In Tiruvaiyaru, the land of the five rivers, rests Tyagaraja. The panchanada kshetra… on the
bank of the river Cauvery where blows the incomparable zephyr... was certainly a source of inspiration for the prolific vaggeyakara. As the Cauvery flows sometimes gently, sometimes in spate, so too the bard-saint’s emotions ebb and flow in his innumerable compositions. None can deny the sweeping impact of the music trinity in Carnatic music, and Tyagaraja’s output of compositions is the highest among the three. His fame had spread far and wide even when he was alive. It is said that Tyagaraja’s kritis are pen-portraits of the Tanjavur region in later years of Maratha rule. He was also fond of composing in rare and unusual ragas.
Tiruvaiyaru has become a place of pilgrimage for Carnatic musicians as they converge to pay their musical homage to the great vaggeyakara at the Tyagaraja aradhana held every year on Bahula Panchami day. The festival, usually held on a grand scale, was also affected by the Covid 19 pandemic; it was restricted to a two-day event this year. As a result, the glamour and the razzmatazz which had crept into it over the years, was missing this time. Star Carnatic musician, Sudha Ragunathan, has been offering her musical tribute at the samadhi for several decades now In this issue, she shares with us the very special experience that she had this year at Tiruvaiyaru.
Season 2020 has received wide coverage in this issue. Last month, an office bearer of the Madras Music Academy shared the experience of organising the Academy’s online season. There can be no season without artists, organizations and rasikas, but the success of Season 2020 hinged largely on the ‘tech team’ who worked round the clock to present an enjoyable experience. Kudos to them! This time, we present a peek into the effort behind the month-long Yours Truly Margazhi festival organised by the Federation of City Sabhas. The virtual season has by and large been welcomed by rasikas as it gave them the freedom to watch any number of kutcheris from the comfort of their homes, any time and any number of times! It has also been a boon for writers and critics, as they could listen to the concerts at leisure, and play them any number of times to get their facts right before submitting their reviews. At this juncture, Sruti’s Chennai correspondent C. Ramakrishnan deserves special mention as he has diligently listened to a range of artists presented by different organisations and shared his comments about them.
Apart from the regular News & Notes, we bring to you the occasional book review and a talent showcase of four young Hindustani musicians with great potential. Our Tiruvananthapuram correspondent pays tribute to Sruti’s roving critic Sunil Kothari who passed away recently. Sunilji, as we called him, was associated with Sruti almos since its inception. He was fond of travelling and would file his reports from different parts of the world. “Visibility” was his watchword and he loved to be in the midst of artists and events. The Covid pandemic must have been a setback for the gregarious individual and he probably decided to bid goodbye to a world where personal interactions and live events had almost come to a standstill. 26 February 2021 was an important date in the Carnatic music calendar as it was the birth centenary of the\ renowned twins of Carnatic music – B.V. Raman and B.V. Lakshmanan, also known as the Bhavani duo. Sruti has published articles about them in 2005.