Tuesday 30 December 2014

Lec-dem on 'sangatis' / some notes made at the Academy

The panel discussion on ‘Sangatis in Trinity’s compositions' at the Academy was headed by guru P. S. Narayanaswamy and the participants were Suguna Varadachari, A. Kanyakumari, Ritha Rajan, R.S. Jayalakshmi and Charumathi Ramachandran.
Here are some points jotted at this lec-dem - made by the participants -

- Saint Thyagaraja’s krithis had more sangathis. Dikshithar and Shyma Sastri used less number of sangathis.

- The original krithis should have had only a few sangathis depending on the bhava, mood and the situation. A song where the composer is pleading with God should have one or two plain sangatis to enhance the depth and clarity.

- Saint Thyagaraja, while composing extempore, would have given only few sangatis. His disciples later while notating would have added many more. Thyagaraja has in few krithis, has given the entire arohana/ avarohana in one sangati itself.

- Sangatis also depend on the scope of the raga. For example - yadukulakambodi  can have only limited sangatis. Aahiri and ganda cannot have sangatis.

- Some sangatis will suit the sahithya and some will depend on the style of singing of the vaggeyakara.

- T V Gopalakrishnan observed that 'performance is an art.  Saint Thyagaraja has composed many songs and also operas. Why would we assume that he would not have put sangatis while composing them. A performer can sing the same sangati in 4 different ways. Guru T. M. Thyagarajan was an expert in that . . .A performer is an artiste and he per she can have the liberty to innovate and employ sangatis according to his manodharma."

- Report by V. Vasantha.

Plan for 2015 Thyagaraja Aradhana

The annual Thyagaraja Aradhana will be held from January 6 to 10, 2015 at the saint-composer's samadhi in Thiruvaiyaru, near Thanjavur. The gosti singing of the composer's famed pancharatna kritis will be on Jan.10, 9 a.m. onwards.

From day one, teams of artistes offer their musical tribute on a  stage opposite the samadhi - the short concerts run from 6 am to midnight.

Make your plans now!

Canteen Art

The canteen run by Mount Catering at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha's venue has a nice feature. The painted portraits of all the top ranking Carnatic music artistes. This is a nice effort and pleasing to the eye of the diner.

- Reported by C. S. Baskar

It rained. Now the sun is out.

It rained hard in sessions on Monday evening. And this washed out many recitals. In a few sabha halls there were 10/ 25 people. But the sun is out on Tuesday and this will warm up the last leg of Season 2014. But it is chill at night and many rasikas complain about the strong air-conditioning in a few halls.
This photo was shot on Monday night outside the Bhavans in Mylapore.

Sunday 28 December 2014

The Murugappa thukkada

How much does Chennai know that a unique music and dance festival is on in this metro? Do tourists coming in this December aware of the 'season'?
Dancer Anita Ratnam, in an aside at a dance recital in Besant Nagar on Christmas morning said that the Chennai Airport does not have anything that tells travelers of the December Season.
She was right.
But the Chennai-based Murugappa group of companies, with a hoary history moved in though late to do its bit for the festival. It has installed lit-displays at the Arrival gates of the airport that refer to the season.
It is also driving a social media campaign online ( https://www.facebook.com/MurugappaGroup)

If corporates can go beyond issuing adverts in sabha program booklets and hanging flex-banners in the auditorium lobby, and invest in independent or joint efforts to drive a larger promo for the 'season' it will be very welcome and commendable too.

The 90-minute RTP

Did you ever hear an RTP in kamboji lasting an hour and half of which the raga alapana was for 35 mins? 
If your answer is yes then most probably you attended Abhishek Raghuram's concert at Vani Mahal on Dec. 24. 
What a scholarly  and complete portrayal of kamboji! The well attended audience got so much enthused most of them could be seen actively marking time for the tani.  To attract houseful audience, an artiste need not do different things like pulling back the violinist, pushing forward the passive kanjira accompanist or offering  fragmented and severed concert items; you only have to strike the right notes. 
Rasikas are intelligent and they know how to judge the artiste. Artistes who resort to gimmicks will soon find themselves dumped by the roadside.

- Comment by Ravi Shankar

Saturday 27 December 2014

No place for nagaswaram . . .

The issue has been debated umpteen times. What is the space that we give to nagaswaram-tavil artistes at the December Season?
Everybody knows that these artistes are assigned to provide the mangala isai before the formal launch of a music  or dance festival at all our sabhas. Only Sri Krishna Gana Sabha pursues an idea its late secretary Yegnaraman floated - to have an exclusive nadaswaram music fest at Pongal festival-time.
Today, th├Ęse artistes and scholars who have studied the music are saying it openly on platforms that it is time sabhas had a few nagaswaram concerts too.

Even the 9 a.m. concert slots would make for a start.

Thamizh isai fest is on

Kartik Fine Arts is hosting its Thamizh Isai Fest now at the TAG-Bhavans auditorium in Kilpauk. It honored saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath at the fest inauguration and hosted a play that evening.
The fest does not boast of top artistes but among the talents you can listen to is Prasanna Venkataraman.

This is a swank auditorium, recently built and well-fitted. Do check it out if you can access Kilpauk easily.

Looking for which TMK?

A bunch of youngsters came into the Music Academy on Christmas morning thinking it was T. M. Krishna's concert. When the curtains went up and T. N. Krishnan began playing vathapi, they stood up and left, constantly murmuring all the time. 
I cannot imagine the ignorance of the crowd that is turning up at the Academy these days. Given his age, each of Krishnan sir's concert has to be cherished. A once-in-a-lifetime violinist who has kept the audience spellbound for over five decades. I wish they celebrated him better. I was quite angry and disappointed ( with the attitude of the youths)
Meanwhile, his Sindhubhairavi remains the best ever! Nobody can come close!

- Comment by Sruthisagar Yamunan

Monday 22 December 2014

Destination for food on mada street

Sri Karpagambal Mess on East Mada Street, Mylapore is still the hot destination for artistes and rasikas though foodies of the city now have mixed feelings about dining here.

Considered to be the best place for south Indian food, this food place made some improvement in the quality of its food after some sharp criticism. Also, its cleanliness quotient is poor.

Yet, rasikas head here after a long concert. Keerai vadai and badam halwa are still its top of the menu bests.

Foreigners often choose this joint to have long conversations. But some regulars have found new tastes at Vasantha Restaurant on South Mada Street - pittu-kadala is now offered after 7 p.m.

The busiest artiste who looks like a rishi

Flutist J B Sruthi Sagar is more of a rishi than a classical music artiste. Once a concert is done, he packs his flute and his backpack, slips into his sandals and walks down the mada veedhis.
His vibhuti is still on his forehead after a long concert.

We met him near Sri Kapali Temple this evening, just to say hello. He is a busy artiste, perhaps the busiest this season.
"How many concerts do you have?"
"About sixty"
"Dance or music . . which do your prefer?"

Many dancers prefer to have him in their team of accompanying artistes. And he often accompanies or plays alongside his sister J B Keerthana, a vocalist.

Walking around December Season Mylapore . . .

What does a music and dance season feel and look like in Chennai?
In Mylapore, which is said to be the heart of the December Season festival.

This evening, we took a casual tour of the Mylapore zone, the hub of concerts and lec-dems and all the buzz.

We began from Nageswara Rao Park, Luz which is the hub of fitness fanatics, walkers and couples, sales reps and bums. We walked past a few push carts doing slow business in the darkness of Luz Church Road, shadows that can put off many people. The Srinivasa Sastri Hall is a hub for concerts - it has been redone, painted and bright. Arts promoters hire this place because it costs small. The music of a concert floats down to the library on the ground floor.

This is an intimate space. The audio is below average. But the entrance is not inviting save for a banner strung across the pillars of the gates. People hurrying home from work, headed to a bus stop do not even turn to the hall campus.

It is a long walk down the hawkers area and the shops at Luz Circle and down the mada veedhi to the Sri Kapali Temple area. Pilgrims and local residents keep the stream to the temple steady. At one or two junctures this evening, rasikas float in and out of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Here, the three auditoria - one large, swank one and two small ones are hosting dance and music concerts of Kartik Fine Arts.

The walls of the Bhavan display many flex banners of a variety of arts tests but they look faded in the December darkness. There is nothing grand at the gate that tells people that a festival is on. In the swank lobby, tired sabha team members manage concert-goers - the dance by a less known dancer in the main hall has about 50 plus people. Many walk in and out.

We turn off from East Mada Street and head to the auditorium on Sundareswarar Street where R K Swamy Auditorium hosts a dance festival. A handful of people sit through the recital - junior dancers who must be content with family, relative and friends.
The floodlights are stark. But the entry certainly isn't what a arts festival venue should be - colorful, inviting and welcome.

In the corner outside this hall, we sweep the dark insides of a building under construction - in the plot of what used to be Rasika Ranjani Sabha - R R Sabha. A divide between sabha honchos severely delayed and froze this project. Now, things are on track and we are told the main auditorium will be ready by June 2015. Perhaps, the new life will brighten the arts space on this street.

In a community hall off Chitrakulam where bunk shops sell fresh flowers, tiffin, veggies and platain leaves, a music series in connection with the Sri Panchamugha Anjaneyar celebration is on - a notice board tells us that well known artistes will perform in this hall, without any frills of decor and lights.

Past the shrill cries of the vegetable sellers on South Mada Street, we head to the P. S. School campus. We cannot make much of the banners strung here, welcoming us. A dull orange floodlight lights the front campus. At the rear, behind the school blocks, the renovated, air-conditioned hall with plastic bucket seats. It is being cleaned for an event the next day.

Outside, Mylapore slips into the darkness of the night. There is lots of music and dance but the festival zing does not seep into us.

KutcheriBuzz launches audio channel for the 'season'

KutcheriBuzz has launched its December Season 2014 audio section. It presents daily a mix of music, speeches and interviews with artistes recorded live at the sabhas.
The small effort is to share recordings of conversations and speeches made by artistes on various platforms and also post a bit of the music of young artistes.
Enjoy the regular audio posts at - www.soundcloud.com/kutcheribuzz

Share your feedback - kutcheribuzz@gmail.com

60 years in music: recognizing Alameu Mani, V V Subrahmanyam

A simple felicitation was held at the small hall at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on Sunday evening for senior vocalist and guru, Alamelu Mani. It was to mark her 60years in the Carnatic music field. She later presented a concert.
Alamelu Mani who stayed on in Mumbai despite Chennai's attractions has trained over 1000 students the past 50 years and is probably the best known guru in Mumbai now. Her son is Hariharan, the popular ghazal/Hindustani and light music singer.

On Thursday this week, ( Christmas day), at 7 pm at the Hare Krishna Movement space in Valmiki Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur ( south Chennai) artistes, sishyas and well wishers will felicitate veteran violinist Prof. V V Subrahmanyam for this 60 years in the music world. This event is open to all. Hosted by Carnatica and Cleveland Aradhana group.  

Photo Exhibition: A rasika's frames

Bhargavii Mani's dream is coming true as she readies to part the curtain on a show by Art at Edge titled Arpana.
You will make her doubly happy if you take time to check out her show this 'season'. This Chennai-based designer and photographer is hosting a show of her unique photos of some leading and senior artistes, musicians and dancers and gurus.
These pictures are shot, not for the camera or for an assignment but in an easy atmosphere and seek to capture the artiste and his or her passion. As she puts it, "The defining moments when the artiste and art merge into seamless mastery have been captured through the eyes of a rasika. "

The launch of this show is on December 22 at 4.00 pm at Lalit Kala Akademi, Graemes Road by N Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner of India. ( It is open till Dec.28)

The photographer has also arranged for a few events that run alongside the show. Here are two of them -

23rd December 4pm - Vikku Vinayakaram keeps you in rhythm with the late Mandolin U Shrinivas and goes onto explain his journey with his Chatur Ghatam

24th December 4 pm – Mandolin U Rajesh and Anil Srinivasan string the keys to rediscovering the lure of ragas at Arpana. An evening dedicated to lateMandolin U Shrinivas, the musician, composer, a guru and a brother. 

Saturday 20 December 2014

Sabha Canteen Tour!

A small group of the Chennai Food Walks community went down to three sabha canteens on Saturday evening to sample the food here. This photo was taken at the canteen on the Narada Gana Sabha campus on Saturday evening.

Kutcheri space out of old film studio floor

What was once one of the film shooting floors for popular actors like MGR is the venue for the music fest of Valayapatti Kaashyap Naadhalaya. Sathya Studios, located on the banks of the Adyar river was once a buzzing film studio with many floors which were bustling in the heydays of Tamil cinema shot indoors.
Long after the studios were closed, a college for women opened, managed by people who are part of the MGR family. One floor, now air-conditioned has been made into an auditorium. It is huge, brightly-lit and set in a sprawling campus that is quiet after the day is done for the college.
Friday's opening event saw a small audience. Nagaswaram artistes are given space at this fest which is open to all.
This may not be a great auditorium but one can listen to music in quiet - the roar of the Adyar traffic is far away.

But the organizers must light up the entrance gate - people new to this venue miss the entry. This campus is now the MGR Janaki College for Women.

Natya Darshan; The first morning

Featured here are notes made at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, venue for the 4-day Natya Darshan conference on dance hosted by Kartik Fine Arts which began on Friday. Lec-dems in the morning, recitals in the evening.
<< Over the years, this particular event of the 'season' has built a style of its own. Stage design, projections, reception and communication - is often smart and welcoming. A simple effort of placing vintage furniture on stage for guests and artistes ( Anita Ratnam lent her collection this year) makes a visual statement. Victor Paulraj, now a experienced lighting designer who learnt under the late theatreperson Mithran Devanesan creates the right atmosphere, and with ease.  One plaint though - when all the house lights are switched off at this auditorium, negotiating your way inside is testy.

<<  Art historian B. N. Goswamy delivered the opening address. He did it with ease and offered visuals of loads of Indian paintings, all north Indian. But feedback was that while the art on the screen was sumptuous Goswami sounded more like a high school art teacher asking people to look here, look there right through his 20-minutes talk. He did not move to a higher plane.

<<  Dancer Uma Satyanarayanan, a senior sishya of Chitra Visweswaran who has been on a high in her career this past year presented a new piece curated for this event. But one wondered why she was not asked to share her 'creative process' on this. ( The seminar theme is - Lotuses Bloom). We asked Uma later that evening and she had no answer. She had a paper to read before her recital but  . . . .

<<  The audience watched keenly veteran dancer Shymala Mohanraj on stage - this Sri Lankan veteran who lives in the city and was an early sishya of the great Balasaraswathi. She kept her talk simple but made notable points and gave a nice demo - of dance of another era.

<<  There was a lot of sharing at Aniruddha Knight's lec-dem. One point that the dancer who traces his roots to dancers and musicians over nine generations of the famed Veena Dhanammal family was that there is music in dance and dance in music and the two must go hand in hand for a great recital. "I have to learn the song and be able to sing it before I start performing, " said Aniruddha. Vocalists Usha Shivakumar and Vidhya Sankarnarayanan joined him in the demo - showing the audience the variations a song takes when it is plainly sung and when it is sung for dance.

<<  The hosts have made a few offers to dancers and students to draw them to Natya Darshan but not many seem to be keen. One did not find lots of young dance students in the hall - are they not keen to learn, to watch, to listen?

In memory of Prof. TRS . . .

In a small hall at an art gallery on Eldams Road in Alwarpet, a quiet concert series is on now. It is promoted by Music Education Trust (MET), founded by late T. R. Subramanyam (TRS) who was known for his intellectual and practical sides to music.
Formally inaugurated in 1989, MET's objective is, as its name suggests, to provide education on music, particularly Carnatic music.  Workshops, festivals, symposia and focus group meets have always been a part of MET since its inception.  
The Chennai Chapter of MET was formally inaugurated by Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer in the year 1990.  
Artiste Mohan Santhanam says MET always endeavours to hold concert festivals with a difference.  
"This year the festival consists of a series concerts by prominent artists each of which will feature a Ragam, Tanam and Pallavi set in a Vivadi raga," he adds. The series is on now.

Call 24662571

Thursday 18 December 2014

Jottings at a Wedding Hall; one more festival launch

The opening evening of the December Season festival of Indian Fine Arts Society was held on Wednesday, December 17 at the Ethiraja Kalyana Mantapam, Alwarpet. A few jottings of the event.

< Till the other day, the mantapam hosted a series of weddings and receptions. This evening, it was a venue for a music and dance festival. You would have been forgiven if you thought you were now attending a wedding reception! The decor was similar, a welcome party was at the main door and the senior artistes who were to be on the stage, dressed in the best silks were also seated at the entrance; there was a reason for it. They and the sabha elders were led to to the stage by the nagaswaram artistes who had been playing since 3.30 p.m.

< If you are a rasika who attends events like these you may well shake your head when you have to listen to emcees and hosts reeling out the profiles of well known artistes. Some hosts try their own versions of introduction and can be a source of amusement for their goofiness. 'We have seen her since her teen years,' can even be embarrassing to an artiste when this isn't true. This evening here, there were some hilarious spots.

< Many speakers mentioned that on stage, were a group of talented women. Now, there was one person who would have raised his eyebrows. Mridangam vidwan Mannargudi Easwaran, decorated with an award instituted by Umayalpuram Sivaraman was on stage. On either side were women - guest Chitra Visweswaran, the awardees Priyadarshini Govind and A Kanyakumari, guests Bombay Sisters and Nandini Ramani. 

< These occasions can get speakers go personal. Too personal - these can be lighter moments and some can make you wince. Kanyakumari, reacting to C. Saroja's anecdotes of the Bombay Sisters' relationship with the violinist, recalled days when the Bombay Sisters would pack some idles for her for 'tiffin'.

< Kanyakumari went down memory lane. The year when she had decided to study music at Queen Mary's College on the Marina. The office had told her that the seats were filled up. So, in keeping with her devotion to the Lord of the Seven Hills, she had made yet another trip to Tirupathi and got back to the city. A relative had made a call to a officer at the government secretariat they knew and also mentioned about Kanyakumari's admission predicament. In a jiffy, a call was made to QMC and the young music student was admitted. " That was a turning point in my life," she said.

<  There was an emotional moment on stage. Priyadarshini dedicated her award to all those who had made sacrifices for her. She mentioned her husband and suddenly broke down. There was silence all around. It took some time for the dancer to compose herself. "I rarely get emotional on stage but……….", she said and carried on with a slow, paced speech. This is her second award this season.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Natya Darshan, dance seminar and recitals from Dec.18

If dance is your passion/interest then you may want to attend the annual Natya Darshan event hosted by Kartik Fine Arts at Bharatiya Vidya Bjavan, Mylapore starting Dec.18 evening and on till Dec.21.
The morning sessions are for academic talks and short lec-dems while the evenings offer recitals by some of the best creative artistes from India and abroad.

The focus of Natya Darshan - Lotus Blooms - is on the creative process of artistes, with speakers sharing their experiences.

The seminar is curated by dancer Malavika Sarukkai along with Prof. Hari Krishnan. Among the speakers are afrt historian B N Goswami, writer-researcher Vikram Sampath and dancer and guru Prof C V Chandrasekar.

The host, Kartik Fine Arts wants to encourage dancers and dance students to sign up for the entire seminar and will offer free tickets to 25 regulars for the evening recitals, some of them will be chosen to also perform at the sabha's next dance festival.

Though Natya Darshan seminars have been well organized and stimulating it gets small audiences at the academic sessions. The sabha wants dance gurus to encourage their students to attend the event.

Concerts online; how many are watching them?

More and more rasikas are enjoying the 'season' concerts online. A few people are making the effort to web stream them, now that the technology is easy and cheaper.
One man who is at it is Ramakrishnan of Arkay Centre in Luz whose cosy performance space draws many rasikas.
Fitted with the accessories required to webcast, the small team here puts out photos and live concerts. Ramakrishnan says though the number of people watching 'live' is small lots more watch the recitals if they are hosted online.
"This is a small but committed attempt..let us see how this progresses," says the arts promoter.

<<<<   HAVE YOUR SAY - If you too watch concerts online what is your experience? Mail to - kutcheribuzz.com

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Notes from The Music Academy

The season at The Music Academy opened on Tuesday, Dec.15 evening. Here are some scrapbook notes -

< LED advertisement boards greet you at The Music Academy campus on the evening of the inauguration of its 88th Conference. Cloth and flex banners are slowly giving way to new technology - adverts that hit you straight and hard. Stalls in the lobby are restricted, with many set up on the first floor - makes it easy for rasikas to move their feet.

< On the dot of 5 p.m. the curtains go up for the formal event. The backdrop is a departure from what we have seen the past years - the skies theme gives it a Christmassy effect. The Academy is stiff and formal about its 'season' events, gliding through the motions. So when Sangita Kalanidhi designate T V Gopalakrishan grabs the mike out of turn, you know that this is not the done thing on this stage!

< Inaugurations at all our sabhas are not packed, rousing ceremonies. The audience at the Academy is moderate. But everybody is dressed for the occasion - especially the women who are in their best Kanjeevarams. 

< The guest of the evening, Prof. K. Radhakrishnan, the chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is probably the most impressive speaker at the Academy in recent years. The space scientist, feted recently for the Mangalyaan project which had India put a satellite on Mars in its very first attempt, is also a longtime music and dance student and performer ( last week, he had performed in Bangalore, we are told). He delves into the religious texts, the cultural legacies, Carnatic music and the traditions of Kerala to deliver an impressive speech to an attentive audience. 

< Academy president, N. Murali makes two important mentions in his speech. The men and women the Academy decorated in the past who passed away this past year. He specially talks about Mandolin U Srinivas, welling in emotion - saying that Srinivas had first performed at the Academy when he was just 14 and continued to do so for 30 years, same day, same time. ( this day - Dec.23 - this year has been dedicated to this master). Murali also mentions the many grants made by well-wishers including one by Srinivas' father for 'best instrumentalist'.

< Murali also refers to ongoing development at the Academy, with plans to install modern lighting systems and more additions to the recorded vintage music at the Academy-TAG Centre located at the rear of the Kasturi Srinivasan hall. Architect P T Krishnan has led the renovation and development which has made this performance space a premier one.

< The canteen here hosted its first set of diners after the formal function and when the tiffin demands ran high the stewards took some time to deliver. Pakodas and bondas ran out quickly, dosas were the option and the coffee counter was busy on a mildly chill evening.

Monday 15 December 2014

Music Academy's nice packet for members

The Music Academy members get their Season Ticket in a packet - and these landed in the box last week
The pack is neatly wrapped in a plastic pouch with a velcro seal, it has the invite cards for the inaugural function and the Sadas event, the coupon for members' breakfast on New Year's day, a coupon for the program book and a communique from the President of the Academy summarizing their efforts in ensuring a 'successful' conduct of this Season. 

Neat work.

- Report by R. Venkataraman

Faces of the season!

This is one for the photographer, on the evening when Naada Inbam launched its own music festival  at its Raga Sudha hall on Luz Avenue, Lux.  Vocalist Gayathri Venkataraghavan ( on they left) is seen with Naada Inbam's Jayalakshmi before the start of the first concert of this series.

Jayalakshmi is a low profile organizer, having taken over from her father who founded this sabha and built this hall - the late S V Krishnan.

The series here has space for some innovative recitals and features less known artistes too. The hall makes for a cosy space for music listening and is a favorite of many rasikas.

Yesudoss is also a story-teller

K. J. Yesudoss is a good story-teller. As good as the vocalist that he is. One recent evening, at the opening evening of Chenai Cutlural Academy in T. Nagar where he was decorated with a lifetime achievement award, he shared many stories of his life and of life's lessons.

The veteran artiste dwelt for some time on the attitude and approach of youngsters to the learning of music. He said that his father was only keen to see him learn music and did not encourage anyone to ask the young student to give a concert. "Father did not even shake his head to acknowledge the level of the skills I had mastered," recalled Yesudoss who even folded his hands, like a schoolboy to show the audience the situation that he was in when his dad spoke to him.

It was only when he turned 18 that his father allowed him to perform. 'It is only much much later that I realized the worth and meaning of my father's position," recalled Yesudoss.

He was hinting to the audience that youngsters must not be in a hurry to perform.

He took his time to speak, and speak freely. Even singing the strands of a couple of songs to demonstrate the challenge they posed to vocalists. 

Opening evenings are dull

Inaugurations at five sabhas have been dull affairs. 50 to 75 people in the hall, generally dull speeches, routine deliberations.

The dullest was at two sabhas this far that we at KutcheriBuzz witnessed - at Chennai Cultural Academy in T. Nagar had about three dozen people in the hall when K J Yesudoss entered it.

At The Mylapore Fine Arts Club in Mylapore on the opening evening, everybody who were in the hall before the event looked listless. There must have been three dozen odd here too.

Even the emcee seemed as if he had had a good big lunch and was feeling the effects of it.

Do sabha managers need to think out of the box about these launches? How can this event be a great one to attend?
Is one common launch with recitals, fireworks and high tea the answer?

SHARE your thoughts - mail them to - kutcheribuzz@gmail.com

Saturday 13 December 2014

Season's Daily starts Sunday; news-sheet from KutcheriBuzz

The KutcheriBuzz Season's Daily, the newspaper sheet that circulates at sabhas at this time of the year will be launched on Sunday, December 14 evening.

Copies will be circulated at 10 city sabhas, carrying news, info and pictures. Two pages.

It will be around till January 1, 2015.

KutcheriBuzz plans to post the e-paper edition on the web site.

Do e-mail your feedback.

Rasika from Texas!

Clicked at the opening evening of Bharat Kalachar at its campus in T. Nagar. This senior rasika who wore the 'Texas' cap at the awards event.

Concerts to be telecast on Sun TV

Subashree Thanikachalam has now found a partner to telecast concerts her organization has been staging under the Ragamallikatv.com banner at the Youth Hostel in Indira Nagar, Adyar.

She parted ways with Jaya TV with whom she had collaborated for many years and Jaya TV this season, has hosted its own set of concerts at Chettinad Vidyashram campus.
Sun TV will now telecast the Ragamallikatv.com concerts from Dec.15, 6 a.m. for an hour daily, in collaboration with Raadan.
The best artistes are scheduled.

Wake up easy to enjoy this series on your drawing room.

Dances in Kilpauk

If you are a dance rasika, one destination for the days ahead is the TAG auditorium at the Rajaji Vidyashram campus in Kilpauk.
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan launched its 'season' dance fest on Saturday, Dec.13 with an awards event and a recital by Alarmel Valli.

The fest is on till Christmas evening and is open to all.

Good performance space this is.

Bad audio, back-stage chatter; alert to Vani Mahal managers

Reported by Rekha Chari Sairaman

Yesterday was a very unusual evening at Vani Mahal, when Nithyasree Mahadevan took the stage. While she began the concert in a brisk pace, those seated at the rear of the auditorium had to be content with hearing the next seat neighbour breathing, coughs, footsteps and other such trivial distractions, thanks to the virtually non-existent audio system. 

This isn't a one-off incident. 

The same problem cropped up last year too at Vani Mahal. The person heading the audio system unit gave a bizarre reply saying that the poor audio quality was because the singer moved her head as she sang. whoa! 

To add insult to injury, Dr.R.Hemalatha on the violin had to complain midway through her performance about the constant chatter happening at the back stage. 

For a sabha that tops the sponsor count and charges a premium on tickets, its high time its team invests on the audio systems and operator.

Thursday 11 December 2014

A sabha's flag!

This is a small ceremony that The Mylapore Fine Arts Club in Mylapore follows at the start of the December Season festival. It invites its guests and awardees to assemble around a flag post on its campus and let the sabha flag be unfurled to mark the start of the festival.

It is indeed a simple act but it keeps the tradition which has been followed for many years, say sabha team members. And this is what took place on Wednesday evening this year.

One year, the flag looked dirty - like a rag hoisted on top. And when the state was pointed out to the then secretary, the late Venkataraman a new flag was put in place.

Star on stage; dancer Zakir Hussain

Dancer Zakir Hussain was by all accounts the star of the show. There were many artistes on stage at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on Thursday evening who were decorated with awards and titles but this male artiste got much of the attention.

And for many reasons. One - that Zakir is a Muslim who has become a professional Bharatanatyam dancer the hard way. Two, he has devoted time to the study of Vaishnavism. Three, his dance give expression to the religious philosophies he believes in.

Zakir left hometown Salem in Tamil Nadu and learnt dance from guru Chitra Visweswaran, one of his many well-wishers who have made his life.

One other, whom Zakir calls his mother is actor-TV anchor Revathi Sankkaran who was at Thursday's event.

For four years now, Zakir has also been hosting Upanyasam at this sabha. He will host a three-sessions discourse this year too around Christmastime.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Thoughts on T M Krishna's concert

Rasika N. Srikumar shares his thoughts after attending T M Krishna's concert on Dec.7. Here is his note ---

One always goes to T M Krishna's concert these days with both trepidation and uncertainty of what to expect and what can happen next. And at the Kartik Fine Arts concert on 7 Dec. TMK did exactly that. He was predictability unpredictable. And he lived up to it in every sense of the phrase. 

The concert ( TMK no longer performs a kutcheri if anyone did not know that) as usual began on a slow pace and before long, and even before he began "thodi" in right earnest, he quickly closed it saying " thodi mudinchuduthu" meaning the end of thodi ragam . 

Some time soon after, he got very emotional and said, " iddukku mela continue panrathu sari ille. Aana ippa niruthitta, enna aaghumnu ennakum theriyum ungallukkum theriyum. Adhunnala continue panren." ( It may not be correct to continue from here. But if i stop here i know what will happen,and everyone else knows. So I am continuing . .). 

Alas, it was a big relief to hear TMK say that he was continuing and not do what he did at Vani Mahal last year, where he abandoned the concert mid way. 

TMK was close to his best thereafter, albeit with his now usual pranks, before finally closing the concert with Vatapi ganapatim in Hamsadhwani, which is usually sung as a prayer song to Lord Ganesa in the beginning. Nothing new in what TMK did. He had to deviate from anything close to norm ( whose norm ? ) and he did that without disappointing the large gathering. 

TMK is great talent. No two opinions on that. He has great following. No two opinions there too. But it is his predictable unpredictability which is where there appears to be divided opinions - some for and some against. But for one who is constantly searching for new answers to old problems, TMK refreshingly brings in an aroma of new thoughts and actions, which may seem disruptive to some, but development to others. 

But if "unpredictability" is going to be the most predictable way forward to preserve the future of Carnatic music, then who can complain ? But then who decides that that this indeed is the best way forward ? At the cross roads currently, both direction and destination, both seem missing ! Hope this settles sooner than later ! 

Spotlight on Andhra's artistes . . .

In some ways, it was an evening that put the spotlights on artistes from Andhra Pradesh. At the opening evening of awards and launch of the December Season festival of Sri Thyaga Brahma Sabha at the Vani Mahal campus, three awardees hail from the neighboring state.
The Priya Sisters and Kamalakar Rao.

And both harked to their simple, small beginnings in this city.

Hari Priya in her felicitation reply rewound to the time when the sisters arrived in Madras that is Chennai after their initial training, looking for greener pastures. "When we began learning music our parents did not send us for classes with a view of us becoming performers…they wanted us to just learn music……'said Hari Priya.

Mridangam senior who has been performing close to 60 plus years said that he hailed from Rajamundhry and Madras was a natural destination for concert play. The vidwan who has accompanied all the greats and over many generations learnt among others from the maestro, Palghat Mani Iyer.

Most artistes from AP who have made their mark continue to reside in their state but are often seen on stage in this city. There are a few arts promotion bodies which showcase new talent here. thus giving them a break locally.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Listening to Chitravina Ravi Kiran . . .

You listen when 'Chitravina' Ravi Kiran speaks. On Monday evening, he was responding to a special award he was given by SAFE at Sastri Hall, Luz, Chennai. Many people at the event had referred to his prodigy days and acts.

Ravi said one can attribute the prodigiousness to God/divine gift….but importantly it needed for someone to make the effort to communicate, to teach, to transmit the music to a baby and the credit must go to his father, Narasimhan. Twice that evening, Ravi credited his music to his father who was seated in front of him.

This wasn't a glamorous sabha event but it was evident that Ravi was keen to respect a time-honored Indian culture - to credit his first guru, his dad and his second, T. Brinda, telling his small audience the contributions both made to his learning.

Many will want to know in detail how Narasimhan ' communicated' to his two-year-old son!

Later, during the concert Ravi Kiran presented he was picking up the mike often, giving a preview of the song he was about to play. Dwelling on his 'must play' Oothakaadu Venkata Kavi song……useful information for the newbies of Carnatic music . . .

Monday 8 December 2014

Special season for Leela Samson

Dancer and guru Leela Samson is on a quick sabha-hopping spree this Sunday evening, her final destination being R K Swamy Hall in a school campus in Mylapore.

Now that she has moved away from all high profile posts, Leela says she is focussed on dance. Her Spanda dance company she says has some great talent - male and female dancers. The group just got back from a Singapore show and will perform on Tuesday ( Dec. 9) evening at Vani Mahal, where the sabha will decorate Leela Samson with an award along with a few other artistes.

Spanda will also perform at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in T. Nagar this season.

In early January 2015, The Music Academy will honor Leela with its top award at the start of the Academy's dance fest.

Season Guides from KutcheriBuzz

The KutcheriBuzz Music Guide for the 2014 season ran out of our hands three days after it was delivered by the printers. It was circulated at 5 city sabhas and made available at the office too.
There are about 75 copies left at the KB office - at 77, C P Ramaswamy Rd., Alwarpet.
Come by to pick up a copy.

The KutcheriBuzz Dance Guide for 2014 has just been delivered. Copies will be available at the office. They will also be circulated this week at sabha dance events.

Both Guides are free.  To make life easy for rasikas who prefer online services, the Guides are also being made available online as easy reference of leading concerts at 12 sabhas.

Passionate promoter; SAFE Ramabhadran

Imagine heading to a hall at 4.30 p.m. for a function in Chennai. The December nip in the air makes it a pleasant task and when SAFE's annual music festival launch at Sastri Hall in Luz got going, the small hall was half-full.

This was a small but warm community. They were here to support arts promoter Ramabhadran, known more famous as the Music Triangle Ramabhadran during his Bombay days when he promoted  the arts.

The small-made man, now in his 80s enjoys his passion. He knows every artiste - senior and the young, is methodical in his programming and loves to give the stage to young talent.

At Monday's event guests and artistes had many warm words for Ramabhadran who went about his business of rewarding 11 artistes and then enjoying the music of Chitravina Ravi Kiran.

SAFE celebrates the life Ramabhadran lost - that of his daughter who died young. Her framed photo was kept alongside the vilakku that was lit on this occasion.

Special moment for Kamalakar Rao, mridangam vidwan

Senior mridangam vidwan V. Kamalakar Rao (78) was accompanying the Malladi Brothers at Tattvaloka Auditorium on Dec. 6

After the thani  Rao played along with  Udupi Sridhar on ghatam, vocalist Malladi Sriram Prasad told rasikas present that Kamalakar Rao is performing as an accompanist for 4 generations of sishya paramapara.

Starting from his days with Voleti Venkateswarulu Rao has accompanied Sripada Pinakapani, then Nedanoori Krishnamurthy and now Malladi Brothers.

Rao hails from Rajahmundry and his guru was the great Palghat Mani Iyer. He learnt in the gurukulam style from him.

V. Kamalakar Rao will be honored with   the title  'Vani Kala Sudhakara' given by Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha  at Vani Mahal in T. Nagar, Chennai tomorrow, the 9th December.

- Report and photo by V. Vasantha.

Another pedestrian sabha fest launch

We have given up on these festival launches. They are a 'gone case'.
There are three dozen people seated inside the Infosys Hall at the Ramakrishna Mission School on Bazullah Road, T Nagar where Mudhra holds its concerts and allied events.

The hall can seat about 1000 people. The atmosphere is dull though the hall is over-lit.

This is an evening ( Dec. 6) to honor dance guru Sudharani Raghupathy. A bunch of her students double up, late in reporting to await a turn to greet their guru after the award is given.

Senior dancer and guru Padma Subramanyam is here - she, Chitra Visweswaran and Sudharani are contemporaries and are often present at such events.

One more festival launch over, we choose to watch teens play badminton in the open courts in this campus. The canteen set up for the music fest offers hot tea and bonda free to all guests. Helps on a  chill Satrurday evening.

Applause in the driveway!

Walking around Mylapore's mada veedhis on Sunday evening, we came across a big crowd in the driveway of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. It was 6.10 p.m. and all these people were waiting to go inside the auditorium to get a seat for a musical discourse by Vishaka Hari.

Not many got in because the many more who were seated inside, stuck on! Vishaka arrived just on time, and got a warm ovation from the standees - rarely seem in sabha campuses. Yes, she does command a big audience and the evening at Bhavans was evidence of it.

"We must learn Sanskrit." she diverged at the top of her discourse. " It must not be seen just as a mere language. It is language, science, math, culture and more!".

Friday 5 December 2014

Festivals begin in western side of the city . . .

Two music festivals have begun in the western side of this city. One at the campus of Meenakshi College in Kodambakkam and another in West K K Nagar.

The first is promoted by an arts body that is promoted by the college management and is run at a pretty large auditorium here.

The second is managed by a local sabha which hires a good auditorium of an engineering college.

These two spaces cater to local rasikas; the latter now caters to a large and dense neighbourhood of this city. But there are still some rasikas who can't do without attending concerts in the city's old and big sabhas. K K Nagar and Vadapalani rasikas head to Krishna Gana Sabha's campus or to the Vani Mahal hall, both in T. Nagar to soak in.

Artistes today are willing to perform at such spaces.

Later today, Friday evening another arts body run by women will launch its music fest in Chetpet.

A different dance production at Kalakshetra this Saturday

If you are a dance rasika we would encourage you to watch the production at Kalakshetra on Saturday evening , December 6, 6 p.m.

Fire and Ash is  JustUs Repertory production and features three people - writer-researcher Gowri Ramnarayan, dancer Anjana Anand and vocalist Savita Narasimhan.

The theme revolves around lord Shiva and of a few strands of philosophy that he embodies. Gowri uses little anecdotes and tales, texts and thoughts to weave the production while Savita sings live and Anjana performs a few pieces. A few props are used as well a few works of painting by Savita herself.

The show premiered at Bhavans in Chennai some 3 weeks ago and had a full house. Engaging. Quiet-paced.

Open to all.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Dancer Priyadarshini Govind not performing this season

If you are a dance rasika then you will not get to see senior dancer and Kalakshetra director Priyadarshini Govind perform this 'season'.

She is not on stage because she has injured her hand. This was disclosed by actor A R Srinivasan when he spoke after he was, along with Trichur V. Ramachandran, Priyadarshini and mridangist Thanjavur Ramamurthy, given awards by Brahma Gana Sabha.

Priyadarshini smiled at the remark and did not elaborate on it when it was her time to speak.

She has just returned from Delhi where the Kalakshetra repertory presented five dance dramas - staged after a long time there, they got a big audience.

Family Counts

Family counts. That was the message that two young artistes, Saketharaman and Anwesha Dass who were decorated with awards by Kartik Fine Arts at the sabha's opening evening on December 1 shared when it was their turn to speak.

Young Saketharaman said that his parents have sacrificed and supported the careers of his sister Vishaka Hari, well known for her musical discourses and himself. He said he also owed it to his wife and his in-laws. "There were times when I wondered if I could continue solely with music," shared the young vocalist.

He also acknowledged the presence of violinist GJR Krishnan in the audience - Saketharaman and his sister were students of late Lalgudi Jayaraman.

Dancer Anwesha Dass said that besides her guru and her parents, her husband also supported her. The couple have had a baby and Dass has taken a break from her passion. 

Jottings from Luz Church Road . . .

A good many people must be saying by now that all these awards functions seem to be a tad pedestrian. No wonder not many people care to attend them.

Smt. Sivagami Petachi Auditorium is a great space for a more intimate experience for a concert or a play. Located inside the campus of the M. Ct. M Muthiah Chettyar School on Luz Church Road, this was the venue for the launch of Brahma Gana Sabha's festival on Wednesday evening ( Dec.3).

Five minutes to opening time and there were more people chatting on the lawns than inside the hall. Workers were still hammering nails into display boards and the makeshift canteen staff had only hot cups of coffee to offer; tiffin would take time.

And when the awards were given by chief guest Justice Kaul of the Madras High Court, there was a big battery of media photographers, a rare sight at sabha events.

Seniors of the Tamil drama fraternity make it a point to be present when one of their own is decorated. So after actor ARS ( A R Srinivasan ) had received his award on stage, many theatre-people got up to felicitate him and were around him in the lobby after the formal event was done with. Even the 83-year-old Koothapiran was here as was Kathadi Ramamurthy and others.

We chanced on a small stall selling packed idli-s. The Idli Factory is a start-up venture of a young entrepreneur who has re-designed the idli and sells them in small, smart packs. Try them!

Monday 1 December 2014

Notes at Bharat Kalachar's festival launch

Notes at the inauguration of the music fest at Bharat Kalachar. Nov.30, 2014 evening.

- Kalpathi Suresh, CEO of the Kalpathi which among investments and projects also produces films under the AGS banner was the chief guest. But it appeared him mind was elsewhere this evening! Ms YGP, the grand lady of this place said Suresh was a PSBB school alumni ( the school is Ms YGP's baby) and that she was happy Suresh was supporting education and the arts. Suresh though was not to be seen midway through the awards event; his chair remained unoccupied for some time before a volunteer took it away. We weren't told what happened to the guest!

- Bharat Kalachar's events are all family! Ms YGP's folks are involved and a lot of back-slapping and light talk and informality runs through events like Sunday evening's launch and awards. With actor Y G Mahendra around, his wisecracks and bagful of anecdotes keeps guests and audience rolling in some laughter. Guests are either amused, taken aback or laugh it off.

- Actors Radhika Sarat Kumar and Suhasini Mani Ratnam got all the attention film stars always hold.  Ms YGP recalled the occasion when she watched the media show of Radhika's ' Kizhakku Pogum Rail' film', wrote a review for The Hindu and mentioned that this was an actor to watch out for. Others hailed Radhika's current position as an entertainment entrepreneur ( her company now produces many TV serials ).

- Two people always get their due attention at Bharat Kalachar events. Mr YGP and Semmangudi Srinivasaiyer - for their role in founding the organization and the life in the early days. (This is the 28th edition of the margazhi fest by Kalachar). The duo's portraits are painted in the auditorium which is named after the late YGP.