How CCC can Inspire your Child

CCC March 2017 event review by Sashwat Mahalingam

posted Mar 14, 2017, 6:49 PM by CCC Editor

Often, it is when a youth musician reaches an able stage of proficiency that he/she attempts to take on musical challenges, such as kalpanaswarams in different nadais, rendering fast-paced krithis, or rendering songs in different nadais, in order to expand his/her knowledge and increase his/her capabilities. We have seen how improvement and hard work have played out well for any musician, but when such challenges, be it layam or voice-wise, are added into the picture the standard of music rises tenfold. On March 5th, 2017, at CCC, each one of the performers onstage demonstrated their ability to take up these difficult technical and voice-based challenges and prove each of themselves capable of becoming a professional musician. 
The event started off with a 15-minute performance by Gayathri Bhaskar on the vocal, Vittal Thirumalai on the violin, and Pranav Tirumalai on the mridangam. Gayathri began with a beautiful alapana in Reetigowlai, detailing all the exquisite prayogas of the rakti ragam. This was mirrored by Vittal melodically on the violin. The alapana was followed by a viruttam in Tamil on Lord Vinayaka, which was then followed by Papanasam Sivan’s classic Tatvamariyatharama, set to Adi Talam. Before concluding, Gayathri took up a few brisk kalpanaswarams on the 3rd line of the charanam, madisEkaran maganE. Throughout the swarams, Gayathri showcased all aspects of Reetigowlai, a rather challenging must for any rakthi ragam. This included a nice porutham-based eddam to eddam korvai by Gayathri, which was then followed by a short samam-to-eddam mohra and eddam-to-eddam korvai by Pranav Tirumalai. Throughout the performance, Pranav enhanced the performance with his dynamic beats on the mridangam.   
Following Gayathri’s auspicious starting performance was another 10-minute slot performance by Sripradha Manikantan on the vocal, accompanied by Gowri Datta on the violin and Sriram Srivatsan on the mridangam. Sripradha begun with another classic but ageless Vinayaka composition, Vallabha Nayakasya, composed by Muthuswami Dikshitar in the ragam Begada, set to Rupaka Talam. Throughout the song, Sriram kept up the energetic mood of Begada with his invigorating accompaniment on the mridangam. Following the performance, Sripradha rendered a three-ragam viruttam in Shanmugapriya, then Mohanam, then Sindhu Bhairavi (Kandhar Anuboothi). Throughout the viruttam, Sripradha displayed her extremely pliant voice, as well as her great diction, especially in the Sindhu Bhairavi section where her melodious method of voice modulation accentuated the bhavam brought out from the ragam. Throughout the viruttam, especially in the Shanmugapriya section, Gowri Datta brought out the emotion of each and every ragam with her rendition and mirroring on the violin.
Following Sripradha’s passionate performance was a performance by Anika Sundararajan on vocal, Prahlad Saravanapriyan on the violin, and Umesh Gopi on the mridangam. Anika begin with the daunting and haunting ragam Chandrajyothi for ragam alapana, which she rendered with melody and true depth and understanding of the complex ragam. Prahlad accompanied for the first time on violin (living up to his promise of doing so in 2017 :) ) and even for a first timer on the CCC stage, decided to take up such a challenging ragam for alapana, and handled it very well, with an equal demonstration of high-depth understanding of the ragam and its prayogas. Following this, Anika sang Tyagaraja’s delightful composition Bagayanayya, set to Deshadi talam. Bagayanayya in it’s own sense is special because it is an ekaika krithi, the only composed in a ragam by one composer in the entire trinity. Following this, Anika melodiously rendered Papanasam Sivan’s Srinivasa tiruvEnkaTa in hamsAnandi set to Adi Talam. Throughout the performance, Umesh Gopi kept up a confident and spirited accompaniment on the mridangam. 
Following Anika’s melodious performance was a performance by Kashyap Balaji on the vocal, Aishwarya Anand on the violin, and Rajeev Devanath on the mridangam. Kashyap Balaji sang Muthuswami Dikshitar’s first ever composition, Sri nAthAdi guruguhO, in ragam Mayamalavagowlai, set to Adi Talam. Dikshitar songs in general are known to be the most challenging in the trinity krithis, especially when one is obliged to sing a madhyamakalam, or a middle-speed section that typically ends up in the last line of the pallavi, anupallavi, or charanam of a Dikshitar song. Kashyap nevertheless managed to confidently render the song onstage. Aishwarya Anand contributed to the energy of the ragam Mayamalavagowlai with her accompaniment on the violin, while Rajeev Devanath, with his mischievous smile, kept the audience in layam with his mature accompaniment on the mridangam.
Following Kashyap’s professional performance was a performance by Gaurav Rajan on the vocal, Sahana Prasanna on the violin, and Shrikanth Shivakumar on the mridangam. Gaurav began with a captivating alapana in the ragam Shankarabharanam, using aesthetically correct phrases throughout to further demonstrate his knowledge and understanding of such a broad ragam. This was mirrored mellifluously by Sahana Prasanna on the violin, where she managed demonstrated her knowledge of Shankarabharanam (both as a vocalist and violinst) in her rendition. Following this, Gaurav took up Thyagaraja’s composition, Bhakthibicchamiyyave, set to Rupaka Talam. He took up a few kalpanaswarams on the pallavi of the song, where once again he demonstrated the use of melodically appealing prayogas. Gaurav then concluded with a nice eddam to eddam korvai (for taka thalli). Throughout the performance, Shrikanth Shivakumar demonstrated strict adherence to layam in his accompaniment on the mridangam.
Following Gaurav’s awe-inspiring performance was a veena solo by Kavya Kodungallur, accompanied by Sriram Subramanian on the mridangam. Kavya began with an emotionally lifting alapana in Gowri Manohari, which albeit being a melakarta ragam is still challenging by itself. This was followed by Gowri Manohara, Papanasam Sivan’s composition set to Adi Talam. Kavya’s rendition of the song throughout appropriately brought out the emotional ambiance of the ragam while demonstrating skill to take up such a ragam on the veena. Throughout the rendition, Sriram Subramanian enhanced the tone of the song with his energetic, yet appropriately toned accompaniment on the mridangam.
Following Kavya’s veena performance was a composition of Garbhapurivasar in kANaDa, set to Adi Talam, rendered by Sashwat Mahalingam, accompanied by Apurvaa Anand on the violin and Santhosh Ravindrabharathy on the mridangam. In her alapana, Apurvaa demonstrated an immense use of traditional as well as rare and praiseworthy prayogas of the ragam. Doing the same in her niraval and swarams, Apurvaa also managed to throw in some nice and appealing kanakku. Santhosh, with his spirited performance on the mridangam, kept up the energy and rhythm of the performance throughout.
Following Sashwat’s performance was a Feature-a-Guru segment by Vidwan Sri Vivek Sundararaman Mama. Vivek Mama presented his segment on Kelvi Gnanam, or ‘listening knowledge’. As you might guess, the presentation detailed how rasikas usually think in a concert, and what we as youth musicians should look out for in each and every performance, including but not limited to tempo, connection to historical renditions by stalwarts (example: “I have heard KVN Mama sing this same song before”), emotional connection, and raga identification. Vivek Mama also added his humor into his presentation, including puns and audience-perspective-related notions in a concert. Thus, not only was the presentation informative to us youths on how being a rasika can help dramatically improve our quality as musicians, but also was lively as Vivek Mama was able to get his point across while bringing in things the audience could relate to. We would like to thank him for taking time to provide us with such a well thought-out and spirited presentation.
Following Vivek Mama’s presentation was a 25-minute violin solo by Aparna Thyagarajan, accompanied by Akshay Aravindan on the mridangam. Aparna began with a dulcet alapana in Kharaharapriya, encompassing the use of traditional as well as light and captivating prayogas. She also demonstrated high level of mastery on the violin with her use of brisk phrases in the ragam. Aparna then proceeded to render Tyagaraja’s classic, Pakkala Nilabadi, set to Misra Chapu. For her manodharmam elaboration (niraval and swaram), Aparna took up the line ‘Manasuna dalachimai”. Aparna’s niraval combined the use of bhavam and adherence to melody as well as bringing out the liveliness and spirit of Kharaharapriya. Her swarams included elegant sarvalaghu patterns as well as nice porutham-based kanakku that eventually led into an interestingly based samam koraippu, and a samam-to-eddam korvai. This was followed by a mohra-korvai by Akshay, where in the korvai, Akshay played the first two iterations in mEl kalam tisram, then the third iteration in chatushram, thus earning the audience’s appreciation for taking upon such a rhythmic challenge. Throughout the performance, Akshay kept up the lively tone emitted by Kharaharapriya ragam with his animated accompaniment on the mridangam.
After Aparna’s lively performance was a concluding 10-minute performance by Yazhini Thillaikumaran on the vocal, Srishiva Manikantan on the violin, and Rahul Swaminathan on the mridangam. Yazhini auspiciously ended the program with Thyagaraja’s legendary pancharathanam “Entaro Mahanubhavulu”, in Sri Ragam, set to Adi Talam. Yazhini demonstrated excellent voice culture by taking the krithi at a rather brisk pace and keeping the audience in sync. Srishiva took up the challenge of accompanying to such a grand and vibrant krithi in addition to the brisk pace it was rendered at. Not to forget, because it was a concluding slot it would have to be sung in such a way that would leave the audience truly satisfied with the event, thus making it an extra challenge for all the performers. Throughout the performance, Rahul kept up the fast pace with his exuberant accompaniment on the mridangam, and concluded with a very complex but enjoyable teermanam.
To conclude, as mentioned earlier, each one of these performers demonstrated their ability to take upon new challenges and make it their own, all while demonstrating their musical capability and raising the standard of music in the Bay Area even higher than before. The first and foremost credit goes to each and every Guru in the Bay Area who constantly train and push their students to do new things and bring out the best of themselves. It follows that the parents of these performers who keep up with these constant demands for training, practice, rehearsals, workshops, etc. deserve credit as well for putting up with such difficult and tedious tasks. Thanks to all Gurus and parents for making it possible for each and every performer to shine. Next, shout out to every volunteer in CCC, including but not limited to the sound team (headed by Namdev Uncle), the PPT presentation team, and Padma Aunty, the main coordinator, for helping contribute to the event’s success. Finally, credit goes to the audience of parents and youth musicians and rasikas who take time every month to support and encourage us kids to work hard and do better than before. Best wishes to the performers, and looking forward to seeing the standard they set going exponentially higher and higher in the future.

Review by Srishiva Manikantan (about Sashwat's segment):

"Sashwat’s vocal rendition was accompanied by Apurva Anand on Violin and Santhosh Ravindrabharathi on Mrudhangam. Sashwat started with a vibrant Alapana in Kanada, 22nd mela janyam. The Alapana of Kanada was extensive and showcased the wide possibilities of this feat that bestowed an awesome feast to the audiences' ears. This was followed by Kamalambana krithi composed by Sri. Garbhapurivasar in Deshadhi Talam. Sashwat delivered the song flawlessly with his mellifluous voice. His Niraval in Anu-charanam, vara garbhapuri, proved his fullness of knowledge about the scope of this raga, and he made it explicit as he handled the kalpana swarams at ease with  nice korvai at the end. Sashwat sang with total involvement, enjoying every nuance himself. While the violinist was reciprocating his kalpana swarams, Sashwat enjoyed every bit of it thereby demonstrating the "Rasikatvam" on stage as explained later by his Guru, Sri Vivek Sundararaman. Sashwat  rendered with full of Bhava while adhering to tradition. He passed on his vibration to the audience, who thoroughly enjoyed his music. His stage presentation was excellent and very encouraging to the accompanists.
 Apurva, the violinist, gave a very matured and professional accompaniment. She responded adequately during swara exchanges. The mrudhangist, Santhosh, gave a "Thani" which was loaded with all elements mixed in the right way to make it wholesome. "

January 2017 event review by Sashwat Mahalingam

posted Mar 14, 2017, 6:14 PM by CCC Editor

Over the past 8 years, CCC has grown immensely from the inaugural event in January 2009 to the special event held today. From recent count, it has over 213 participating kids in various Carnatic musical areas, including but not limited to vocal, violin, mridangam, veena, flute, and keyboard, and 89 participating schools and teachers. Today, the 8th anniversary event held to celebrate CCC’s growth brought off a fantastic start to the year of 2017.

The event started off with a 10-minute rendition by Samhita Srinivasan, accompanied by Srishiva Manikantan on the violin and Rahul Swaminathan and mridangam. Samhita began auspiciously with the Vanajakshi varnam in Kalyani set to Adi Talam, and even took up the challenge of rendering two speeds of the varnam. This was followed by a melodious rendition of Sadananda Tandavam in Bahudari. Throughout her performance, Samhita demonstrated excellent voice and laya control, which was complemented by Srishiva’s dulcet playing on the violin and Rahul’s active and focused accompaniment on the mridangam.

Samhita’s beautiful rendition was followed by a lively performance by Siddharth Srinivasan on the vocal, Yogitha Balasubramaniam on the violin, and Sriram Subramanian on the mridangam. After a pleasing raga alapana in Purvikalyani, Siddharth sang Shyama Sastri’s rare krithi, and one of his few Tamil compositions, Enneramum Un Namam, in Purvikalyani, set to Misra Chapu. For his manodharmam, Siddharth took up kalpanaswarams at ‘Anbudan Unnai Nan,’ in which he expressed outstanding porutham patterns combined with elegant sarvlaghu patterns. Throughout the performance, Yogitha responded well to the challenge of the kanakku Siddharth had demonstrated, and Sriram had managed to keep the rhythm and flow of the song ‘in-sync’ with his captivating accompaniment on the mridangam.

After Siddharth’s active performance was a performance by Vittal Thirumalai accompanied by Pranav Tirumalai on the mridangam. If you are wondering why no violin is present, it is because Vittal himself has the unique gift to sing vocal and play violin for himself at the same time, which he demonstrated with his extraordinary rendition of Dikshitar’s krithi in Todi, “Sri Krishnam Bhaja Manasa,” set to Rettakalai Adi Talam. Before the rendition of this krithi, Vittal sang/played a short, exquisite alapana in Todi ragam, and managed to captivate his audience with the melody of both his voice and his violin. In the krithi, Vittal took up the challenge of doing kalpanaswarams on the madhyamakalam, “Pankajasanadi Deva Mahitam.” The energy of the performance was enhanced with Pranav’s dynamic accompaniment on the mridangam, keeping the laya throughout the concert while also keeping the audience into the layam.

Followed by Vittal’s unique rendition was a small performance by Rajeev Devanath, accompanied by a new violinist, Urmika Balaji, and Shrikanth Shivakumar on the mridangam. Rajeev rendered Manasu Nilpa in ragam Abhogi with great musical discipline and maturity, which along his sweet but projected voice, Urmika’s mellifluous playing of the violin, and Shrikanth’s exuberant playing of the mridangam, took the audience by awe. This was followed by the challenging song Adbuta Leelaigalai in Madhyamavathi, in which Rajeev managed the challenge of keeping Tamil pronunciations clear the entire time and even handled the one section set in tisra nadai with great layam control, which managed to impress all of the people in the audience, particularly the mridangam/laya vidwans/teachers in the front row.

Rajeev’s awe-inspiring performance was then succeeded by an engaging performance by Samyuktha Natesan on the vocal, accompanied by Gowri Datta on the violin and Akshay Aravindan on the mridangam. Samyuktha began her performance with an expert alapana in Darbar that demonstrated her excellent voice culture and musical mastery. Following this, she sang Tyagaraja’s rarely heard krithi, “Narada Guru Swami”, set to Rettakalai Adi Talam. Samyuktha even challenged herself by taking up swarams on the anupallavi, “Sareku Sangeetha.” Keeping up with Samyuktha’s complex patterns and kannaku in Darbar, Gowri Datta demonstrated an amazing capability to play the violin by managing such a complex ragam while keeping up with the flow of the song. Akshay Aravindan complemented all of this with his dynamic playing of the mridangam in a unique and exquisite style. This was followed by a Thiruppavai in Behag which she rendered with a lot of bhavam.

Following Samyuktha’s performance was a bold and strong performance by Shashank Venkat. Shashank sang an energetic alapana in Kharaharapriya which was mirrored with melody and feeling by Shreyas Srinivasan. This was followed by Tyagaraja’s krithi, Kori Sevimpa Rare, in Adi Talam. Shashank took up elegant kalpanaswarams in Kharaharapriya where he incorporated nice kannaku and porutham patterns that captivated the audience throughout his performance. Shreyas Srinivasan managed to keep up with this standard of kanakku while adding his own touch to the music to further energize the ambiance of the performance. Sachin Venkat very confidently complemented this performance with his bold and active playing on the mridangam, which was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Overall, Shashank’s performance showed great maturity and boldness in his music.

After this bold performance by Shashank Venkat, Ashwat Subbaraman stole the stage with his alapana in Keeravani. His flexible, energetic voice complemented the bhavam and tone of the ragam as he brought out every one of its majestic swarams. Apurva Anand, the new violinist being introduced, mirrored this with a pleasing rendition of the alapana on the violin. For his piece, Ashwat Subbaraman took up “Puniyam Oru Koti”, a krithi by Periyaswami Thooran on Sri Kanchi Mahaperiyava. Coincidentally, this was a very auspicious song for the event is it happened to be on the date of Mahaperiyava’s attaining of samadhi. Ashwat then took up small kalpanaswarams in the ragam which contained simple but elegant patterns that appeased the entire audience with their melody. Sriram Srivatsan who accompanied on mridangam played a short, energetic thani on the mridangam after this which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the mridangam vidwans in the audience.

Succeeding this melodious performance was an informative session led by Smt. Kasthuri Shivakumar on how recording devices have changed this generation of music. Mentioning how learning was back then vs. how it is now, as well as the pros and cons of learning with and without a recording device, Kasthuri Aunty brought up some very good points about how learning without a recording sharpens memory skills but makes revision harder, while learning with a recording makes revision easier but keeps memory skills very dull. Finally, Kasthuri Aunty brought up some very useful tips on how to take advantage of the recording devices we possess, including backing up and organizing files, as well as making recordings of songs after we learn them so if we forget the songs we can refer back to our recordings. Overall, this information was very useful to us youths in the audience and we took a lot from the session about how to make use of the resources we have to make sure our music is of the best quality/accuracy.

Finally, the concluding performance was a 30-minute Ragam Tanam Pallavi in the ragam Thodi, presented by Sahana Prasanna, Aparna Thyagarajan, and Akshay Venkatesan. After presenting a captivating alapana in Thodi ragam, Sahana proceeded to take up the challenge of doing ragamalika thanam rather thematically, with three of the ghana ragams, Varali, Nattai, and Gowla. Her Pallavi was appropriately dedicated to Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna and to CCC’s 8th anniversary event (given Thodi is the 8th melakarta ragam), with a Pallavi composed by Balamuralikrishna set to Panchamukhi Talam, one of his inventions. Given the complexity of the talam, Sahana handled the thrikalam of it very fluently, and proceeded to do swarams in the two sets of 8 ghana ragams for her ragamalika swarams. Aparna Thyagarajan took the challenge of keeping up with the kannaku demonstrated in these swarams, while maintaining the beautiful melody in the tone brought out by each ragam in the ragamalika. Finally, Akshay Venkatesan actively played an energetic Mohra-Korvai, enthralling everyone in the audience while adhering to strict laya control.

Overall, this special event was enjoyable, active, and themed appropriately with special performances by all the performers where each of them brought out their own unique style, the dedication, and their enthusiasm into this art within less than half-an-hour each. The credit for the success and enjoyability of this event goes towards the performers, the Gurus/Vidwans and Vidushis who constantly mentor them to achieve perfection in their respective arts, the parents who put up with traffic issues, scheduling, and many other conflicts for the success of these musical performances, and the coordinators/behind-the-scenes volunteers of CCC who put in the best of their hard work to make sure the event goes smoothly. Praises to everyone for making this event a grand success and certainly looking forward to more events in the future.

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