Monday 31 December 2012

New Year Eve bash, the classical music way

For the past few years, Carnatica, a website and organisation dedicated to classical music is hosting a New Year 'party' at the Music Academy. Classical musicians, seniors, young, up and coming will take turns to sing Carnatic kritis beginning 10.15 p.m. and end the party with traditional sweets and snacks distributed to the rasikas.

This year on Dec. 31, senior violinist T. N. Krishnan with Tiruvarur Bhakthavatsalam on the mridangam, Flutist N. Ramani, vocalist Rama Ravi and Nandita Ravi, Chitravina N. Ravikiran, Srimushnam Raja Rao, S. Sowmya and and her son S. Sankrith, Malladi Brothers, Embar Kannnan
and K. Sathyanarayana, Abhisek Raghuram, Carnatica Brothers Sashikiran and P. Ganesh, R. Suryaprakash, Trichur Brothers, V. K. Manimaran, R. K. Shriramkumar, Udayalur Kalyanaraman & Party (Namasankeerthanam), Kunnakkudi Balamuralikrishna, K. Gayathri, Amritha Murali, Nirmala Rajasekhar (Veena), Bharat Sundar, Ramakrishnan Moorthy, Rithvik Raja, N. Kiranavali, Suchitra. B (Harikatha), V. Sankaranarayanan, Subhashree Ramachandran, V. Deepika and Nivedita Narayanan will be performing along with violinists V.V.S. Murari, Parur Ananthakrishnan, Karaikkal S.
Venkatasubramaniam and percussionists Tanjavur Murugaboopathi, Trivandrum Balaji, B. Sivaraman, Shree Sundarkumar, K. V. Gopalakrishnan.

The event is open to all and will be on till 1.30 a.m.
Sangeetha Hotel in R A Puram contributes to the 'prasadams'.
For more details contact 9444018269 

Old world charm

If you have been following the concert schedules of various sabhas during the season, you would not have missed the distinct feature of Naada Inbam. This Mylapore based organisation which has a well treated hall with good acoustics tucked inside the quite Luz Avenue areas is one people with a liking for the old school classical music.

Young and the seniors who follow the traditional music and present it the way the yesteryear veterans used to a few decades ago, get to perform at this venue. Jaya Balakrishnan took the responsibility of keeping the traditions of her father, music connoisseur S.V. Krishnan, after he passed away a few years ago.

Ashwin Anand's Veena concert
Jaya says that she looks out for musicians who are good but not in the popular concert circles and listens to their performances on the radio or CDs before inviting them to perform at this hall. The young and the seasoned musicians from the neighbouring states Kerala and Karnataka also get to perform here.

She says," I have heard a lot about the senior musician Palkulangara K. Ambika Devi through many friends. When I wanted to invite her for this season, I consulted other senior musicians like Seetha Rajan."

Kalyani Ganesan's Veena concert
Veena artistes and young vocalists find this venue a good platform to exhibit the 'old school style' instead of a concert set to the stereotyped format.

On Dec. 30, Kalyani Ganesan, a top graded veena artists performed in the morning. Ramakrishnan Murthy, a young vocalist performed to a full house in the afternoon and the senior musician Alamelu Mani performed in the evening.

Alamelu Mani's vocal concert
The sabha is hosting concerts till Jan. 5, 2013 with concerts by seniors Malladi Suri Babu (Dec. 31), Radha Namboodiri (Jan. 1). Neela Ramgopal (Jan. 4), M. Chandrasekaran (Jan. 5).
The younster to watch at this hall are Padma Sugavanam and Bharat Sundar (Jan. 1), Amrita Murali (Jan. 2), Sumitra Vasudev (Jan. 3).

Sunday 30 December 2012

T.M. Krishna's concert: As usual unusual!

This weekend, on Dec. 29, one of the season's 'free' concerts of T.M. Krishna was for Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha at Vidya Bharathi Kalyana mandapam in Mylapore.

Though the hall and acoustics are not of great standards, the 700 plus seats at the hall was full and two CC TV monitors were kept outside the hall.

Both T.M. Krishna with Guru Karaikudi Mani on the mridangam have their own admirers and had turned out in large numbers despite the fairly heavy rains in the morning.

'Gurulekha' in Gowrimanohari was perhaps a tribute to guru Karaikudi on the mridangam that day! The main piece was different. Krishna renders the main item differently in his concerts nowadays. Beginning with alapana in Sriranjani and Kedaragowla raga and a slokam 'Vande maataram', Krishna sang tanam in Purvikalyani. The violinist followed the tanam in the reverse order of the ragas rendered by the vocalist.

Then, it was a tani avartanam in Rupaka talam. The clarity of the rhythm syllables, for which Karaikudi Mani is known for, received a huge applause from the audiences. However, the audio level was set to a higher decibel. And Krishna followed the tani with the pallavi 'Soga suga mridanga talamu' in Sriranjani with kalpanaswarams and continued it with Kedaragowla swarams and ending it with the pallavi Paradevate Lalithe and sang niravals in those lines.

Following another solo mridangam session, Krishna took up the pallavi lines 'Sabesan darisanam' in Poorvikalyani with elaborate rendition in 'trikalams' in Adi talam as in the traditional singing of pallavis and another short tani avartanam followed!

The concert continued with a javali in Behag, a slokam in ragamalika, Kanakadasa's composition Baro Krishnayya in ragamalika and concluded with Sadasiva Brahmendral's Sarvam Brahmamayam in Madhuvanthi.

A slow paced concert with three tani avartanam sessions. Definitely different from the concert pattern of these days.

Saturday 29 December 2012

Grand finale at Music Academy; TMK's concert is open to all

Justice V Ramasubramniam of the Madras High Court will preside over the sadas at The Music Academy, the finale on January 1, 2013 evening.
It is at this event that the Sangita Kalanidhi title and medal will be given to Trichur V Ramachandran.
Also, dozens of senior and junior artistes will receive prizes for various accomplishments at the Academy, in concerts and otherwise.
The event starts at 5 p.m.
The big bonus for rasikas though is the free concert of T M Krishna from 7 p.m. onwards.
Academy staff say only members and season ticket holders will be admitted to the lower floor section and rasikas can occupy the balcony seats.
Rasikas kept stopping by at the box office here to enquire about passes for the TMK concert - despite the steady rain.
This then is a big bonus for rasikas on New Year’s evening. 
But Shashank’s concert at 9.15 am that morn, a fixed feature in the calendar is also a big draw. It is open to all.
The Academy’s dance fest starts on Jan.3. Evening shows are ticketed. Tickets on sale at the office.

Rains in Chennai, dampner

Rains which started on Arudra darisanam evening have continued through Saturday.
The damp, wet weather did have its impact at the concert halls.

There were only a handful of dancers and guests at the Natya Kala Conference at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in T Nagar. Same was the case at the music concert in its mini hall.

But at Music Academy a steady stream of people in cars got to the box office to buy some tickets for the weekend concerts.

The city has not had a full monsoon this season - and the current rain may carry on for a few days, says the Met Dept.

Lessons to learn from the seniors

While violinist Narmada was waiting to present her solo concert at the Kartik Fine Arts (BVB mini hall) on Dec. 28, she waited till the rasikas vacated the floor space they were occupying the previous concert of Trichur Brothers.

Narmada's violin recital was scheduled at 7 p.m. and the Trichur Brothers concluded theirs on the dot at 7. She waited with a smile to take on the stage and said, "Everyone comes to do their job. We should respect every artiste and the rasikas and should not hurry them up just because I have a concert now. My father, the M.S. Gopalakrishnan has instilled such values in us. Another trait I learnt from him is the punctuality. Whether it is about starting the concert or ending it, he always ensures that we are on time!"

Violinist Narmada with her daughter Jayalakshmi before her concert at
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
A notable feature in Narmada's concerts is that she takes the audience along with her through the songs and verses. Singing a line of the kriti with a very short introduction to what she would be playing and bowing along the second sangati helps the audience be with the artiste in the moods and the spirit.

Something the instrumentalists can follow to reach their audiences.

Young musicians at the mini halls

On Dec. 28, young Trichur Brothers had a houseful concert at the mini hall in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore. The brothers invited the young listeners to occupy the floor space in the front so that the elderly get to have their seats. Most young people did move to the front, yet many were seen standing. They stood at the doors of the A/C hall that were left open after some time.

Spilling over to the corridors, the listeners were sitting on the benches and some were standing for the entire two-hour concert. The aisles too had people sitting on the floor.

The audiences were treated with special songs on Lord Siva since it was the Arudra Darsanam day.

Bhavan's mini hall is a much sought after concert hall throughout the year. Though the seating capacity is about 150, there are a few 'extra' chairs on demand. And the audio control room has some space for a few more chairs.

But can something be done to keep the A/C hall doors closed and still accommodate the rasikas, for the open doors let the traffic noise and the mosquitoes inside the hall?

Friday 28 December 2012

3-day Hindustani music fest

The fringe events at this time of the year also lend colour and variety to the 'season'.

Hindustani concerts are few and far between. Kalakshetra does host concerts at its Fest on its campus as does the Music Academy on Dec.31 - recall the pandit Ravi Shankar recitals in years gone by.

The Viswa Kala Sangama always hosts a short Hindustani Music Fest at the mini hall at Narada Gana Sabha, TTK Road, Alwarpet. 

Pandit Mitta is the man behind this fest and he has been at it for some years now. Sangita Kalanidhi-designate Trichur V Ramachandran, who has also mastered Hindustani music is to inaugurate this fest on Friday evening.

The Fest begins today - Dec.28 - with Lalitha Sharma's vocal concert.

On Dec 29, a jugalbandhi of Pt Janardhn Mitta and Anupama Bhagavat on the sitar and Ravindra Yavagal on tabla was scheduled at 6.30 pm.

There are 2 concerts on Sunday, Dec.30. At 5 pm is Lakshmi Sreram's vocal concert and at 7 pm is Shantanu Bhattacharya's vocal concert.

Recitals are open to all.

Big rush for Aruna Sairam's concert at the Academy

Only a few tickets for the balcony seats at The Music Academy were available for sale for this evenings ( 4.15 pm) Aruna Sairam concert here.

A notice said there were no tickets for the ground floor but tickets for a video screening projection at the mini hall, at Rs.60 would be sold.

Music, talk and dance: Day 3 at Natya Kala Conference

Gita Govindam has been among the favourites of classical dancers for quite a long time. And the Dasavatara Strotra portraying the ten incarnations of Vishnu gives a lot of scope for the dancers to express their interpretations through Abhinaya. Dr. Subhas Pani, IAS (Retd), who served as secretary in the Planning commission, took up this topic for his presentation today (Dec. 28) at the Natya Kala Conference held at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.

He said he has close connections with Gita Govinda from the time he was not even in his teens, but sang the Ashtapadis for his father Dr. Raghu Nath Pani's dance drama in Odissi style.

Explaining the key concepts of Dasavatara Stotra, he showed samples of choreography for the composition through pictures and a short video clip of the dance drama in Odissi.

The conference continued with the presentation of Dasavatara in Koodiyattam, a form of dance enacting Sannskrit dramas in the temples of Kerala. Young Sooraj Nambiar, a Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar awardee, presented the ten avatars elaborately singing along the phrases. A powerful presentation full of poise it was. The Narasimha avatara portrayed by him was appreciated by the audience with a huge applause.

It was then time for some music and stories of relationship of dance with Harikatha. Visaka Hari, popular for her Harikatha with extensive rendering of songs traced the history of Harikatha to Narada and then to the Ramayana, said to have been sung through Rama's twin sons Lava and Kusha. She took references from the ancient Tamil work Tholkappiam to show the existence of this form in the olden eras.

Visaka pointed out that dance is an essential component in Harikatha. Marathi keerthanas of Samartha Ramadasa and Arunachala Kavirayar's nataka keerthanas are all forms of dance dramas used in Harikathas as well as in dances, she added. She traced the history of this art from the legendary Harikatha Pitamaha Adibhatla Narayana Das from Andhra Pradesh, Ananta Padmanabha Goswami who the royal composer Swati Tirunal considered his guru to Thanjavur Krishna Bhagavathar and Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, who lived not long ago.

Vishaka sang 'Eppo varuvaro' by Gopalakrishna Bharathi to express the anguish of Nandanar to see Lord Siva, enacting it through the bhavas while singing. She made her point that the dancers should know the 'katha' (story) well to express the emotions in their presentation. She concluded her session with a song 'Kanaka sabhai thirunatanam' to a standing ovation from the audience.

After a short break, talks by Sadanand Menon, curator of arts and a journalism teacher followed by Dr. Chitha Madhavan, a research scholar in history and archaeology were scheduled for the day.

Thursday 27 December 2012

G S Mani concert goes live. Dec.28 morn.

E-mail alert from Arkay Centre.
The following concert is live on the web on Dec.28 from 10.00 am

Madurai G. S. Mani on vocal, M. A. Sundareswaran on violin and Mannargudi Easwaran on mridangam.

This concert is held under the banner of BGS Trust at Arkay Centre, Luz.
The web link for the live show -

Dancing to small audiences . . .

Peeped into Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore at about 5 p.m. this evening. a USA based dancer was on stage - widely publicised and decorated with an award.
But the audience was limited.

Others in the lobby, here for the next dance recital were inviting people to be in for the show.

In the mini hall, T V Shankaranarayanan's son, Mahadevan was in concert. The small hall was packed at this early evening hour.

So while music draws a crowd why is dance getting very little support?

Fascinating dance demos. Day 2 at Natya Kala Conf.

Bejoyini Satpathy and Swaroopa Sen from Nrityagram near Bengaluru have made a mark as wonderfully talented dancers. Even their short shows attract many dance rasikas.
This morning, Dec.27, Thursday the duo rocked the auditorium.

Sabha secretary Y Prabhu came up and said that he had goose pimples when he watched the Siva-Shakthi piece of the two and coming as it did on the eve of the great Arudra festival celebrating Lord Siva is was indeed a visual treat to his eyes.

Up second was the ever-spritely dancer-actor Shobana. She surprised the audience by letting six of her little students dance classical to an excerpt from Bach's music.
There was a reason to it - Shobana soaked in western classical music in her early years because her dad was passionate about it and when the time came, she would dance to this music. This was indeed her first sample to illustrate the many influences and ways in which she had adapted these in her works, which are varied and innovative.

The show was stunning, as her group went in and out of these demo recitals on a stage that was bathed in colourful lights and shadows.
The demo also gave us a peek look at a classical theme play in which she is involved as choreographer, of a A. R. Rahman sound track for a foreign film which she used for a dance piece and a Malayalam film music-dance clip she starred in - a sample she used to tell her audience the challenges and 'yucks' a dancer faces when she works in cinema and on its fringe.

She also used the occasion to show how she worked out the emotions and moves of pieces set to different music but based on classical dance idiom.

We had to move on as guru Maya Rao took the stage.

The conference is on till Dec.31 and starts daily at 9.30 am. It is open to all.

Vasundara Rajagopal's special recital. And a quiz!

Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha  have arranged a special programme on Dec.30, Sunday at 10 am.
It is on ' Aditya Hrudayam - The Glory of Surya Bhagavan '  a musical presentation with exposition made by T. A. Srinidhi Swami. The musical presentation will be done by Vasundara  Rajagopal with Joshna Srikanth on violin and Nellai Balaji on mridangam.

This show is Vidya Bharathi, Mylapore.

After the programme the sabha has arranged for a Quiz -  cash prizes will be given to the winners of the quiz.

Swami Buddhidanananda,  senior swamiji of Sri Ramakrishna Math, will grace the occasion.
For more info call M. Krishnamurthy - 9444701446

Shobana explores dance for various genres of music

Beginning with a dance choreographed for Johann Sebastian Bach's Western classical music, dancer Shobana explores the music of A.R Rahman and Sufi for classical dances.

For the Western classical music of Bach, her students use the traditional dance anklets. That sets the rhythm for the young students, she says. But it also adds to the Indian classical touch to the western classical piece.

She also presents a few parts from her production Krishna, along with her students.
Is choreography for film music easy? No, says Shobana. Also the dance for the other media like the Television does not give you a large space for extensive hand and body movements, she adds.

Day 2 at the Natya Kala conference

In the first session, Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy present Gita Govindam and Ardhanareeswara Stotra.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Vijay Siva's Tarangam concert for Narayana Tirtha festival

Chennai's December season has space for exclusive namasankeetranam and concerts featuring only the Tarangams. Thirupoonthuruthy Sri Narayana Tirtha Swamigal Trust based in R.A. Puram hosted a three day Namasankeertana - Tarangam festival from Dec. 21 to 23 at Sringeri Pravachana Mandiram.

Music concerts of exclusive Tarangams composed by Sri Narayana Tirtha, presented by the young and senior musicians were part of the festival. On the concluding day, N. Vijaya Siva teams up with Amrita Murali on the violin and J. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam. It was a short concert for one and a half hours, that strictly adhered to the traditional concert format, but with songs from the magnum opus Sri Krishnaleela Tarangini. The devotional aspects dominated the concert. Beginning with the composition Jaya jaya swamin in Nattai, Vijay Siva quickly presented Govinda Gataya (Bhairavi), Sharanam bhava (Hamsavinodini) and took up the main raga Kalyani and the tarangam Kathaya kathaya madhavam. After a brief, melodious tani avartanam by J. Vaidyanathan, he presented Madhava mamava in Neelambari and Pahi pahi jaganmohana Krishna in Nadanamakriya.

Tirupoonthuruthy Venkatesan, managing trustee fondly remembered the rendition of the Kalyani raga composition by the veteran D.K. Jayaraman and the guru of Vijay Siva at one of the aradhanas held at Thirupoonthuruthy, a village near Thanjavur where a aradhana is held every year on the day Sri Narayana Tirtha attained samadhi.

The 2013 aradhana will be held on Feb. 16, 17 and 18 at the brindavanam of Sri Narayana Tirtha Swamigal in Thirupoonthuruthy, a village on the banks of River Kudamurutti, a tributary of River Cauvery. A must visit place around Thanjavur which retains the greenery and the music pristine.

Contact the Aradhana committee in Madras on phone number (044) 2493 6671 for more details.

Sabha executives comment

 Two executives of 2 city sabhas have reacted to notes / posts / letters made in the KB coverage of the season.  The edited versions are posted below -

- The Kutcheribuzz issue of Dec. 24 carried a complaint of non-members of Krishna Gana Sabha to T. M. Krishna about being denied seats for his free morning concerts and being restrained from occupying seats reserved for members, I do not see what is wrong with that. 

How can let our members scramble for a seat after paying membership fees several times over the amount that they last prevailed? Do they not have any privileges? Do they not constitute the artistes and the sabha's main supporters?
It is quite another matter if the free kutcheri is in a public venue where all appurtenances for a music performance are not the responsibility of a sabha and no class of the listening public can claim any exclusive privilege. 
- R. Sivaramakrishnan,  member, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.

- This has reference to the report by R. Revathi on the issue of closing early Sriranjani's concert.
It was not true that it was abruptly stopped. It was because of some communication gap between the person in charge of screen and the office bearer, who was present to give payment to the artistes.

Even on Sunday, Bharati Ramasubban sang till 3:10 pm. As a committee member I have been deputed at the ticket counter and I have to be there right from 3pm to issue tickets. She has unnecessarily dragged my name and alleged that I had no answer. I am not an octopus to do everything. There were two office-bearers who responded to the complaints on that day.

- V.Mahalingam,  Committee Member, MFAC

Tamil Isai fest in Anna Nagar starts this evening . . .

Kartik Fine Arts also organizes a Tamil Isai music fest but it is hosted at a women's college in Anna Nagar.
The 12th edition of the fest is opening this evening ( December 26) with an awards ceremony and the first event being a Tamil play ' Pavithra' by Kovai Paddhu.

The festival here runs tills December 30.

Though the Anna Nagar neighbourhood is a sprawling one, kutcheris are rarely held in these parts of the city. Some say there is only small support for classical arts here.

Disappointing mini meals . . .

The Hindu newspaper's December season themed page often runs a list of specials at sabha canteens.
It reads attractive and is enticing.

But we were a tad disappointed at the Gokulam eat out inside the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha campus in T Nagar.

The mini meal, costs Rs.75 but save for the wonderful kesari was of average quality. On these chill afternoons on looks forward to hot food - the rice items were cold. As were the vegetables.

The coffee was just fine and pepped us up. Maybe we should have had two servings of kesari - costs Rs.35 a serving.

Or should we order from among the 'season' specials?

DAY 1 @ Natya Kala Conference, T Nagar

All the top end recitals / lec-dems of Day One at the 32nd annual Natya Kala Conference hosted by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on Dec.26 morning were value for money events - I have not seen such a strong lineup at recent past conferences here.

If there is one thing that can be done away with is this long-winded, boring, exasperatingly dull inauguration.
Raise the curtain, say a prayer, light a lamp, say hello to your chief guests, mark 3 minutes at the mike and this ceremony can be wow.
It is 9.55 am and the opening is still meandering on stage.

Thankfully, the recitals/talks were good.
Up first was the celebrated Sadanam Balakrishnan, in his Kathakali costume and Leela Samson in her Bharatanatyam one. A one-minute introduction on the scene and its background was enough- taken from the Urvashi - Pururavas relationhip.

The excerpt, taken from a piece created by Sadanam's guru Kondiveetil Narayanan Nair flowed seamlessly, letting the audience know what happens 'When Parallels Meet', for Samahit is the theme of this dance conference. The duo have worked and performed together often in recent times.
Truly, a striking performance by India's best known artistes complemented by a group of musicians including two who recited slokhas live on stage.

Up second was veteran dancer Lakshmi Vishwanathan who gave the recital her signature inimitable touch, making brief introductions which had anecdotal references and goading her concert musicians to get going for some quick but measured excerpts.

Lakshmi said that while people had been listening to Carnatic music for ages, many had looked questioningly at the dance form restricted to temples, but later they could see what they had been listening to when dancers went on stage when Bharatanatyam became acceptable.

She wound off with a tribute to the Arudra festival to follow, doing an extract from ' theruvil varaanO', the padam for the occasion, which she said she had performed for her arangetram.

Up next was vocalist T M Krishna, a surprise on the list and yet a speaker eagerly awaited in a fairly packed hall.
Krishna, as is his wont set the framework for his lecture and went about it like a professor with 2 hours before him. His intro looked at what classical music and Bharatanatyam is all about in pure art terms and he looked at what parallels could be found and what lines ran on either side of these lines.

Quoting historical and other sources, Krishna made the point that it was Bharatanatyam that had contributed much to every aspect of Carnatic music and not the other way round, giving examples of songs which were implicit to classical dance which later got into the music realm.
His other observation was the tendency for today's dancers to seek advice from experts on languages and literature who suggested great extracts and lines to be used in productions but which lost the greatness of the music that had to be part of it.

Also, Krishna was critical of music accompanists for dance like mridangam artistes who offloaded their music baggage on dancers without any respect for the music composed for a piece.
Conference convenor, dancer Priyadarshini Govind, who was feted many times this morning on being named for the prestigious national Sangeet Natak Award stepped in in defence of thinking dancers, to counter Krishna's arguments at the fag end of his lecture.
A panel discussion followed.

Sadly, a documentary made by Adoor Gopalakrishnan on Koodiyattam, screened at the mini hall ran to a empty hall. The film idea is a good one; we need to have more and more docu films on our artistes but .   .
This conference is open to all. Starts at 9.15 am. On till Dec.31.

Concert to be web streamed on Dec.27 morn

An email alert from Arkay Centre, Luz.
Tomorrow, 27th December, 10.00 am onwards there is a live web cast of the eoncert of Neela Ramgopal, with B U Ganesh Prasad on violin and J Balaji on mridangam.

This event is held under the banner of BGS Trust.

Monday 24 December 2012

Hotel Maris hosts a music mela on Xmas Day

Hotel Maris on the Cathedral Road is a favourite lunch desitination for many city foodies. Elai sapad that is simple, nice and tasty and easy on the pocket too.

The hotel has a beautiful circular hall on its mezzanine floor and puts it to good use during the season every year. A day-long Carnatic music mela is organised on the Christmas day and there is non-stop music on that day.

Tomorrow the mela begins at 10 a.m. Shertalai Renganatha Sharma will perform a vocal concert at 10.15 a.m. Siddharth Sharma at 1 p.m., S. Vasudevan at 2 p.m., Venkatesan and Vellore Srinivasan at 3 p.m. Vamsidhar's flute concert is at 4 p.m.

A veena concert by Janathi Kumaresh is at 6.30 p.m.

Lecdems on GNB, T.Brinda and T. Viswa

The Music Academy has an interesting line up tomorrow morning.
Trichur Ramachandran, this year's Sangita Kalanidhi designate will present a lec-dem on his guru G.N. Balasubramanian's style of singing at 8 a.m.
Following this at 9 a.m., violinist Sriram Parasuram will talk and demonstrate the styles of T. Brinda and his brother T. Viswa.
Incidentally, this year marks the birth centenary of T. Brinda.

Bombay Jayashri concert today; full house

This evening's concert at Mylapore Fine Arts (MFAC) has bene sold out.
The artiste - Bombay Jayashri.

A board went up on the gates of the sabha in Mylapore this morning soon after the few of the daily tickets were sold.

Jayashri has a limited number of concerts this season.

Unni enjoys Ramakrishanmurthy's recital

Ramakrishnan Murthy' reputation precedes him.  
A free kutcheri Sivakami Pithachi hall on December 23, 4pm turned out to be full house.

Singer P. Unnikrishnan was seen enjoying the performance.
Among the current crop of youngesters Ramakrishnan is a leader and could soon graduate to the prime slot.

A competent and confident artiste, he sang a medley of kritis of different composers and showed his versatility as well !

The RTP started in Kalyani, flowed with kapi desh and surutti and was executed well – with able support by Charulata Ramanujan on the violin.

Rasika T V R Shenoy shares his views on the season

We bumped into T V R Shenoy in the canteen of The Music Academy this morning. Shenoy, a very senior journalist and columnist on current affairs used to be Editor of The Week magazine of the Malayala Manorama group.

Today, his column, written from his base in New Delhi is syndicated and carried by over 16 publications.

Shenoy said he has been a December season regular for the past 20 years and shared his observations. This season, he is spending about 10 days in the city.

He says while halls like The Music Academy have used professionals to hugely improve their accoustic standards and the washroom facility, similar facilities have seen marginal improvement. He says Narada Gana Sabha has looked at its washroom condition but its audio system leaves a lot to be desired. "Neither I nor  the artistes could enjoy the concert of T. M. Krishna on Sunday, " Shenoy said. And it was a full house, free concert

Shenoy is the kind of rasika who buys season tickets to three sabhas and juggles between them to catch the best and the innovative.

"I like the options a rasika gets. Its like taking academic courses in the UK or USA where you can choose which to go to and which to skip and yet get the best out of the season," he says.

This evening he will be at a concert by Sriram Parasuram and Anuradha Sriram which will meld classical Carnatic and Hindustani with the classical film music.

'Though Bharat Kalachar's hall is below average some of their concerts are creative but rasikas still have to use washrooms used by schoolkids!"

Drop in NRI rasikas this season?

By far, there does not seem to be a steady stream of people from the USA coming in for this year's festival. A look around the leading sabhas attests to  this fact.

Last evening, Lal of Saptaswara Musicals in Mylapore, a leading player in the instruments and accessories says he thinks there is a perceptible drop in the numbers of NRIs at the season.

" I think the huge recession in the USA and UK has certainly impacted on the number of rasikas coming here in December," he says.

He should know for Lal, at this time of the year has people dropping by to place orders and get stuff shipped or packed for a long journey.

Big draws of Monday morning . . .

T M Krishna's lec-dem is packed and overflowing this morning at the Kasturi Srinivasan Hall in the Music Academy campus.

Sangita Kalanidhi-designate Trichur V Ramachandran also gets a huge house at the 9.15 am concert.

Sunday 23 December 2012

The task of time management

Sriranjani Santhanagopalan just finishes her main item and the tani avarthanam follows. A stage manager signals her that the curtains would be down rightaway. But the young singer wants to sing a thukkada. Following a stiff 'no', the concert ends there. Right at 3 p.m.

Being Sunday and a concert of a up and coming young artiste, the hall has occupants more than 75% of its capacity. The disappointed rasikas at the abrupt end of the concert go straight to the ticket counter and began asking questions. Some blames the management and some wants the managers to be more courteous to the artistes...

The person manning the ticket counter has no answers. The secretaries are not to be seen. A person at the office replies to the questions in one line, "The next concerts are ticketed. So we need to get these people out and re-enter with tickets."
"Do you need one full hour for this?" rasikas ask. But no answer.

The concert that starts at 1.30 p.m. is the last of the day's 'free' concert at the Mylapore Fine Arts Club. The evening concerts from 4 p.m. are ticketed. The close of a concert at 3 p.m. was too early for many that day.

"Yesterday, the other young singer went on till 3.30."

"But Sriranjani took more time with Begada alapana. She could have managed her time well to pack in a small piece as the last item."

"Sabha managers should know to put up the next show quickly."

Is time management a tough task both for artistes and the managers, wondered the rasikas.

Morning melodies

The three dozen people up and out early morning and landed at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, are treated with the melodies of different Kalyanis on the piano and violin. Anil Srinivasan in the piano and Viji Krishnan Natarajan on the violin.
"Anil and Viji took the liberty to say they are doing it today," says Anita Ratnam, convenor of the Epic Woman dance conference.
Flowing then is choral singing of Rabindranath Tagore's Bengali composition, by a set of kids trained by Sudha Raja.
Following this, Viji Krishnan joins Anil Srinivasan to present the ragas Kalyani, Lathangi, Purvikalyani and Hamirkalyani.
"This raga and the Tiruppavai set in this raga are the favourites of me, Viji and Anita," says Anil and they play the Tiruppavai verses 'Thoomani madathu.'
The beauty of the piece lies in the lyrics and three young girls sing it vocally along with the piano.
The session has to end there and the conference to begin. But the listeners want one more from the duo.
But they give two to them.
'Theeradha vilaiyattu pillai' of Subramania Bharathi bringing the mischievous Krishna before them and Vande matharam apt for the pleasant morning!

Saturday 22 December 2012

Sunday, 7.30am for a choir . . .

Sunday and 7.30 a.m. for some music?
Well, Anita Ratnam promised rasikas at the Epic Women dance conference at the Bhavan's in Mylapore that she would reward all those who came in early, with a nice south Indian breakfast!

Here at BVB, pianist Anil Srinivasan and violinist Viji Natarajan, will perform alongside a children's choir - a prelude to the final day of the conference here, hosted by Kartik Fine Arts.

Madras Filter Coffee runs a little stall in the BVB corridors and the general consensus is that the potion is good.

Rukmini Devi, Chandraleka, Bala, Indrani . . . epic women

It was the panel discussion on Day 2 of the 'Epic Women' themed Natya Darshan conference that we attended at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore.

London-based Chitra Sundaram was just closing her paper which also had a short performance to it - Sthree-dom - an Immaculate Conception, based on Arundathi, wife of the sage Vasishtha and Penelope, wife of Greek warrior Odysseus.

Before her act, Mohiniattam dancer Neena Prasad had presented a piece - Surpanaka; A passion disgraced, womanliness mortified.
A glimpse of that closing act made us wonder how a stage which was alive to Carnatic music kutcheris held against a rather grossly-designed kalyana mantap umbrella had been transformed to suit this three-day event.

The Epic Women in Dance round table, with Anita Ratnam and Avanthi Meduri as moderators started on what was a rather informal talk by Katherine Kunhiraman which actually had little substance and fell by the wayside.

Nandini Ramani, speaking on her guru T. Balasaraswathi shared her personal anecdotes from the time she joined dance class (" there would be no questions we could ask during her classes").
 Of how Ganesan was the man who ran the classes directly, of Bala's attitude to fame and wealth ("she was never after money and did not even ask for fees"), her relationship with her students ("one had to be patient and surrender to her when she taught . . .she never openly commented or appreciated the performance of her students") and of what seemed to be a dark phase in latter life when she was a teacher at The Music Academy, hinting to the void she felt.

Nandini said she did not see Bala teach her daughter Lakshmi and never got to know who really did. "She would often say that this dance should end with her life", said Nandini, indicating that Bala was hugely disappointed with what she thought had come of this dance in the 70s.
Quickly, Nandini stepped to the centre and presented a Bala piece, singing it even as she performed the abhinaya - it was a demo that raised a huge round of applause and moved Nandini herself.

Padmini Chettur, who trained under the iconic late Chandraleka from the early 90s and is seen as a key dancer who has gone on to contemporise dance in India spoke closely of her teacher's outlook, consciousness and vision.
Of a teacher who "looked for openness and honesty in her dancers", one who left it to her students to take forward what she had done and did not show interest in institution building ( the way Rukmini Devi had).

Sharing an anecdote Padmini said, "Much after when Chandra saw dancers incorporating yoga and kalari in their dances she would say - 'I seem to have opened a Pandora's box!'"

Sukanya Rahman, dancer and visual artist spoke on her mother Indrani Rahman, a 'Miss India' beauty of 1952 who went on to be a great dancer of many styles. Her snappy anecdotes and vintage pictures, including a short Kuchipudi piece of her mom made her talk very interesting too.

Note: Some interesting notes on the Conference are published as a newsletter and this pdf copy is available at

Saint Thiagaraja aradhana in January 2013; the dates

Dates for your 2013 Calendar . . .

The annual saint Thiagaraja Aradhana for 2013 will take place from Jan. 27 to 31, 2013 at Thiruvaiyaru, Thanjavur district.
The Pancharatna group singing event is on Jan. 31, 2013.

Friday 21 December 2012

Free entry passes for T.M. Krishna's concert at Narada Gana Sabha

On Sunday, Dec. 23, T.M. Krishna sings at Narada Gana Sabha at 10 a.m.
This concert is not ticketed and seats are not reserved. However, you need to get an entry pass, a day in advance.
Free entry passes will be issued from 11 a.m. on Dec. 22 and will be issued up to the seating capacity of the hall, says the notice put up at the venue.
Singer T.M. Krishna had already announced on his website that all his concerts during this season will be free to the public.

Prabhata Sangeetham: Mikeless concerts in the mornings

The drawing room of an apartment owned a the lawyer couple becomes a music hall for three weeks beginning Dec. 25, every year.
The family of Venkataraman, all lovers of music, hosts an annual concert series 'Prabhata Sangeetham' at their home in Luz Avenues, Mylapore. The concerts are held from 5.30 a.m. to 6.30 a.m. No mikes are used and the concert hall is lit up only with traditional oil lamps. The singers perform solo without any accompanying instruments.

Senior vocalist O.S. Thiagarajan sings on the opening day. There is a line up of young artistes till Jan. 13.
Here is the schedule:

Dec. 26 - Amrutha Venkatesh
Dec. 27 - K.Gayatri
Dec. 28 - Ramakrishnamurthy
Dec. 29 - Aiswarya Vidya Raghunath
Dec. 30 - Delhi P Sunderajan-Arun Ramamurthy-Shiva Ramamurthy (Violin Trio) - Arvind Venkatraman
Dec. 31  - Lalitha Sahasranama Akhanda Parayana
Jan. 1, 2013Kalakkad Bothers (Laliltha Sahasranamam Recital) 3.30 am to 5.30 a.m.
Jan. 1 - Delhi V Muthukumar
Jan. 2 - Jayanthi Kumaresh (Veena) - Sriram Bhrammanandam
Jan. 3 - Kiranavali Vidyashankar
Jan. 4 - Abhishek Raghuram
Jan. 5 - J.A.Jayanth [Flute] - Mannarkoil Balaji.  Archana & Aarti (6.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m.)
Jan. 6 - Sumithra Vasudev. S.Maalavika (6.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m.)
Jan. 7 - R.K.Shriram Kumar [Viloin Solo] - Umayalapuram Mali
Jna. 8 - Bharathi Ramasubban
Jan. 9 - Ganesh - Bhargavi Ganesh (Chitraveena Duet)
Jan. 10 - Vishnudev Namboodiri
Jan. 11 - Amrutha Murali
Jan. 12 - Usha Rajagopal [Violin Solo]
Jan. 13 - Palghat Ramprasad. Shwetha & Ramya Chandrasekhar (6.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m.)

The series s co-ordinated by vocalist Delhi Muthukumar.
The concerts  will be held at G/A, Saraswathi Apartments, 14/2, Luz Avenue 2nd Street, Mylapore, Chennai - 4 (Opp. Nageswara Park)

Veterans steal the show in the morning sessions

As early as 9 a.m, the Music Academy's main auditorium was almost houseful on Dec. 21. It was the music concert of the senior vocalist O.S. Thiagarajan. The added attraction was Prof. Trichy Sankaran on the mridangam.
By 9.15 a.m. when the concert began the ground floor was full and the rasikas did not mind climbing up a floor above. Those who wanted to check in after the lec-dem session (held in the mini hall) also had to take their seats in the balcony.
By the time OST began the Varali raga kriti Kamakshi composed by Shyama Sastri, both the ground and first floors were nearly full.
Then came the main raga Kambodhi in all grandeur and Thyagaraja's composition Evarimata. Violinist T.H. Subramainam added beautiful sangatis. The much awaited tani avarthanam by Trichy Sankaran followed. There were few walkouts. All those stayed back were treated with the rich patterns and the special Palani Subramania Pillai style Gumkhi by Sankaran. Young K.V. Gopalakrishnan joined him gamely on the Kanjira.
Trichy Sankaran lives in Toronto, Canada and teaches music at the York University. He is a regular in Chennai during the December season. If you have missed this concert and a few others he had already accompanied during this season, catch him at a few other concerts of OST on Dec. 28 (at Mudhra), Dec. 30 (Sri Parthasarathy Swami sabha).
He is teaming up with N. Vijay Siva on Dec. 27 (Indian Fine Arts) and Dec.29 (Kalarasana).
And in the New Year morning special concert at the Mylapore Fine Arts club by the Lalgudi siblings G.J.R. Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi.
He is also playing for T.M. Krishna at his four-hour concert for Kalarasana on Jan. 6, 2013

Old world charm at Tamil Isai Sangam's festival launch

The atmosphere at the Raja Annamalai Complex where Tamil Isai Sangam holds its concerts and December festival is so different from what reigns at other sabhas in Mylapore and Mambalam.
This art deco building, decorated with illuminations for the occasion still stands out amidst the evening rush hour traffic and the looming minarets of the High Court buildings nearby.

Inside is an old world charm and yet, the space is good for music, dance or drama.

On Friday evening ( Dec.21) the hall smelt of fresh paint when the curtains went up for the launch of its 80th Fest by guest Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla of the Madras High Court.

PSV Raja and group had just wound up their nadaswaram concert to let the spot lights be on two of their own seniors who were to be decorated this evening - Madurai M P N Ponnuswamy, with the Isai Peraringnar award and Sami Dhandapani with the Pann Isai Peraringnar award.
A regular for years was in the front row - former manager of MGR and former AIADMK leader, R M Veerappan.

Present on the dais were P R Gokulakrishnan, president of the Sangam and A C Muthiah, secretary.
A host of music students were given prizes they had won in competitions.

Finally, as is the tradition now Dr. Seekazhi G. Sivachidambaram moved in to present a concert.
Thirumurai isai recitals are held early evening daily and main concerts begin at 6.45 pm.

Some picks among the concerts -
TKS Kalaivanan and party present old songs from the stage ( theatre) era - Dec.22. AKC Natarajan gives a vocal concert - Dec.23. T M Krishna on Dec.26. Sanjay Subrahmanyam on Dec.29 and Aruna Sairam on Dec.30.

Call 25341958 - Sangam office.

Fests of Kalakshetra, Tamil Isai Sangam open today

Two festivals open this evening.

Vice President Hamid Ansari inaugurates the Art Fest of Kalakshetra at its south Chennai campus.
Music and dance recitals are featured at this fest, which is ticketed.

In north Madras, the venerable Tamil Isai Sanham opens its own festival with titles for two nadaswaram vidwans folowed by a concert by Dr Sivachidambaram.
All the concerts here are in Tamil.

Challenging roles for 2 young dancers this evening at BVB

Of the many short form dance recitals that are being presented at the 'Epic Women' themed dance seminar/recitals hosted by Kartik Fine Arts at BVB, Mylapore is this one.
On Friday, 5 pm. It runs for 45mins.

'Amba Shikandi', from the Mahabharata is the focus of this recital. A recital that seeks a male and a female.
Two young dancers, Priya Murle and N Srikanth play the male and female roles and they have employed therukoothu concepts in this production.

Vintage Bharatanatyam this evening at KGS

Aniruddha Knight, a classical dancer who traces his lineage to the great Balasaraswathi  is dancing at Krishna Gana Sabha, T. Nagar on Dec.21, 7.30 pm.

And if you are a dance connosieur, keen to watch dance of a time gone by this is the recital to be at.

Aniruddha says that he will present the traditional margam the way Bala did in her time and a style which is rarely see today in south India.
The teermanams, he says are of Bala's guru Kandappa Pillai, so go back to over 100 years.
Brindamma's grandson, Girish will sing for the recital.

"I don't try to mimic or copy Bala's dance. " says Aniruddha. "The vintage music itself guides a dancer and I bring my aesthetics to it."

Thursday 20 December 2012

Vocalist Nityashri's husband commits suicide

About 45 minutes ago news broke out on local TV channels that Mahadevan, husband of well known Carnatic music vocalist Nityashri had committed suicide and died.

Police said he jumped into the Adyar river, near their home in Kotturpuram, a quiet south Chennai colony. His body was fished out and sent to the mortuary at a local government hospital.

There is shock across rasikas and artistes who are in the middle of a December Season here.

Nityashri had a concert this evening at Ramarao Kalyana Mantap in T Nagar for Chennai Cultural Academy.

Unconfirmed reports said the artiste had broken down after the news of her husband's death.

Ravikiran's tribute to centenarian vidwan Alathur Srinivasa Iyer

This year being the centenary year of many Carnatic music legends like T. Brinda, Madurai Mani Iyer, Palghat Mani Iyer and the living legend Dr. Sripada Pinakapani, many musicians pay tribute to these greats in their concerts during the season.

But Chitravina Ravikiran paid a special tribute to Alathur Srinivasa Iyer, elder of the musicians, who performed as Alathur brothers in his concert at the Narad Gana Sabha on Dec. 19. This year is marks the centenary of Alathur Srinivasa Iyer also.

Before playing 'Vidulaku' in Mayamalavagowla composed by Thayagaraja, he announced to the audience that Alathur brothers used render this keerthana very well and remembered having learnt it form his guru T. Brinda.

The main item Munnu Ravana, a rare kriti in Todi was also rendered in memory of Alathur Srinivasa Iyer. Ravikiran said it was the last kriti he learnt from his guru Brindamma, though she taught him many padams and javalis after that.

Senior mridangam vidwan Trichy Sankaran who accompanied Ravikiran along with Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi on the violin, also had a short story to share. He said, his guru Palani Subramania Pillai had played for Alathur brothers for this song. And this was the first kriti Sankaran heard his guru singing for a recording by the All India Radio. This kriti is the favourite of he and and his guru as percussionists, he added.

Ravikiran has informed his rasikas that he would be continuing his tribute to Alathur Srinivasa Iyer in his concert at The Music Academy on Dec. 21.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

K J Yesudoss is still very very hot!

K J Yesudoss is some kind of phenomenon even today. This past week, we heard sabha executives telling us that they expect his concerts to be full house this season.
It has been the case on all occasions in the past.
A few people were lucky on Wednesday morning as they grabbed tickets at the counter for his concert at Narada Gana Sabha that evening.
The tickets were priced differently so people were asked – Ticket for Ravi Kiran or Yesudoss?
Because Ravi Kiran was performing in the early evening slot.
By 1 p.m. all tickets for the Yesudoss concert were sold out and a board was put up. We learnt that the sabha could issue some tickets to sit on the stage!
Now you must tell us what is the magic of this artiste that makes him such a huge draw?
Mail to – now!

'Na Margam'; second show this evening at BVB

The second performance of a contemporary classical Bharatanatyam production called “ Na Maargam – Knot the path,” will be staged this evening at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan - December 19, 5 pm.
It had its premiere at The Music Academy earlier this month.
The concept is by guru Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy who has highlighted the classical Thanjavur style of Bharatanatyam. 
The production is high on lighting design and music recorded digitally. 
Four senior disciples of Sudharani Raghupathy — Priya Murle, Krithika Subrahmanian, Priya Dixit and Prabha Dixit — star in the recital.
K S R Aniruddha has added to the choreography and created the sound and music. The small stage at BVB may not be enough to showcase the stage design though the music will be rick for the audience attending this show.
Na Maargam features the compositions of late Madurai N. Krishnan, a highly regarded composer.
This production has been funded and promoted by Sumath & Co., Chennai based builders.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Musicians take their acts to city schools

Pianist Anil Srinivasan who fuses his music with Carnatic has hosted a few events on the fringe of the December Season.
His projects with children continue.
For this December, he's got a children's music festival - The Children's Musical Rhapsody. 

His format consists of explanations by musicians, storytelling about music/musicians and short performances by very eminent artistes. 

The acts will be on 3 days from Dec.19.

19th - at PSBB TP Road, with a conversation with Unnikrishnan followed by a recital by Mysore Chandan Kumar (flute), Storytrails Storytelling.

The act on 20th is at Arshiya Vidya Mandir and at Rajaji Vidyashram the next day.

Three docu-films show the art and lives of 3 different artistes

Three documentaries screened today at Arkay Centre in Luz were on some of the greatest artistes we have seen.
Brinda, A K C Natarajan and Adyar K Lakshman.
And each artiste's character and musical journey were unique.

The Brindamma film focussed on her music, her character and her life. A lady who could not take substandard music.

The AKC film told us about an artiste's life in the 50s and 60s, the toil and sweat, the long, long concerts and the paltry pay and yet, the pride, talent and standards that existed.

The film on dance acharya Adyar K Lakshman is a work in progress and gave us a glimpse of the artiste's early education and of traditional methods of dance learning. Baba Prasad, Lakshman's son is working on this film.

Young American Indian talent take the stage

The American Carnatic music young brigade is here. Young musicians and vocalists who have excelled back home and wish to perform during the season here.

They have been performing at a Hare Krishna Centre in Thiruvanmiyur and now, from this afternoon, for 4 days they will present recitals at Arkay Centre, Luz.

Concerts here start at 2 pm.

Cleveland V V Sundaram, founder-host of the famed Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana fest held there on the eve of the Easter holidays every year ( where India's top artistes also perform and teach), said that they choose the best talent who perform at the Aradhana in USA and arrange for their passage to the season's concerts.

Big lineup of senior vidwans debate music traditions

The Academy's first academic session at the mini hall on Sunday was a panel discussion (16.12.12 ) on - Oral Tradition Vs Textual Tradition
All the panel members were stalwarts and so only people with basic sangitha gyanam could fully appreciate members’ demonstrations of handling ragas with respect to yester years’ bani or the original version given in texts and the present days’ performances.
These are some notes we recorded at the exchange -
- Karna parampara or the oral tradition is important whether it is today or tomorrow.
- The gurus of yore did not document their works and some did allow sishyas to take notes.  Perhaps why 3 sishyas of the same guru had different bani.
- Gamaka and anuswaras can be learnt only through a guru.  To interpret the text and use gamakas and anuswaras one should have profound knowledge.
- Manodarma and kalpana swara both can be learnt by oral tradition only and not through text.
- Due to different interpretations of texts there have been many changes taking place in the presentation.  But nevertheless the change in the swarasthnas has occurred towards the higher swara and not to the lower swara.  This may also be due to bringing  in some aesthetics (rakthi) in the rendition.  This may also differ from person to person depending on their pitch and timber.
- Today’s youngsters are educated and so they learn from text, get refined at their guru's feet and use modern media successfully too to enhance.  However only a guru can point out mistakes and correct a sishya. 
All the panel members were in unison in giving priority to oral tradition.  They jokingly said that today’s trend is ‘Guru Tape o Namaha’ in the place of ‘Guru Devo Namaha’.
Sangita Kalanidhi designate STrichur Ramachandran said that guru parampara is the best and the presence of so many veterans in the dais that morning is the testimony for the same.

- Report by V. Vasantha

TVG hosts fest in Besant Nagar temple; Dec.18 onwards

One venue in the city is special to some artistes.
The hall at the Sri Varasiddhi Vinayaka Temple in Besant Nagar, south Chennai.
It is simple, clean and can accommodate about 300 people. The music of the temple rituals also floats in but that creates the atmosphere!

Musicians and dancers living this side of the city like to perform here.

Prof. T V Gopalakrishnan who runs AIMA in this part of the city also runs a December season festival. The 2012 edition starts on Dec.18 and will go on till Dec.24 and has some pretty good artistes.

Shafeekudeen and Shabana, sishyas of the Dhananjayas dance on Dec.19, 6 pm and a concert by Dr Rukmini Ramani follows ( 7.10 pm), the Akkarai Sisters' violin concert is on Dec.20 evening, followed by the talented Pavitra Srinivasan presenting Sundara Kandam, a natya feature on the glory of Sri Hanuman.

Lalgudi GJR Krishnan's violin recital is on Dec.21, Rama Varma's vocal concert 
on Dec.22, 7 pm and Kadri Gopalnath and Kannyakumari ( sax and violin) perform on Dec.23 evening.

The fest, dedicated to Chembai Bhagavathar, TVG's guru is open to all.

Monday 17 December 2012

Indian Fine Arts fest opens today

Only one more leading sabha has to launch its festival now.
But this evening, the celebration will be at The Indian Fine Arts Society's fest, scheduled to open in a few hours now.
IFAS holds its concerts at the Bala Mandir German Hall at Prakasam Road, T. Nagar ( closer to the Gemini flyover side). This is an old world space for music and dance and 
This is its 80th South Indian Music Conference and Festival.
Besides the concerts, there are some engaging lec-dems also held here.
Call 28345441 - IFAS office.

Tamil Isai Sangham in north Madras ( opposite the Fort rail station) will open its fest on December 21. It has a limited number of concerts, all by top rankers and focuses only on Tamil compositions / music as does the Tamil Music Fest of Kartik Fine Arts held at a college in Anna Nagar ( west side of the city). 
Call the Sangam office at 2534 1425

December memories of a veteran

Narasimhan (79) is the founder of ‘Asthiga Samajam’ at Thiruvanmiyur and it is in its 20th year ( his photo is seen above).  He shared the dais on the inaugural day of Madhuradhwani fest at Arkay Centre, Luz. He had some nice anecdotes to share. Here are two -
- In the old days there used to be a radio unit inside Panagal Park, T Nagar and it played on a PA system Carnatic music from 5.30 in the evening to 9 at night.  
Once, in 1953 he was   travelling in a bus and had taken the ticket from T.Nagar to Mylapore. When the bus came near Panagal Park, he heard Madurai Mani’s kutchery being broadcast.  

He got down from the bus and tore off the two anna ticket (which was a great sum those days) and went into the park.  He stayed till the end of the programme which was 9 at night.  He had no bus to Mylapore at that late hour.  So he walked to Mylapore recollecting the neraval at ‘Kantiki Sundara’ in the Thyagaraja Kriti ‘ Chakkani raja margamu ‘.

- The Music Academy in those days was having its festival at R.R.Sabha, Mylapore and the Expert Committee meetings inside Lady Sivaswamy Iyer Girls School.  There used to be heated arguments among vidwans at these meets.

- Report, photo by V. Vasantha

O. S. Arun bhajans popular

O.S. Arun’s was the 75th kutcheri for the BVB music festival for 2012.
His was not in the usual concert format but more like a bhajan with artistes on thabla & harmonium and he calls it ‘Bhajan Sandhya’.
Arun is versatile whether it is the composition of ThulasiDas, Purandaradas, Rama Dass, Namadev, Rukmini Ramani or Swathi Thirunal.
This auditorium rocked with rasikas chanting ‘Vittala’, ‘Shyam Mohan’ or ‘Panduranga’ at the end of the songs.
Finally, on the request of a little girl sitting in the balcony, he sang ‘Vishamakara Kanna’ and received a roaring response from audience.
That was a nice finale of BVB’s 2012 Music Festival which was totally free for rasikas.
- Report, photo by V. Vasantha

Sunday 16 December 2012

Docu-film screening: on Rajam, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Brinda

Five documentary films on artistes and gurus are to be screened on Dec.17 and 18 mornings.
At Arkay Centre, Luz.

On Day One, the films are on multifaceted S. Rajam - 2 hrs - followed by a film on vocalist Sanjay Subrahmanyam - 1.25 hrs.

The screening starts at 9.55 am and is open to all.

The Tuesday films are on clarinet vidwan A K C Natarajan, vocalist Brinda and one on natya acharya Adyar K Lakshman that is in the making by his son Baba Prasad.

More info at the Fringe Events section at

Stories of Papanasam Sivan's cinema history

Papanasam Sivan makes a great subject for study, discussion and talks.
He was the focus at the first session of a daylong event held today at Arkay Centre. The host - Jayadharini Trust.

Sivan's daughter, Rukmini Ramani, rushing in from the first day of margazhi bhajan rounds of the mada veedhis of Mylapore, had stories to tell but was politely asked to wind up as the inaugural event dragged on.

But she made one plea - the need to have a memorial that celebrates Sivan's work and contribution.

Film director and producer, the veteran Muktha Srinivasan also had his stories to share. Key was the fact he underlined - that in Tamil cinema, Sivan was the leading man in film music for 17 long years.

The key talk though was by writer historian Randor Guy and he had a packed hall on a Sunday when there were a dozen events of the 'season'.

Using visual clips, film and audio clips Guy shared his own stories on Sivan, a man who ventured to Trivandrum with little in his pocket, learnt Sanskrit, music and the arts, and came to be in Madras.

Guy said that though Sivan came under Sundaram Iyer, father of S. Rajam and Veena Balachander in Mylapore it was film maker K Subrahmanyam ( dancer Padma's father) who tapped his talent and used him in cinema.

Randor Guy said that Sivan, very adept in Carnatic music was in doubts about how he could work in cinema, scoring for films of that time till his classical music and simple songs got quick acknowledgment from the cinema greats of that time and he was well on his way of being the sought after man in cinema.

Sivan's songs featuring M S Subbulakshmi in her singing roles were screened here. And audios of some poignant, memorable songs were also played.

Nice fringe event in the early part of Season 2012.

Lots to explore in Dikshitar kritis

Sunday morning 8.30 is not early for those who love to delve deep into the highly philosophical kritis of Dikshitar.
There are more than 150 people at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha's lec-dem session by violinist R.K. Sriramkumar.

A scholar in Sanskrit and one who has studied Dikshitar kritis with reference to Srividya puja concept, Sriramkumar takes the listeners to different level to understand what Dikshitar had experienced!
He sings the verses in perfect diction clearly explaining the musical intricacies of the kritis.

The audience - young, old, musicians, students - are rapt in attention.

Sriramkumar says," You can talk for a whole day on a single composition of Dikshitar. Yet there will be a lot more to explore!"

Heavy subjects do pull in listeners. It needs one like Sriramkumar to speak on them. That's the secret!

Canteens make good gallery space!

The canteens in the sabhas are no more just shamiana enclosures.

'Mountbatten' Mani Iyer's canteen at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha (Vidya Bharathi Hall) has nicely painted pictures of the great musicians on their 'walls'. Vetarans like Nadaswaram T.N. Rajarathnam Pillai, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, singers Radha - Jayalakshmi, who made waves in the 60s and 70s, figure along with the present day vidwans like Aruna Sairam, Sudha Ragunathan and Unnikrishnan, in portraits.

Perhaps, the sabha and the caterer could host a contest to identify the musicians at this canteen!

Randor Guy talks on the music of Papanasam Sivan

A unique daylong fest unfolds now at the Arkay Centre, Luz.
Almost all the events will be based on cinema.

First up is a video illustrated talk by the grand old man of cinema history, Randor Guy aka Rangadurai.

His talk at 9.45 am is on the Songs of Papanasam Sivan.  There are talks / recitals through the day - open to all.

At the park in Luz: day 2

There were new sights at Nageswara Rao Park yesterday. Artistes sharing and demonstrating, and performing.

The Ambalam show was on here in the green oasis in Luz.

We caught dancer Narendra and his colleague dancers in a led-dem and later, vocalist Sriram Parasuram, seated under the canopy of a huge tree in this park, sharing his thoughts with a small, mixed group.

Events of Sunday are unfolding now. Hop across and join the guests. Prof. V V Subrahmanyam performs at 8 pm. Call 43016555.

Welcoming margazhi . . .

On the way home last night, well after savouring the big concert of flutist N Ramani and his sons, with Umayalpuram Sivaraman and M Chandrasekaran at The Music Academy, we caught the sights of women cleaning their front yards of their homes.

Cleaning to design a pulli kolam and welcome the margazhi season yet again.

Some kolas will be just small - one feet by one feet, some will be large ones.

And with the kolams will come the bhajan groups, singing their rounds on the mada veedhis, the prominent ones going around Sri Kapali Temple in Mylapore.

<< Mail us your margazhi photos with captions and we will post them here >>

Saturday 15 December 2012

Jayalalithaa suggests global arts fest in Chennai

Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has suggested that a global arts festival can be planned at this time of the year in Chennai.

She made this suggestion during her speech at the Music Academy Conference she inaugurated this evening.

Report filed at

Academy's conference opens; Tamil Nadu CM does it

What an evening at The Music Academy!

Groups of AIADMK cadres on the Academy's fringe, red-black-white AIADMK festoons around it and huge security well before 4 pm.

Then the formal opening of the Conference and Concerts (86th edition) - award, speeches and all.

And then some informal pow wow at the canteen at tiffin time. And finally three Sangita Kalanidhis on stage - N Ramani ( and his sons), Umayalpuram Sivaraman and M Chandrasekaran - in concert. has reportage and pictures.

Ambalam's acts in the park!

Nageswara Rao Park. Luz has now got a life that is a tad different in this part of Chennai city.

This hub for walkers, fitness freaks and seniors and kids is, this weekend the stage for a variety of cultural events hosted by Ambalam, a arts company based in the city.

Vocalist T V Ramprasadh and wife, dancer Indira Kadami who run Ambalam are, for the second time hosting this colourful fest at the park - acts got underway this Saturday morning and will run through the day and on Sunday.

There are workshops, lec-dems, recitals and fun events with big shows closing the day's acts. Open to all.

Though the night temps are as low as 22 degrees, daytime temps run up to 31 degrees at noontime and makes things sticky. That shouldn't stop you from checking out the acts of Ambalam.

Check out

The Narada Gana Sabha awards show

Sabha executive R. Krishnaswamy runs the show like a strict school headmaster. So the opening evening of Narada Gana Sabha where he is secretary got off on time, kept to the agenda and attracted a big house on Dec.14.

It was an evening to celebrate three, na . . four artistes - the Dhananjayans, dancers and guru, Rukmini Ramani, composer and guru and nadaswaram vidwan Injikudi E P Lakshmanan.

They were decorated with awards by chief guest Gopalakrishna Gandhi.
Special guest, dancer-guru Prof. C V Chandrasekar ( fondly called Chandru-anna) was in rewind mode, sharing times and work spent with the Dhananjayans, from the time Shantha arrived from Malaysia when she was 8, followed by Dhananjayan's presence some years later.

Gandhi, now a favourite at cultural events of this kind was a tad longwinded, very professorial.

Artist Nandakumar and his ward Devisri, who learns dance at the Dhananjayans space in Adyar presented the couple with a huge portrait painting. Their sishyas followed even as certificates to winners in music/dance competitions were awarded.

In the VIP rows were two Kalakshetra veterans, gurus of the Dhananjayans - Sarada Hoffman and N S Jayalakshmi. Theosophical Society senior G. Sundari was also here. They form the old guard of Rukmini Devi's era.

As dancers and young artistes greeted the Dhananjayans outside the hall, the nadaswaram vidwan Injikudi E P Lakshmanan, less abled was helped his away by his sishyas, quietly and unnoticed.

Chandru anna had in his felicitation speech asked his audience to enjoy the music of the nadaswaram when performed at weddings and receptions, not ignore it.

This very evening, the vidwan received his award gracefully on stage but hardly anybody even wished him.

There are different sides of the 'season'. This is also one of them.

Friday 14 December 2012

Balasaraswati style of natyam, a presentation

Art @ Edge, a group that facilitates interaction between artistes and art lovers, is organising a presentation by Aniruddha M Knight, grandson of the legendary dancer T. Balasaraswati.
The event will focus on Bala's style and will include padams and javalis as presented by her.
On Dec. 15. Between 5 and 7 p.m.
The venue is New no. 26, (Old 32), Kasturba Nagar 5th Main Road, Adyar.
Open only to limited audience on first come first served basis. A token donation of Rs. 100 is solicited.

Kalakshetra screens Ray's 'Pather Panchali'; tribute to Ravi Shankar

Kalakshetra is paying a special tribute to Pandit Ravi Shankar who passed away some days ago.

It is screening Satyajit Ray's iconic film, Pather Panchali at its auditorium on Dec.15, Saturday at 10 am - the music for this film was scored by the pandit.

Writer Girish Karnad will speak.

Open to all. 

Tributes to Ravi Shankar at concerts

This was natural. The day news broke out of Pandit Ravi Shankar's death in USA, some artistes who were performing that day paid tributes to the famed musician at the season concerts.

We were told that Aruna Sairam paid tribute with a song in honour of the pandit. Violinists Ganesh and Kumaresh, at their evening concert also paid tributes.

Ravi Shankar was featured at the Music Academy at the December 31 late evening concert and these were packed.