Song of Surrender

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Not enough light on the bani

Random Notes

By V Ramnarayan

Writing in The Hindu, musician Lakshmi Sriram described the presentation on the Dhanammal bani during the recent 150th year celebration of the Carnatic music legend as 'hagiographical.' While there were at least two angry responses to the review from those involved in the celebration, it is difficult not to agree with the reviewer, as the voice-over and slides on the occasion were filled with adjectives and not enough insights into what was unique about the bani. (In fact, at least one disinterested member  of the audience found the whole programme including the panel discussion on the final day hagiographic, though in defence of the panel, it could be said that all of them belonged to the sishya parampara and therefore perhaps partisan). It was a weak defence (on Facebook, where the review was shared by the author) to claim that it was a tribute and not an 'expert analysis'. This claim was refuted by the critic as well as another commenter on Facebook, thus proving the efficacy of social media in providing instant feedback  to critic and reader alike.

The presentation could certainly have gained from a greater explanation of the Dhanammal school in terms of its artistic beliefs, preferences, and stylistics, and also from the presence of a live presenter on stage. I believe that Powerpoint presentations are better served by that rather than a recorded voiceover.

Be that as it may, the presentation, though a sincere effort, lacked in comprehensive coverage through audio and video samples, as for example those missing from T Viswanathan's flute playing, or more representative samples of Balasaraswati's dancing than clips from the well known Satyajit Ray documentary.

I missed the Hariharan-Tiruvarur Girish duet on the opening day. Going on till well  beyond the scheduled closing time, the concert is said to have cast a spell on the audience with its spontaneity and creativity. I have already mentioned the high quality of the other recitals I attended. Chitravina N Ravikiran was in his element and gave a perfect performance conforming to the great standards he has set himself. His disciple  Dr Sivakumar played the veena with commendable skill and dignity, while TM Krishna was in superb form. I must add another outstanding performance to this list: S Sowmya's concert on the final day, which was preceded by a thoughtful and witty valedictory address by Yadav Sankaran, son of the eminent T Sankaran. Sowmya presented the best of her learnings fom T Muktha in a beautifully modulated voice in the authentic style of her guru.

A more detailed post on the programme including the lec-dem by Sriram Parasuram and panel discussion involving him, Ravikiran, Anuradha Sriram, Girish and Aniruddha Knight will follow in the near future.


Rajee Narayan

19.8.1931

Birthdays & Anniversaries

"It was a matter of pride for all South Indians that the government of Maharashtra had chosen to honour guru Rajee Narayan with the Maharashtra Rajya Samskrutik Puraskar for the field of dance for 1996-97.
                       
"Rajee Narayan established her institution Nritya Geethanjali in 1965, when she migrated to Mumbai. Branches of the institution have since been established in Australia, Canada and the US, headed by her disciples. In recognition of her knowledge and experience, she was appointed a member of the dance faculty of the Mumbai University, a position she has held for over 20 years. She has also been a paper-setter and examiner for the BFA and MFA courses of the university through the years."

To learn more, go to www.sruti.com and buy issue 170. Also issues 22 and 73.

USTAD ABDUL RASHID KHAN

19.8.1908-2016

Birthdays & Anniversaries


The veteran vocalist, Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan passed away on 18 February 2016, at the age of 107. He left behind a rich legacy of music, musings and memories.

When I first met him a few years ago at his residence in Kolkata, I was simply overwhelmed by the fact that he was more than a hundred years old. I wondered what it would be like to see eras pass by like changing seasons, which part of the last century was his heart anchored in, and what would the fading memory still hold dear. The tall expanse of a hundred years was cut short by the tiny stature of Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan as he was carried into the room by his disciples. It was my first brush with living history, infinite wisdom and incomparable experience.


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Friday, 18 August 2017

V D Paluskar

                                                                     Birthdays & Anniversaries

18.8.1872-1931
Vishnu Digambar Paluskar belonged to the fraternity of Haridasa-s, but he would likely have not turned to music seriously except for an accident which affected his eyesight adversely. But once he did, he worked at becoming an accomplished singer. In the event, what earned him undying fame was his missionary work to spread the glory of music and his contribution to the renaissance of Hindustani music. Despite heavy opposition to teaching music under institutional auspices, he established schools the graduates of which would, in his reckoning,  at best become Tansens or at least kaansen-s, that is sensitive rasika-s. He spearheaded the movement to propagate Hindustani music. He established the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, first  in Lahore in 1901, and later in Bombay in 1908. In course of time, the pick of students he himself had trained  established more centres under the same rubric and with the same missionary goals. His interest extended beyond classical music to devotional and patriotic songs;his aim was not merely a musical renaissance but a recovery of the spiritual and cultural heritage of the nation. Through personal example, he brought respect to the profession of music, even as he popularised the art.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

A Tani By T.K. Murthy

Birthdays & Anniversaries

13.8.1924
Mridangam maestro T.K. Murthy is a short man but he stands tall as a percussionist in  the arena ofCarnatic classicalmusic.Thecontrast washighlighted last yearby musicologistB.V.K. Sastry of Bangalore when hewrote,in the DeccanHerald:


"[Murthy] makes an interesting picture on thestage.Being  short,  he  has sometimes to overstretch his hands to play on themridangam,which gives an impression ofembracingthan playing the instrument. But his nimble fingers execute fascinatingrhythmicideas.His sense ofanticipationis highly impressive. The figures aresprightly,cleancut, setting off a  wide variety of sounds, and converting the whole into a tantalising structure of sound and rhythm. Naturally he has been a popular figure onthe concertstage,desired, welcomedandappreciatedby all musicians of consequence for  nearly halfa century."

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