Monday 31 December 2018

Sanjay the Star

He is perhaps the star of the Season. And beyond. Sanjay Subrahmanyan clearly made the biggest impact with his music at all the venues he performed this December.

Starting with a special themed 'Thamizhum Nanum' concert that was sold out in early December, his concerts ran to packed houses, with fans admitting his music brought tears to their eyes.

As arts promoter and historian R. Lalitharam posted online -
'Not often you can give something to the musician who brings so much joy through his/her music, except thanking him. Today I could give a small token of my appreciation to Vid. Sanjay Subrahmanyan for the truly wonderful Kosalam that he tuned and presented. I could give him the calendar featuring his illustrious guru. ..'

The SS fans group follows him from sabha to sabha; and he acknowledges them after the show. Posing for photos, signing and listening to their warm words.

Friday 28 December 2018

Padma Sugavanam's Season delivery

The smartest online flyer must be the one which vocalist Padma Sugavanam posted recently. It is featured here.

Padma's name did not figure on festival schedules - because she was in 'the family way' and delivered a child just as the Season unfolded.

So she put out this cheeky flyer.

Lectures attract fairly large audiences

Must The Music Academy shift its morning lectures to the main hall and switch the 9 a.m.concerts to the mini hall?

Some diehard attendees at the lec-dems think so.
Some sessions at the mini hall have seen people spilling out though these have been few this Season.
Also, some 9 a.m. concerts at the main auditorium see sparse attendance.

Lec-dems of Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha at its wedding hall venue also get sustained attendance.

One birdie says there's more drama than lecture at some lec-dems.

Creating stages outside sabha halls

Dancer and guru Roja Kannan is hosting a festival at Sri Kapali Temple, Mylapore.

The intent - to provide a stage to her young, talented sishyas who have not got many opportunities to perform. Especially during the margazhi season.
Dec.28 to 30, two concerts daily 6 pm onwards.

Many others with similar intent host concerts in spaces they can grab - small halls or temple campuses.

Nobody is using terrace spaces yet - though the Mylapore Trio host motta-madi kutcheris now and then.

Ah! The weather affects artistes

The weather is severe on artistes, especially on vocalists. Some have had to call off their concerts. 

The latest - the popular Rajani-Gayatri sisters. Earlier, Gayathri Venkataraghavan and Abhishek Raghuram cancelled their concerts.

Monday 24 December 2018

Evergreen favourite; Yesudoss

He is the evergreen favourite. A vocalist who is what film distributors would call minimum guarantee - that is, assure you a close to a full house. And he has fans to this day. That is K. J. Yesudoss.
Sabhas still want to decorate him - recently he was given an award by Brahma Gana Sabha with the vice-president of India doing the honors.
And all his concerts this far have sold out.

At Chennai Cultural Academy, the Karnataka Sangha hall in T. Nagar's Habibullah Road was packed - must have held over 1000 people.

Tickets were sold out well before that evening's concert.
And after the main course, as Yesudoss launched into the thukkadas, his fans, standing up, after each piece gave their suggestions; he mulled over them, a bit like an actor, said a few words that evoked low laughter and the song was on. And when  it was over, a big round of applause - Malayalam, Sanskrit, Thamizh……he offered what he could till the clock struck 9.15.

The fans rushed to the front , clicked pictures and little ones stepped on the stage and posed. Then they crowded around his car.
Through many Seasons, Yesudoss has commanded a big attendance. And he vibes well with his rasikas.

< For concert schedules of leading artistes, do to the Guide Book posted online at

How does Ghatam Karthick manage his 50-plus concerts?

Ghatam Karthick is a kind of rock star on the sabha circuit. Besides playing in a few dozen concerts, he shares his stage experiences on his FB page and connects with fans and rasikas.
We chatted with Karthick on his Season's experience

- How many concerts this Season?
About 50 concerts

- How do you play alongside such a variety of artistes?
I go with the flow of the co-artistes by imbibing and observing their style, patterns and presentation

- How do you manage this hectic season?
by keeping my mind calm and taking adequate rest.

- How does the family come in?
They are very helpful. They understand my hectic schedule and compliment me in all sides.

- The son is also busy now?
Yes. Sarvesh performs with me in my Heartbeat concerts. He puts in lot of effort to perform at the highest level. He also adds on a lot of innovative things to present our pieces in a more contemporary style and form.

- You seem very positive despite the hectic days . .
I get lot of happiness by openly appreciating the goodness in others. I don't expect anything from them. I try to spread positivity. That's all.

- How do you unwind?
I do lot of other things besides music which keeps me refreshed. 

Film songs, intelligent humour, have good, tasty food and good sound sleep helps me a lot.

Monday 17 December 2018

Scouting for talent, connecting with patrons

The Season brings all kinds of people.
Senior arts promoter Krishnamurthy is from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. He is part of the team of Sree Nilakanta Sivan Sangeetha Sabha.

The sabha runs a 12-day concert fest and has the stars and the young featured on stage - every year in July.
We met him at a sabha canteen, where he was meeting artistes and sabha heads.

"Our budget is big and finding sponsors is tough but we carry on somehow," he said.

And he is keen to spot some great talent here.

Nomad sabha's new worry

The managers of Indian Fine Arts Society ( IFAS) now has its festival at a kalyana mantap on TTK Road, Alwarpet. They have moved from place to place from their origin on Thambu Chetty Street in George Town, once the heart of Madras and hence, also of music patrons, rasikas and artistes.

But now comes a worry - the Chennai Metro Rail line proposed for the future will run down below the road where the mantap is located and will need a slice of the compound. 

The hall though will not be affected. Parking will be.

Sabha's newsletter

Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha has brought back its newsletter for the Season. Edited by R. Revathi and Sivakumar, the colour four-pager provides news, buzz and reviews of the sabha's events.

The first issue was circulated at the sabha's fest launch - on Sunday.

Good idea this!

Saturday 15 December 2018

Action in south Chennai

South Chennai rasikas have aplenty nowadays.
A music fest held in Indira Nagar just got over and Hamsadhwani's fest, featuring mostly NRI artistes will roll soon at the Youth Hostel here.

In Thiruvanmiyur, Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha and CarnaticWorld, promoted by Shashikiran rolls out a fest from Dec.15 to 25 at Sri Sankara School, Thiruvanmiyur. Concerts start early in the evening with some young and NRI artistes featured and the main show at 7 p.m. ( this alone is ticketed). Contact - 94440 18269.

On the other side of this area,  Kalakshetra's fest is on from Dec.20 to Jan.2, 2019. Ticketed. All the Rukmini Devi-curated Ramayana series of dance drama are being staged this year. Call 9444018908 for tickets ( can be booked in advance).

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Jugalbandhi of chitra veena and violin artistes

Perhaps for the first time, women artistes playing on the chitra veena and on the violin performed in a jugalbandi concert – this happened on Dec.11 afternoon for the Trinity Arts Fest in Chennai.
Vocalist and instrumentalist Bhargavi Balasubramaniam played the chitra veena alongside senior violinist Dr. M Narmadha in a jugalbandi.
The concert was at R.R Sabha, Mylapore
“Murali Raghavan, the festival convener organised our combination. We met and practised only for 45 minutes and the rest we improvised on stage. Since the chitra veena is different its a challenge for me,” said Bhargavi after the concert.
“Chitra veena and violin go together very well. Chitra veena has no depressions so the artiste has to push the strings carefully. One has to be very clear and smart. Bhargavi, being a student of guru N.Ravikiran does an extraordinary job every time,” says Murali Raghavan.
  • Report and photo by J. Dheepthi

Film buff? There is an international film fest happen'

If you are in Chennai for the Season, and you are a film buff you can also catch some great World Cinema and the best Thamizh films at the annual Chennai International Film Fest that takes off on Dec. 13 evening - till 20th.

Theatres across the city will screen these films - you can register to get admission. All info at

Disappointed fans of Abhishek Raghuram

Fans of Abhishek Raghuram got a big disheartened when they got to know that a throat infection led to the artiste's concert cancellation at Vani Mahal on December 11 evening.

They took to social media to express their disappointment. One fan posted another post which said the singer faced his problem at a concert in Kerala.

Sid Sriram, who also sings in movies and has a large fan following took Abhishek's place that evening.

Chennai is about 25/24 degrees late evening - the chill has not set in. But this is the season when your throat gets infected or your nose begins to run.

At one concert in Luz, this young violinist had to keep her handkerchief around all the while.

Travails of artistes.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Tickets for concerts at Kalakshetra; the info

Tickets for concert at Kalakshetra are available at Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, Kalakshetra campus now.

There are no season tickets for the whole festival or programmes ( Dec 21 to Jan 2, 2019.

People can pay and collect the tickets at the college office. 

Call 044-24521169 for details

Monday 10 December 2018

Two vadas, two coffees. Rs.120!

Two small masala vadas and two coffees.
Was it worth it?
The vadas, small, the coffee, just fine.

Opening evening at the canteen at Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha in T. Nagar ( Vani Mahal hall).
Going by that bill, our guess is that prices are a tad high here.

The quality of the food?
You tell us when you are there and tuck in some tiffin.

You can write for this Blog on the concerts, the buzz at the halls and the food too, but avoid reviews -

Tributes to Nedanuri Krisnamurthi

Sangeetha Kalanidhi Nedanuri Krishnamurthi garu's remembrance day was celebrated by his prathama shishyas Malladi Brothers at Thaligai Hall at Luz on  8.12.18.

The special invitees were 'Spencer' Venugopal, (a senior composer, singer and disciple of Brinda), GJR Krishnan,  Hamsadhwani R. Sundar and vocalist Radha Bhaskar.

GJR Krishnan recollected  his father Lalgudi Jayaraman's association with Nedanuri.  

R. Sundar, secretary of Hamsadhwani shared his father's (R. Ramachandran, journalist) disappointment that Nedanuri Garu was not decorated with Padma award by the Indian government. 

Radha Bhaskar came out with an anecdote. She recorded her first  interview with Nedanuri for Samudra magazine. But after reaching home she found that nothing has been recorded. She desperately wanted to have his interview. When contacted over phone he invited her to Vizag to do it again. She did that and got that conversation.

Malladi Ravikumar recollecd how Nedanuri in his last hours wanted him to sing the phrase 'Rama' repeatedly in the song 'sujana jeevana Rama'. 

This was followed by concerts of Malladi Vasavi on Amnnamacharya Krities, and Dr. Seshalatha on Ramadas Krities. 

- Report by V. Vasantha

Sunday 9 December 2018

Chamber concert - R K Shriram Kumar solo on the violin

Senior violinist R K Shriram Kumar will perform solo on Sunday morning ( dec.9) at the chamber concert of the Musiri Chamber Concert series that is held in a house located off Musiri Subramaniam Road.

It starts at 10 a.m. It is open to all but space is limited here and rasikas sit on the floor around the artistes. Makes for a very intimate experience.

The house is located in a lane that runs on the left after the Waitrose supermarket store at the junction. Contact 9444028677.

Saturday 8 December 2018

Mudhra's opening evening

Mudhra's festival launch is sedate. At the Ramakrishna Mission School auditorium off North Usman Road in T. Nagar not more than 100 people attend it. The launch was on Saturday, December 8.

The launch started 20 minutes late. Thankfully, emcee Dr Radha Bhaskar kept the show well-paced.

It was an evening to award dance guru Chitra Visweswaran; and doing the honors were the gurus the Dhananjayans.

Mudhra, run by Bhaskar and Radha and backed by Nalli Kuppuswamy will celebrate the 25th edition of this fest next year and they have big plans for it in 2019.

Bhaskar says they intend to bring Carnatic music into the homes of seniors via their Web-based radio and tv channel. "Going beyond the sabha confines," as he put it.

Oh those long, long speeches and delayed launches

How boring can you make of a festival inauguration?
We got a taste of it when the Trinity Arts Fest got underway at R R Sabha, Mylapore. There were dozens of awards to be given - to the young, the seniors and to achievers. 

Then there were speeches to be made. Two minutes, the emcee suggested b ut that did not restrain Madurai T N Seshagopalan from rewinding for almost 15 minutes. Cannot fault him - he has lots of stories to unfold given a mike.

Guru Urmila Sathyanarayanan and her dancers must have fretted before their dance drama based on Meera went alive as the main recital of the opening evening.

The Singaporeans up their fest . . .

The Singaporeans are slowly making a mark on the Season. And this year, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS) got Singapore Consulate General based in the city collaborate with the annual fest.
They even themed the fest - Alangkar.

The fest showcases talents of students of SIFAS, and their gurus. In a way, this stage, though early in the Season must be beneficial.
The smaller hall of the Music Academy was packed on Friday evening at the launch of Alangkar.

The opening show was unique - with the Singaporeans performing what was a melange of sounds and music - interweaving Chinese and Far East sounds with Carnatic as well as Hindustani music.
Cheryl and Riduan enjoyed themselves on their native percussion instruments and midway, as a Bharatanatyam and a Kathak dancer stepped in, the collage was grand.

Over two days on the Dec.8 weekend, other artistes will sing and dance at this venue.

It will be good to also have artistes from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Reunion and elsewhere to have such a platform in the Season

Friday 7 December 2018

This concert of Sanjay Subrahmanyam sold out

Sanjay Subrahmanyam's themed concert 'Thamizhum Nanum' this Saturday ( Dec.8) is sold out. 

A privately curated concert of only Tamil songs, it is on at The Music Academy.

Sanjay makes it a point to sing Tamil songs at his concerts and one can expect this this Season too.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Pattappa's to run canteen at Academy

The foodies among rasikas never tire of planning their own food tours; checking out the canteens.

Now, Music Academy is to have a new caterer - Pattappa's, the well-known caterer will now man the canteen in this campus.

A little birdie in the know says the new caterer promises great food.

The previous one was getting a tad tired. Even his stewards looked bored.

Once you taste the Pattappa food do share your experience. Mail -

Two dance dramas you don't want to skip this Season

Scene from Srinivasa Kalyanam
Anitha Guha and her dancers got a standing ovation at their first show of the Season - 'Nandalala' - the lord Krishna themed dance production that was staged at Narada Gana Sabha auditorium on Sunday evening.

"Did some of you shed a tear or two?", asked emcee artiste Revathi Sankkaran who always anchor's Guha's shows.
The women in the front rows nodded as they clapped on.

'Nandalala' is a reworked version of Guha's earlier production and was primarily produced for Aim for Seva, which then took it on a multi-city tour of the USA earlier this year.

Even as the curtains came down that evening, dancers of guru Sheela Unnikrishnan were walking in for for their rehearsal.
Their show ' Srinivasa Kalyanam' was staged the next evening and this was another tight dance drama. Again, a big house and ovation all around.

Both shows are being staged at different venues this Season.

SPB the star on stage . . .

The spotlight of the evening when Kartik Fine Arts sabha launched its fest ( Dec.1) was on SPB, as the hugely popular playback singer is known worldwide. S. P. Balasubramaniam was a special guest.

He got the loudest cheers and all the eyes were on him; better said, people in the hall hung on to his words, wished he would sing.

He posed for pictures with the small girls who carried the ponnadais and citations for the event, asked the emcee not to dwell on his biodata and at began his speech with a short song that rang through the hall and was heard in pin drop silence.

SPB went on to acknowledge the sabha’s hosting a music fest for Tamil songs and requested rasikas not to use or switch on their phones when they attended concerts but to focus fully on the recital.

Saturday 1 December 2018

Music Academy season tickets booking on Dec.2

The Music Academy will issue Season Tickets for the evening music concerts of the star artistes, from Dec.2, 9 am onwards at its campus office off TTK Road, Alwarpet.

Rates - Rs.16,000, 13,600, 5350 and 1800 ( includes 18% GST). Cash, debit or credit card form of payment accepted.
Carry your ID card or if you send your rep to buy, they must carry an authorization letter and your ID card.

People normally queue on campus as early as 6 a.m.; tokens are given and guests accommodated in the lobby till the counter opens.

Daily tickets are sold on the morning of the concert - one ticket for two concerts of the evening.

New set of music festivals; bold and big

The Season is evolving in Chennai. Private entertainment bodies are finding ways to curate and promote concerts in their own ways and create different festivals of their own.

At least three such mega tests are lined up across the city.
These promoters add a theme to a concert, host a contest or quiz, lineup TV coverage and even have food stalls on the auditorium campus. And their advertising is big, bold. And they get new age sponsors.

The Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru fest promoters who have made a name over the years also provide bus transport on select routes after the late evening concert at a Teynampet hall.

Clearly, these fests are working - and all star artistes are performing in them.

Sabhas on the move . . .

The fortunes of some sabhas rise and fall with the December Season.

One such is Kalarasana - it used to stage concerts of top-ranking Carnatic musicians at Rani Seethai Hall, Gemini Circle and received a big attendance in the days when the sabhas were limited.

Kalarasana obviously could not meet the rates of the renovated hall, moved to a hall in Chetput and has now moved to Mylapore with a down-scaled annual fest.

This year, Kalarasana's music fest features young, hugely talented artistes. Concerts are from Dec. 1 to 7, with two concerts daily starting at 4.30 p.m. The fest is at Raga Sudha hall. Luz Avenue and open to all.

Contact 7358198073.