December 29, 2015

Eastern Ethnic New Year Eve

Here is a New Year Eve celebrations with Carnatic music.
As in the past Carnatica has organised the Eastern Ethnic New Year Eve. But this time in a different venue at Vani Mahal, T.Nagar.

Veterans and youngsters will be performing collectively and individually and usher in the New Year.
If you are around in the city and is ready to venture out at mid-night, this is one you would love. Open to all.

December 28, 2015

A vintage treat at veteran Rama Ravi's concert

Rarely one gets to listen to the old-world music in Chennai. Many senior musicians are performing a very few concerts, especially during the season. Naada Inbam organises the concerts of such veterans giving an opportunity for the rasikas to listen to a vintage music as well the young performers to learn a few tips on chaste music.

Senior vidushi Rama Ravi performed only at Naada Inbam this season and that turned out to be a treat for those who attended. A tempo that was set in a pace that can be described as 'sowkhya kalam' flowed through the concert. Whether it was the Saveri Varnam or the grand Kambodhi kriti 'Koniyadi' or the padam, the presentation was just enjoyable. The simple and systematic development elaboration of Kambhodi, the chittaswaram in a relaxed pace adorned the number.

There were requests from the rasikas and the violinist R.K. Sriramkumar. The padam 'Ela radayane' in Bhairavi and a Nadanamakriya composition, which Rama Ravi remembered having rendered it during one of the Bharatanatyam recitals of T. Balasaraswati at The Music Academy and that the piece was taught by none other than Prof. T. Viswanathan.

A concert that the rasikas will cherish for long, no doubt.

Vijay Siva outranked his own standards

Was it the only concert of Vijay Siva this season? Or this December?

When Indian Fine Arts Society's advertisement appeared in The Hindu with N.Vijay Siva's name in the evening concert session on Dec. 26, 2015, many called up the sabha to confirm if the information was correct. Vijay Siva had earlier cancelled his concerts due to the recent deluge in the city and he had expressed that "I feel this is not the moment for happy singing. Hence, calling off Dec season concerts. I plan to resume on 1st Jan 2016." on his social media page.

Photo: Sripriya Ayyangar

And those who got the information confirmed before afternoon were lucky to get a double bonanza at the sabha. The sabha had scheduled Gayathri Venkataraghavan's concert before Vijay Siva's session. A ticket for the evening gave them two 'big' concerts. People were seen buying tickets at the counter for the 'only' concert of Vijay Siva, in large numbers. Soon the Ethiraj Kalyana Mandapam hall was near-full.

Beginning with 'Nada tanumasiam' in Chittaranjani, a raga that does not have the upper octave sancharas, was a quiet start. But what followed was a shower of wonderful music. As is the characteristic of Vijay Siva's concerts, songs flow one after the other without any long pause. Vijay Siva presents the Pantuvarali version of Shyama Sastri's 'Karuna joodavamma' instead of the Varali version and he did it on that day too. But one could feel the slow pace and the peace that surrounded the hall during this rendition.

The day was Arudra Darsanam and Lord Siva danced in Vijay Siva's 'Ananda natana prakasam' in Kedaram. A rich presentation of 'Enati nomu phalamu' (Thyagaraja, Bhairavi) followed. The highlight of the day was the lovely Charukesi alapana, tanam and the pallavi 'Padamendru nambinen amma Uma' The kalpanaswaras in Charukesi as well as the ragamalika ragas Hamir Kalyani, Hindolam and Kuntalavarali brought out the beauty of the madhyamam in each of these ragas. Anchoring on the madhyamam of the ragas, Vijaya Siva displayed a spread of his creativity.

When R.K. Sriramkumar is on the violin, the concert has to get a fillip. A violinist who knows every syllable of the sahityams follows the singer like a shadow and gives an effect of oneness with the singer.

Who do you think was on the mridangam? It was Trichy Sankaran and so there were lots of moments of rhythmic magic unfolding with verve. The tani avarthanam between Sankaran and K.V. Gopalakrishnan resonated long after the concert. 'Arunachala Siva', 'Bolo Sairam' and 'Malaikulaviya (thiruppuhazh) were for the concluding session.

All that one wished for was a hall better treated for acoustics and less traffic on the road which intruded into the ears of those in the last few rows.

December 27, 2015

Ranjani-Gayatri concerts are big draw

The sisters Ranjani and Gayatri, who used to be independently playing the violin as Bombay Ranjani and Bombay Gayatri in their early days of their performance later took to duet playing of the instrument. A couple of years back, they decided to sing together and there is no going back after that.

The sisters' concerts have been a sell out right from the year they began singing together and over the years their fans have been growing. In their well-attended concert for Brahma Gana Sabha, senior dancer Vyjayantimala Bali was also present.

Ranjani - Gayatri durinh their concert for Brahma Gana Sabha

The Ragam-tanam-pallavi in Charukesi was a much talked about one in their concert at Narada Gana Sabha. Their concert at The Music Academy was  marked by swiftness and the Begada they sang was one the rasikas spoke about in the Social Media.

Out of a dozen concerts this season, they have one more to go  for Kalarasana on Dec. 30, 2015

December 21, 2015

Involving the young

Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha inaugurated its annual December Music Festival in the second week of this month like any other sabha does in Chennai. It was an evening of awards and speeches. But they made young Akshara Samskriti, who has come down to Chennai from Philadelphia, USA, for the 'season' along with her musician mother Kiranavali Vidyasankar sing the invocation.

Photo Credit: Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

Akshara was all business and went on to the stage to present a long Oothukadu Venkata Kavi's composition 'Ananda Narthana Ganapathim' with all jatis in place. The awardees of the evening, Priya Sisters, senior musician Aruna Sairam who was a special guest, the Jeeyar of Sriperumpudur mutt, veterans Radha Viswanathan and P.S. Narayanaswamy didn't bat an eye while Akshara was singing. Keeping talam in her hands, this young girl confidently sang and earned the appreciation from everyone on the stage and in the audience.

The sabha's afternoon slots for up and coming artistes have a lot of very young singers and instrumentalists. One could spot young students of music walk in with notebooks and pens for the lec-dems at this sabha every other day. The sabha also has a series of young artistes performing short concerts throughout the day from Jan 1 to 3, 2016.

December 17, 2015

Treat of the two Indian classical music systems

On Dec. 15, the city had many options for the music lovers. Most of them though of classical music, especially Carnatic. Seniors T.V. Sankaranarayanan and T.N. Seshagopalan were singing at Kartik Fine Arts and Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha. Popular artiste Aruna Sairam was performing for the Margazhi Maha Utsavam at the Youth Hostel, Adyar. The young crowd-puller musician Abhishek Raghuram was in full flow at Narada Gana Sabha. But, a hundred plus audience chose to be at the Carnatic-Hindustani jugalbandhi of violinists Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Sriram Parasuram at the cozy Arkay Convention Centre in Mylapore. And surely they had a wonderful treat that evening.

Photo by Smita Joshi

While Sriram Parasuram took the part of presenting the Hindustani style, GJR Krishnan, who stood for the Carnatic style, complimented the presentation by playing subtle phrases in Hindustani style. Both the violinists played the varnam (Garudadhwani) together as well as the tillana in Sindhubhairavi.

The beautiful Andolika and its closest counterpart Gorak Kalyan was out-of-the world presentation by both the artistes. 'Sevikka vendum ayya' by Krishnan received a huge applause before Sriram began his Gorak Kalyan which got no less appreciation. Following it up with Vachaspati, which is a recent addition to the Hindustani system, Krishnan played in in the Carnatic style and Sriram presented  an alap, jod, jhala. The Carnatic tanam that it similar to the jod was brilliant.

The dance of Saveri and Jogia could only be experienced and not described in words. Sindhubhairavi does have a large scope for bringing out the melody in both the systems and the violinists played the tillana wonderfully well and to a standing ovation. The super-melodious percussive support by K. Arunprakash on the mridangam and Rajendra Nakod on the Tabla, enjoying each other's phrases added lustre to the whole performance.

The unique concept and presentation only made the rasikas look forward to more of such evenings. 

December 16, 2015

Fans flock to Sanjay's concert in all venues

This year's Sangita Kalanidhi designate Snjay Subrahmanyan has a busy schedule during the season as in the past. His fans follow his schedule closely on Social Media and through the daily newspapers and they are present at all the venues. Celebrities are no exception. His fans predict and exchange on what could be the main number in the concert at a particular venue. They have dedicated groups on Whatsapp and other Social Media and enjoy each of his concerts.

These are some snapshots from Sanjay's concert for Brahma Gana Sabha at Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, which the eminent dancer Vyjayanthimala Bali attended as did many of Sanjay's fans.

Photos: Smita Joshi

Sanjay Subrahmanyan at The Music Academy's inauguration

With The Music Academy inaugurating its annual music conference and concerts yesterday (Dec. 16, 2015), the December season is on in full swing. The inaugural functions generally don't attract many. In particular, The Music Academy insists for an official invite to enter the hall at its inauguration. Many stay away or forced to stay away because of this rule as many rasikas do not have an invite.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan, the Sangita Kalnidhi designate is one, whose presidential speech was much awaited by his fans at the Academy. He did not disappoint them and spoke from well-prepared notes. He traced back the days of his learning music, the inspirations he derived from his gurus, other stalwarts of music and friends. He remembered the YACM, an organisation that supported the young musicians in the 1980s and also his accompanists.

Sanjay will be presiding over the lec-dem sessions from today, Dec. 16, 2015 that will be held at the mini hall in The Music Academy premises in the mornings from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Here is the video recording of Sanjay's speech shared by him on his YouTube channel.

December 15, 2015

'Guitar' Prasanna introduces his disciples to the 'season'

Classical Carnatic guitar artiste R Prasanna, who now has made the USA his home, is a regular in Chennai's December season. He comes with his schedules fully fixed, performs and goes back only to come for the next 'season.'

This year, Prasanna has brought five of his disciples to introduce during the music season in Chennai. In his first concert at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on Dec. 8, 2015, young Raghav played along and surprised the audience. At the second concert of the season at Arkay Convention hall on Dec, 12, Prasanna brought another young disciple Gokul on to the stage. The cozy hall witnessed cheerful music from the guru and the sishya.

Photos by Sripriya Ayyangar

And in the third at the Mylapore Fine Arts Club on Dec. 13, both Raghav and Gokul, fully recovered from jet-lag, accompanied their guru and it was a riot of musical notes that evening. The young artistes received big applause.

The next one is coming up for Naada Inbam at Ragasudha Hall on Dec. 19, 2015. Take along your children to listen to some Carnatic music on a Western instrument by young people from abroad.

A joint Press Release by sabhas

With the Music Academy's December season beginning today, music has begun to flow in full swing in the city. This unique series of concerts, a special to the city has been unstoppable even during the earlier war, floods and Tsunami.

A joint Press Release by many organisations issued recently show their concern as well their commitment to the arts.

When do young people attend kutcheris?

Rarely one gets to see young audience in Carnatic music concerts. A fair number of listeners in their 40s are not a rare scene though.

A few artistes have been huge crowd-pullers. Vocalist Sanjay Subrahmanyam's concerts were overflowing last year. All the concerts hosted by Charsur Arts Foundation during the season are of up and coming musicians and all of them see houseful audiences. Prasanna Venkatraman, Amrita Murali, Nisha Rajagopalan, Bharat Sundar are among the artistes who attract the younger generation of listeners. Trichur Brothers are still in this group but have moved on to prime slots quickly. But all of them present traditional concerts with no frills attached.

Ramakrishnan Murthy, another rising star has been topping the list of concerts with young audiences. This year too his concerts are well attended. On Dec. 11, at Ragasudha Hall, people sat on the side benches, on the stage and some were standing.

His concert at Arkay Convention Hall for Parampara yesterday was another full-house one.

Do young people attend when the artiste is also young? Or, do they just go for good music? 

December 14, 2015

Season starts after the deluge in Chennai

Though there were initial dilemma among artistes and organisations to go with the 'season' or not, the 'season' has finally begun.

Many venues were affected by the floods. Chettinad Vidyashram school, where Jaya TV Margazhi Utsavam takes place resumed after the water receded. Concerts are rescheduled.

Mylapore was not much affected and so Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan continued their concert series adding a prayer session for those affected by the floods before their evening concert every day after the deluge.

Narada Gana Sabha cancelled their Pre-music season series till Dec. 7 and resumed for four days from Dec. 8 to 11. The sabha's regular season has begun yesterday.

Chennai Cultural Academy had indefinitely postponed its festival as the venue is still flooded.

With Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Mylapore Fine Arts Club, Nada Inbam, Narada Gana Sabha and Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha inaugurating their festivals, the season is on. But a lot of rescheduling, cancellations change in accompanists keep the organisers on toes.  

December 13, 2015

Senior artistes and organiser honoured at Narada Gana Sabha inauguration

Two senior Sangita Kalanidhi awardee musicians were decorated at Narada Gana Sabha's inauguration on Dec. 12, 2015. Vocalist T V Sankaranarayanan was awarded the title 'Nadabrahmam' and flutist Sikkil Neela was felicitated as the Senior Muscian. Nadawsaran vidwan Mambalam MKS Siva and musicologist B M Sundaram were also honoured.

The endowment awards for young musicians and the winners at various competitions received awards and prizes.

Photos by Smita Joshi

It was a heart-warming moment when N. Murali, president of another prestigious organisation The Music Academy presided over the inaugural function and M Krishnamurthy, honorary secretary of Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha was presented with an award for Organiser of the Year.

Now, isn't it time when all these sabhas join hands, host the festival under a common umbrella and take the unique 'season' to an international level?