Happy New Year 2020! “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything,” said Plato. For the past month and more, sangeetam did just that as it pervaded the Chennai metropolis.
Rasikas and artists must have had their fill of music over the past one month and more. Every day was hectic during the ‘season’ with artistic activity all day long. Morning: Some groups came forward to conduct the Margazhi bhajanai around the Mada streets of Mylapore. Devotional music and discourses were presented inside the sabhas early morning, followed by lecture demonstration sessions on music and dance ranging from the simple to the complex. We listened to kutcheris by veterans in some venues, and by youngsters in some others. Noon: There were music and dance kutcheris at noon and after—allocated to talented juniors and sub-senior artists of any age. Evening: Star artists were reserved for the evening ticketed slots which hopefully brought in considerable revenue for the sabha. There were some sold-out concerts too. Traffic jams, parking problems, commuting and change in eating habits, predominance of old people in the audience, have all advanced the finishing time of night concerts to a little over 9 pm. Rare now are the midnight concerts by Hindustani stalwarts, though all-night variety Carnatic programmes are organised by musicians to herald the New Year.
November-December saw two eminent personalities in the arts stepping into their 80th year—the Delhi-based veteran classical dancer Yamini Krishnamurti, and the popular arts patron and industrialist Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti. Sruti salutes these two achievers through interesting articles and some outstanding photographs. Our Roving Critic Sunil Kothari and senior Bharatanatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan recall their association with Yamini.
The 173rd annual Tyagaraja aradhana falls on 15 January this year. Tyagaraja attained mukti on Pushya Bahula Panchami in the Prabhava year on 6 January 1847. Though he lived only about 170 years ago, we do not have a very authentic account of the full details of his life though we have anecdotes and stories aplenty. Two of Tyagaraja’s disciples—Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar and Manambuchavadi Venkatasubba Iyer—have composed mangalams which provide many details about their guru. In this issue, musician and researcher T.R. Aravind attempts to analyse what these mangalams have to unfold about the bard.
One of the great music composers who belongs to the guru-sishya lineage of Tyagaraja was Ramanathapuram “Poochi” Srinivasa Iyengar. To commemorate his death centenary, we publish articles by Sriram V and vidushi R. Vedavalli about this lakshana vidwan.
In this age when students flit from teacher to teacher and learn from YouTube and the Internet, it is heartening to find artists who have remained with their guru for several decades. Ghatam S. Karthick is one such—he has been a dedicated student of the ghatam and his guru Vikku Vinayakram for forty years. Writer Sivapriya Krishnan provides interesting insights into the life and achievements of this multifaceted artist.
We have our usual coverage of organisations and events which also includes the silver jubilee celebrations of Mudhra in Chennai. The Music Academy Dance Festival begins in January with dance programmes scheduled from morning to night. Most sabhas have a long line-up of young and senior dancers who are featured from January to almost March. All of us at Sruti are busy attending lecdems and concerts at various venues and we hope to present our season roundup in the February issue.