The annual Sri Rama Navami music festival has begun with the usual traditional and religious fervour. The city is again reverberating with the fine sounds of music.
The 66th annual music festival took off to a melodious start at the Seshadripuram College open air auditorium under the aegis of Sri Seshadripuram Rama Seva Samithi on Rama Navami (April 8).
In the inaugural concert, young but seasoned saxophone artiste Sridhar Sagar took the stage with all humility. His clarity and fine phrasing applied to classical Carnatic music rose to the more dynamic passages with a natural energy and power. The neraval, swaraprastaras and sensitively judged teermanas were done nicely with some beautiful little trills. He knows how he wants his music to sound and displayed what a fine technique he has. He proved convincingly that the saxophone is at home in Carnatic music. Fittingly accompanied by Venkatesha Josier (violin), Rajkumar (dolu), Nagabhushan (tabla) and Ganesh (khanjari), he allowed the phrases to unfold in a lovely way. His subtle colourings as well as broad sweeps were an absolute joy. If there was any doubt as to his virtuosic strain, then this performance proved his credentials.
The opening Navaragamalika varna in two kaalaas was a tremendous performance, shifting between varying moods of the nine ragas and tempo with ease. Vatapi Ganapatim in Hamsadhwani raga had virtuosity, poetry, sensitivity and sheer panache. Sridhar was alive to every little twist and turn in the madhyama kala swaras played at Veettaraginam. Good control of dynamics and overall structure made Marugelara and Endaro Mahanubhavulu a formidable achievement. Naadaloludai (Kalyanavasantha) with kalpanaswaras was impressive as it unleashed delightful sound from the very bottom of the instrument to the top.
The delineations in Mohana (Pillangoviya cheluva Krishanana), Nagumomu (Abheri) and Hindola (Samajavaragamana) brilliantly brought to life each movement in texture and detail.
Calm and sober
The beauty of tone quality, delicate nuances and unbelievable felicity in rhythmic complexities are qualities that make seasoned singer T V Ramaprasad an outstanding musician. He was stimulating and refreshing at his recital on the second day of the above festival. He proved that he is consummate, dedicated and professional. The singer put his heart into every twist of the concert. Despite the disturbances caused by sudden rain, Ramaprasad never lost his mood and served a sumptuous feast of calm and sober music. His success was backed up by enormous talent and technical flair. On this concert he was joined by B U Ganeshaprasad (violin), Anur Ananthakrishna Sharma (mridanga) and Karthik (khanjari) who played a delicate and detailed foil to his relentless musical drive.
The Mayamalavagowla kriti (Deva Deva) was a royal launcher. It was tagged with a neraval at Jaataroopa and kalpanaswaras. He has a wonderful sense of the decorative aspects of the singing. He builds effectively on this tradition, adding a welcome measure of melody and emotional expansiveness. What distinguished this performance was that all of this was so well done with so little apparent effort or premeditation. And the leisurely pace that he adapted was soothing.
Thyagaraja’s Ramabhakthi Samrajya, Eti janma (Varali, neraval at Taamarasadala and swaras) and Marugelara were heard with rapt attention. Nattakuranji alapana was scholarly and it being Wednesday, it was apt that he sang Dikshitar’s Navagraha kriti on Lord Budha (Budhamaashrayami). The alapana and swaras spoke of his mature manodharma. The elaboration of Keeravani for Kaligiyunde was the highlight of his vocal recital.
A finely honed musicality displayed by young and enthusiastic singer Saketharaman, deserving wider acceptance, captivated the audience at the special pandal erected at the Fort High School grounds during the 77th Sri Rama Navami music festival hosted by Sri Rama Seva Mandali, Chamarajpet. He combines great technique and elegant musicianship with a wonderful sense of balance. From the very first phrase, when I heard him on Friday evening, it was clear that he is a superb artiste and performer. The dynamic qualities of an accomplished vocalist shone through in its unforced subtlety. He provided a prime example of his improvisational methods, probing musical inventiveness that has characterised his work ever since his entry into the field. The manner in which he generated percussive climaxes at salient points of the overall musical flow was highly impressive for its technical expertise.
Splendidly supported by equally spirited and talented accompanists Akkarai Subhalakshmi (violin), Neyveli Narayanan (mridanga) and Karthik(khanjari) he brought out the beauty of the great ragas and kritis that he sang on that day. When I entered the elegantly put up pandal, I heard him singing the chittaiswaras (accompanist Karthik announced that the chittaiswaras were composed by Saketharaman) for Sudha madhuryabhashini (Sindhuramakriya raga). Thyagaraja’s Tsallare in Ahiri(with alapana) in vilamba kala was heartwarming. After singing an enthralling Kharaharapriya alapana he surprised the rasikas by singing a rare Papanasham Shivan kriti Janakripathe. The tani was to be followed by a vote of thanks. But Saketharaman stopped it and continued to sing Chalamelara(Margahindola) to be profusely applauded. The young vocalist regaled the rasikas by rendering a pallavi, Raghuveeram Raghavam Raamam bhajaami, in a demanding tala pattern. It was khanda chapu tala whose first part was chaturashra and the latter trishra. He crowned the item with a ragamalika swaraprastara.
Aesthetic and stylistic
Tight pacing, solid performing and a balance between dance and storytelling made for a good show when Shruthi Raju gave a profound Bharatanatya recital at JSS auditorium last Sunday. Shruthi is trained in the rigours of Kalakshetra by the veteran Guru Prof M R Krishnamurthy of Kalakshithi. While keeping her eye on the form she is trained in, she managed to cast an expansive gaze across aesthetic and stylistic approaches of the dance form.
The fundamental components of adavus (basic steps in the footwork and the rest of the body), hasta mudras (hand gestures), bedhas (head, neck, and eye movements), as well, as a sense of rhythmic play and devotional origins could be found inside each work. The overall impact was that the form came alive and well, both in maintaining traditional practice and in reaching across boundaries.
Responding sensitively and sensibly to the musical ensemble comprising Rakshitha (nattuvanga), Hariprasad(vocal), Maheshswamy (flute), Natarajmurthy (violin) and Anilkumar (mridanga), Shruthi’s nritta, nrithya and abhinaya were a class to watch. Trishra jaathi alarippu gave a formidable start to her dance. She maintained an assured panache for nritta that oozed joy in the rendition of a Vasantha jathiswara. The Shabda in praise of Lord Muruga was performed admirably.
The Swarajathi varna set to Bhairavi raga Sakhiye inda velai was unfolded with strong technical skill and presence. The deep knee bends, hastas, stomping and the half-seated ardhamandala had artistic elegance.
The heroine who is tormented by the pangs of separation seeks the help of her sakhi to get back to her Lord Rajagopala. It was an engaging performance by Shruthi with playful repartees and the continuing, developing narrative bringing out the theme in a quiet and clear way. It was a compelling rendition that mostly underscored the dancer’s maturity as a performer.
Shruthi neatly portrayed a Sakhi who pleads for her heroine and informs Lord Krishna about the plight of the nayika. This sequence was enacted by the dancer on the basis of a Sabhapathi Iyer pada in Yadukula Kambhoji raga.