Vocalist Abhishek Raghuram Shines With Off-Beat Kritis

Published: 13th October 2014 06:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th October 2014 06:02 AM   |  A+A-

BANGALORE: His meditative concert featured compositions on Devi and masterly elaborations in ragas Kalyani, Sri and Ahiri Bangalore’s Dasara concerts concluded with a dazzling performance by young Abhishek Raghuram at Sri Kanchi Math, Malleswaram, on Friday. It was a grand finale indeed.

 Singing for a packed audience, Abhishek proved his supremacy in all the aspects of his craft. A fresh young voice singing an unfamiliar repertoire on Devi is in itself a refreshing change from the “standard” cutcheri.

 The selections were mostly in a meditative mood, with some dramatic flourishes. He sang with a full, dark sound, great intensity and stunning facility.

 Suitably and splendidly supported by young violinist H M Smitha on the violin and the expert Arjun Kumar on the mridanga, the singer provided a sumptuous treat of compositions on Devi.

 The Nattakuranji varna (Chalamela) was a flying and formidable start. After a long a time, one got to listen to Saraseeruha in Nata raga. He beautified it with a lively swaravinyasa. His rhythmic mastery was amazing. Shahana in an enjoyable pace for Thyagaraja’s Ee vasudha was crowned with impressive swaras.

 When he started the alapana in Sri raga, the audience reacted with approval and seemed to have rightly guessed the kriti he was to sing. Abhishek surprised the rasikas by opening Dikthitar’s famous and grand kriti on Goddess Lakshmi, Sri Varalakshmi, with the anupallavi portion, that is, Bhaavaja janaka praana. The alapana preface was polished and pleasing.

 His creativity blossomed fully in the detailed alapana in Kalyani raga. He surveyed artistically each and every corner of the raga and erected a wholesome edifice. He sang a rare Shyama Sastry kriti Raave parvatha Rajakumari. The neraval at Neeve gathi yani nammiyuntigada was brilliant. He could capture the essence of Ahiri raga by singing it in the prescribed leisurely pace. The nuances of this majestic raga were neatly underlined.

 Another Shyama Sastry gem, Maayamma yani, followed. A Gopalakrishna Bharathi creation in Tamil Idu thaano thillai set to Behag and Garudagamana (Hindola) were received well.


The two of the most prestigious music sabhas of Karnataka have scheduled their annual music conferences next week. The 46th music conference of the 109-year old Bangalore Gayana Samaja began on October 12 and concludes on October 19. The Karnataka Gana Kala Parishath is holding its annual music conference at Bijapur from October 15 to 19.

 Veteran vocalist S Shankar, presiding over the Gayana Samaja music conference, will be conferred with the title of Sangeetha Kalarathna on Sunday. Famous veena vidushi and exponent of Tarangini veena Dr Suma Sudheendra will preside over the Gana Kala Parishath’s music conference. She will be honoured with the title of Gana Kala Bhushana on October 19. It is noteworthy that she had also presided over the young musicians’ conference of the Parishath to be awarded the title of Gana Kala Sri.

Elegant singer

With a concert career spanning more than four decades, Shankar has endeared himself to lovers of music with his rich and robust voice. A post-graduate in mathematics from Bangalore University, he was attracted to classical music right from his childhood.

A stickler for classicism, his voice is always clear and bright with no sign of effort. The ornamentations are graceful and unostentatious. His voice has remained fresh, with great range and flexibility throughout his career.

 His manodharma and expression are exemplary. His concerts are notable for standard and traditional contents packed with the kritis of the Trinity, Swati Tirunal, Mysore Vasudevacharya, Patnam, Padmacharan, and Haridasa compositions. His raga alapanas, slow-paced singing, rhythmically taut and neatly patterned swaras, and shloka renditions are much appreciated. Shankar has proved his mettle in making tunes for modern and old composers, including Sadashiva Brahmendra. He has been a respected teacher under whom a good number of young enthusiasts receive training.

 I admire his obvious facility and accuracy in elaborate singing in an unhurried and unforced pace. Even today his vocal concerts bring hours of pleasure.

 The 64-year-old Shankar had his mother Rajamma Sastry as his first. She not only taught him the basics but also inspired him to take to music. Later he was trained by Nagarathna Bai and the famous singer Vallabham Kalyanasundaram.

 He grew to be recognised as an ‘a top artiste’ of All India Radio and has performed for the Akashvani and Doordarashan national programmes of music. He was also featured in the Radio Sangeet Sammelans of AIR, and has published three books on music.

 Shankar has toured widely in and outside India and won accolades for his jugalbandis with veteran Hindustani vocalist Pandit Vinayak Torvi. Besides directing music for musical features, documentaries and dramas, he has released several cassettes and CDs.

Shankar has been honoured by many maths, temples, music sabhas and institutions.

Versatile vidushi

Dr Suma Sudheendra is a fine combination of performer, teacher, researcher, organiser and administrator. Winner of several honours, including the Rajyotsava award and Kalaimamani from Tamil Nadu (first woman from Karnataka to receive it), Suma is also credited with devising the portable, compact and detachable Tarangini veena, a simplified version of the traditional Saraswati veena. She has also been actively leading a Karnataka jazz fusion group called Megha.

Her Tarangini veena does not feature the large, delicate gourd or tumbar, thus becoming more portable. It uses magnetic pick-ups and reduces the requirement of an acoustic resonator. Thus it almost matches the divine veena.

Trained by great gurus like Veena Raja Rao and Chitti Babu, Suma’s concerts in India and abroad have put her on the top of the ladder of fame. Her services in many cultural organisations have been immense and varied.

After obtaining a doctorate in music, she started working on an ambitious and sophisticated museum called Indian Music Experience at JP Nagar, the first ever experiential museum where one can listen, feel and make music.

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