupta’s Works by Dr. V. Raghavan was released by Prof. S. Kannan (Chief Professor, IIT Madras) in the presence of R. Kalidas and Nandini Ramani of Dr. V. Raghavan Centre for Performing Arts, Chennai. It was followed by a lecture by scholar Dr. G. Sankaranarayanan, on ‘The Number of Rasas of  Dr. V. Raghavan based on Abhinavagupta’s Rasa Theory’. The Raghavan Centre conducted Pitru Vandanam  at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mini Hall on 22 August 2019 to  celebrate Dr. Raghavan’s 111th birth anniversary.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Raga Identification Competition 2019



C. Ramakrishnan, an avid rasika of Carnatic music, won the Raga Identification Competition 2019, organised by The Music Academy in association with TAG Corporation and Ramu Endowments. Held on 20 October 2019 at The Music Academy, C. Ramakrishnan answered a record  38 out of 40 questions! He was also awarded a cash prize of Rs.  5000. Hearty congratulations to our correspondent C. Ramakrishnan on this splendid win! 

Saturday, 19 October 2019

S.V. Seshadri aka Aeolus is no more


S.V. Seshadri, well-known writer, music critic passed away in Chennai on 16 October 2019. He was 94. S.V. Seshadri, famous under the nom de plume ‘Aeolus’, wrote detailed analytical reviews, combining style and substance which were a delight for lovers of music and English. His writings were published in Shankar’s Weekly from the mid-60s to the early 70s. Sruti has reproduced several of his writings. S.V. Seshadri also worked in Doordarshan and AIR New Delhi. 

Here is an excerpt on M.L. Vasanthakumari’s music:

“M.L. Vasanthakumari’s voice at its clearest has the heady tang of the cold morning breeze or of fresh spring water. MLV is intelligent enough to put her voice to the fullest use. She can be as brash as a sunflower, as firm as a tulip and as delicate as a rose. Alone among the women singers, she has a male cast of mind, and wears armour of her scholarship with the ease and nonchalance of the Maid of Orleans. She is an adventurer, accepting the accidents and opportunities of the highway with a laughing unconcern that would have stood her in good stead in a picaresque novel. In ancient Greece, she might have been a votary of Artemis, springing to follow the Greek goddess in her nocturnal chase through the woods. The comparison may not be mere conceit; for in the swaraprastara, MLV displays the practised aim of a dexterous archer. Swift and unerring, the swaras fly with a feathered grace and hit the bull’s eye ten times out of ten. Pundits are never tired of equating her unconcern with flippancy, her laughter with scoffing and her freedom with apostacy. To them, MLV has only one answer. It is the joy she derives from the exercise of her swift and penetrating mind”.

To read more such writings, log on to www.sruti.com and tap in our archives.

P.V. Krishnamurthy passes away


Veteran broadcast journalist P.V. Krishnamurthy passed away on 16 October 2019, in Chennai. He was 98. PVK, as he is affectionately known was born in Rangoon on 1 April 1921 and had a long and illustrious career with radio and television that started soon after he came to India as an evacuee from Rangoon in 1944. He joined the External Services Division of All India Radio, New Delhi as a newsreader cum announcer and rose to retire as the first Director General of Television in 1979. PVK was the youngest among his seven siblings. His initiation into music was through his eldest sister, Rajeswari. He bagged the first prize in a music competition in school and was accompanied on the harmonium by his brother, P.V. Subramaniam aka Subbudu, the veteran music critic!

In an interview to Sruti in May 2018, PVK commented on the current state of media.

“I am a Rip Van Winkle who retired in 1979. I don’t see much of television so I have no right to comment. But I strongly feel Prasar Bharati must show its teeth. Hundreds of people have retired without promotions and the morale is extremely down; it is not good for Prasar Bharati. I was fortunate to have worked when media was respected and people were devoted. I was lucky that I was posted in Delhi when history was being made—during India’s Independence, the partition, when Mahatma Gandhi visited the studios and when Sucheta Kriplani sang Vande Mataram. I was there not as an eye witness but an ‘ear witness’ to most of the important historic events thanks to my job in All India Radio. I have seen war, earthquakes, riots and killings and nothing frightens me!

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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Sruti

Birthdays & Anniversaries

Sruti is an English language monthly magazine on the performing arts -- Indian music, dance, and theatre -- published from ChennaiIndia.
Sruti was founded in 1983 by Dr. N. Pattabhi Raman, who had returned to India from a career abroad, bringing with him a focus and skill for English writing and editing, as well as willingness to engage in sincere criticism and controversy. The magazine initially had financial difficulties, with Pattabhi Raman desiring to gain subscribers vice take out loans, and minimal support from corporations. The journal floundered somewhat following Pattabhi Raman's death in 2002, but as of 2003 it continued forward under staffers who rose to take over its leadership.[1] The magazine was acquired by the Sanmar Group in 2006, and has grown from strength to strength.[2]
Journalist S. Muthiah in 2011 referred to the publication as the country's leading journal on Indian Classical music and dance.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Vempati Chinna Satyam

Birthdays & Anniversaries
15.10.1929 - 29.7.2012
Vempati Chinna Satyam was an Indian dancer and a guru of the Kuchipudi dance form.Chinna Satyam was born in KuchipudiAndhra Pradesh. He was taught by Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastry. He then refined his art by learning from Sri Tadepally Perrayya Sastry and later was trained by his elder brother Sri Vempati Pedda Satyam in expressions. As he learnt the nuances of this style of dance, he was successful in popularising the Kuchipudi dance form all over the world. 
Chinna Satyam sublimated and systematised Kuchipudi, giving it a more classical basis. He refined the art form, bringing it closer to the standards of Natya Shastra and gave it a whole new perspective and introduced new elements, e.g. chari (leg movements) of Natya Shastra that are significantly different from the interpretations of other dance authorities, such as Padma Subrahmanyam. Previously, it had been considered a "rustic" (folk) form of dance.

Chinna Satyam started the Kuchipudi Art Academy at Madras in 1963. The Academy has to its credit more than 180 solo items and 15 dance dramas composed and choreographed by Satyam. These solo items and dramas have been staged all over India and abroad. He composed his first dance drama Sri Krishna Parijatham in the same period followed by another hit Ksheera Sagara Madanam and played the lead role. His portrayal of Lord Shiva and his choreography was well received.

N. Ramani

15.10.1934 - 9.10.2015
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Dr. Natesan Ramanicommonly known as N. Ramani or N. Flute Ramani, was an Indian Carnatic flautist. He was awarded the Madras Music Academy's Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1996. Ramani is also credited for introducing the long flute into Carnatic music.
Ramani performed his first concert at the age of 8. The turning point in Ramani's career was when he became a disciple of his maternal uncle and eminent flautist, In 1945, Ramani performed his first concert on All India Radio. Following Ramani's first concert at the Madras Music Academy in 1956,at the age of 22, Ramani had reached the highest point in his career and become an artist of international fame, and his concerts became a regular feature.
The "Mali" bani encompassed facial expressions such as slight tilting of the head, varied movement of the lips which produced the vocal effect in the Carnatic never explored before by Sharaba Shastri or Palladam Sanjeeva Rao.Bringing out more of the tradition Mali introduced in the playing of the Carnatic flute, Ramani's distinctive style is the transformation of the Carnatic flute into the voice of a proficient Carnatic vocalist. Stressing such importance on the emphasis of vocal style of playing, he displayed characteristics of the human voice in his concerts often observed in his fast paced yet melodious performances.
Ramani's performances in All India Radio (AIR) have received numerous praises from Hindustani and Carnatic musicians alike and his performances overseas had been recognised with numerous awards.