Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Aruna Sairam's concert at Mylapore Fine Arts

I started from my office by 5:30 PM on December 30, 2008 and took an auto to my relative's home, who had promised me to give me a ticket for Aruna Sairam's concert at Mylapore Fine Arts Club. I should thank my relative for being so generous to offer me a ticket for the carnatic music Rajni Kant's (?!) concert. Wondering why do I make such a comparison? Well there is a story behind this.

It was on December 27, morning at 8:45 AM. I went to The Music Academy for getting ticket for the evening concert which was none other than our super star Aruna Sairam. The ticket selling was started by 8:30 AM and with in 15 minutes all were sold out. Not even a balcony or LCD hall ticket was spared. I inquired an officer there why did it all happened? The answer was, today is like a Rajni Kant's movie release. Getting a ticket is not so easy.

Agreed? Can you understand why I did this comparison? Well. We shall continue our musical journey.

After getting a ticket from my relative, I went to the sabha, by walk, crossing all the traffic jams of the alwarpet junction. I crossed St.Isabels' hospital and the venue of the evening concert came. After getting my ticket punched, I entered the hall. Of course this place was not like the new sabhas with air conditioning etc. It was an age old building with false ceilings newly laid. I was sweating even in a margazhi eve. But these and all are secondary. I am going to experience a divine music in few minutes.

Well the curtains were unveiled. The star of the day, Smt Aruna greeted the audience with a traditional "NamaskAram". Sri B.V.Raghavendra Rao was on the violin, Sri Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan was on the mridangam and Dr.S.Karthick was on the ghatam.

A short alapana in the raga bhairavi followed by the ever green ata taala varnam viribhoni welcomed the divine evening. The varnam was singed in both first and second speed. While singing in the second speed, one could very well notice Aruna's style (biting and opening words or the swaras). Its her own style as that of Rajnikant's.

Tamil date for 30-12-2008 is 15-Margazhi-5109 Kali Era. 15th song in the Tiruppavai is Elle ilan kiliye. The song was rendered in the raga begada. The natural majesticity of the raga was very well maintained.

The third was the soulful kalyani. A worthy alapana and then GNB fame Vasudevayeni. Kalpana swarams for the song cant be described. So much of depth and dhuritham (fast notes). There is a phrase in Tamil - Anal parakkum - the swaras literally sparkled like diwali crackers(matthappu).

Then came the beautiful Saveri. The artiste started with a viruttham NaaL yen seiiyum and proceeded towards Muruga Muruga of Periyasamy Thooran. Misra chapu tala added beauty to the song. I dont know why, whenever I listen or sing a song set to misra chapu tala, I feel like swaying, sitting on a jhoola.
The tala contains the aksharams - Tha ki ta tha ka dhi mi (7 aksharams). Of these the first 3 (tha ki ta) is the effort spent by us for getting the speed. i.e placing our foot on the ground and rubbing. The next four (tha ka dhi mi) is the swing that we get after releasing our feet from the ground. This cycle continues and so does the song.

The next in the list was a refreshing hindolam. Aruna sang, Nambi kettavar, a composition of Papanasam sivan. The song was apt for the place as its Mylapore Fine arts and the song was on Thirumayilaiyin Iraivan - Kapaleeswaran.

Aruna has sung an ashta ragamalika (song with 8 ragas) in few of her concerts. In that, the raga keeravani was described as "suddha mei gnanam tharum keervani thaye" (keeravani will refresh one's mind and grant pure knowledge). The keeravani that she sang in the concert was no exception to this statement. The raga was so pure and orthodox. Aruna chose Kaligiyunte of Tyagaraja for the day. Niraval was placed at Baaguga sree ragu in the charanam. The swaras were as usual, rocking!

It will be a blunder, if I fail to mention about the tani avartanam. The tani by Karthick and Vaidyanathan was "THE BEST" that I had heard so far during this season. The same vaidyanathan, when I heard him playing for Unni Krishnan, the previous day in Margazhi Maha Utsavam, was not so appealing. But all of a sudden, in Aruna's concert, he was at his best. Both the percussionists played with their instruments. They tried to bring out impossible jathis, from low decibel to high decibel, but since Isabel hospital was nearer, the silence was broken by the ambulances. Minor disturbances arised due to problems in car parking. Despite of those disturbances, I could experience the divinity of the music.

Then came the majestic Kambodhi raga. The alapana lasted for 15 minutes. Predominant swaras were Ma Ga Pa Da Sa, Da Sa Ri, Pa Da Sa... That was followed by a rhythmic taanam. Along with the percussion instruments, the singer beautifully rendered the taanam. Not many will give a rhythmic taanam and Aruna is an adept in it.

The pallavi was - kaana kan kodi vendum vinnuyar gopuram thillayil. This was a mix of Papanasam Sivan's kambodhi raga song kana kankodi vendum kapaliyin bavani and Gopalakrishna Bharathi's kaanavendamo iru kann irukkum podhey vinnuyar gopuram.

The RTP was based on Nandanar Charitham.

The swaras in the ragam kambodhi needs a special appreciation. The singer sung the swaras in tisra nadai (three swaras per beat) and chatusra nadai (four swaras per beat) in an alternating fashion. The tala was adi tala (4 + 4 aksharams). First 4 were in tisram and the next 4 were in chatusram and it kept on alternating. The violinist too responded very nicely and in addition to the two nadais, he completed with a khanda nadai (5 swaras per beat).

Then came the ragamalika swaras. The first was mayamalavagowlai and Aruna hinted that by rendering Sivaloka nadhanai kandu song. The second raga was sriranjani and aruna sung, kaan vendamo. The third was nattakurinji and the song she sung was maraithirukkudhe maadu. The fourth raga was poorvikalyani and the song was sattre vilagi irum pillaai. Next was a short pallavi line in the raga subhapantuvarali and then she sang the full song - varugalamo in the raga maanji, quickly. Once the slow maanji was over, than came the swift kambhoji raga swaras and she returned back to the pallavi. There was a mini tani avartanam for 2 minutes.

Nandanar wanted to see the deity Nataraja in chidambaram temple and he went there. But the Nandi was obstructing his view of the deity. So he complained to the lord about this. The graceful lord, asked his Nandi to move slightly so that Nandanar could see easily. The Nandi obliged it's master's order and once Nandanar saw the deity he asks for attaining salvation, by singing Varugalamo.This theme was explained by the artiste at the end of the lengthy RTP.

That was a very wonderful, thought provoking and divine concert that I heard during this margazhi. Expecting to hear more and more concerts like this from the artiste in the coming years too.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bombay Jayashree's concert at Music Academy

Followed by Nithyasree's concert, I went to Bombay Jayashree's concert on 26-December-2008 at The Music Academy, Madras. The concert was at 4:15 PM.

Even for this concert, getting a ticket is a marathon job. When I went to get the ticket at around 9 AM in the morning, all were sold out and the seats at LCD hall (Mini hall) started filling. Luckily there were some 5 tickets for Dais and I got one.

I was waiting in the queue near the dais entrance with lot of eagerness. I was sided by two old ladies who never stopped talking about the jewellery worn by artistes and the crowd for the concert and many more worldly affairs.I was praying to God that I should get a place in the stage without any hinderance from these kind of people. God answered my prayers. I got a place in the second row, from where I could see all the performing artistes.

The concert started with a calm nattai raaga alapana that was followed by Saraseeruhasana priye. The song was so serene and calm. Kalpana swaras were also highly commendable.

Then was the attractive nayaki. The raga, by nature, will be smooth. And when heard in her voice, it was smoother even. Jayashree's rendition of Nee bhajana gaana needs special appreciation.

Then was the master piece of that concert - Sree Balasubramanya in the raga Bilahari of Muthuswami Dikshithar. I had heard, Bilahari as a roaring lion. But Jayashree gave a new face to it. It was like a motherly lion with grace and majesticity. She placed the niraval at the charanam - kanaka valli devaseno. I was expecting kalpana swarams there. But she didnt. I thought there wont be kalpana swarams for this song today. No sooner did I thought than came the garland of swaras based on the pallavi sree balasubramanya.

This song was on the swamimalai (near Kumbakonam - my place of birth) swaminatha swamy I guess. The charanam had the lines swami shaila.. Also this kriti had mine and my sister's name. In the anupallavi, there were phrases Dheena sharanya and Prakasa Lavanya. One more kriti of Dikshithar Sree Subramanyaya Namasthe in the raagaa kaambodhi will also have such phrases.

Then was the gana ragA GaanaMoorthi and the song was of course Tyagaraja's gem - Gaanamoorthe. When Jayashree was about to finish the song, she rendered the words Gaanamoorthe which appeared to me like Gaanam oorudhe (Tamil words - Meaning - The music is getting soaked in oneself).

Then was the kharaharapriya raga alapana. It was handled traditionally but at the same time innovatively. The sahitya was the sweet - Raama Nee samaanam yevaru. The neraval at the charanam - Paluku paluku laku thEnE was so sweet like the honey (thEn!)

Ranjani is absolutely a challenging raga. But when handled properly it will melt the listener's heart. The result of the melting would be nectar. That happened during Jayashree's rendition of Ranjani raga ragam taanam pallavi.

Raagam was in pure ranjani. Tanam had a 3 storeyed structure comprising of Ranjani, Begada and Hindolam. Then came the pallavi on lord Muruga. It was set to Khanda jaathi triputa taalam in chatusra nadai. The ragamalika swaramin 7 ragas was a real garland. Ranjani, Begada, Hindolam, Hamsanadham, Janasammodhini, Charukesi, Kapi were wonderful and showed how strong was Jayashree in Ragam and Taalam. The kalpana swarams were really a feast for the listeners.

Then was the viruttham in the raga behag followed by Velane sivabalane. It was rendered with utmost bhakthi.

Then came a Jayadevar's ashtapathi in the raga karnaranjani. The composer has written with a sincerity and so did the singer sung that song.

The penultimate item was a tillana, written by Lalgudi Sri Jayaraman, in the raaga vaasanthi. I am happy that I was able to find that raga in the very start itself. Many were asking what that raga was.

The concert was concluded with the traditional nee naama rupamulanu nithya jaya mangalam in the raga sourashtram.

The concert was superb on the whole. But Jayashree could have announced the rare ragas once it was over as it could have avoided the unnecessary murmurings every now and then a rare raga was sung. Hope the artiste will do that from her next concert onwards.

Nithyasree's concert at Music Academy

I had been to Nithyasree's concert at The Music Academy, Madras, on December 25,2008. It was a holiday for me as the day was XMas day.

After having a fine evening tiffen, I went to the academy nearly at 3:45 PM, half an hour before the start of the concert. There was a huge crowd and it was well organised as a long line.

Before describing about the concert, let me tell you the story how I got the ticket. It was about 8 AM in the morning. After completing my music class, I took an auto to the academy. There was again a big crowd for getting ticket. I approached the counter. They asked me to get a token first for getting the ticket. So I went to the token issuing person and got a token, specifying the ticket rate (balcony) and number of tickets needed. He wrote the same in a paper and gave a number for me. It was 83!

Then I was waiting in a chair, similar to the one that will be at hospitals for visiting a doctor or at the collector office for meeting a collector. I was waiting for my number to be called. 56, 57... 75..79.. 81,82..... 83. Yeah! It was my turn to get the ticket. I got the ticket.

With a sense of satisfaction of having achieved something, I went to home.

Now the time is 4:00 PM. I am waiting to enter the hall in the steps that proceed towards the main hall balcony. This reminded me of waiting in the queue at Tirupathi for getting the darshan of swami venkateswara. Finally after a long 30 mins waiting, I entered the hall and got myself seated at a comfortable place.

The time is 4:15 PM. I am eagerly waiting for the curtain to be raised. Two bells rang. Wow, the curtain raised and the artiste greeted the gathering and signed on for a wonderful start of the divine concert. Darbar raga adi tala varnam, kick started the concert. It was a good starter (like a hot vegetable soup). Then followed Tyagaraja's Nee daya radha in the raaga vasantha bhairavi. It made the environment lively. The fast kalpana swaras were superb. It was like popping up cheese balls during a dinner.

Then started the sunadhavinodhini raga alapana. I was a bit proud that I was able to identify the raga on hearing the very first line, when others were struggling for it. It took of very well and Nithyasree handled the raga very efficiently. Why because is the raga's structure is like S G M D N S - S N D M G S. If by mistake R (Rishabam) comes, it will turn to hamsanandhi. Such a delicate ragam is sunadha vinodhini. The song she sung was Mysore Vasudevacharyar's composition Devadi Deva. The kalpana swaras can be compared to an avalanche of electrons that will come from a laser beam.

Then was the Nattakurinji raga song Karunai Purindhu. This time, the raga was so soft, in contrast to Muruga that she sang in Jaya TV Margazhi Maha utsavam. May be since this song started with the word Karunai (grace) it was so soft, and the song Muruga, since it was Bharathi's song, It was majestic. In the song Karunai Purindhu, the words and the beats went hand by hand.

Then came the famous, Tyagaraja yoga vaibhavam in the raga Ananda bhairavi. No body can beat her grand mother smt DKP in Dkshithar kritis. And here too the same. Each and every syllable was perfect. One need to note the science embedded in the kriti. The concept of differentiation (Big to Small) and integration (Small to big) can be observed in this kriti.

Differentiation in the pallavi - Tyagaraja yoga vaibhavam - agaraja yoga vaibhavam - raja yoga vaibhavam - yoga vaibhavam - vaibhavam - bhavam - vam.

Integration in the charanam - Prakasam - Thathva swaroopa Prakasam - sakala thathva svaroopa prakasam - siva sakthyathi sakala thathva svaroopa prakasam.

The raga mudra and the sahitya kara mudra is given in such a nice way by dikshithar. He describes, Tyagaraja as Sri Guruguha gurum sachidhanandhabhairaveesam. A nice kriti.

Then came the majestic Kambodhi ragam. Nithyasree sang, Sri Raguvara. The rendition of swaras for each and every line of charanams was quite innovative. Aalapana was studded with phrases - P D S - P D S R - P D S R G and so on. The violinist Sri M.A.Krishnaswamy replied for those phrases with GNB Style of swaras - P D S - D S R - S R G - R G P and it was "sabaash sariyana pOtti". For this song, Nithyasree gave tani avartanam. It was a real laya sancharam.

Then was the beautiful Karnaranjani. Nithyasree sang an RTP (Ragam Tanam Pallavi) in this raga. It was a wonderful RTP. Pallavi was about sri Maha vishnu. It was set to the talam Thisra jaathi Jampha taalam in sankeerna nadai. This pallavi educated me about the combinations of taalas and nadais. Here every beat should contain 9 sub beats and there should be 6 beats per aavartanam. That is 123 1 12 is the form of the taalam. Each and every aksharam was crystal clear and I could see that sitting from the last row of balcony.

The pallavai was followed by ragamalika swaras consisting of 16 ragas excluding Karna ranjani. Bhoopalam, Kaanadaa, Jaganmohini, Ataanaa, Amruthavarshini, Nalinakaanthi, Neelaambari, Kalyanavasantham, suddha saranga, Janasammodhini, madhuvanthi, naattai, Gowlai, aarabhi, varaali, sree and then back to karna ranjani. It was a 16 storeyed building built out of 16 ragas.

Then was the sidhubhairavi raga viruttham followed by a song - Adi deva paramathma, about Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi.

Then was her fame - Kandha nee oru malaivasi in the raga - Ahirbhairavi. It was simply superb.

Then came the swift, valaji raga tillana. Nithyasree stressed twice on the raga mudra "valarseela migu pazhani...". I dont know how many would have noted it.

The whole concert was maintained in the same pace. The open throated singing of Nithyasree added beauty to the concert. Every swara was clear and so the words too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ranjani & Gayathri concert in Jaya TV

Sisters will always make anything in this world enjoyable. I do have a sister. When I am with her, I will enjoy my life to the core.

This is applicable to Carnatic Music too. Bombay Sisters, Priya Sisters, Chinmaya Sisters, Hyderabad Sisters and the list goes.

The vocal concert of Ranjani and Gayathri is no where exception to the fact. It was a lovely concert.

This was telecasted on 17-12-2008. The theme of the concert is Hari smaranam.

The first song was well settled Nayaki raga kriti of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Ranganayakam bhaavaye. Each and every phrase of the kriti was rendered with utmost sincerity. Both their voices were in unison. Absolute tonal perfection can be observed.

The next song was Pankaja lochana in the raga kalyani. This was elaborated nicely. Gayathri's alapana needs a big appreciation. The raga bhaavaa was completely delivered and it reached the listeners in its full form.

Then came a Tamil virutham that was set to ragamalika, comprising of Shanmukapriya, Mohanam and Hamsanandhi
On that very day, in the morning, I read a review of a concert by a critic. In that he mentioned about few people pronuncing sa in Tamil as sha and Tamil language has no sha kind of thing. I could observe that in the sister's rendition.

Srinivasa thiruvenkata followed the viruttham.

Then was the song depicting the theme. Hari smarane mado in the raga yaman kalyani was highly commendable.

Then came their trade mark, Bholo vittal - Abhang based on chakravagam ragam. That song added divinity to the concert. Especially the rendition of Vittal vittal in a swift manner by Ranjani and Vittalaa like a raga alaapana by Gayathri was a good mix indeed.

To sum up, the concert was a nice treat to music lovers.

Kadri Gopalnath's concert in Jaya TV

I heard the first concert of Margazhi Maha utsavam concert series in Jaya TV that started on 16-12-2008. That was Kadri Gopalnath's concert. Violinist was Kanyakumari. She followed each and every movement of Kadri like a shadow.

The concert started with the Brisk Bahudari raga kriti of Tulasi vanam, Bhaja Maanasa vigneshwaram anisam. The mood was set perfectly. This served as a starter for the deep bhairavi raga swarajati of sri shyama sastri. Kamakshi Amba was rendered with more attention to the raga bhavam.

Amruthavarshini was the main item. The joyous nature of the raga was very well portrayed.

The final one was the soft kapi raga song by Papanasam Sivan, Yennathavam seidhane.

All together the concert was a good start for the festive season - Isai vizha.

Mahakavi - Thematic Concert by Nithyasree

I watched Nithyasree's concert in Jaya TV for Margazhi Maha Utsavam, on 22-12-2008.

It was simply superb. The theme Maha Kavi was interesting.

The first song, pozhudu pularndadhu, rendered in the form of varnam in malayamarutham ragam was very innovative. The rendition of Sa and Pa in the Chitta swaram with brihas were fantastic.

The second song vettri yettu in Mohanam is another feather on your cap, that proudly proclaims the DKP tradition.
Every single swara was crystal clear. Sa Ri | Da Sa | Paa Da Pa Gaa Ri| Sa Ri Ga Ga Paa (Vettri | Yettu | Dhikkum yetta | kottu murasE) amazing.

Then was the nattakurunji raga viruttham followed by Muruga song. It was very swift and I am sure it would have enthralled the audience. The akaarams that were used here were excellent. The different ways that you took the pallavi line Muruga (arai yedam, kaal yedam) was a real taala sanchaaram.

Then came the beautiful Kanada, my all time favourite. The song Vande Mataram Yenbom was rendered with melody and majesticity. The kalpana swaras were really soul stirring. I enjoyed a lot. The swara prayOgams Ga Ma Ri Sa in higher octaves were really excellent.

Chinnanjiru kiliye song was nice. But I felt that it could have been even more soft and could have been a little slower. I was listening to it, but suddenly the song ended.

The next song Dhikkukkal yettum about Rain in Hamsanadham was wonderful. My observation is that, only in this song, The percussion instruments took off. This doesn't mean that for the other songs they were waste, but it was nice for that song.

When compared to other concerts of Nithyasree, this concert, the strength of accompaniments was very low. Only strength was her singing. This concert turned out to be a one woman army.

The madhyamavathy song was a nice ending for the thematic concert.