Song of Surrender

Monday, 28 December 2015

Attendance Awards 2015 an inspiring event

By Anjana Anand

The packed hall at the Alliance Francaise, Bengaluru, had a quiet dignity about it as the sixth annual ‘Attendance’ award function (2015) kicked off to an auspicious start. A brainchild of the Khokar Dance Foundation, the event was conducted in collaboration with Alliance Francaise de Bangalore and Bangalore School of Music.

The highlight of the function was the announcement by the editor and publisher of  Attendance  - Ashish Khokar - that the first disqualification for the awards was canvassing for them! A short pada puja was performed by  children to honour the dignitaries. Elegant white shawls  instead of the customary shiny ones, and the variety of events showcased  were a welcome change from the long drawn out speeches in award ceremonies. The cherry on the cake was that the awardees under the age of 50 are given an internship with a dance company abroad and those above 50 have their work archived professionally. It was an honour for the recipients to receive their award from veteran artist Vyjayanthimala Bali.

A range of artists were awarded for their contribution to the arts. Guru Radha Shridhar was honoured with the Maya Rao Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Bharatanatyam. The other awardees were Padmini  Ravi (Rukmini Devi award for significant contribution to Bharatanatyam), Gowri Ramnarayan (Mohan Khokar award for overall excellence), Sheejith Krishna (Ram Gopal award for best male solo artist), and Nritarutya’s Upadhaye sisters (Uday Shankar award for Choreography). It was befitting that the awardees were chosen for the years of work they had put in and also for their ability to continue with their  contribution to the arts in the years to come.

The awardees  presented a glimpse of their work. The Upadhaye sisters showcased their versatile dancers with excerpts from the production Matsyaanga. Radha Shridhar’s disciple Aishwarya Nityananda presented her guru’s composition on Lord Siva with energy and perfection. Padmini Ravi, who dons many hats, spoke about her journey which took her away from dance but finally brought her back with renewed vigour. Sheejith Krishna and Gowri Ramnarayan, who made it from Chennai braving the floods,  spoke about the purpose of art in their lives.

It was an inspiring evening which renewed faith in the integrity and importance of awards as indications of milestones in an artist’s life.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Beyond geography

By Bala Shankar

Every now and then, ‘concerned’ artistes and rasikas echo a lament that Carnatic music is suffering from declining popularity. I think this is a Chennai centric view. In the past two decades, Carnatic music has actually grown new wings, geographically speaking. Thanks to media, people are familiar with the US story and the rampant expansion to countries as unthinkable as New Zealand, Austria, China, Brazil and everything that is in between. This is a far cry from the isolated concert tours of MS or Lalgudi Jayaraman in the 1960s and 70s. The prestige associated with performing in Cleveland is no less than an opportunity at the Music Academy. 

The more impressive, but less publicized development is within India itself. Tamil Nadu now hosts festivals in Erode, Salem, Ranipet, Kumbakonam, Devakottai, Chidambaram and Kanchipuram besides the matured centres like Madurai, Coimbatore and Trichy. Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have their own high profile events in smaller towns and cities and there are activities through the year. Besides  icons like Shanmukhananda in Mumbai, many organizations are hosting events in Kolkata, Pune, Delhi and even Bhubaneswar and Guwahati. These are very important developments in the spread of our music. Some of these festivals have gone on to achieve enough financial muscle to fly in artistes from Chennai. It is also not a secret that audiences pay their due gate fees and organizers do not just depend on sponsorships. That augurs well for a audience supported eco-system, which is how the world of music is commercially run. 

The geographical growth also helps in development of regional artistes and accompanists and raises the bar for them. And in grooming enlightened listeners of the future. There are many stories of outstanding concerts outside Chennai by stalwarts in the 50s and 60s, including the famous one by Alathur Brothers and Palghat Mani Iyer at Trichy Nandrudayar temple in 1956 and many of GNB, Ariyakudi and TN Rajarathnam. These became gold standards for the succeeding generations of both artistes and listeners. We must go beyond the Mylapore enclave to appreciate how our music is extending itself with salubrious effects. 

Birthdays & Anniversaries


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Tamil Isai Festival


The 73rd Annual Tamil Isai Festival was celeberated today at Raja Annamalai Hall, Chennai. Thiru A K Palanivel  was awarded the Isaiperaringar, along with a Medallion and cash award.

Thiru S. Muthukumarasamy Desigar was awarded Pann Isaiperaringar, along with a Medallion and cash award.

Kavipperarasu Vairamuthu was the Chief Guest and presided over the function. 

Kavipperarasu Vairamuthu  in his inaugural address said that Annamalai Chettiar started his valuable service 73 years ago for protecting Tamil Isai and he appreciated Dr . A. C. Muthiah and his family members for maintaining and leading in a wonderful way.

Hon’ble Justice Dr P R Gokulakrishnan, President Tamil Isai Sangam welcomed the gathering. 

Dr A C Muthiah, Hony, Secretary gave the Vote of Thanks.

Inaugural function


Inaugural function of 60th Art & Dance Festival on 20th December 2015, seen in the picture are: Dr.Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, Dr.Neena Prasad (Nritya Choodamani awardee), Dr.Saroja Vaidyanathan (Aacharya Choodamani Awardee), Sri K.Vaidyanathan, Editor Dinamani, Priyadarsini Govind, Director Kalakshetra Foundation, Sri R.Sridhar, FCA, Joint Secretary, SKGS, Sri Y.Prabhu, General Secretary, SKGS, Smt.Nandini Ramani & Sri R.Venkateswaran , Joint Secy., SKGS.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Laya

The Music Academy presents ‘Laya’ by eminent photojournalist Raghavendra Rao, an exhibition of photographs of some of the renowned artistes of our time. The exhibition is a two-pronged tribute: to the great practitioners of music and dance, and to the culturally vibrant, resilient city of Chennai, in which the iconic photographer spent a large part of his life.

Born in 1932, Raghavendra Rao was a raconteur who strung his narrative with poignant, telling, often dramatic visuals. All through his career as a photojournalist in Indian Express, India Today, and, finally, The Hindu Business Line, where he guided a team of young photographers, Raoji, as he was known to friends and colleagues, took pictures that reflected the social changes of the time, the cultural ethos, the political climate. No photograph was merely a photograph; it was a story of the times. Rao encouraged curiosity, defied convention, and was a mentor and teacher to many.

‘Laya’ is a collection of Rao’s pictures of the great masters of dance and music who defined and made up the art scene of the city. As he wrote in 2005, every picture to him was a dynamic story, an encounter with an extraordinary person, an experience to cherish. His pictures of D.K. Pattamal, Malavika Sarukkai and Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, among others, are moving visuals, richly evocative and profoundly expressive. At a time when gadgetry and technology were neither ubiquitous nor inexpensive, Rao captured fragments of life and society using his greatest tools – his eye and his open heart, and his most cherished instrument, light.

One year after he passed away, ‘Laya’ seeks to serve as a tribute to art and as a remembrance of the artist, philosopher and thinker that Raghavendra Rao was. The photographs shall be on display between 23 December  and 9 January at the Music Academy. Sangita Kalanidhi designate Sanjay Subrahmanyam inaugurates the exhibition at 10.30am on 23 December 2015. 

For more details contact: Sreemathi Ramnath 9444440299 or Shreya Ramnath 9884904491

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Lecdem on Melappadam at the Academy

By V.P. Dhananjayan

Melappadam is a musical ensemble in Kathakali. In Kerala, the  instrumental tradition of ‘melam’ refers to percussion instruments such as chenda, maddalam, edakka, timila, elatalam, chengala, and konbu which are  played on auspicious occasions, especially in temple festivals. The padam in Carnatic music generally refers to the slow paced singing of songs and compositions. In Kathakali, the dialogue between characters is highly evolved and poems are sung in bhava laden ragas. In the golden era the style of singing was called Sopanam. Now the Kathakali sangeetam has taken a different route similar to Carnatic music, leaving behind the Sopana style to ashtapadi padam singing in Krishna temples in Kerala.

The present generation of Kathakali rasikas may not be very familiar with ‘melappadam’ which is loosely translated as “musical ensemble" in English,  because of its conspicuous absence in a Kathakali presentation. Moreover,  not many young Kathakali bhagavatars are adept in this unique sampradaya  or feature in a Kathakali performance.  The time factor in today’s Kathakali presentation on a proscenium stage which could last for a maximum of three hours cannot accommodate a melappadam session which itself consumes an hour at least. 

Melappadam is a musical interlude which immediately follows the vibrant nritta prelude known as ‘purappaadu’ which gives the lead line of an ashtapadi (from Jayadeva’s Geeta Govindam) at the end and usually Manjutara kunjatala keli sadane in Todi raga and Chempa tala (10 matras  count) – equivalent to the Jhampa tala, but is differently executed. 

In the olden days, Kathakali bhagavatars practised and believed in lakshya  rather than lakshana sangeetam, and hence did not concentrate much on swara suddham and sruti suddham.  In the recent past, with the establishment of Kerala Kalamandalam in 1930 and the revival of Kathakali, the Kathakali sangeetam also got a filip and classically trained musicians like Kalamandalam Neelakandan Nambeesan and Kadathanadu Govindan Nambeesan infused a new trend in melappadam in combination with stalwarts like Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval and Appukkuty Poduval. We do not know exactly when this feature was introduced in the Kathakali tradition, but this is a unique concept, which gave the bhagavatars a chance to explore and exhibit their virtuosity as a sangeetagna (experts in geetam, vadyam and natyam).

Melappadam is one of the most difficult ensembles with loud instruments like the chenda and maddalam, the elatalam and chengala as accompaniments to the singing.  Sometimes the 'double melam’ – with two  chendas and two maddalams) would provide an exciting “melakkozhuppu” (a full bench sound regalia).  Probably this could be compared to the ragam-tanam-pallavi and the tani avartanam in a music kutcheri or nagaswara concert.

Usually, the kalapramanam is set to begin in eight kala chauka – in the Chempa tala cycle of 10 matras x 8 = 80 matras, and then stage by stage it counts down to 40, 20,10, 5, and then accelerates to a high crescendo in chaturasra nadai – a climax you cannot imagine, but can only experience.

In a bid to revive the Melappadam tradition, recently the Sadanam Kathakali Academy headed by Dr. Sadanam Harikumar took the initiative to create a new Melappadam with the text  Mamiyam chalita vilokya from the ashtapadi and set in Atantha talam (same as Ata tala). This Melappadam was presented at the Sadanam Auditorium on 26th July in connection with the celebrations of the late Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair’s 100th birth anniversary as a tribute to the great Kathakali natyacharya. This is slightly in deviation from old tradition – that is Chempa talam to Atantha talam (10 to 14 matras) and an experiment in ragamalika instead of a single raga (usually Todi raga).

This new Melappadam starts with the ending of the purappad and is composed as a ragamalika with Mohanam, Pantuvarali, Kharaharapriya, Natakurinji, Sahana, and Madhyamavati. It has interesting nada variations. 

I feel privileged to demonstrate the ashtapadi in Kathakali style, accompanied by versatile musicians Sadanam Harikumar, Sadanam Sivadasan. Sadanam Ramakrishnan, Sadanam Jithin, Sadanam Rajagopalan and Sadanam Devadasan. The lecdem is from 9 to 10 am on 23 December 2015 at the Music Academy mini hall.

Birthdays & Anniversaries


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Sangeeta Kala Saagara for Prince Rama Varma

By Samudri

Visakha Music Academy, Visakhapatnam, conferred the title Sangeeta Kala Saagara on Prince Rama Varma During its 46th annual festival held from 24 to 29 November 2015. Awards were also presented to Mallapragada Jogulamba (Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu Award), Hyderabad Sisters Lalitha and Haripriya (Jnanananda Ogirala Veeraraghava Sarma Award), Garimella Balakrishna Prasad (Nedunuri Krishnamurthy Award), Divya Devaguptapu (Kalaimamani Saraswathi Memorial Award for Bharatanatyam), and Manda Prathyusha Sruthi Ravali (Young Artist of Distinction Award).

Birthdays & Anniversaries


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan were honoured


Veteran Bharatanatyam exponents and gurus Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan were honoured with the title  "Bharatakalashreshta " by Saradhi (a cultural organisation celebrating its 15th anniversary). The award was presented to the Dhananjayans by former Governor of West Bengal M.K.Narayanan on 8th November 2015 in Chennai. Kala Sasikumar is the founder of Saradhi.

KV Ramanathan is no more

Mr KV Ramanathan, who took over as Editor-in-Chief of Sruti at a most difficult juncture, when founder editor Dr N Pattabhi Raman died in December 2003, passed away on 14th November at his Valmiki Nagar, Tiruvanmiyur residence after a brief illness. He was 87. 

A distinguished bureaucrat of the Indian Administrative Service, KVR was for a while Resident Editor of The Indian Express, his first stint as a journalist. Respected for his integrity and encyclopaedic knowledge in a variety of subjects, he was a keen music enthusiast with a phenomenal memory and keen sense of history. He led the Sruti team for four years and retired at the ripe old age of 79. He is survived by his wife Ganga, a son, two daughters and their families.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Dr S Raghuraman: A versatile scholar

By Anjana Anand

Dr. S. Raghuraman is so versatile that it is said he is not only jack of all trades but also master of all. A Tamil scholar whose passion for the written word has made him a walking encylopaedia, Dr. Raghuraman’s contribution to the world of Bharatanatyam is exceptional. His generosity with sharing knowledge and unfailing optimism have made him a mentor to artistes of all levels. Sruti had a chat with this professor with a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step!

How did your love for the Tamil language begin?

Although my family is from Tamil Nadu, there are no Tamil scholars in our family. In my school days, I used to be active in Tamil debates and literary activities. My interest in Tamil was further ignited by my teacher in the 10th standard. My family expected me to go into the engineering line like the rest of our family members. It was unheard of for middle class Brahmin boys to take up higher studies in the Tamil language. However, I was clear about my future. I started my higher learning at an institution at Dharmapura and completed my course there. The aim of this institution was to promote Saivism and Tamil.

In what ways did your teachers inspire you?

Looking back now, I realize that the great teachers whom I came across not only taught me the subject but fuelled my love and wonder for the Tamil language. They gave of their knowledge freely and without hesitation. Their passion for the language made this possible. They were giants in the field. When I began my Masters at Madurai University, I was awed by the teachers I came across. It seemed to me that they were born to teach their respective subjects!

Did you start teaching immediately after graduating?

No, I actually took a small diversion! I started government service as a group 2 officer in the Tamil Nadu Cooperative department. It was only for a few months. I learnt quickly that this was not my calling. I resigned and waited for a job opportunity. An opening in A.M Jain College came up and I started my career in the Tamil department. I taught there for 27 years and retired as Associate Professor in Tamil.

From the world of Tamil literature, what brought you to the Bharatanatyam field?

To be honest, I had absolutely no connection to the fine arts. My first association with artistes happened purely by chance when I married Dr. S. Ramanathan’s daughter, Vanathy. I attended a few performances but nothing really caught my attention. The turning point came when my nieces in the US wanted to do their arangetram. They requested Vanathy to sing and asked her to meet the Dhananjayans to get trained in singing for Bharata Natyam. Till then, she had been a concert performer. When she went to meet Dhananjayan Sir, he said, “You still have time for the arangetram. Come and sing for a programme tomorrow!” From that time onwards, Vanathy became a vocal accompanist for dance. Little did I know that this would be a turning point for me as well! 

How did your interaction with artistes begin?

Initially, dancers used to come home to work with Vanathy on existing songs or new productions that she sang for. They would sometimes request me to give them Tamil compositions for their thematic productions. Sometimes I would find the dancer’s interpretation of the lines did not match the actual meaning or ‘dhvani’ of the words and I would advise them on the intent of the poet.

Please tell us about some of the productions you have worked on.

Some years ago, Lakshmi Ramaswamy, a disciple of ChitraVisweswaran, completed her Fulbright scholarship and was asked to perform a thematic presentation of love songs based on Tamil culture and aesthetics. This time instead of sourcing songs of ancient Tamil poets, I offered to write the poems for the production. After that, we worked on many productions together. In the last 16 years, I have worked with many dancers and contributed to about 360 dance productions - of which I have written lyrics for about 300 of them. Some of the other dancers I frequently work with are Jayanthi Subramaniam and Padmini Krishnamurthy from Muscat. There are many dancers in Europe and Sri Lanka who want productions in Tamil as well.

Do you also write the lyrics for the margam?

Yes, I have written many varnams and padam-style compositions.

You have been a research guide for many scholars in Bharatanatyam. At which point did you become interested in the theory of dance?

When I started writing for dance productions, I wanted to have an overview of the history of dance. I started reading voraciously. In fact, it became an obsession. I read any book on dance that I got my hands on. While reading various versions of the history of Bharatanatyam, I felt there were many gaps and unanswered questions in the story.

You have published some very interesting and controversial observations about the accepted history of Bharatanatyam. Please explain.

To begin with, every book I read suggested that the origins of Bharatanatyam were attributed to Sanskrit roots and that the Tamil people merely inherited this art form from outside. The more widely I read, the more I realised that Bharatam is an art form of the Tamil people that was merely documented by Sanskrit scholars. Over time, people came to believe that Bharatanatyam had its origins elsewhere. Many similar misconceptions have been propagated. I have written about some of my research findings in my book Tamizhar natana varalaaru. I have also published a book Natana kalaichol kalanjiyam explaining various terms in natya.

What has been the response to the book?

Many scholars and dancers have found it to be an eye opener. Some dance schools are using the book for dance history references. I feel that understanding the history of an art form is essential when learning an art form. Students have to understand why an art form has evolved in a particular way to take it forward.

At what institutions have you been teaching?

I taught at the Madras University which started Bharatanatyam as part of the music department curriculum under Dr Premeela Gurumurthy. I taught the Masters course for three years. When I released my book at Kalakshetra, Leela Samson invited me to be a visiting faculty. Being part of Kalakshetra has been a wonderful experience. I not only had a chance to interact with dancers but also the opportunity to be involved in a production commissioned by the institution – ‘Masquerade’ choreographed by Sheejith Krishna. I am a research guide for Bharathiyar University, Coimbatore. Many dancers have opted to pursue postgraduate and doctoral research in this field.

What awards have you received in your field?

The Bhaskara Puraskar as Ilakiya Bhaskara

Senthamizh Chemmal by Tirukkural Aiyvu Mayyam

National Award for script writing for the drama ‘AndhiVeli’

Outstanding services to dance and for lyrics by Saila Sudha 

How important is the understanding of theory for a dance practitioner?

I can’t overstate the necessity of theory of an art form for a performer. True, the classical Indian art forms were passed down from generation to generation through the guru-sishya parampara. The student imbibed everything the guru taught him without question. However with the institutionalization of art forms, it has become necessary to lay down a framework for teaching. Theory plays a major role here. It gives the student a holistic understanding of the art form, its history and its role in society. Dance does not exist on its own. It is intrinsically connected with the allied arts of sculpture, music, and literature to name a few. You need an understanding of costumes, stage and conducting an orchestra. How can you become a fine artiste unless you know all these allied forms?

You have lectured extensively about abhinaya and rasa and their importance in Indian art forms. For a student who already understands the nuances through practical training, how does the theory help?

Dance is a visual art form and needs all the expertise of a guru who teaches one the art form by observation. However the study of the rasa theory, for example, gives a student a different way of looking at the subject. It makes one think for oneself and understand the process of communication. For some, this may come naturally while observing the guru over the years. Today, we do not have that luxury of time and individual attention. We have to pick up knowledge through different learning tools and an academic approach can help open the mind to new possibilities. Our ancient Tamil and Sanskrit texts have codified techniques of art forms in such a sensitive and thought provoking way.

An understanding of literature is an integral part of being an artiste. Only if we understand how to appreciate words and their power of suggestion can we translate them into a visual. If not, the interpretation of the sahitya will remain superficial.

Can you recall some of the lectures you have given?

I have given many lecture demonstatrions on Dance and Rasa and Ashtanayika-s of Sangam Age for the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi. Other topics include Sensuality and Mother goddess worship for Natya Darshan, Kartik Fine Arts, Chennai.

Do you feel that a theoretical base unifies different banis and opens up more opportunities?

Without a doubt. Kalakshetra is one of the few institutions where students follow a bani for their six years of study. In other colleges, we have Bharatanatyam students coming from various banis. It is not possible to standardize everything in the practical classes. Instead, a study of theory becomes the common base from which individual dancers can have a better understanding of the art form and continue dancing in their respective style. Today, many students of Bharatanatyam have moved into diverse fields because their artistic base helps them to flourish in other careers, be it acting, modelling, fashion designing, or arts administration. The list is endless.

In short, we have to come to terms with the fact that society has changed. The purpose of dance has itself undergone a change. The dancer of the 18th and 19th century is not the dancer of the 21st century! New possibilities have evolved and we must recognize and change our pedagogy to suit this evolution. That is the only way in which Bharata Natyam will remain relevant to the artiste and to society.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Hindu November Fest

The Hindu November Fest sets foot into its 11th edition in Chennai bringing together an eclectic mix of genres and great music. This year’s line-up features artistes who have made a mark in popular and classical music and won critical acclaim. In Chennai, the fest begins with Pakistani sensation Shafqat Amanat Ali who will perform a collection of his super hits and Bollywood chartbusters, offering a blend of genres that include Sufi, Pop, Bollywood and fusion. The concert promises to be a power-packed experience with electrifying numbers such as Aankhon ke saagar, Khamaj, Akhiyan, Kherheyan de naal,Bin tere and Mitwa, presented by Shafqat and his band of fabulous musicians. 

From Sufi, the music migrates to a Carnatic treat, Kaatrinile… Remembering MS. This concert features four prominent vocalists – S Sowmya, Nithyasree, Hari Priya and Shanmukha Priya (popularly known as Priya Sisters) who have come together specially for the first time to pay their tribute to M S Subbulakshmi, the redoubtable national and global icon of Indian classical music. The concert will feature a range of compositions popularized and immortalized by M S with an emphasis on the musical values that she stood for. The concept and script for narrative is by Gowri Ramnarayan.

Blending in a fusion with the Carnatic tones, will be the specialty of Subramaniams in Concert, featuring India’s violin maestro, L Subramaniam, the renowned playback singer Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam, and their family. He has made his mark in the music industry across different genres including jazz, occidental, jugalbandis, world music and global fusion. His wife, Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam, has sung over 15,000 songs in sixteen languages in various genres. In what promises to be a memorable event, this concert will feature three generations of musicians including L Subramaniam’s children Narayanan, Ambi, Bindu and his grand-child Mahati.

Last but not the least, the fest signs off with a flashback performance, Three to Jive. Popular playback singers, Karthik, Shweta Mohan and Shakthisree Gopalan promise to take audiences on a journey to the film music of the 60s and 70s. To an era when melody ruled. To an era when MSV ruled.

Moving on to a contemporary style, Filter coffee will be a brewery offering a mixture of ethnic and electronic, its own signature style. This new form of fusion provides a whole new dimension to the genres of classical music and folk giving it a modern perspective. This time, they will specially collaborate with vocalist Mahesh Vinayakram as part of November Fest. Filter Coffee is all set to give you the Urban Groove experience through textured sounds and a journey deep rooted in music. This concert will be followed by yet another popular band that creates music with a difference, Indo Soul. Karthick Iyer Liveis a perfect blend of vocals, electric violin, mridangam, acoustic guitar, bass and drums. They play as Karthick Iyer Live! & their music is defined as Indosoul.

Following this traditional genre of Indian music, the contemporary style unfolds into a treat by Indian Ocean. Formed in the early 90s, Indian Ocean has spearheaded the Indian rock scene. Their unique sound of contemporary rock mixed with classical, jazz and fusion have earned them a cult following. Some of the themes the band explores in its songs are Sufism, environmental consciousness and mythology. This concert will make you experience the new sound of Indian Ocean along with your perennial favourites.

Join The Hindu November Fest in a celebration of music with these nationally and internationally acclaimed artistes. Book your tickets now at thehindu.com/novemberfest – let the music begin!  

SCHEDULE:

Chennai
Nov 19 - Shafqat Live
Nov 20 - Kaatrinile... Remembering MS - S Sowmya, Nithyasree, Priya Sisters
Nov 21 - Subramaniams in Concert - L Subramaniam, Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam and Family
Nov 22 - Three to Jive - Karthik accompanied by Shweta Mohan and Shakthisree Gopalan
Venue: Music Academy, Chennai; 7:30 pm 

Bangalore
Nov 20 - Shafqat Live
Nov 21 - Kaatrinile... Remembering MS - S Sowmya, Nithyasree, Priya Sisters
Nov 22 – Take Two: Karthick Iyer Live & Filter Coffee with guest artiste Mahesh Vinayakram
Venue: Good Shepherd Hall; 7:30 pm 

Coimbatore
Nov 27 - Kaatrinile... Remembering MS - S Sowmya, Nithyasree, Priya Sisters
Nov 28 – Indian Ocean Live
Nov 29 - Three to Jive - Karthik accompanied by Shweta Mohan and Shakthisree Gopalan
Venue: PSG College of Medical Sciences; 7:30 pm 

Tickets available online at thehindu.com/novemberfest

SPONSORS: Powered by: ACT Fibernet, Mobile Partner: Twaang, EOM

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Bharat Sangeet Utsav 2015

The pan-Indian musical extravaganza Bharat Sangeet Utsav (BSU) is back again with a star-studded line-up this year, in its grand 11th edition! Organized by the pioneering organization Carnatica, along with the more-than-a-hundred-years-old Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, this year’s BSU features stars, veterans and awe-inspiring talents from across India and abroad! “This year’s BSU has interesting combo concerts with great artists coming together for the first time. Every day we feature stars and icons as well as promising young artists”, says Carnatica’s Founder-Managing Trustee, musician K.N. Shashikiran, who conceptualized and curated the festival.

Inaugural performances

The festival begins on 30th October 2015 with a special Sangeet Symphony dedicated to M.S. Amma by Dr. Sudha Raja’s Sargam Choir. The great grand daughter of Bharat Ratna Late M.S. Subbulakshmi – S. Aishwarya – will be presenting “M.S.S.100” (as part of her centenary year celebrations). The festival will be presided over by Sri. N.Gopalaswami (Chairman, Kalakshetra & Former Election Commissioner). Hon. Ariel H Pollock, Acting Consul, U.S. Consulate General, Chennai will be chief guest and Smt. Mallika Ravi, Group CEO, Lancor Holding Limited will be the guest of honour. Ms. Maya Azucena, an American singer-songwriter, cultural ambassador and social activist will give a special performance. Vid. Sanjay Subrahmanyam will be felicitated during the event and this will be followed by his grand inaugural concert.

Carnatic giants with world musicians

This year’s BSU brings to Chennai audiences unique collaborations between Carnatic and world musicians that the world of music has never witnessed before! Popular musician Vid. U Rajesh (Mandolin) will be teaming up with Vid. Stephen Devassy (Keyboard) and Vid. George Brookes from USA (Saxophone) and Vid. Gino Banks (Drums).

Stars from the North and South

Some of the best Carnatic musicians in the field today — Padmashri Aruna Sairam, Vijay Siva, Nithyasree Mahadevan (multi facets of Papanasam Sivan), Gayathri Venkatraghavan (special concert dedicated to M.S. Subbulakshmi) and star siblings Malladi Brothers, Priya Sisters and Trichur Brothers — are scheduled to perform this year at BSU. Grammy award winners Pt. Vishwamohan Bhat and Vid. Vikku Vinayakram will mesmerize the audience with a concert titled "Grammy Meet". Umayalpuram Dr. K. Sivaraman with Sikkil C. Gurucharan will present “Sri Arunagiriyin Anubhoopathi” – a fascinating garland of Thiruppugazh song. A special Carnatic Combo “Vainika – Gayaka” by Neyveli Santhanagopalan with Dr. S. Sowmya will be presented. Abhishek Raghuram with Kunnakkudi M. Balamuralikrishna will be performing a Carnatic Jugalbandhi. In another interesting combination, Prasad Khapadre - disciple of Ustad Rashid Khan - will be presenting a special vocal concert with the famous Manganiyars from Rajasthan. One musician from the South and the other from the North — Nisha P. Rajagopal and Dr. Nabanitha Choudhuri — will be presenting a jugalbandhi concert.

Young stars

Young stars Saketharaman, Amritha Murali with K.Gayathri, Akkarai Sisters, Bharat Sundar with J.A. Jayanth (Flute), Thiruvarur Girish with Aishwarya Vidya Raghunath and Anirudha Knight (Dance) and Jayashree Vaidyanathan will present individual / combination concerts, with some of them being accompanied by senior artists — a tradition at BSU. A unique fusion concert “Mystic Journey” by Saashwathi Prabhu will also be featured. This year at BSU there are interactive mini-kutcheries as well, which will be presented by up-and-coming talents Aswath Narayanan, Apoorva Ravindran and Anahita Ravindran.

Treading the traditional path

Popular Harikatha exponent Visaka Hari will be presenting "Narasimha Kshetras", a Sangeetha Upanyasam. We have a katha kutchery by Dushyant Sridhar with B. Suchitra on 108 Divya Desa Vaibhavam. We also have the traditional art form of Coastal Karnataka – Yakshagana by the world-renowned Idakunji troupe. Mahalakshmi Ashwin and team will be presenting a musical dance ballet titled “Prahlaada”.

The final day of BSU this year will be celebrated with Laya Vinyasam by Mannargudi Vasudevan with Anantha R. Krishnan and B. Sree Sundarkumar. The grand finale “Bharat Sangeet” – a thematic Indian music medley will feature Sashank (Flute) with Anil Srinivasan (Piano) followed by a Carnatic vocal concert -- a collaboration between S. Haricharan and Subhiksha Rangarajan (both playback singers).

Carnatica Archival Centre is known for its innovative ways and untiring efforts in promoting and propagating music and this year’s BSU is another step in that direction. The 11th edition line-up of BSU is even more exciting than ever before, and Bharat Sangeet Utsav 2015 is needless to say, a must-attend for every music lover! Limited free seats available on the first come first served basis. For details contact:+91 98400 15013 / 94440 18269.

Friday, 9 October 2015

N. Ramani passes away

By Samudri

Flute maestro N. Ramani died of cardiac arrest in the afternoon of 9th October 2015 in Chennai. He was 81. He was a disciple of his maternal grandfather Azhiyur Narayanaswami and the renowned Flute Mali. He played extensively in India and abroad, presenting solos, 'second flute' with his Guru T.R. Mahalingam, jugalbandis with several Hindustani musicians (a record number with maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia) and was a member of the popular violin-venu-veena (vvv) troupe with violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman and vainika R. Venkataraman.

The vidwan was a popular teacher and established the Ramani's Academy of Flute in Chennai in 1983, where he taught hundreds of students. The RAF has several branches abroad. 

The leading Carnatic flutist was the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Sangeeta Choodamani (1971), the Kalaimamani award (1973), Venugana Chakravarty (1978), the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1984), Padma Shri (1987), Sangita Kalanidhi (1997), and Isai Perarignar (1999).

He was a deeply religious and contented person. Pilgrimage to Sabarimala was an act of faith. He was the asthana vidwan of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam and several mutts and temples. For a long time he was associated with the organisation of the Tyagaraja aradhana in Tiruvaiyaru, and would be present on the Pushya Bahula Panchami day to lead the rendition of Chetulara before the Pancharatana kritis.

The breath that he blew through the bamboo, charming his rasikas, has been stilled forever. N. Ramani's passing away is a loss to the field of Carnatic music. Sruti offers its condolences to the bereaved family.

(Read more about the maestro in the cover story published in Sruti 223, April 2003)

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Bharatham Mali honoured

By Samudri

Bharatham R. Mahalingam, Director of the Melattur Bhagavata Mela Natya Vidya Sangam, was honoured with the KVS Excellence Award by YMHA, Eluru and KVS Trust, Eluru on 26 September 2015. The award was presented to Mali by Kuchipudi artist K.V. Sathyanarayana, for his service over five decades to the rare art form of Bhagavata Mela. Dignitaries who felicitated him included  Mandali Buddha Prasad - Deputy Speaker of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Parakkala Prabhakar, Advisor - Communications, Government of Andhra Pradesh, and Dr. Yaralagadda Lakshmi Prasad - Member, Kendriya Hindi Samiti.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

MS Centenary celebrations in Mangalore

M.S. Subbulakshmi's birth centenary was celebrated on 16 September by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mangalore and the Mani Krishnaswami Academy, at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mangalore. Capt. Ganesh Karnik, honorary president of the working committee of the Mani Academy, inaugurated the programme by lighting the lamp.

P. Nityananda Rao, Secretary of the Mani Academy, welcomed and proposed the vote of thanks. Prof. G.R. Rai, Nagaveni S. Shetty, Harikrishna Punarooru, Pradip Kumar Kalkura, Nagesh A. Bappanadu, Geetha Saralaya, Chandrashekhar K. Shetty, P. Anand Rao, and Trichy K.R. Kumar, were present on the occasion.

Priyanka K.P., Shreya Kolathaya, Gowrish and Gowtham, Sreshtalakshmi, Ananya, Sushamendra, Shrisha, Deeksha, Krithi Kamath, Sadgun Ithal, Dhanashree, and Muralidhar G. Shenoy were the musicians who performed during the event.

Veteran Bhimachar honoured

Veteran morsing vidwan L. Bhimachar was honoured with the prestigious T. Chowdiah National Award on 14 September at the Ravindra Kalakshetra, Bengaluru. The 85-year old instrumentalist is among the seniormost morsing exponents in the country.

The award instituted by the Government of Karnataka, consists of a cash prize of rupees five lakhs. It was presented to Bhimachar by Siddaramiah, Chief Minister of Karnataka, and Umashree, Minister for Culture, Karnataka.

Monday, 7 September 2015

The Dhwani-BKF Fest–Music for a cause

By Samudri

The Bangalore Kidney Foundation conducts the Dhwani-BKF music festival every year as a tribute to the memory of Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur. The doyen of Hindustani music was treated for kidney ailment at the Foundation’s hospital in Bengaluru. The Dhwani-BKF music festival will be held on 12 and 13 September at the JSS Auditorium in Jayanagar, Bengaluru. This is the 12th successive year. Every year the Foundation confers the “Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur Award” on a senior musician who is also a music teacher. The award consists of a purse of one lakh rupees, a shawl, citation and a bronze bust of Mallikarjun Mansur.

This year the Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur Award will be presented to Mumbai-based senior vocalist and teacher Jayshree Patnekar. Previous awardees include Rajsekhar Mansur, Biswajit Roy Chowdhury, Vasundhara Komkali, D.K. Datar, Dattatreya Sadashiv Garud, Dhondutai Kulkarni, R.K. Bijapure, Ulhas Kashalkar, Ashwini Bhide, and Lalith J. Rao.

Apart from a performance by the awardee Jayshree Patnekar, eminent musicians like Malini Rajurkar and Kaivalyakumar Gurav will also be featured in the festival. Starting this year the Foundation has decided to encourage young, talented musicians who have the potential of blossoming into full-fledged artists. Two slots of 1-½ hours each will be provided to such "Artistes of the Future”. The up-and-coming musicians performing this year are Sameer Rao (flute) and Priya Purushothaman (vocal).

The Bangalore Kidney Foundation is a renowned charitable institution doing pioneering work in making dialysis affordable and accessible to poor patients. Since it was established in 1979, the Foundation has assisted thousands of poor patients afflicted with chronic kidney disease.

The Dhwani-BKF music festival is known as "Music for a Cause", since the proceeds of this two-day event are used to fund the Foundation’s free dialysis programme.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

K. P Ramesh Babu

Musicians in classical dance

By Anjana Anand

K. P. Ramesh Babu is a sought after mridhangist in the Bharatanatyam field. His virtuosity in a variety of percussion instruments and musical sensitivity has made him an asset to the Bharatanatyam field. With over two decades of performing experience, Ramesh Babu in an artiste who straddles the kucheri and Natyam world with ease. 

How did you start your career in the arts?

I grew up in Calicut and my guru was my father, K. PBhaskar Das. I continued my training with Puthukode S. Krishnan. From a young age, I was exposed to Bharatanatyam as my father used to play for Natyam. My mother is a Bharatanatyam and MohiniAttam artiste and she helped me understand the nuances of Natyam. Krishnan sir suggested that I come to Chennai to further my training with KaraikudiR. Mani.

Were you always interested in playing for Natyam?

As I was exposed to playing for Bharatanatyam from a young age, I did not feel that I had to make a choice between being a kucheri artiste or an accompanist for Natyam. It seemed natural to do both. I went to AdyarLakshman for a few months to further my understanding onplaying for BharataNatyam. Today I am mainly amridhangist for Bharatanatyam but I play for kucheris when the opportunity arises. I am presently an ‘A’ grade artiste with All India Radio.

Where did you start your career as amridhangam artiste?

My main exposure in this field was through BharataKalanjali. The Dhananjayans were a big support in my career. The Sathyalingams from Singapore were the first to invite me abroad for shows. Since then, I have been travelling abroad, mainly to the US every summer for arangetrams and nattuvangam workshops.

Have you trained in any other art form?

I trained in Carnatic music for a short time in Calicut. I was exposed to music from a young age so I used to sing without formaltraining. For a very short time, I went to O.S Arun after our tour to the US for a production called Abhyasa.

What is the specific training required for playing for Natyam?

It has more to do with understanding what is needed for rhythmic support for the dance form. The fingering is basically the same. However when playing for Bharatanatyam, we have to know what has been composed by the dancer and play within that framework. The manodharma is limited to working within the set choreography. In a kucheri, we plan what to present without any other boundaries. The extent of creativity is left to us.

As an accompanist for Bharatanatyam, we have to understand the adavu system fully. Only then can we enhance the footwork and rhythmic intricacies. For that we need to be prepared to work with the dancer.

Today mridhangists have taken over the traditional role of nattuvangists who composed jathis earlier. How has that changed the style of jathi composition?

The advantage that traditional nattuvangists had was that they had a sound background in music, tala and natyam. They composed jathi-s to suit the dance with chollu-s which were traditionally associated with natyam. This made the Bharatanatyam jathis distinct from other percussionchollu-s.

As mridhangists we have to play the same role. In my opinion we should ensure that we use traditional chollu-s while composing,with the dance in mind. It should be conducive for the dancer’s footwork. I find many jathi-s today do not fulfil these criteria. Not all mridhangamkanakku will suit the Bharatanatyam style of dance. If I compose a jathi which is non - traditional or intricate, I always advice the dancer on which adavu will be suitable for the composition. In short, I believe that even an accomplished mridhangist must have enough experience playing for natyam before attempting to compose jathi-s.

What are the kinds of compositions which you have composed for Bharatanatyam?

I composed a NandhiChollu for Dhananjayan sir’s student’s arangetram in MisraJhampatala. It is an opening item. I composed another one for Sheejith Krishna in Khandatriputatala. Besides this, I have composed Mallari-s. I composed one in Nagasvarali raga although Mallari-s are traditionally done in GambeeraNattai. I have also composed Pushpanjali-s andTillana-s.

A suggestion

At present only TTD is organising music and dance concerts every evening from 6 to 7.30 pm which are telecast live on SVBC   -- their exclusive channel. This programme is called Nadaneerajanam. Of course TTD has the resources and can afford to do so,  but one must appreciate their will to do it.

To my knowledge, no temple in Tamil Nadu has its own TV channel.  As the Chief Minister is a patron and lover of fine arts, the Tamil Nadu Government could perhaps start with two or three temples like Srirangam, Madurai and Palani,  and arrange to telecast live the programmes over Jaya TV in the absence of exclusive channels.  

R. Ranganathan
Bangalore

Thursday, 20 August 2015

M.V. Narasimhachari passes away

The dance fraternity of Chennai is shocked at the sudden demise of Guru M.V. Narasimhachari on 19 August 2015 in Chennai. He was 72 and was active till his last breath. Narasimhachari was an exponent of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, a dance guru,  musician, music composer, laya expert, mridangist, imaginative choreographer and yoga practitioner. He married Vasanthalakshmi in 1969 and together they danced, taught, composed and set up their dance school Kala Samarpana at Alwarpet in Chennai. It was the earnest desire of Chari Sir (as he was popularly known) to give back to the arts field that had nurtured them for so many years. Few know that the Charis have instituted endowments in reputed organisations like Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Narada Gana Sabha, Indian Fine Arts Society and Kalakshetra, to encourage young talent.   A recipient of several prestigious awards, Narasimhachari had the rare distinction of receiving awards from five Presidents of India. He served as President of the Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India for eight years.

As a person he was always cheerful, punning on words, encouraging young artists and spreading joy wherever he went. There was never a dull moment in his presence. He was a good soul.

Sruti offers its heartfelt condolences to his wife Vasanthalakshmi and other members of the bereaved family. <>

Swaramurthy Trust awards

By BuzyBee

The Swaramurthy V.N. Rao Memorial Trust celebrated the birth centenary of Swaramurthy V.N. Rao, along with the “Veeneya Bedagu” Music Festival from 29 July  to 2 August 2015 in Bengaluru. Mysore V. Subramanya is the Chairman of the Trust.
Chief guest N. Murali, President of the Music Academy, Chennai, conferred the Veena Seshanna Memorial Award on violin vidwan M. Chandrasekharan and the Swaramurthy V.N. Rao Memorial Award on Carnatic vocalist M.S. Sheela.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Record participation in Yuva Rasika

By Samudri

The Music Academy in association with the Music Forum organised a mega event Yuva Rasika on the 8th  August at the TTK Auditorium of the Music Academy. The workshop featured lecture-demonstrations by well known musicians like S Sunder, Padma Subramaniam, Sikkil Gurucharan, Radha Bhaskar and Mannarkoil Balaji. 

The workshop was inaugurated by N. Murali, President of the Music Academy, R. Thyagarajan, Chairman of the Shriram Group and Dr. Kamakodi, Managing Director of City Union Bank. 

The event took off with a flawless invocation song, rendered by the Sargam Choir conducted by Dr. Sudha Raja, with over 75 students singing in perfect unison. Musicologist and musician, S Sunder, who is also the convener of Music Forum, welcomed the gathering and gave an account of the activities of the Music Forum.

V. V. Srinivasa Rao on the violin and Mannarkoil Sri. Balaji on the mridangam accompanied the speakers whenever necessary.  Ramanan ably conducted the day's proceedings and maintained proper timing throughout.

The workshop attracted over 1200 participants, from 28 city schools and music institutions as far flung as Sholingur and Chengalpattu.

The top four institutions which deputed highest maximum number of registrations, Sivaswamy Kalalaya, Velammal Group, Vel’s Vidyashram and the Sargam Choir & Rhapsody Group bagged the annual Rasika Awards for 2015.