January 08, 2010

The applause factor in Carnatic concerts

................................... by Sivapriya Krishnan

According to me a "chu chu" or an "ahaa", are something that comes from an extremely emotive frame of reference and a pure oneness with the artist on stage. This is so involuntary, when you can actually feel the creativity, beauty or the speciality of a phrase or a tala or any other musical dimension that the artist presents and totally empathise with his /her state of mind.

Yes, it may be disturbing , maybe it can be done more subtly. But then are we " mummified bundles" sitting and viewing the concert with a dead look on the face? Art is all about life, joy, mirth and happiness and we may all have seen that the artist who presents his art with passion and joy alone can produce sustainable art.

As for the applause ,this is becoming more of a contrived nuisance both from the audience and the attention seeking artist on stage. Piled up neraval phrases, super loaded swara prastharas, holding onto a note for a long time , are some of the things that the audience will instantly clap, as though programmed.

Sometimes it might be a very simple thing and the audience here is ready to put their hands together, leaving even the artist bemused. But when the applause comes for something really befitting , then it is welcome and the artist also gets immensely enthused by it.

An applause that comes between the anupallavi and charanam, is the most irritating, as though the audience can't wait for the artist to finish!! It also spoils the trend of thought and feel of the concert.

I have also observed that the audience not clapping for an unknown newcomer or youngster on stage, even if he/ she is playing an excellently classical or weighty stuff. Whereas for a popular face young or old or senior, the applause comes in roaring fits even if fare was average ! It is as though you will be out of league if you didn't clap.
What is so wrong in applauding a youngster and encouraging him/her if its really good?

Applauses become "goshti gaanam" with everybody clapping in congregation for songs, like Kurai ondrum illai, Vishamakara kanna, Maadumeikkum kaaNa, Brhamamokatte !!!

Standing ovation in the portals of the Music Academy, is becoming something of a modern fashion and trend. One is not sure of the intent. It could be that the audience could even be stretching their tight muscles, before taking the next step. !!!

If it were really truly extended, well and good, but again if it is done customarily like standing in attention for the National Anthem, then it becomes meaningless.

It would not be too late, before some award were to be instituted for the "biggest applauding rasika" or the " most applauded concert " of the season !!!

January 07, 2010

Trivandrum R. Venkataraman - RIP

Senior Veena vidwan Sri. R. Venkataraman, a recipient of Sangita Kala Acharya from The Music Academy this year died in an accident on Jan. 5, 2010.
The 71 years old vidwan and his 40 years old daughter Jayashri were travelling in a car and while crossing a bridge, the car fell off from a height of 40 ft. Later both the father and the daughter were found dead near the newly constructed flyover on the national highway at Ulundurpet.

Trivandrum R. Venkataraman, one of the finest exponents of Veena, played the instrument in a unique style with rare blend of tradition and modernity. He was part of the popular veena-venu-violin team along with violinist Lalgudi G. Jayaraman and flautist N. Ramani.

Sri R. Venkataraman had his early training in veena from Smt. Lakshmi G. Krishnan. He later joined the Swati Tirunal College of Music. Trivandrum and graduated in veena and vocal in 1951. He had his advanced training under Sri. K. S. Narayanaswamy, another renowned veena vidwan. He then served as Assistant Professor of Veena at Sri Swati Tirunal College of Music. Later he joined All India Radio, Trivandrum in 1964 and served there until his retirement in 1996. He is also a recipient of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy award among many other awards.

Of late, he had been teaching at the Teachers' College of Music, The Music Academy - Madras and is decorated with the title Sangita Kala Acharya by the Music Academy. While receiving the award on Jan. 1, 2010, he presented the acceptance speech on behalf of the other awardees Smt. N. S. Jayalakshmi, Trichy Sri R. Thayumanavan, Sri Akella Mallikarjuna Sharma and Sri B. M. Sundaram.

On Dec. 25, 2009, he performed a concert for Carnatica at MGR Janaki College and on Dec. 26, 2009, he performed for Naada Inbam at Raga Sudha Hall. He was also present at the lec-dem session of Jayanthi Kumaresh on 'Different styles of Veena Playing' at the Music Academy on Dec. 27 and offered a value addition to Jayanthi's presentation about another vidwan M.K. Kalyanakrishna Bhagavathar and insisted that he should not be confused with M.A. Kalyana Krishna Bhagavathar, another veena exponent.

The dedicated rasikas and students condole his death at this forum.

The photo above was taken on Dec. 25, 2009 at Carnatica's Samarpanam Festival held in Chennai.