Ananya Rao (student of Smt Savita Rao)Special Segments: Feature a guru - Smt Sandhya Srinath on Melody accompaniment Feature a guru - Sri Srinath Bala on Percussion accompaniment
Sumanth Ganapathi Basavapatna (Flute)
Anirudh Rao (student of Sri Srinath Bala)
It was a memorable event indeed! Thank you all for tuning into our CCC April virtual event today, your presence sure made a huge difference! We cancelled our March CCC due to COVID fears and did not have any clarity on when we would be able to resume our regular events so decided to try out this virtual event format in support of our budding talents. I think those three hours made us forget about COVID and helped us to get soaked into the virgin music our students offered on a nice Sunday afternoon.
Kudos to all nine performers Sanmathi, Keshav, Rohini, Shruthi, Tanisha, Sanjay, Aparna, Deeksha and Ananya for agreeing to perform in our first ever virtual event and thanks to their parents for staying the course with me through the many email communications. Our hearty congratulations to each of them for doing a great job, making the show so enjoyable that the downsides to the virtual event didn’t matter that much after all. Aparna’s brother Sumanth and Ananya’s brother Anirudhwere the only two accompanists on the show today and the girls sure love their brothers, especially today!
Since we were not able to involve accompanists for this show (due to obvious reasons), we decided to do something to benefit them and thus the feature-a-guru segments idea was born. Smt Sandhya Srinath and Sri Srinath Bala graciously agreed to participate and they presented strategies and tips for string and percussion accompanists in the most interesting and creative way possible. We sincerely thank them both for their time and efforts.
Special gratitude to Namdev Nayak for his able and confident support and guidance towards the technical aspects of the live event and streaming due to which the event went as smooth as possible.
Vidya Anand is an epitome of sincerity. She dealt with and executed every little nuance that was asked of her during the video editing process, all with so much patience and passion. Thank you so much Vidya for all that you did to make this experience so wonderful for our members.
Uma Sriram helped us with the slides and Sriram Iyer helped us with the dry run. Our attendance volunteers led by Latha had a busy task during the show today, just like always and our sincere thanks to them too! Ratna Malladi gets the credit for compiling the feedback videos we showed at the end and she was tasked to do this the day she got on board, thank you Ratna, welcome aboard!
Here are the pics from the event (courtesy of the parents and our wonderful audience who sent their pics), and our sincere thanks to Murali Swaminathan for consolidating them all quickly for sharing.
Vidya had done all the work ahead of the event this time J and the entire event (if you missed) is available to watch on our CCC youTube channel.
Please save May 10th Sunday (2-5pm) for our next event, a Mothers’ Day Treat!
Happy Tamizh New Year (Saarvari) and Happy Vishu/Ugadi to you and yours! Stay safe and be well!
Carnatic Chamber Concerts – April 2020 Event
Authored By: Anirudh Ramadurai, Shreya Virunchipuram, Pranav Satyadeep, Mahathi Shankarram, Urmika Balaji, Prahlad Saravanapriyan, Adithya Narayanan
The April Virtual CCC started with a vocal performance by Sanmathi Ethindra. She started her performance with Karur Devudu Iyer’s popular Sri Ragam Tana Varnam, “sAmi ninnE kOri,” set to Adi thalam. Sanmathi sang the varnam with ease and confidence, and also brought out the unique phrases of the ragam. Following the varnam, she proceeded to Sri. Neelakanta Sivan’s composition, “Ananda naTamADuvAr thillai,” in the ragam Poorvikalyani, set to Rupakam thalam. The same confidence Sanmathi showed in her rendition of the varnam was demonstrated in this krithi as well. Overall, it was a pleasure for CCC members to listen to her perform virtually and gave a bang to the organization’s first-ever virtual event!
Following Sanmathi was a vocal performance by Keshav Venkatesh. Keshav performed Manasa Etulo, in ragam Malayamarutham, a janyam of the 16th melakarta ragam Chakravakam. Set to Rupaka thalam, it is a composition of Saint Tyagaraja advising listeners to remain devoted to Lord Rama. Keshav’s good shruthi shuddham and great energy, along with his sweet voice, made his performance pleasing to listen to. Despite not having accompanists, Keshav adhered to the layam of the composition very well and showed great composure while singing. All in all, it was an awe-inspiring and wholesome rendition.
Following Keshav Venkatesh was Rohini Bharat in a repeat slot. She started with a short alapana in the ragam Panthuvarali, the 51st melakarta ragam. She proceeded to present the song “Vadera Deivamu,” set to Adi Thalam, composed by Saint Thyagaraja. She presented kalpana swarams at the line “Sitapati” in the charanam and concluded the piece. Next, she sang “Madhuram Madhuram” in the ragam Karaharapriya, the 22nd melakarta ragam, set to Adhi thalam, composed by Sri. Thanjavur Sankara Iyer. Overall, her renditions were very pleasing to the ears.
The first of the two Feature-a-Guru segments was presented by Smt. Sandhya Srinath. She was aided by her daughters, Shraddha (singing) and Shravya (on the violin). Sandhya Aunty spoke about how to be an excellent melodic accompanist. She mainly talked about three traits that a good accompanist must have: listening, alertness, and adaptability. To explain her point about listening, she used the example of raga alapana. Sandhya Aunty said that in a raga alapana, it is essential for the accompanist to listen to the anuswarams in a phrase. As an example, Sandhya Aunty gave four notes: shuddha madhyamam, anthara gandharam, chathushruti rishabham, and shadjam. Shraddha and Shravya demonstrated that an anuswaram for the shadjam could change the ragam from Shankarabharanam to Kambodhi, so the violinist should listen closely to what anuswaram the vocalist is singing. To explain alertness, Sandhya Aunty used kalpanaswarams. She said that it is essential for the violinist to be alert to a pattern the vocalist is singing so that they can pick it up and correctly reproduce it. Shraddha and Shravya demonstrated this on the line Prasiddha Gananayakam from Siddhi Vinayakam in ragam Shanmuhapriya. When Shraddha sang a pattern of 3 fives, Shravya needed to be alert to reproduce it. Lastly, Sandhya Aunty explained how the violinist should be able to adapt to the vocalist’s singing and padantharam. Shraddha and Shravya showed this in the composition Parakela Nannu in Kedaragowla, in which Shravya’s playing did not align well with Shraddha’s singing, emphasizing that the violinist needs to be able to adapt to the vocalist’s singing. Thank you to Sandhya Aunty, Shraddha, and Shravya for this informative presentation.
Following the Feature-A-Guru segment by Smt. Sandhya Srinath was Shruthi Suresh’s vocal slot. She presented the popular varnam “Chalamela” in the ragam Durbar (a janyam of the ragam Karaharapriya, the 22nd melakarta ragam), set to Adhi thalam, composed by Sri. Thiruvottriyur Thyagaiyyer. Her rendition was in 2 kalams pre-charanam; the charanam was done in a slightly faster tempo and employed some brigha phrases as variations. Overall, Shruthi’s performance came out very well.
The following performance was a violin solo performance by Tanisha Srivatsa. She started her slot with a very melodic alapana in the ragam Kapi. She played both typical and rare phrases that bring out the true beauty of the ragam with bhavam. She then soulfully rendered Sri Thyagrajaswamy’s kriti, “Intha sowkhya” in Adi Thalam. She then chose to play kalpana swarams at Pallavi line, “Intha sowkhya mani,” at two speeds. She played many sarvalaghu swarams and some with kanakku abhiprayams that included yathis. She then played a kuraippu-style swaram with an attached korvai. In sum, Tanisha’s performance was a treat to the ears and was soothing to listen to.
To continue, was the vocal performance by Sanjay Natarajan, in the 10-minute ‘intro’ duration slot including manodharmam. Immediately, Sanjay commenced with the krithi “upachAramulanu cEkonavayya,” in the ghana ragam Bhairavi, unveiling a mellifluous, unhurried style of singing, fully exposing the distinct contours of the ragam. Coupled with his sweeping hand gestures, the rendering of the krithi assumed a greater, more broad scope, making it more endearing to all, while at the same time, serving as a testament to the various capabilities exhibited by Sanjay, including the brighas, characteristic swara-prayogas, adherence to shruti, laya, etc. Even more, indicating specific areas, the transitions into the anupallavi and charanam were well-executed, with his zeal and sustained raga bhavam, which translated to the kalpanaswarams initiated in the Pallavi line “upachAramulanu…,” ensuing with vilambita kalam, or slow speed swaras. Following a mel kalam, or fast speed aspect to segue, were some brief rounds of calculations, simplistic yet apt, and after utilizing a thisram aspect, entered the korraipu on higher Rishabam. To conclude, he started the korvai, with variations in both the poorvangam and utharangam iterations. Summatively, it was a riveting, enriching performance, containing many thematic, aesthetically sound features, hence displaying a distinctive impression of Bhairavi.
The next slot was a violin solo by Aparna Ganapathi Basavapatna, accompanied by Sumanth Ganapathi Basavapatna on the flute. Aparna began with a soulful alapana in Sankarabharanam, aptly bringing out the signature phrases and essence of the ragam. Sumanth followed very closely, reproducing Aparna’s phrases perfectly. Sumanth also presented an equally apt alapana, presenting many similar phrases with the same clarity and bhavam. Aparna then presented Bagumeera, composition of Veena Kuppaiyer, in Rupaka Thalam. The rendition of the krithi was very synchronized between the two, each sangathi rendered with precision and bhavam. Aparna then progressed to playing second and third speed swarams on the pallavi line. She played several kanakku patterns, while also maintaining good kalapramanam and shruthi. Sumanth repeated these patterns with slight variations, but was careful to stay close to Aparna’s. Then, they played a short korraipu at samam yeduppu, which progressed to a simple yeduppu to yeduppu korvai. Though the korvai was simple, it was effective in staying within the ragam. Sumanth followed along in very well, and overall, the entire performance was very pleasant to listen to.
After Aparna’s rendition was a Feature-a-Guru slot by Vid. Sri. Srinath Bala talking about the key aspects of percussion accompaniment. He first talked about accompanying a song that could be sung differently at different venues, and the need for the accompanist to adapt to the situation. He also said that listening to percussion maestros play for different songs and a lot of stage experience is very important. He shared the strategies of accompanying in percussion instruments, and one of the main ones was “sarvalaghu”. While sarvalaghu keeps the continuity of the rhythm, it uses different sollus that brings out the melodic nzeature of the mridangam. This is what makes the mridangam the king of percussion instruments. Some pleasing sounds like the “dhin,” the “chap,” “meetu sollu,” and sometimes even silence (vishranti) can be used to suit the mood of the song (when there is a place like a “ahaa moment” such as a long karvai or an arudhi). He also indicated that accompaniment from a mridangist’s aspect involves manodharmam, because there are many strategies and different options to elevate the whole experience for the performers as well as the listeners. In order to employ these different techniques, one has to be really attentive and alert on stage to synchronize with the on-stage performers. Overall, the segment was really useful for all of the CCC students and gave wonderful tips to aspiring percussion accompanists.
Subsequently ensued the performance of Deeksha Venkateswaran, who was accorded the 15-minute repeat slot. Suddenly, she launched into an energetic, expansive ragam in Lathangi, accentuated with rapid-fire brighas and sonorous akaarams. Thus, the essence of Lathangi was expressed, employing a significant usage of its defining phrases, and with Deeksha’s repetitive hand movements, heightened the quality of the raga portion. Transposing, when she commenced with the song, “aparAdhamulanniyu manincI,” by Patnam Subramania Iyer, it evidenced her forte in embellishing the krithi’s sangathis with multiple intricate sancharas, illuminating the resplendent, multi-faceted characteristics of Latangi. Likewise, her panache suited the kala pramanam of the song, with its medium-fast pace, demonstrating Deeksha’s adept, emphatic handling of the ragam. Clearly, this corresponded to the kalpana swarams in the anupallavi’s first line, or “kripa jEsIna,” as she began with the mEl kAlAm, or fast speed swarams, while establishing different series of punctuated cycles. Midway, she interspersed this with multiple kanakkus, or calculations, and reaching the longer swaram, centered it around “P,” while adding a few tail phrases, culminating in the samam-to-edam korvai. Overall, the allure of the korvai, with the poorvangam and utharangam proceeding inversely, terminated a thrilling, momentous performance, expounding a weighty command over Latangi.
Concluding the virtual April CCC was a vocal concert by Ananya Rao. Ananya was accompanied by her brother, Anirudh Rao, on mridangam. She was the only to have percussive accompaniment during this event. She began with a short sketch of Shankarabharanam, packed with canonical phrases. Next, she presented Mutthuswami Dikshithar’s magnum opus krithi, Akshaya Linga Vibho, in ragam Shankarabharanam and set to Misra Chapu thalam. Ananya’s execution of each sangathi was immaculate and clearly rendered, especially her elaborate brigas in the Anupallavi. Anirudh’s attuned mridangam accompaniment conformed to the thalam and song structure, which highlighted the inherent rhythm of the composition. She chose the pallavi line, which starts 4 after samam, for swaram elaboration. She sang a sarvalaghu koraippu on ga, and the brisk swaram rounds concluded with an interesting 10-after samam to 4-after samam korvai. On the whole, especially with the unique percussive accompaniment, Ananya’s delivered an outstanding performance.