Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thematic concert : "Swati Tirunal - A versatile composer"

Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai is organising a concert dedicated to Maharaja Swati Tirunal.
I will be presenting a thematic concert "Swati Tirunal - A versatile composer"

Date: 16th April 2014 (Wednesday)
Time: 6.30 p.m
Venue: Narada Gana Sabha Main Hall

B.V.Raghavendra Rao- Violin
B.Sivaraman - Mridangam
N.Guruprasad - Ghatam


Friday, March 7, 2014

Myriad Forms of Lord Siva - Episode 12 (Concluding Episode) - 8th March 2014

The concluding episode (Episode 12) of the thematic multimedia presentation "Myriad Forms of Lord Siva" (that I have been presenting as a monthly thematic concert, since February 2013) will be on the 8th of March, 2014 (Saturday).

Venue: Tattvaloka, Chennai.
Time : 5 p.m

(I will soon be writing in detail about this project, about my experiences while working on it and shall also post relevant photos.)


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Music Workshop at Thennangur - 1/2/2014

Naadasangamam (Narada Gana Sabha Trust, Chennai) conducted a 2-day Music workshop at Thennangur on the 1st and 2nd of February, 2014.

It was a great experience teaching students two Kritis of Sri.Margadarshi Seshayyangar. There were around 27 participants who had enrolled in this workshop. They were all music students of high calibre and a few of them are regular performing artists too.

The two kritis that I handled were pAhi sEshashaila nAyakA(Anandabhairavi) and sArasadaLa nayanA(surutti).

The other resource persons in this workshop were:

Dr.R.S.Jayalakshmi (session on tAnam singing):

Sri.K.Arunprakash (session on maths, music and mridangam):

Smt.Shyamala Venkateshwaran (session on rare kritis):

Dr.R.Vedavalli (session on nuances of kalpanaswarA singing ):

The students also had a yoga session and other interesting, interactive sessions.

The sessions took place in a hall within the premises of the beautiful Panduranga temple at Thennangur.

(Seen in the picture alongwith me are Smt.Ranjani Sivakumar Siddareddy and Smt.Chitra Srikanth- both are musicians who had enrolled in this workshop.)

Dr.R.S.Jayalakshmi was the convenor of the workshop. Smt.Sumati Krishnan and Smt.Mala Mohan were the co-ordinators.

I would have loved to have been there for the entire duration of the workshop, but had to return after my session due to other commitments. Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable experience !

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Myriad Forms of Lord Siva (Episode 11) - 26/1/14

Session 11 of "Myriad Forms of Lord Siva" :

It was a great honor to have the legend and maestro Dr.Balamuralikrishna as the Chief Guest for this session despite his indifferent health. I felt elated that he appreciated my efforts and wished me well. What was awe-inspiring was the fact that the entire audience stood as he left the auditorium. That was a true example of the respect he automatically commanded. My heartfelt thanks and pranams to him.

Guest of Honor was Sri.N.V.Subramaniam, Managing Trustee, Saraswathi Vaggeyakara Trust.


V.V.S.Murari - Violin
Jayalakshmi Sekhar - Veena
B.Sivaraman - Mridangam

Sections of the audience:

Final Episode of "Myriad Forms of Lord Siva" will be on the 8th of March (Saturday), 2014 at Tattvaloka at 5 p.m.

Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha - 22/1/14

Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha conducted Tyagaraja Aradhana concerts as part of their 28th Anniversary Celebrations from the 18th to 22nd January, 2014. My concert was on the last day of the series.

Co-artists were:
V.V.S.Murari - Violin
R.Sankaranarayanan - Mridangam
Nerkunam Sankar - Kanjira

We presented Utsava Sampradaya Kritis and Divyanama Kirtanas of Saint Tyagaraja.

Song List:
 1.   churNika - nAtai, gowLai, Arabhi, varALi, srI
 2.  endarO mahAnubhAvulu - sri - Adi    
 3.  dasaratha nandana - asAveri - Adi (S)
 4.  parama pAvana - pantuvarALi - misra cApu (R,N,S)
 5.  badalika deera - rItigowLa - Adi
 6.  rAma rAma rAma - mOhanam - misra cApu (S)
 7.  rakshabettarE - bhairavi - Adi (R,N,S,T)
 8.  rAma pAhi - kApI -misra cApu
 9.  karuNajaladhE - nAdanAmakriyA - Adi
10. patikihAratI - surutti - Adi
11. mangaLam


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Obeisance to the Sun-God : makara sankrAnti

Pongal or Thai (தை) Pongal, the harvest festival, is also called makara sankrAnti, since it is celebrated on the first day of the tamizh month Thai(தை) when the Sun leaves the zodiac sign of Sagittarius and enters the Makara rAshi (Capricornus). (sankrAnti means transmigration of the Sun from one rAshi to the next). This signals the end of winter and the onset of spring throughout the northern hemisphere. For the next six months, the days are longer and warmer.

According to the calendar based on the solar system the year is divided into two halves following the apparent movement of the Sun northwards and Southwards. The former is termed uttarAyaNa and the latter is dakshiNAyaNa. 

This period of Thai (தை) is referred to as uttarAyaNa puNyakAla and is considered auspicious.

The four day celebration of Pongal marks a period of plenty, peace and happiness. There is a Tamizh saying "தை பிறந்தால் வழி பிறக்கும்", which means that, with the dawn of the month of Thai, there will be peace, happiness, prosperity, brightness and harmony in the life of everyone. (Another interpretation of this saying can be given as follows: after crops are harvested in the month of தை, the "varappu" (வரப்பு) or vazhi(வழி) for the farmers becomes visible.) It is held to honor the Sun, for a bountiful harvest. Families gather to rejoice and share their joy and their harvests with others.

Since this festival is essentially an obeisance to the Sun-God, I thought it would be apt to give in this post, the meaning to the beautiful kriti, sUryamUrtE (rAga saurAshtra), composed by Sri.Muthuswami Dikshitar, which is in praise of the Sun-God.

सूर्यमूर्ते नमोऽस्तु ते
सुन्दर छायाधिपते
Hey Surya, Salutations to Thee ! , the one who is espoused to the beautiful chAyAdEvi.
(The choice of the word  नमोऽस्तु ते) in the first line looks very apt, since we always refer to sUryA as "namaskAra priyah" )
कार्य कारणात्मक
One who is the cause(कारण) and effect (कार्य) of all things in Nature,  the One who enlightens the world(जगत्प्रकाश) and the adhipati of simha rAshi.

मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)  
आर्य विनुत तेजःस्फूर्ते
आरोग्यादि फलद कीर्ते
One who is the personification of illumination, effulgence(तेजःस्फूर्ते) and worshipped by noble persons (आर्य विनुत).

sUrya namaskAr is one of the most effective methods to maintain good health and is a popular yogic exercise too (आरोग्यादि फलद कीर्ते)

सारस मित्र मित्र भानो
सहस्र किरण कर्ण सूनो

क्रूर पाप हर कृशानो
गुरुगुह मोदित
सूरि जनेडित सुदिनमणे

सोमादि ग्रह शिखामणे

धीरार्चित कर्म साक्षिणे
दिव्यतर सप्ताश्व रथिने

To You, the friend of the lotus(सारस मित्र), Hey MitrA (मित्र) !, Hey bhAnu (भानो)!
The One who is the source of a thousand brilliant rays (सहस्र किरण) and who is the father of karNA(कर्ण सूनो)
One who is the Fire (कृशानो) which can destroy even henious crimes (क्रूर पाप हर )
One who is self-effulgent (like the Pure Consciousness, citswarUpa brahman which is self-effulgent)
One who is worshipped by the Erudite (सूरि जनेडित) and One who is virtuous (सु) and the jewel of the day(दिनमणे)
One who controls the Moon and all the other planets (सोमादि ग्रह शिखामणे)
One who is worshipped by the Wise(धीरार्चित) and who is the witness to all Karma(कर्म साक्षिणे)
One who rides on a chariot driven by seven divine horses (दिव्यतर सप्ताश्व रथिने)

(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
सौराष्ट्रार्ण मन्त्रात्मने
सौवर्ण स्वरूपात्मने

भारतीश हरि हरात्मने
भुक्ति मुक्ति वितरणात्मने
Refers to the sUrya ashta akshara mantra and also the rAga mudra (सौराष्ट्रार्ण मन्त्रात्मने)
One who shines like gold, both in terms of mystical and intellectual brilliance (सौवर्ण स्वरूपात्मने)
One who is visualized as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva (भारतीश हरि हरात्मने)
One who instils devotion and imparts eternal bliss (भुक्ति मुक्ति वितरणात्मने)

Musical aspects of this kriti:

As per the sangIta sAmpradAya pradarshini, the rAga saurAshtrA is given under the 15th mElA mALavagowLa and not as a janya of chAyAvati (asampUrNa mELa equivalent of sUryakAntam, which is the way it is more commonly sung).

It is set to chatusra jAti dhruva tAlA, which has a 14-beat cycle and is one of the sULAdi sapta tALAs. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

A peek into my concerts in December 2013...

Bharati Vizha - 8.12.13:

Though not part of the Margazhi season, singing at Bharati Illam, Triplicane is something that I cherish, year after year.

This concert was held on the occasion of Bharatiyar Vizha.

Sri.V.V.S.Murari - Violin
Sri.B.Sivaraman - Mridangam

As a tribute to the great poet Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati, I presented
karpaga vinAyaka (gowLa)
ujjayini nitya kalyAni (kalyANi),
Chandiran oLiyil (chandrakauns),
kAkkai chiraginilE (brindAvana sArangA)
chuttum vizhi chudar (rAgamAlikA)

Karthik Fine Arts - 11.12.13:

This was the first concert of the Music Season for me. At Narada Gana Sabha Main Hall.

Mysore Srikanth - Violin
Poongulam Subramanian - Mridangam
Sreesundar Kumar - Kanjira

This concert was webcast by CMANA, USA for rasikas in the United States.

This was the first time that I presented kumbhEshwarAya namastE (kalyANi, Muthuswami Dikshitar) in a regular concert. (I had presented it in one of the earlier episodes of the thematic series, Myriad Forms of Lord Siva.)

(A rasika, after the Karthik Fine Arts concert, expressed his disappointment that I had not sung any Tamizh Kriti in this concert.
Point noted :-) and I made ample amends in all my forthcoming concerts :-)

Chennai Cultural Academy - 13.12.13:
I took up punnagai onrE pOdumE in raga Hamsanandi (composition of Smt.Ambujam Krishna) for detailed elaboration and also presented nambikkettavar evarayya preceded by a virutham in raga HindOlam. Akshayalinga vibhO, shankarAbharaNam was taken up as the main composition in this concert.

Hamsavinodini - 16.12.13:

Venue : Arkay Convention Center, Mylapore.

This was the first time I performed at this hall. Nice, compact auditorium with excellent acoustics.

B.Ananthakrishnan - Violin
B.Ganapathiraman - Mridangam

Almost every December, I do an elaborate subhapantuvarALi at some sabha or the other. This time, it was here :-).
Also presented a detailed ShudhadhanyAsi (azhagA azhagA- composition of Smt.Ambujam Krishna)

Meenakshi Sundararajan Trust - 18.12.13:

It is a delight to sing for the Mambalam/Kodambakkam audience every year at Meenakshi College !

Sri.M.R.Gopinath - Violin
Sri.Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan - Mridangam
Sri. Sreesundar Kumar - Kanjira

Being the occasion of Arudra Darisanam, I began the concert with a mallAri in rAga gambhIra nAtai and presented many Kritis on Lord Siva. There were many requests from the audience and it is always a pleasure to sing them ! I took up shanmukhapriya(pArvati nAyakanE, pApanAsam sivan's composition) for a detailed elaboration in this concert.

Indian Fine Arts Society - 20.12.13:

Dr.Hemalatha on the Violin, B.Sivaraman on the Mridangam and Chandrasekhara Sharma on Ghatam.

nAsikAbhUshaNi (mAravairi ramaNi) and kIravANI(innamum sandEha) were taken up in detail.

Sri Krishna Gana Sabha - 21.12.13:

I did a thematic presentation " Compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar on Lord Shiva" at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.

Sri.V.Sanjeev - Violin
Sri.Mudikondan Ramesh - Veena
Sri.Poongulam Subramaniam - Mridangam
Sri.Trichy Krishnaswamy - Ghatam

On the same lines as the ongoing monthly series "Myriad Forms of Lord Shiva", I gave a powerpoint presentation of the same.

Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha - 24.12.13:

Mysore Srikanth - Violin, Poongulam Subramaniam - Mridangam, Sreesundar Kumar - Kanjira

After a long time, I took up mInalOchani (tOdi, harikEsanallur muthiah bhAgavatar) in this concert. harikAmbhOji(dinamaNi vamsa) was taken up for elaboration and I presented a short RTP in raga madhukauns. Also presented the kriti jambUpatE, a personal favorite !

Valayapatti Nadhalaya Trust - 27.12.13:

In this concert, I took up simhEndramadhyamam(ninnE nammitinayya - mysore vAsudEvAchAr) for elaboration.

Tried something new in the neraval, I think it came out well :-)


V.V.S.Murari - Violin
Toronto Gowrishankar - Mridangam
Madipakkam Murali - Ghatam

Every year as the music season draws to a close, I always end up with mixed feelings. Sometimes, euphoric at having delivered and sometimes wistful that I perhaps didn't do enough. This time around, I was disappointed that I could not present a detailed RTP anywhere. I could attribute it to paucity of time but paradoxically was quite happy with my rendition of the madhukauns RTP, even though it was presented in slight haste.

Now I look forward in eagerness to this New Year which I hope will be musically a very satisfying one.

And my mission, quest and journey continues......