Monday 30 December 2013

Ganesh-Kumaresh, Sonal Mansigh at IIT Fest

Rajaram Suresh, a student of IIT Madras, and an organizer of Saarang
2014, IIT's annual cultural festival mailed this note -

As part of our Classical Night, we are organising an open concert on
January 8th, featuring the violin duo GANESH-KUMARESH (music) and the
legendary Odissi dancer SONAL MANSINGH(Dance) both on one night.

Date: 8th January, 2014
Time: 6 00 pm onwards
Venue: Open Air Theatre, IIT Madras campus, Adayar, Chennai 600036
Concerts are open to all and is free,

The final shows on a roll . . .

The 'Sabari Moksham' dance drama at Kalakshetra sold out a few days ago. So if you are looking for tickets for guests, post a request on FaceBook! A few people did get lucky for the Rukmini Kalyanam show on Sunday.

Brahma Gana Sabha has two key shows this week. A colourful discourse by Dushyanth Sridhar from Mumbai for the 7.30 pm New Year eve slot. It is ticketed and selling fast.

So are tickets for Sanjay Subrahmanyam's New year morning show of Brahma Gana Sabha at Sivagami Petacchi Hall, Luze Church Road.

Saturday 28 December 2013

So, Kalakshetra's dance-dramas are in demand.

Kalakshetra's dance-dramas are a hit.
Below are three emails (on seeking tickets for Rukmini Kalyanam to be staged on Sunday) we share just to show what the demand has been and how rasikas do share!


If anyone has any tickets for sale for this performance, please do get in touch.I have a friend who wants to desperately go for it.
Sorry to use this forum, but this young lady has supported us a great deal and I thought , one good turn deserves another :)

I heard from someone who went for an earlier show (Ajamilopakhyanam) that seats on the two sides  (a stone plank against the wall) were available at the beginning of the show. The same thing may not apply for Rukmini Kalyanam, but it may be worth a try.

A friend has two extra  100/- tickets. My email is ....... Your friend is welcome to these 

Tribute to Chandralekha. At Spaces in Besant Nagar.

Lest we forget.

A tribute to dancer and guru Chandralekha is to be held at Spaces in Besant Nagar, south Chennai, the space for the arts and activism that she and colleague late Dashrath Patel founded - the first plot on the Elliots Beach Road ( north end).

There is an exhibition of some of the drawings of Patel - founder of the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad from Sunday onwards. The show is on for a few days and has been curated by critic Sadanand Menon.

On Monday, 7.30 pm onwards the Barmer Boys, a group of Mangaiyar community folk musicians will perform into the night. It is open to all. The artistes will also hold a workshop that morning at Spaces from 11 a.m. It is also open to all.

Spaces was the work and teaching centre for the late Chandralekha who brought in yoga, kalari and contemporariness to Bharatanatyam.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Kutcheri Buzz Carnatic music Quiz

Cops. Cops. Outside the Bhavans.

One would have thought a top Cop's daughter was dancing here.
On Christmas eve part of East Mada Street was packed with jeeps, vans and cars, with the Police legend on them. Crowded outside the Bhavan.

And then we go to know that dancer Srinidhi Chidambaram was performing and that her father-in-law union minister P. Chidambaram was watching Srinidhi perform.

Must have been time well worth taken off from the rough times that Congress is facing in election year.

Monday 23 December 2013

Palghat Ramaprasad in concert; as seen by artist Rijesh

Artist Rijesh caught the mood at a concert of Palghat Ramaprasad at Arkay Centre. Luz, with Trichur Narendran on the mridangam and R K Shriram Kumar on the violin.

Packed TMK concert. And only sapad, no coffee after it.

The autos and the taxies honked their way out. Hawkers screamed. And the concert carried on the way ti should.
This morning's concert of T M Krishna for Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha at a wedding hall off Jammi Buildings junction was packed and overflowing; every seat occupied, the outer space full and a screen beaming the images via CCTV.

Even curious women who attend meetings and work at the Working Women's Forum which functions on this campus peeped in to find out what the cause of the rush was.

Krishna, midway told his audience that this was not the concert in the form it is today and that it would be good for us all if we too didn't have such expectations in mind.

Not many seemed to mind tis morning. They had their fill and the diehard fans picked up a copu of Krishna's recently released nook ' A Karnatik Music' and rushed back to the lobby to get it autographed.

It was a shade after 12noon when the eoncert got over and in minutes the Mountbatten-managed canteen was full for sapad. Coffee? Sorry, closed for lunch time, the steward said.

Wouldn't rasikas have a hot cuppa after a Mountbatten meal?

Sunday 22 December 2013

Padams on the piano. A wonderful Mylapore morning.

Which Mass to attend this Sunday morning at the San Thome Cathedral?
The one at 7.15 am or at 9.30 a.m.?

For, it was a different morning with lots of options.
I chose to head to Mylapore, to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Anil Srinivasan and Sikkil Gurucharan presenting their final concert of the year. And there was a milestone to celebrate at 8.15 a.m.

The duo were recording seven years of collaboration. And today's concert was a completion of a circle. For, it was exactly to the date, seven years ago that the pianist and the vocalist had come together and the person who enabled the collaboration was dancer and festival curator Anita Ratnam.

Anita was here this morning, the final day of the annual conference on dance themed ' Purush'.

And for all those who came in early,  they listened to the duo playing with percussionist Purushothaman on the kanjira. For just one song - the padam ' theruvil varano...'. What a start to a Sunday morning. Purushothaman played, paused and then packed his kanjira to head to another sabha while the duo carried on with their music, rousing and falling, gliding and swaying this Sunday morning for an hour.

There were idlis and coffee in the corridor of the Bhavan for the break. We hopped into Sri Katpagambal Mess. The food had improved considerably, so have the prices. The place was full.

Margazhi was truly wonderful in Mylapore. Then it was for Mass at San Thome.

Friday 20 December 2013

The Tripaada buzz; notes from the inside

As the Shree Bharatalaya team prepares to unveil its latest roduction, Tripaada at a December 23 show, of dance theatre – conceived and pursued by guru Sudharani Raghupathy – there is some excitement in the air.
Dancer Deepthi Ravichandran, who has been creating the buzz for this show via Facebook, shares here her notes jotted down some days ago -

Bharatalaya is learning, yet again, that no amount of rehearsals will prevent the exciting rush of the last week before the show. 
Every person in the production is working hard to make sure everything is picture-perfect for our grand premier. 

On one hand,  Aniruddha is finding last minute rehearsal times that suit all the busy dancers, while simultaneously pulling of his director’s role brilliantly by demonstrating the parts of every character.  Meanwhile, his wife Arathi Lakshmi organises a healthy Sunday lunch for the hungry and tired dancers giving them respite from their not-so-healthy snacks from Bake Castle next door. 

Dancers are finally getting to practice pivotal scenes in the production with props.
On one hand, Chandra Furniture continues to help with providing and transporting the truckload of sets and props through the busy Mylapore roads. 
On the other hand, Suchitra Ravi has repeatedly baffled the salespeople at Sowcarpet as well as the dancers with her famed taste and fine artistry to help with jewellery and accessories.

The dancers, when they aren't found in the sabha canteens, are regularly stretching and mentally preparing for the showcase of a production that has changed their perception of mythology and Bharatanatyam as a whole.

  Now we wait for the first show this season . . ..

Samaa GaMa at Nageshwara Rao Park .

Purush Opens. Time for all dancers to attend and learn

You must give it to Anita Ratnam. She is good at getting things done and giving a touch of class to events.

The Natya Darshan seminar and performances under the Kartik Fine Arts sabha banner got off to a sooth start this morning at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore.

Though work is incomplete at the Bhavan's auditorium, this morning in that hall with a jet black stage and a few lights on, this seemed just the place to be and to listen.

Listen to two very interesting, illustrative and expressive speakers. Writer critic Leela Venkataraman and writer and speaker Devdutt Patnaik.

They got an attentive audience and a huge round of applause though the attendance was below par.

The theme - Purush - is engaging and as we broke off for our daily grind, a panel was formed on stage for the final part of the morning's discussion.

The evening dance recitals - all by male artistes and all of them of great distinction - from Astad Deboo to A Lakshman - are must watch recitals. They are ticketed concerts and well worth your rupee. Go for them.

As Anita said, in jest; Devdutt has the release of his latest book on Sita tomorrow but please be here for our seminar!

Swapnasundari, Janardhanan: Speak at Krishna Gana Sabha

Thursday 19 December 2013

Naada Inbam- Kalyani Ganesan -Veena

Speeches and sambar vada in T. Nagar

We like to get to the Bala Mandir Hall in T. Nagar. Its openess, its space and the old world charm needs some patronage. As does the music that plays here at this time of the year.

Weeks ago, a citywide choir contest for school kids had the place in swirls of choral music.

On Wednesday evening Venus' snacks greeted us squarely as we got here for the Indian Fine Arts Society Fest - it isn't a wise thing to pitch the canteen near the entry gate - as word spreads, there could be more people at Venus' tables than inside the auditorium and no organiser wants that to happen.

We chose the wooden chairs - the front rows sport them and they cure tired backs. As the speech drones floated inside, we couldn't take out eyes off the spectcular designed roof, part of the design for good accoustics we assumed.

There were awards for Kadri Gopalnath and Alarmel Valli, given by actor Sacchu, now Head of the TN Iyal Isai Nataka Manram. There was also a award for mridangist Srimushnam Raja Rao. Justice Prabha Sridevan was also here asa guest and she made a stirring speech.

Prabha focused on the fact that it is the arts that makes our lives and that it can even address war and violence. A rare speech for the season that went beyond cliches and was in pure Thamizh.

Raja Rao was the loud speaker of the evening. He sang, he shouted and gestured and did all he can to earn minus marks from the audience.

T. Nagar;s face changed many years ago. The local sabhas have lost their devoted rasikas. So IFAS may be nice in carrying on a December tradition it held high decades ago but it has to rejig its strategy if its fest is to be on a rasika's diary.

P. S. : Venus' sambar vadai and rava dosa scored on Day One. Coffee was hot waterish. And the nadaswaram folks led by a vidwan from Adyar did not find a mention in the IFAS brochure. Sad.

Guhan Venkataraman: One song at 'Season'

Wednesday 18 December 2013

The Indian Fine Arts Society -Opening Ceremony

Lec-dems attract curious listeners

The morning academic sessions and lec-dems are not any more fringe events of the 'season'. Music enthusiasts who love to know more of what they listen to during the season attend these sessions in large number.

It was a heavy subject - Dual Panchalinga kritis of Dikshitar, on Dec. 18 at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha. Violinist R. K. Sriramkumar who has studied the kritis of Muthuswami Dikshitar in detail presented the lec-dem. About 300 people sat through the session. The lec-dem sessions begin early at 8.30 a.m. here.

Accompanied by Amrita Murali on the violin and K. Arun Prakash on the mridangam, Sriramkumar delved deep into the compositions he took up for the day. There are the Panchabhoota Sthala kritis and another set of Panchalinga kritis on the lingas inside the Tiruvarur Thyagaraja temple, Sriramkumar said distinguishing the two sets of compositions.

"Being Arudra Darshanam today, it is very special to begin with the kriti on Akasha lingam at Chidambaram," he said and explained the lyrical beauty of the kriti Ananda Natana prakasam in Kedaram and sang it too.

He took up the Saranga raga kriti Arunachalanatham on the Agni linga of Tiruvannamalai and shared with the listeners how thoughtfully Dikshitar has penned the lyrics with the word 'smarami', since agni / surya is 'namaskara priya'.

The kriti on jala linga of Tiruvanaikka, 'Jambupate' in Yamuna kalyani, the raga known as 'Yamuna' in Dikshitar school is full of elements relating to water. The kshetram is referred to as samajatavi, meaning the forest of elephants, which inTamil is Thiru Anai kaa, he explained.

He then moved on to the Tiruvarur Panchalinga kritis beginning with Sadachaleswaram in Bhupalam. He wondered the connection with Dikshitar of Kambhoji raga and Khanda jati Ata tala while talking about the Kambhoji raga kriti, Sri Vanmikalingam chintaye.

Sriramkumar had to wind up at this stage as the next concert was lined up at the sabha. The curious audience wanted to know the other three panchalinga kritis.  Hatakeswara in Bilahari, Anandeswarena in Ananda Bhairavi and Siddiswaraya in Nilambari, he informed.

The sabha secretary M. Krishnamurthy said that the response to the lec-dems make them think of a separate festival of such sessions. The lec-dem on Swarajatis by the Bangalore based musician Neela Ramgopal held on the previous day and the one on Dikshitar compositions by Neyveli Santhanagopalan also ran houseful, he said.

Sudha Ragunathan Award acceptance speech at The Music Academy

With T N S Krishna in Virugambakkam

Hosting music festivals in the neighbourhoods away from the 'Mylapore' centre can be a challenge. Locating a good auditorium, coaxing popular artistes to perform in December and then attracting rasikas  to the fest - all these challenge the small bunch of people who run sabhas in these parts.

But with a still growing city on its fringe, places like Tambaram and Virugambakkam have rasikas who would prefer listening to music at venues they can access easily.

So when Sri Rama Bhakta Jana Samaj, a K K Nagar based body found the promoter of the Meenakshi College of Engineering in Virugambakkam willing to offer its auditorium for concerts, it was godsend.

The sabha had been using space at the PSBB school in its own backyard for years but with the pokes and spikes getting a tad too many, getting a new venue was key to their plans.

On Tuesday evening, we motored to this huge campus after negotiating the peak hour traffic on Arcot Road, turning into Vembuliamman Koil Road and locating the place with some ease.

This campus was the famed Film Center studios complex owned by actor Dilip Kumar. And the screening theatre has been converted into a all-pupose auditorium - possibly the only structure of the studio era that remains standing here.

Rasikas strolled in. When the concert began, a good 30 minutes behind schedule there were about 100 rasikas in the hall that can seat about 300 plus people.

It was T N S Krishna's evening on stage. He and violinist Delhi Sundararajan cooled their heels since mridamgist Ganapathyram had not arrived. When he did drive in, a tad harried he was not in the best mood for a kutcheri. For, he had headed to PSBB and hung around for some time before realising he had to be at a new venue.

The senior men who manage the sabha are an old boys club kind of team. Putting up with hiccups and cooling tempers is part of their job even as they let off steam on the sidelines.

They would love to have some big names on stage- yes they do have Neyveli Santhanagopalan and T V Sankaranarayanan but rasikas seek out the men and women who wow them today. "We are willing to pay them their fee but they say they cannot spare a day for us in December." said one team member.

Standing outside the hall, the music streaming out of the parting in the door ( this is an air-conditioned hall) and a campus bathed in thin moonlight, the atmosphere was just right for the season. The mosquitos though spoiled your evening in minutes.

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Canteen. For rasikas only.

Eating and relaxing between concerts at the sabha canteens is one rasikas enjoy during the season as much as they enjoy music and dance inside the halls.There are also food-overs who look for 'season' special at these canteens.

Among the popular ones is Sree Gnanambika Catereing Service at  Narada Gana Sabha. Their menu card is made daily instead of a standard laminated card for all the days. There is one special item every day and side dishes include traditional items like 'Inji thogaiyal' and 'Puli mandi'.
No wonder there are rasikas for the canteen too.

But this season, Narada Gana Sabha organisers have strictly say 'no' to outsiders who wish to have only food and not listening to music there. There are boards put up right from the gate to the entrance to the canteen on the rear that the canteen facilities are for sabha audience only.

The canteen manager says this is mainly to avoid congestion in parking cars inside the campus who adds that they do have their own regulars for the lunch every year.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Aishwarya Srinivas: One song at 'Season'

Ravi and Ranjani's Bhairavi

For his chitravina concert for Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha on Dec. 16, N. Ravikiran chose many songs with 'Parthasarathy' in the lyrics. Right from the varnam in Vasantha, 'Ninne kori' which has 'Pannagashayanudou Sri Parthasaradhi Deva' in the anupallavi.

Ravikiran makes the audience enjoy the concert as much as he does. Sometimes it is a short info about the songs and some other times it is mild pun with a sense of humour.

After an elaborate Bhairavi raga alapana followed by the violinist Ranjani Ramakrishnan's version of the raga, Ravikiran said, "As you all might have guessed, it is raga Bhairavi. You heard two Bhairavis today. One Bhai'ravi' by Ravi and another by Ranjani," bringing smile on the faces of the audience.

Prof. Trichy Sankaran played a bright and sparkling Tani with B.S. Purushotham on the Kanjira and there was a thunderous applause when it was over. Ravikiran asked the audience, "Can you believe that Prof. Sankaran was a little indisposed before the concert? And Ranjani has just recovered from Typhoid?"

He concluded with a Bhadrachala Ramadasa's composition 'O Rama nee namam' in Purvi Kalyani bringing memories of the yesteryear singer Madurai Somu and a 'dwigati' tillana in Atana.

Monday 16 December 2013

Colourful opening at The Music Academy

Gorgeously dressed in the best of her Conjeevaram, Sudha Ragunathan, the Sangita Kalanidhi designate of this year added colour to the festive look of the Music Academy's opening day. Her family, friends, sishyas and fans surrounded her at the entrance and lobby of the Academy.

When the curtains went up, the even more colourful backdrop of the dais matched Sudha's attire on the evening.

With the Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam, one could guess what would be the centre point of his talks. The copyright and intellectual property rights were all over his presidential address.
"In the contemporary times, the taunting spear for music industry is piracy," he said. Though the police routinely confiscated and destroyed counterfeit CDs, they were not able to make a dent in production and sale of pirated albums, he observed.

N. Murali, president of The Music Academy said that Sudha is one of the youngest musicians chosen for the prestigious award of Sangita Kalanidhi in several years. He recalled the association and connection of the legal profession with The Music Academy that Justice T.L. Venkatrama Iyer was a Sanita Kalanidhi as well served as president of the Academy.

Sudha Ragunathan in her acceptance speech dedicated the award to her guru M.L. Vasanthakumari. She was proud that she is the fourth generation recipient of the award beginning from G.N. Balasubramanian.

She put forth an appeal to Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to ensure that classical music became part of the mainstream academic curriculam.

Margazhi Bhajans start at Mylapore Mada streets