Sunday 31 December 2017

Dance fest at Mammallapuram

The annual dance festival hosted by the Tamil Nadu state tourism department at the World Heritage Site of Mammallapuram ( 50kms from the city) is now on. 

Classical and folk dances are presented on a  stage near the Arjuna's Penance rock-cut sculptural piece here.

Remembering Chandralekha

Chandralekha, the iconic dancer who broke away from traditional Bharatanatyam and created some highly appreciated dance productions is remembered every year at year's end at her home and studio in Chennai called Spaces, located off the Elliots Beach in Besant Nagar.

On Dec.30 evening,  Uday Shankar musician-inventor of the chitra-venu stringed instrument performed at this tribute concert. ( This is an instrument of a sliding flute and a stringed instrument box)

Some 250 people sat in the open-to-sky performance space to watch this recital.

N. Ravikiran, chitravina maestro came by to listen for a short while.

This space is at the north end of the beach road, opposite the shore.

Ring in 2018 with music

You can soak in music at midnight to welcome the new year by attending a series of concerts hosted by Carnatica and Sri Thyaga Brahma Sabha at its T. Nagar auditorium. 

Dozens of artistes including some well known vidwans are scheduled to perform here from 10 p.m. onwards on Sunday night ( Dec.31).

Carnatica's K N Shashikiran says the music will be 'meditative' in nature, with bhajans and devotional music included.

Open to all. 

The show will be web-streamed later at - so rasikas around the world can watch it.

Superstar at concert

Actor Rajinikanth dropped in at the Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium to watch a dance-drama by Dr Padma Subrahmanyam and co-artistes on Friday evening. 
After the recital, he went up on stage and greeted the artistes and posed for pictures too.

On Sunday morning, he has announced his entry into politics, saying he will launch his own party. And Tamil Nadu is abuzz.

Monday 25 December 2017

Natya Conference is on 'Sringaram'; here is a preview note

Here comes the second academic-recitals fest on classical dance - Natya Kala Conference, hosted by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha at its T. Nagar premises. It opens on Dec.26 morning.

Dancer-doctor Srinidhi Chidambaram is the convenor, carrying on from this role of last Season.

The theme this December is 'Sringaram'.

Here is an exeerpt from a note from Srinidhi on 'Sringaram' -

 '…..  love is hailed as the king of rasas.  Delineating subtle shades and hues, it is a complex rasa that is evoked from the multi-layered dynamics of love and romance. \ The 2017 edition of the Natya Kala Conference is an attempt to celebrate sringaram in all its glory.

'We aim to explore why this rasa, one of the navarasas, has enjoyed the privilege of being hailed as the supreme rasa, capable of constant innovation in creation and expression. 

'The Natya Kala Conference 2017 offers a insightful exploration of the various interpretations and connotations of Sringaram in different genres of not only Indian classical dance but also its manifestation across the Indian performing arts.'

'This year, exponents from across all classical dance forms including Sadanam Balakrishnan (Kathakali), Sharmila Biswas (Odissi), Vaibhav Arekar (Bharatanatyam), and Rajendra and Niurpama (Kathak), amongst others will present their insights into sringaram.

'Some of the subjects that will be explored in the sessions include sringaram from the male perspective, sringaram from the Geeta Govindam, sringaram in the compositions of maharaja Swati Tirunal, sringaram – from Tyagaraja’s eyes amongst others.

'A few eminent personalities like writer Devdutt Pattanaik, poet Vairamuthu, and writer-historian V Sriram are also billed to speak here.'

The conference is also hosting an exclusive workshop by Bharatanatyam and Abhinaya exponent, Priyadarsini Govind on performing Sringaram, in a parallel venue - this is for students of dance. For info, contact 9840792782.

Karaikudi Mani's platform for musicians

If Hamsadhwani hosts concerts for NRI artistes then guru Karaikudi Mani hosts a series of concerts for 'musicians living abroad'. He calls them the MLA concerts. These are held at the small hall at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in T. Nagar. 

This season, artistes from Singapore, Australia and USA are here to perform alongside city-based artistes.

Chettinad snacks for rasikas

This is a surprise treat for rasikas who attend the Tamil Isai Sangam's concerts in George Town. 

A snacks stall on campus offers exclusive Chettinad snacks - thattais, ladoos, murukkus and more. A set of women make paniyarams in the kitchen- the standard ones served with chutney and sweet variety.
The Arvind brand of Chettinad Snacks, which has its factory in Madurai and is founded in Devakottai is offering these specials.

Open from 5 p.m. till month end.

Music beyond the sabha circles

There is music beyond the city's sabhas in Chennai. After all, it is the season of margazhi.
The celebration through music takes different forms.

In the Chitrakulam zone of Mylapore, for example a Hanumath jayanthi music fest is held every year by the Sri Panchamugha Anjaneya Aradhana Trust.

Concerts are held at a community hall in this area ( P. K. Mahal), from morning to late evening and even top rung artistes perform here in informal settings, facing the images of the gods.
Religion, rituals and music mingle here.

On the opening night, violin maestro T. N. Krishnan and his children, also violinists performed and there were over 100 rasikas staying on till 9.30 p.m.

Open to all.

Is the zing missing at sabhas this far?

Is there is a zing to the current December Season?
If one goes by the atmosphere, lobby buzz and attendance at sabhas across concerts of the day, then it appears that the zing is missing. That is the feel one gets as of today.
On two evenings, the lobby of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mylapore was empty even during the breaks between concerts.

Last week, on a Wednesday evening, there were only a handful of rasikas inside the main auditorium here. And in the smaller hall on the first floor some 20 people were listening to a vocal concert.
Does this indicate to the fact that scheduling dozens and dozens of concerts just for the Season is actually not serving any great purpose?

There is a big buzz at concerts where the well-known artistes perform. And this is the case at a few old-time sabhas and at The Music Academy.
But the zing isn't there at morning concerts which we have checked out.

We are told that rasikas from outside the city and some from abroad will land here on the Christmas weekend.
Most sabhas schedule the concerts of the big artistes then, those of star artistes who draw the maximum audience during the Christmas week, timing it for many rasikas who travel to this city to soak in the music of the Season.
The rush for tickets for such concerts continues.

But if one looks beyond these circles of music, the atmosphere and the buzz is certainly missing - as on date.

Monday 18 December 2017

Thiruppavai Upanyasam: list of venues in Chennai

Many sabhas in Chennai are hosting Thiruppavai discourses on their premises. Similar discourses are also held by private entities. Here is a check-list -

< Kidambi Narayanan will deliver Thiruppavai upanyasam at the mini hall of Narada Gana Sabha in Alwarpet. On till January 13, 2018. 7 a.m. daily. Open to all.

< A Thiruppavai discourse series is on from Dec.16 to January 13, 2018 in R. A. Puram's Jeth Nagar ( Narayaniammal Kalyana Mantap). It is delivered by U Ve Dr. M V Ananthapadmanabhachar swami, editor of Sri Nrisimhapriya magazine. Open to all. Daily at 6.45 p.m.
Organised by Swami Nammazhvar Foundation. Contact 98408 90059.

< Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is hosting Thiruppavai Upanyasam from Dec 16 to January 13, 2018 daily 7 a.m. onwards by U. Ve. Kalyanapuram R. Aaravamudachariar. Open to all.

< From December 16 onwards, Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha is hosting Thiruppavai upanyasam at its hall in T. Nagar. The discourses are by U Ve Akkarakkani Srinidhi swami. Daily from 7 am to 8.30 a.m. till January 13, 2018. Open to all.

Sale of daily tickets at Music Academy

If you wish to buy tickets to the evening concerts at the Music Academy, you will have to head to the sales counter on its campus in the morning. It opens at 9 a.m. 

There are limited tickets, we are told. Expect a queue on the days when the very popular artistes are slated to perform - like the concerts of Bombay Jayashri and Ranjani-Gayatri.

Sad news on a Sunday morning

The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Chennai kendra team in Mylapore and its well-wishers woke up on Sunday morning to sad news. 

The Bhavan's director, K. N. Ramaswamy lost his wife - Kamala Ramaswamy died of cardiac arrest early that morning. She had attended a concert at the Bhavan the previous evening, like she often did. 

To the Ramaswamys, the Bhavan is second home. Kamala, a trained singer devoted time to bhajans and devotionals. In recent years, she encouraged women in their 50s and 60s in her Mylapore colony to spare time to come to her place and learn devotional songs; this gave all of them a break from their humdrum lives. Some of them went on to join Kamala at concerts.

Buzz around Natya Darshan seminar, concerts

The annual Natya Darshan dance seminar and performances hosted by Kartik Fine Arts starts on December 22 evening and is on for the next two days. The venue - Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore.

It is curated by dancer Krithika Subramanian.

Krithika and her team have been running promos on this event on social media and in print. It also had a formal preview for the media at a city hotel where actor Suhasini Maniratnam was also present. 

A traveling photo exhibition was tied in with the pre-event promo. These are photos of dancer Ramli Ibrahim shot at the Konark Temple by A. Prathap.

Ticketed programme. All info and update on the Facebook page of Natya Darshan

Saturday 16 December 2017

A surprise for N. Ravikiran

One brother surprised another on the opening evening of a music and dance festival that is now on in Thiruvanmiyur, south Chennai.
K. N. Shashikiran's Carnatica has partnered Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha to host a music fest at the auditorium of a school campus.
The consul-general of the USA in Chennai was the chief guest at the inauguration. It was here that Shashikiran announced the award and initiated the presentation. There was a big cheque too. Ravikiran expressed his surprise; his reaction said it all but he gladly accepted the honour on stage.
Watching it all from the front row was the brothers' father, Narasimhan.
Later, Ravikiran was joined by Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, S. Karthick and Anantha R. Krishnan for the opening concert.
The Global Heritage Music Fest is on till Dec.28 at Sri Sankara School, Thiruvanmiyur and is open to all. 
From Malladi Brothers to Vijay Siva, Srekala Bharat and her dancers to Sheela Unnikrishnan's dance team, the fest has an impressive lineup of artistes at concerts here. There are some Tamil plays too.
This then is another opportunity for rasikas of the Adyar zone to attend concerts in their backyard this season.

Call 94440 18269.

Wednesday 6 December 2017

T M Krishna's comments on MS triggers debates, social media roll

Early in the 'season', rasikas and artistes are getting into a heated debate that has not died down for a week now.

It has to do with remarks that vocalist T M Krishna made at the release of the Telugu translation of a book written many years ago by T J S George on M S Subbulakshmi - at an event in the city of Hyderabad.

Would they (rasikas/artistes) have adored and liked Subbulakshmi's songs if she had been dark skinned and dressed differently? - Krishna is supposed to have posed to the audience at the book release.

Krishna was, one assumes trying to touch on the role of caste-communities and their relationship to art and culture in this part of the country and chose to touch on the life and times of Subbulakshmi.

The comments brought forth hundreds of comments, social media notes and media reports on the issue.

Many Carnatic music artistes have been sharing their thoughts too, mostly on social media - something they rarely do when it comes to socio-political issues.

The debate is gathering steam. As are the potshots at Krishna, some saying he continues 'to seek cheap publicity' and others considering his remarks as 'tasteless'.

The issue has also encouraged some artistes to re-post arguments on how a law which banned artistes 'dedicated' to temples and exploited had led to the doom of communities which had nurtured and nourished the performing arts. And the fallout of that development in the arts world in this region.

One guesses that the TMK remarks will remain good fodder for small talk in the sabha canteens through December.

Here is the weblink to a report on the event T M Krishna was a guest at and where he made the 'MS remarks' - 

The time-pass rasikas!

There are a set of rasikas who keep off Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mylapore. And they will do so this 'season' too.
Because, as some of them put it, the auditorium is treated like a come-and-go place for people who don't have much to do every evening.

They do have a point. 
A good number of people who drop in at this hyperactive campus are really not serious about the music or the dance. For them this is what locals would call ' time-pass'.
They walk in at any time of a concert, shuffle in for a good seat, stay for about 20/30 minutes, some chat on the side and then leave.
They certainly do not make for an involved audience.

All programs of the Bhavan are free admission. So the doors keep swinging all through the evening.

And this section certainly spoils the mood of a festival that the Bhavan works hard to host here ( its festival of music started in late November).

Tuesday 5 December 2017

First menu card

The first taste of 'tiffin' from the canteen side.
Brahma Gana Sabha has finally got a decent catering service located on the western side of the Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, Alwarpet.

Featured here is the current menu card.

Two big dance productions . . .

Two back-to-back dance productions on top of a sabha's schedule may well have been a well timed warmup for the dancers and the folks behind the production.

Under the Kartik Fine Arts banner, first guru Sheela Unnikrishnan presented some 40-plus dancers in 'Sri Krishna Vaibhavam' at the Narada Gana Sabha stage.

The next evening it was guru Anitha Guha's turn. 'Vijayathe Gopala Chudamani', its first part went on stage at the same venue. Again, close to 40 young dancers performing.

This production was produced in alliance with Cleveland Aradhana for the USA festival-aradhana and has been re-aligned for the December Seaosn here. ( it also has a second part to it).

Anitha, like Sheela has a way of working with young dancers in such productions. She says that she now has seniors, juniors and freshers in her production.

You can catch their shows at various venues this season. Make sure you go for the ones at venues with a large stage.

Nalli's Reckoner for this Season; helps you navigate

Rasikas are quick to grab this Season's Music Concerts Reckoner.

This small, thick pocket-sized guide which lists all the concerts at all the sabhas and private venues across Chennai.
Nalli's, that world famous clothes brand funds this effort. The man who sweats it hard to put it all together goes by the name of Kannan.

You will see him carrying a big bag with copies of the Reckoner in the early part of December at some auditoria and giving out copies to rasikas he knows well. Or those who value the Reckoner.

The seniors love this guide. But the tech-savvy ones now have many options on their smartphones, what with a few efforts to post all sabha schedules online and offer apps for easy access.

If you use any of these apps, share your experience as a comment on this blog!

Sunday 3 December 2017

Season tickets at Music Academy sell fast

Season tickets to concerts at The Music Academy got sold out the day the counter opened - on December 2.
A goodly number queued up at dawn to count themselves lucky - it took time for the large team of staff and volunteers to issue the tickets.
The buzz was that about 250 tickets were on offer.

Rasikas are hoping that the Academy has a better system for sale of daily tickets; the sale on the morning of a concert 'double' for every evening's show irks everybody.

A rasika's opening remarks on Season 2017

As the 'Season' unfolds, a regular at the festival, N. Srikumar jots a few thoughts; on the irritating system at sabhas to book tickets, the condition of washrooms at some venues and on promoting music/dance students to attend concerts.

Here are excerpts from Srikumar's jottings ; in his own words - you may want to comment on them!

- A few things are status quo though one wished this was not! The long-pending wish of rasikas to source tickets on-line may still remain a distant dream, barring just one or two sabhas. Despite the government's push for cashless transactions, sabhas simply refuse to oblige. The only thing a few are willing to offer is credit card payment and that too only for season tickets. 

- The condition of washrooms at sabhas has considerably improved over the years, though it's still a far cry from even the minimum standards at fests where concerts are held in schools or marriage halls.

- Is there an effort to admit students of music who may not afford the high-priced tickets to main concerts at sabhas? There appears to be no concession or free admission to main concerts for students in general and music students in particular. Sabhas can offer concessional rates at least to students.

Friday 1 December 2017

T. M. Krishna sings verses at poetry fest in city

Is T. M. Krishna singing this season? Queries keep coming in. No, he isn't.
As has been his practice the past few years, Krishna will not be performing any concerts for the December Season at any sabhas.
One sabha though is honoring him with a title - that is Tamil Isai Sangam.

But you can catch this artiste at an event of ‘Poetry with Prakriti’, an annual festival in the city featuring eminent and emerging poets, each presenting readings of their poems to small audiences at several venues across the city. This year's fest happens from Dec 3 - 17.

Two Carnatic music vocalists are featured at this fest.

On Dec 3, writer-poet-teacher Perumal Murugan recites his works and Krishna will perform some of those verses - at TAG Center, TTK Road, Alwarpet. 6.30 p.m.

On Dec. 16, the poetry event is titled Lullabies and Laments - Experiments in Music and Poetry featuring vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan and poet Archana Venkatesan. At TAG Center, Alwarpet. 6.30 p.m.

Little promoter of music!

Music promoter Lalitha Ramachandran, based in Bangalore continues what the Parivadini banner set out to do - put great talent music on stage and beam the concerts to the world, via YouTube.
Those concerts make great archival music material if you choose to listen to them now.
The Parivadini banner is back this 'season'. With concerts at Raga Sudha Hall, Luz.

But this year, a bunch of young artistes are going on stage. They will perform only for an hour. But the recital will showcase some new talent; chosen from many who applied to be chosen specially for the concert series.
If you cannot be at the concerts, do go online and listen live. or when time permits.
And if you like what Parivadini is doing, loosen your purse and make a donation.

Such small, passionate efforts run on donations!