HYDERABAD: Akhandam is an interesting concept often seen in south Indian music. For the uninitiated, Akhandam is a Sanskrit word meaning unbroken. Hence, Akhanda Gaanam means an unbroken series of songs or continuous singing. Since, it is generally impossible for one person or group to sing continuously for the entire duration, different singers take up the renditions one after the other and without a gap in between.
Earlier this week, Gayatri Fine Arts Academy presented its seventh annual cultural festival with a three-day music celebration from March 18 to 20 titled ‘Sadguru Sri Thyagaraja Swamy 172nd Aradhana’. This festival included an Akhanda Gaanam in which all artists – vocalists and the accompanists, upcoming and established, impressed with their high-calibre performances. The next two days featured full-length evening concerts.
The Aradhana started off with the customary ‘Unchavritthi’ or seeking of alms in the tradition of Thyagaraja in which most of the performers participated. This was followed by the main event, the ‘goshti gaanam’ or group singing of the ‘Thyagaraja Pancharatna krithis’, the five compositions of the saint-composer which are considered to be among his finest and hence titled ‘Pancharatnas’ or five gems. Scores of musicians – from young students to veteran teachers participated in this group rendition which was both robust and melodious.
This was followed by an ‘Akhandam’ in which the audience was treated to 12 continuous hours of classical music!
From 9 am to 9 pm, around 18 artistes took to the stage one after the other to keep the continuity intact. To facilitate the ‘Akhanda Gaanam’, the stage was divided into two halves. Even as one vocalist was completing his concert, the next vocalist and his/her accompanists were setting up their instruments so as to begin immediately after the earlier artiste and thus keep the music going non-stop.
Among the artistes who performed in the Akhandam were S Aditya, N Sridhar, Bhavya Hari, V Muthukumar, Archana and Aarathi, N Jayakrishnan, Shruthi Bhat, Srivathsan Santhanam, Srikeerthi and Sruthee, Guru Raghavendra, Vijayaraghav (mandolin), B Chandrasekar (violin), Vijayaganesh (violin), N Harish, G Sreevidya, etc. All the artistes displayed command over shruti, laya and bhavam making the event a delight for connoisseurs.
Since the festival is a tribute to the greatest of composers, Thyagaraja, his exquisite compositions formed the staple of the festival. Among the many compositions we heard were Bagayenayya (Chandrajyothi), Merusamana (Mayamalavagowla), Vidajaladura (Janaranjani), Paramathmudu Velige (Vagadheeshwari), Dayarani (Mohana), and Maa Janaki Chettabattaga (Kambhoji).
The second day featured vocalist Kolkata Padmavathi Saranathan accompanied by KAS Rajan on violin, G Ramachandran on mridangam and TP Balasubrahmanyam on ghatam.
Today evening will see a vocal concert by N Ramamurthy accompanied by KAS Rajan on violin, G Ramachandran on mridangam and Dr PS Gopalan on Mukharshanku.
Date: March 20 Venue: Kowtha Kamakoti Kalyana Nilayam, Padmarao Nagar, Secunderabad.
Time: 6.30 p.m.