CCC May 2017 event review by Sashwat Mahalingam

posted Jul 31, 2017, 12:30 PM by CCC Editor   [ updated Jul 31, 2017, 12:36 PM ]

CCC May 2017 - as reviewed by Sashwat Mahalingam:


A variety of music schools express the art form of Carnatic Music through various different padantharams and styles of rendition. Though it is difficult to make a clear and straightforward explanation of what each padantharam is exactly comprised of, one can notice that each school/style adheres to a set of disciplines and qualities each student is expected to live up to. This is analogous to the primary artist/legend/maestro each school sprouts from. A common theme in Carnatic Music explored, discussed, and observed by many Carnatic musicians and rasikas alike is the balance between tradition and modernity/creativity. This theme is of significant importance in this generation specifically because of how our music has evolved over time, while also trying to maintain its traditional values it stands for. The students of our generation are presented with the challenge of balancing our creativity and ideas with this traditional aspect of music. Many strive and succeed to do so. This harmony of aesthetic quality and traditional value was no better demonstrated here in the Bay Area than in CCC of May 2017. Each performer attempted to bring in their own creativity while also keeping up to the standards of theirpadantharam.

            The event began with a performance by Ambika Ramadurai on vocal, accompanied by Srishiva Manikantan on the violin and Sachin Venkat on the mridangam. Ambika began with a varnam in Suddha Dhanyasi, Sri Raja Mathangi, set to Adi Talam, composed by H.N. Muthiah Bhagavathar. This was followed by an auspicious multi-raga viruttam on Saraswathi, ending in the ragam Arabhi. Ambika brought out the classic Arabhi phrases in this viruttam while also embellishing it with her creativity and leaving the audience in suspense and anticipation of what is to come next. Srishiva followed this up with a 1 minute, crisp yet pure rendition of Arabhi on the violin. This was followed by Dikshitar’s composition Sri Saraswathi, set to Rupaka Talam. Ambika maintained an appropriate pace through the rendition that helped emphasize the ragam’s most unique and identifiable phrases of Arabhi while also keeping the audience “in-sync”. Srishiva took care to highlight the weighty Arabhi phrases as well. Finally, Sachin Venkat displayed a huge leap and improvement from his previous accompaniments, bringing his confidence as well as musical understanding to the fore while playing.

            Following Ambika’s auspicious performance was a recital by Kriti Iyer, accompanied by Apurvaa Anand on the violin and Shreyas Garimella on the mridangam. Kriti began with a compact viruttam in the ragam Ranjani, where in such a short amount of time, she displayed the entire scope of the ragam, covering all octaves while adding her own quick and rigorous phrases as a form of creativity. Apurvaa mirrored this with a Ranjani alapana balancing canonicity and talent at the same time, using fast/complex phrases as well as bringing out the bhava-laden, traditional aspect of Ranjani established by maestros of the past. This was followed by GNB’s Ranjani Ni Ranjani, set to Adi Talam. In addition to taking the rendition at a rather quick pace, Kriti further challenged herself by taking quick-paced swarams on the pallavi. In her swarams, Kriti emphasized an extensive use of sarvalaghu patterns and phrases, which  Apurvaa took to mirroring while also bringing in a rich and satisfying flavor of bhavam. Shreyas provided appropriate and methodical accompaniment to the stage, highlighting the right moments and toning up/down wherever necessary,

            Following Kriti’s brisk performance was a performance by Rahul Swaminathan, accompanied by Aishwarya Anand on the violin and Avinash Anand on the mridangam. Rahul began with an energetic alapana in Gambheera Nattai. Throughout alapana, Rahul’s bubbliness was apparent in his use of wavy ragam phrases (such as gmpnsg,,s,,,,) and extensive brigas. Aishwarya’s response was equally appropriate in combining the use of commonly heard phrases in Gambheera Nattai songs with her skillful rendition on the violin. Following this, Rahul proceeded to Saint Tyagaraja’s well-known composition Ninne Bhajana, set to Rettakalai Adi Talam. The rendition was lively as the pacing in balance with the phrases emphasized allowed the ragam’s energetic mood to be brought out yet again, especially in the anupallavi, which contained at least TWELVE different sangathis. Rahul then took swarams on the anucharanam,

“seeta nAtha sakala lOka pAlaka.” The energetic and Semmangudi-like punches in the sarvalaghu patterns was an especially appealing aspect as it brought out the true, bold nature of the ragam, while also combining creative kanakku and porutham. Rahul then did a short koraippu with a further gradual kanakku pattern similar to the structure of the line he was singing swarams on, followed by a crisp yet rhythmically well-thought-out samam-to-edam korvai. Throughout the manodharmam essay, Aishwarya caught every last sarvalaghu pattern while also making an emphasis on a ragam-based approach compatible to Rahul’s approach. Avinash’s unique approach to accompaniment on the mridangam helped fulfill the energetic as well as the auspicious aspect of the song Tyagaraja intended to put in. His synergy with Rahul stayed strong till the very end, including a nice mohra-korvai.      

Following Rahul’s energetic performance was a performance by Shivani Venkatramanan, accompanied by Ananya Devanath on the veena and Vishal Setlur on the mridangam. Shivani begin with a dynamic alapana in Simhendra Madhyamam. In her alapana, Shivani demonstrated her extremely flexible voice as well as the bhavam-related aspect of the ragam, bringing out the somewhat balanced ragam moods of both feeling and energy. Shivani also took the added challenge of graha bhedam in Bowli. Graha bhedam in a way is analogous to the tradition vs. creativity/modernity balance as one is required to intuitively and creatively shift a ragam’s tonic scale to produce a new ragam, while at the same time not deviating from the structure and sancharas of the original ragam. Hence, this challenge was delivered extremely well, receiving a well-deserved applause from the rasikas. Ananya’s follow-up was equally scintillating with the use of brigas and complex phrases to show the ragam’s true scope in such a short time. She also took on the graha bhedam challenge with equal skill and determination, and produced an effect similar to that of Shivani’s. Following this was Dikshitar’s composition NilachalanAtham bhajEhamset to Adi Talam. She then proceeded to swarams on the madhyamakalam, which although on the samam is still a challenge given how little room there is for breath. Shivani also took a challenge of including mEl kAlam tisram swarams in her kalpanaswarams, followed up by a koraippu and a simple but elegant korvai to top it off. Ananya responded to all these challenges with equal sarvalaghu originality and appeal. Throughout the performance, Vishal kept up a befitting, kinetic accompaniment to the rather quick-paced nature of the song, and even played a nice complex tirmanam at the end.

Following Shivani’s challenging performance was a performance by Prisha Balan on

vocal, Prahlad Saravanapriyan on violin, and Akshay Suresh on mridangam. Prisha rendered Tyagaraja’s composition in Bhairavi, Lalithe, set to Adi Talam. For being a first time taking the CCC stage, Prisha displayed an extreme amount of confidence. Her rendition was filled with azhagu and gave the effect of a swaying/smooth style of singing. Prahlad enhanced the bhavam of the song highlighting the most exquisite of Bhairavi phrases with his playing of the violin. Akshay Suresh made an enhancement to the performance with his confident and mature mridangam playing, especially for it being a first time on the CCC stage. The combined team effort made the entire performance a huge success.

            Following Prisha’s smooth rendition was a performance by Shruthi Jaganathan, accompanied by Omsri Bharat on the veena and Santhosh Ravindrabharathy on the mridangam. Shruthi began with an alapana in the ragam Dharmavathi, a not very commonly heard ragam next to its neighboring ragam Hemavati. Given how very few compositions exist in the ragam, most of the scope comes from the artist’s own creativity and intuition. Taking this challenge, Shruthi brought a whole dimension of her interpretation of the ragam in her alapana, displaying a surplus of originality and some use of phrases found in Dharmavathi compositions. Omsri made an equally creative effort on the veena of this uncommon ragam, showing a high level of skill in both playing the difficult instrument and taking up an uncommon ragam on it. Following these intuitive essays was a composition of Mysore Vasudevacharya, Bhajanaseya Radha, set to Rupaka Talam. Shruthi then proceeded to niraval and swaram on niravathi sukha dayakuni, the anucharanam line. Shruthi’s niraval followed an interesting, gradual build-up style, where each succeeding time she’d elaborate on a larger and larger scope to keep the audience engaged. Shruthi’s swarams following this included some nice classic kanakku as well as intricate patterns and phrases that clearly affirmed the ragam as Dharmavathi, following a canonical and traditional style. This was followed by a koraippu and edam-to-edam korvai. Omsri’s mirror to these forms of manodharmam provided a whole new dimension of melody, especially given that instead of the violin, the approach was taken on a veena. Santhosh’s mridangam playing kept the song at a brisk mood and kept the audience wowing and up on their feet expecting the next idea to come up. He included a nice mohra-korvai at the end of the song following various patterns of 3.

            Following Shruthi’s unique performance was a performance by Vishaka Ashok on the vocal, Alaap Rag on the violin, and Vivek Arvind on the mridangam. Vishaka began with the daunting Kadanakuthuhalam varnam composed by Calcutta Krishnamoorthy, set to Adi Talam. Kadanakuthuhalam itself follows an extreme level of vakra and incomplete structure, making its navigation rather “skippy” and challenging to try out. Vishaka proved her skill by rendering the entire varnam inn 2nd speed, displaying her mastery of such a complex ragam while keeping the audience stupefied and smiling. Following this was Sri Guruguha Moorthe, a composition of Dikshitar in ragam Udayaravichandrika, set to Rupaka Talam. Vishaka’s magnetic voice, combined with her outstanding impression of the emotional magnetism of this ragam, made this rendition touching and enjoyable. For being a first-timer on violin, Alaap stood up to both the Kadanakuthuhalam and Udayaravichandrika challenges well, highlighting the key phrases of each while adding a bit of extra flavor to each unique phrase that came by. Vivek’s bold yet flexible accompaniment complemented Vishaka’s singing, and his involvement was clear in how he showed on stage that he really seemed to be enjoying the moment as it lasted.

            Following Vishaka’s enchanting performance was a performance by Sumedh Vaidyanathan on the vocal, Aditya Satyadeep on the violin, and Pranav Tirumalai on the mridangam. Sumedh began with a bold alapana in the ragam Shanmugapriya. Like Sumadyuti, Shanmugapriya is the type of ragam where it lies in a central part of a spectrum of energy to bhavam-filled; it sort of balances energy and bhavam together. Sumedh, in his alapana, managed to achieve the balance, through the use of both classic yet still appealing phrases as well as creative ideas. An example of a creative idea he implemented was swaram skipping, where for a stretch of time he worked with only the swarams N, R, G, M, and D, creating elaborate patterns that added an intuitive aspect to his alapana. Following this was Aditya’s response, where he chose to highlight a more bhavam-filled, classic version of Shanmugapriya, combining a few of Sumedh’s ideas as well as bringing his own interpretation of this vast ragam. Following this was marivErE dikkevarayya rAmA, Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s composition set to Deshadi Talam. Given that so many variations of this song exist due to its popularity, Sumedh’s version  (from the Sri Paduka/NSG Padantharam) included various briga patterns and unique phrases one would hear rarely in the ragam. Sumedh’s bold and courageous voice helped to particularly develop this aspect. He then took the challenge of rapidfire, quick-paced swarams on Sanutanga Sri. His sarvalaghu patterns/swaram ideas were identifiable and creative, where he incorporated previous idea such as swaram skipping that made the manodharmam essay further enjoyable. Aditya’s mirror to this was an equally original bhavam-based conceptualization of swaram patterns, where he took care to make the most important phrases evident and pausing to let the right ones sink in. Throughout the performance, Pranav’s accompaniment reflected activity, spirit, and involvement as he added his unique touch to his playing while playing into the team effort that ultimately contributed to the performance’s success.

            Following Sumedh’s spirited performance was an informative Feature-a-Guru session by Sri. Ravindrabharathy Sridharan. The session was themed around how to extend our musical longevity. The presentation covered many important aspects of our musical planning and involvement, such as sadhagam, sravanam, visions, insight, humility, and long run expectations. The use of the iceberg analogy made a clear point: a small iceberg we see in the musical world is performance and surface-level practice, where we fail to see the aspects of practice and retrospection below sea level. The session was helpful to us students as it showed us what a true musician’s struggles and duties are, what he/she must expect to do, and what he/she must mentally commit to for a long period of time (or lifetime). This sort of retrospective, wholesome approach is what helps musicians get far as they take in the big picture, or the larger viewpoint, of the musical journey.

            After this session was a concluding performance by Shrikanth Shivakumar on the vocal, Aparna Thyagarajan on the violin, and Srivatsan Tennathur on the mridangam. Shrikanth began with an alapana in the ragam Chintamani, which by technical definition is Bhairavi with a prathi madhyamam. This rare ragam presents an intimidating and challenging aspect in two ways: A) its striking similarity to Bhairavi must not confuse the artist to be led into Bhairavi, and B) its rare and uncommon nature gives it a very small scope compared to its suddha madhyamam counterpart. Considering both these difficulties, Shrikanth’s alapana represented an extraordinary blend of melody, swiftness, and creativity. The Bhairavi-like phrases of the ragam he particularly emphasized, taking care not to accidentally introduce a suddha madhyamam in any place helped bring out his melody, while his overall raga approach was marked by smooth transitions and elaboration, large scopes of movement in the raga and navigation, and vadi-samvadi notes that create a harmonic appeal. His particularly versatile voice helped aid him in this well-rendered effort. Aparna’s reply to this on the violin was an equal mixture of skill and musical knowledge. Even in a short time, she managed to give a large and understandable scope of the ragam, and with her skillful playing executed complex, intricate, and quick ragam phrases that left the audience amazed and captivated. Following this, Shrikanth presented Syama Sastri’s composition, Devi Brova Samayamidhe, set to Rettakalai Adi Talam. For his manodharmam elaboration, Shrikanth did both niraval and swaram on the pallavi, an uncommon form of elaboration nowadays. Given the pallavi is usually given the most emphasis, variation, and elaboration in a krithi, it presents a wide scope of possibilities for manodharmam, all of which Shrikanth managed to bring out in his niraval and swarams. Aparna responded to this challenge with an equal display of musical understanding and intuition. Throughout this, Srivatsan’s synchronous and suitable accompaniment on the mridangam reflected much of his experience from vocal training as well as mridangam accompaniment. He particularly played a nice mohra-korvai in the end, with the korvai having a nice chatushram to tisram transition in each iteration.

            To conclude, each performance today represented a unique blend of creativity, tradition, musical knowledge, and a team effort. In guiding our generation on how to meet these standards of music, the first people to thank are the gurus and teachers, who not only teach us what and how to sing, but how to think like a musician, collaborate like musicians, and execute like musicians. Quoting a recent observation someone pointed out in a PowerPoint, “The musical community works in this wonderful ecosystem where everyone’s individual effort makes the result a success, and without one the system fails to work.” The next in this system are parents, whose constant energy, care, and drive help push their children to venture further into the musical journey and break through musical boundaries. The work of organizations such as CCC help to promote our efforts by giving us a chance to share our talents with each other and with the rest of the musical world, hence providing an avenue for us. Finally, the work of rasikas and patrons who come to constantly encourage and support kids such as the performers helps give us motivation to keep working harder and harder in the future. Best wishes to all the performers onstage today, and good luck to them for a bright musical future.


CCC February 2017 event review by Sashwat Mahalingam

posted Jul 31, 2017, 12:29 PM by CCC Editor

Helmut Schmidt once said, “The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” In CCC’s event in February 2017, on the 12th (a Sunday), it could not have been more evident how true this quote was and how it showed in each person’s performance, from the beginning varnam to the final RTP.

The event began with a mellifluous performance by Manasa Poorni, a new budding artist, accompanied by Preetika Ashok on the veena and Shrikrishna Shivakumar on the mridangam. Manasa began with a varnam in Lalitha ragam, composed by Vidwan Shri. Neyveli Santhanagopalan. The varnam was composed on Saint Tyagaraja, and was set to Adi Talam. Manasa also took up second speed in the varnam, and in a ragam such as Lalitha, this is definitely a challenge. Following the varnam, Manasa rendered Tyagaraja’s famous Rama Nannu Brova in Harikambhoji, set to Rupaka Talam. Throughout the performance, Preetika emulated the melody of the performance with her dulcet accompaniment on the veena, matching every last swaram and tune perfectly, while Shrikrishna Shivakumar kept the audience in rhythm with his laya-conscious accompaniment on the mridangam.

Following Manasa’s rendition was a mature and professional performance by Urmika Balaji on the violin, accompanied by Vivek Arvind on the mridangam. Urmika began with a soul-stirring alapana in Shanmugapriya. This was followed by Patnam Subramanya Iyer's famous composition marivErE dikkevarayya rAma, set to Deshadi Talam. Urmika then took up kalpanaswarams on the Anu Charanam, Sanutanga Sri Venkatesa. In no way did this concert seem like it was performed by very young artists, given that throughout her manodharmam renditions, which is a challenge on its own, Urmika managed to include some interesting kannaku as well as wonderful sarvalaghu patterns, thus demonstrating a high level of musical knowledge and capacity. Her korvai included a nice twist starting from takita thalli instead of the traditional samam to eddam or eddam to eddam korvai. Throughout the rendition, Vivek managed to keep up a very confident accompaniment on the mridangam, and even took up a mohra korvai towards the end of the performance.

After Urmika’s wonderful performance was a vocal rendition by Varsha Shankar, accompanied by Aishwarya Anand on the violin and Sriram Srivatsan on the mridangam. Varsha began with an aesthetically pleasing Saveri alapana, enhanced with the use of very traditional as well as interesting and euphonic prayogams. Throughout her alapana, Varsha demonstrated excellent voice pliancy in her use of fast-paced phrases. Aishwarya Anand then mirrored this alapana melodiously on the violin, complemented by bhavam and emotion in her playing. Especially captivating was the use of vadi-samvadi notes in her alapana (such as srgsr,pdnpd,srgsr,). Varsha then rendered Tyagaraja’s rarely heard composition on Tripura Sundari, Kanna Thalli Nivu, in Deshadi Rettakalai Adi Talam. Following her spirited rendition of the krithi, Varsha engaged in mel-kalam swarams on the pallavi. Adding to sarvalaghu and interesting kannaku, Varsha further captured the audience with her use of pleasing phrases in Saveri. Throughout, Sriram enhanced the spirit of the performance with his energetic accompaniment on the mridangam. Even though it was Aishwarya’s first time accompanying on the violin, she sure responded well to the challenge of taking kalpanaswarams in a vast ragam such as Saveri. Varsha concluded with an interesting samam-to-eddam korvai, which was followed by a mohra korvai by Sriram.

Following Varsha’s lively performance was another violin solo by Srivas Sarva, accompanied by Ananth Kumar on the mridangam. Srivas began his performance with a soothing alapana in ragam Kalyani. This was followed by Tyagaraja’s composition, ‘Vasudevayani’, set to Adi Talam. Following this rendition, Srivas played a few kalpanaswarams on the pallavi of the song. In his kalpanaswarams, Srivas demonstrated excellent musical control with his use of bhavam-laden phrases and swarams. Throughout the performance, Ananth kept up a very dynamic accompaniment on the mridangam, while also adjusting his accompaniment to the tone and emotion of the ragam and the song in general.

Following Srivas’ bhavam-filled rendition was a vocal solo by Shreya Virinchipuram, accompanied by Gowri Datta on the violin and Akshay Aravindan on the mridangam. Shreya began with a viruttam in Hemavathi, mAta marakata, where she combined melody as well as excellent voice modulation with her use of fast phrases in progressive cycles and lines of the viruttam. Following this, Shreya rendered Dikshitar’s famous composition, Sri Kanthimathim, set to Rettakalai Adi Talam. After this calm rendition followed kalpanaswarams on the pallavi. In her kalpanaswarams, Shreya used many interesting kannaku patterns, including those of reduction where her swarams reduced by one karvai in each succeeding iteration. In addition to this, Shreya introduced many different nadai switches, and not just in normal tisra nadai or mEl kalam tisra nadai, but also in chatusra-tisra nadai, including keezh and mEl kalam,  which is known to be a very interesting laya challenge for many musicians to handle. Throughout the performance, Gowri Datta demonstrated a huge improvement in her mastery and playing of the violin through her accompaniment of Shreya on stage today, keeping up with all the melodious as well as laya-based aspects of the song and the manodharmam. Akshay enhanced the laya-based part of the performance with his kinetic accompaniment on the mridangam, exercising his skill in the interesting nadai changes taking place in the kalpanaswarams on the pallavi.

Following Shreya’s awe-inspiring performance was another vocal solo by Anirudh Raja, accompanied by Aditya Satyadeep on the violin and Avinash Anand on the mridangam. Anirudh started off with a magnificent alapana in ragam Hamirkalyani, where he demonstrated good voice culture with his use of extremely fast-paced phrases and high voice range. Aditya Satyadeep later highlighted this alapana with his consuming alapana on the violin, adding his own element of bhavam into the rendition while maintaining the tone and emotion of the ragam. Anirudh followed this with a rendition of parimaLa ranganAtham, set to Tisra Eka and composed by Muthuswami Dikshitar. After his energetic rendition of the song, Anirudh proceeded to kalpanaswarams on the madhyamakalam verse, Guruguha viditam. To handle kalpanaswarams in such a complex ragam like Hamirkalyani is indeed a difficult task, one which Anirudh handled very well. Throughout the performance, Avinash Anand engaged the audience with his mature and splendid accompaniment on the mridangam.

Following Anirudh’s energetic performance was a veena solo by Adithi Thirumalai on the veena, accompanied by Pranav Tirumalai on the mridangam. Adithi began with a dulcet alapana in kAnada, and given how complex the ragam is, this challenge was handled very well. Following this, she rendered a bit of thanam in the same ragam, which is even more of a challenge on top of alapana rendition. Adithi then played Swati Tirunal’s rupaka talam krithi, Mamava Sada Janani. Following her tranquilizing rendition, Adithi took up challenging mEl kalam kalpanaswarams on the pallavi of the song, keeping up the laya aspect while also displaying the true flavors of kAnada ragam, making the performance enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing overall. Pranav brought his energetic and best accompaniment on the mridangam onstage including an interesting (mathematically) mohra-korvai after the rendition of kalpanaswarams.

Following Adithi’s dulcet performance was a Feature-a-Guru session by Vidwan Sri Saravanapriyan Sriraman. The topic of this session was How To Approach a Raga, and the concepts covered ranged from the various aspects of certain ragams to how different ragams that share similar phrases can be distinguished and how swaram combination alone cannot determine what ragam one is presenting. Overall, the session was very informative to us students as it shows us how broad and complex but classifiable this system of ragams is and how each raga is unique in its own manner. We would sincerely like to thank Saravanapriyan Mama for providing this opportunity to learn more about the depths and comprehensiveness of Carnatic Music and its aspects.

After Vidwan Sri. Saravanapriyan Mama’s informative session was a concluding performance by Vivrd Prasanna on the vocal, Priyanka Chary on the veena, and Srivatsan Tennathur on the mridangam. Vivrd began with a beautiful Simhendramadhyamam alapana stressed with melody and bhavam, and demonstrated his high level of musical knowledge with his use of aesthetically appeasing ragam phrases and prayogams. This was followed by an equally outstanding alapana by Priyanka on the veena, where she demonstrated her high level of skill playing the veena by mirroring the fast, yet smooth phrases displaying the ragam’s flavor. Vivrd followed this with thanam in the same ragam, where he demonstrated immense finesse and voice modulation throughout. The Pallavi Vivrd presented was a composition of Vidwan Sri. Neyveli Santhanagopalan, with the sahityam “guru malaraDi paNi manAme thiruvaruL pErA piravI thalai arA.” Today’s CCC event had begun with Vidwan Sri. Neyveli Santhanagopalan’s varnam composition on Tyagaraja, who is often regarded as a guru and a teacher to Carnatic musicians in addition to being composer. This Pallavi was appropriately placed as it concluded with the same type of tribute to Guru (in accordance to the sahityam of the Pallavi). The Pallavi was set to Misra Nadai Adi Talam, 12 matrais eduppu from the samam, which made it all the more a challenge to render and perform. After a few rounds of pattern-based niraval, Vivrd proceeded to an interesting set of thrikalam nadais, he sang in keezh kalam first, then tisra nadai (in misra nadai, this is no easy task),  then mEl kalam (2nd speed), and also because on average each syllable of the pallavi took up 4 matrais, Vivrd decided to perform in mEl kAlam 3rd speed as well. Following this outstanding thrikalam, Vivrd took up swarams in the Pallavi, including some interesting kannaku while maintaining excellent sarvalaghu demonstration throughout. Priyanka managed to further accentuate the liveliness of this Ragam Tanam Pallavi by keeping up with the challenges thrown by Misra Nadai as well as the kannaku used. After a eddam to eddam korvai, Srivatsan proceeded to render a challenging mohra korvai with a full blown, enthusiastic playing of the mridangam.

Overall, as mentioned earlier, each of these performers demonstrated a capacity to take up any challenge and improve on their previous skills in music to make each performance better than the last. Not only would one give these performers credit for their hard work and effort, but also to our Gurus, who everyday encourage and inspire us to do more and go beyond our capacity to explore the depths and challenges of Carnatic Music and its aspects. Of course, it also follows that we must acknowledge our our parents, who put up with our constant demands and wants to pursue this music, and go through the hardships of traffic, going to various places in a day at least for rehearsals, classes, etc., and attention to what we are doing music-wise in addition to the duties they already have. Finally, we owe it to organizations like CCC, who because of their constant encouragement of youth musicians, are able to help bring up some of the most hardworking and talented musicians in the Bay Area. Best wishes to all the performers who performed today for a bright and enjoyable musical future.

CCC June 2017 event review by - Adithya Narayanan, Anirudh Ramadurai, Hiranya Sundar,Lavanya Sundar, Srishiva Manikantan,Vasudha Iyer,

posted Jul 31, 2017, 12:22 PM by CCC Editor   [ updated Jul 31, 2017, 12:27 PM ]

Authored by Lavanya Sundar:

The three-hour event started off with a bang as fifth-grader Manya Sriram teased out a sugary but not frivolous Bahudari alapana, caressingly gentle in the madhya sthayi yet marked with power in the upper octaves. The violin return did an excellent job of showcasing not only the more delicate nuances but also displaying the strong phrases in the very contrast that makes the raga so appealing. As we had all mentally prepped for the ever-popular “Brova Bharama,” it came as a pleasant surprise when Manya opted for a touching rendition of “Sadananda Thandavam,” an elegant but playful piece by Achyutha Dasar (*). Her diction was immaculate. She finished off the gorgeous song with a few energetic kalpana swaras at the pallavi starting at samam. The mridangam accompaniment suited the melodious lilt of the singing. All in all, it was a satisfying beginning to a beautiful exhibition of Carnatic culture.  


(*) He is probably not a well-known composer. I dug around a little bit and got this biography of the saint-composer.


Authored by Adithya Narayanan:

Next was a performance by Kaanav Tirumala on the vocal, Urmika Balaji on the violin, and Umesh Gopi on the mridangam. He performed Seethama Mayamma, in the ragam Vasantha and thalam Roopakam. In fact, Kaanav also sang many sangathis spiced up with gamakams. Urmika, the violinist, also did a great job of exactly repeating what he sings. Umesh was also a great, steady support on the mridangam throughout the course of the song. After the song, Kaanav followed it up with a few kalpana swaras. He started with first speed, but then moved on to second speed, and in the process, made the swaras more challenging. As usual, Urmika handled the complexity with the ease of a composed performer. To add to this, Umesh played a mesmerizing thalam pattern at the end. The challenging part involved an intriguing repeat of “Tha Di Ki Na Thom,” but each of the times, the values of each nadai were changed by a few kaarvais. It was an enjoyable performance.


Authored by Vasudha Iyer:

Harini Venkatesh’s beautiful performance of “Sri Satyanarayanam”, a Subhapanthuvarali krithi composed by Muthuswami Dhikshathar was a great addition to the June 2017 CCC. She was accompanied on the violin by Vittal Thirumalai, and on the mridangam by Shrikrishna Shivakumar. Harini’s alapana was dulcet, and every gamaka and pattern was refined, and well-executed. When the krithi started, her resonant voice left audience members astonished, and wanting more. Both accompanists gave a strong, unwavering support, in addition to Vittal’s melodious alapana and Shrikrishna’s engaging beat, not to mention his fascinating eco-friendly mridangam. Her kalpana swaras were sung in the charanam, on “matsyakUrma varAhAdi”; they were fun, jumpy, and almost whimsical, but enjoyable to the full extent. Overall, Harini’s performance was an entertaining show that was loved by all. 


Authored by Srishiva Manikantan: 

Vaishnavi’s vocal performance was accompanied by Vandana Chari on violin and Rajeev Devanath on mrudhangam. Vaishnavi rendered a classical composition of Sri Sadaashiva Brumhendrar, Bhajare Gopalam in Hindolam, Janyam of 20th mela Natabhairavi. She rendered the soulful and enchanting raga Hindolam with full of bhavam and well-rounded gamakas. The ease with which she moved from the higher to the lower stayis showcased her vocal prowess and virtuosity. Vandana, the violinist brought out the equal bhavam and melody of ragam on the violin. Rajeev accompanied with full of confidence and involvement. His accompaniment complemented the vocalist.


Authored by Srishiva Manikantan: 

Yogitha’s violin performance was accompanied by Avinash on mrudhangam. Yogitha started alapana on refreshing raga Charukesi, 26th mela, building the edifice step by step, bringing out the essence. The raga was followed by the most popular krithi of Saint Thyagara, ‘Adamodi Galathe.’ The krithi was played with full of rhythms and melodies followed by brilliant kalpana swaras appeared in alluring phrases augmenting raga bhava. The clarity of notes bowed out was laudable. Persussionist, Avinash did an outstanding job complementing the violinist. Tani played by Aviash was noted for the resonant tone of the mrudhangam.


Authored by Vasudha Iyer:

Many great performances were given at the June 2017 CCC; one of them was Mahathi Shankarram’s. She gave a compelling show, singing “Entha Nerchina Entha Juchina”, a Thyagaraja krithi in raga Suddha Dhanyasi. Accompanied by Gowri Datta on the violin and Shreyas Garimella on the mridangam, the team gave a strong performance, packed with talent and hard work. Mahathi’s alapana was short, structured, and sweet, as was Gowri’s. As the krithi began, one could tell that her voice was able to accomplish each gamaka, sangathi, and nuance with ease. Shreyas gave confident support and Gowri portrayed technique and flair, despite feeling much under the weather at the time. Harini’s swaras on the pallavi utilised patterns as a way to charm the audience, creating interest in all. In the end, the performance was remembered as fascinating, and appealing to anyone who happened to hear.


Authored by Anirudh Ramadurai:

It was a great afternoon of listening to young Carnatic musicians at Carnatic Chamber Concerts’ monthly event, this past Sunday. The musical twins, the Sundar sisters, Hiranya and Lavanya, were slotted for a Veena duet performance and what a show it was! Hiranya and Lavanya began with a rAga alapana of the Ghana rAgam, VarALi, and they both played with great coordination, one taking over from where the other left off and covering the scale of the ragam and enthralling the audience with their music, strong fingering and deft movement on the divine instrument. The sisters then played a Ghana Panchaka Thanam, a rhythm based improvisation consisting of ragAs, NAta, GowLa, Arabhi, Sri and then went on to further highlight VarALi. Once they had their audience in musical captivity, the young vainikas proceeded to one of Sri. Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s popular composition, mAmava mEEnAkshi, set to Misra Chaapu thalam. This time, they exhibited their prowess in layam, by playing the pallavi line, madhuravANi varALi vENi in chathusra tisram. They also demonstrated their creativity in melody and rhythm by playing the neraval in slow and fast kAlam and kalpanaswarams in mel and kizha kAlam thisram at the charanam line, shyAmE shankari. The duo were ably accompanied on the mridangam by Akshay Aravindan who highlighted the nuances in the rhythmic structure of Dikshitar’s composition, while following the lead performers’ rhythmic expositions and presented a short, yet energetic thani at the end. In all, the trio rocked the stage and left the audience wanting for more!  


Authored by Hiranya Sundar:

The concert ended with an epic grand finale, as singer Geetha Shankar sang a melodious pallavi in ragam Shankarabharanam, dedicated to Father’s day(in case you don't already know, her father's name is Veda Shankar). She started with a lilting and relaxing Shankarabharanam alapana, followed by a ragamalika thanam, spanning  Shankarabharanam, Poorvikalyani, and Kharaharapriya (the favorite ragas of the accompanists’ fathers). She then proceeded to sing the pallavi: appAda malar taruvAi appa … sAma vEda shankaranE set to khanDa jAti triputa tAlam, initially in tisra gati, later switching gati (nadai). She also included swarams in Mohanam, in honor of Mohan Uncle, a founding father of CCC. She concluded the three hour event with a fast paced mangalam, first starting in chathurasra tishram and then ending the mangalam in normal chathurashram.

CCC July 2017 event review by Sashwat Mahalingam

posted Jul 31, 2017, 12:16 PM by CCC Editor   [ updated Jul 31, 2017, 12:19 PM ]

Carnatic Music has progressed greatly over time, both geographically and chronologically. Not only have the methods and means of learning, teaching, and enjoying such an art have changed, but so has its geographical range, from being limited to Southern Indian regions such as Tamil Nadu to spreading all across the United States, Canada, and Australia, just to name a few countries where the art is recognized. Even though all these changes have taken place, one rather important factor in the system remains; the gurukulam. Albeit different countries have different standards and values to inculcate and the youths in each grow up learning different principles of life from the outer environment, the spread of Carnatic Music is unique in the way that universally, the gurukulam or any form of face-to-face/interactive learning under the guidance of a guru is recognized as the best and most superior form of learning this art. Students in different music schools/gurukulams all across the globe learn based off a school’s padantharam, and not only does the padantharam carry a style for rendering certain krithis and interpreting certain ideas/aspects of music, but each values certain principles that make their style of the art unique from others. These principles of music are carried on as a legacy over many generations to come, from the most legendary of the stalwarts to our generation of youths in the 21st century. The July 16th, 2017 CCC event that took place displayed this phenomenon as many different students who sang/participated in the event brought their own style as well as a style inculcated by their guru(s) to the stage.

The event began with a 10-minute performance by Yuvanand Saravanan on the vocal, Preetika Ashok on the veena, and Sachin Venkat on the mridangam. Yuvanand commenced with the Vasantha varnam, set to Adi Talam, composed by Tacchur Singaaraachari. In addition to the regular thrikalam (1st and 2nd speed in the purvangam), Yuvanand included a nice mathematical combo in the charanam where he rendered each chittaswaram in 1st speed then transitioned to do it in 2nd speed consecutively, while maintaining a 1st-speed talam. Following a short alapana by Preetika, Yuvanand then proceeded to sing Tyagaraja’s Samajavaragamana in Hindolam, set to Adi Talam. In his presentation Yuvanand exhibited good rhythm control (laya sense) and voice control complementing his confidence on stage even for a first-time performance where one tends to get nervous. Preetika’s accompaniment on the veena was bright and spirited, and helped give a good start to the set of recitals. Even without vocal precedence, her Hindolam alapana struck melodious chords and was handled with confidence. Sachin Venkat’s steadfast accompaniment on the mridangam helped match the stable, firm pace/rhythm set by the vocalist, and helped keep both the mridangam and the vocal rendering in sync throughout.

Following Yuvanand’s vocal performance was a rendition by Deeksha Venkateswaran on vocal, Prahlad Saravanapriyan on violin, and Umesh Gopi on mridangam. Following a brief outline of the ragam Mandari later mirrored by Prahlad, Deeksha rendered the Mandari varnam “Vanajaksha Ninne Kori” by Mysore Vasudevachaya, set to Adi Talam. Following this was Tyagaraja’s krithi Inthakannada, in ragam Bilahari, set to Rupaka Talam. Deeksha chose to take up a few swarams in the pallavi following the krithi rendition. Throughout her performance, Deeksha showcased a bold and strong voice, which gave her the capacity to display a variety of gamakams such as brigas and jaarus throughout both her krithi renditions as well as her manodharma. Her Bilahari swarams contained a variety of nice sarvalaghu patterns combining various classic Bilahari phrases of different lengths and complexities. Prahlad’s accompaniment on the violin provided a strong contrast as he helped to bring out the more subtle nuances in both his Mandari alapana and his swaram responses for Bilahari. Umesh’s overall accompaniment on the mridangam showed high improvement and increase in mastery. His playing helped provide a brisk-paced mood to both pieces, which was very much appropriate and needed. Needless to say, this combination of vocalist, violinist, and mridangist helped make the experience for the audience a wholesome one.

Following Deeksha’s rendition was a 15-minute performance by Varnika Kailash on the vocal, Aditya Satyadeep on the violin, and Akshay Aravindan on the mridangam. Varnika began with a quick alapana in the ragam Purvikalyani, followed by an equally brief response by Aditya. She then proceeded to render Ananda naTam ADuvAr thillai, set to Rupaka Talam, composed by Neelakanta Shivan. Following her rendition, she proceeded to do swarams on the pallavi of the song. Her swarams included elaborate kanakku patterns taken on both the samam as well as another different eddam on the pallavi, naTam ADuvAr thillai. Her style of gradually building up kanakku from simple sarvalaghu patterns to complex, elaborate kanakku that gradually leads to a mathematically challenging korvai resembled much of thepadantharam her school falls under, that of Sri. Neyveli Santhanagopalan, which is one of yet many examples of the “legacy” pattern mentioned earlier. The kanakku she used built up in a 6 pattern (tatha,tham,,) style, eventually leading to a samam-to-eddam korvai following a similar pattern. Throughout the performance, Aditya incorporated Varnika’s briga-like style whie also bringing in his own jaaru-emphasized, smooth-flowing style. This was demonstrated in both his alapana where he helped provide a whole dimension to the ragam using this jaaru-like style, as well as the krithi and swarams, where each piece of kanakku was matched while also using classic Purvikalyani phrases. Akshay’s accompaniment on the mridangam was at par with both these standards as he followed both styles by building up and toning down wherever necessary. He played a nice mora-korvai at the end involving a samam-to-eddam korvai much like Varnika’s.

Following Varnika’s performance was a rendition by Shivani Seshan on the veena, accompanied by Shrikanth Shivakumar on the mridangam. Shivani began with an alapana in Charukeshi. She utilized most of the alapana to take it slow and phrase-oriented, setting the right mood for Charukesi. She also included various brigas in the middle, which, although difficult to be played on the veena, were handled well by her. Following this was Tyagaraja’s composition, Adamodi Galade, set to Adi Talam. Throughout her performance, the artist brought a different dimension to the ragam on the veena, one more phrase/gamakam-oriented. In contrast to this, a violin would help to bring out the more jaaru-like aspect of the ragam. Shrikanth’s accompaniment on the mridangam was very apt for this piece. Throughout the piece, he provided a calm and stable tone with his accompaniment on the mridangam, thus helping to emphasize the mood of the ragam and the piece.

Following Shivani’s rendition was a performance by Shriya Ganesh on the vocal, Vishaka Ashok on the violin, and Arush Gopal on the mridangam. Shriya sang the Ninnukori varnam in ragam Mohanam, set to Adi Talam, composed by Ramnad Sreenivasa Iyengar. Throughout the rendition, Shriya demonstrated a great voice range as she covered various different octaves throughout the varnam. She handled the piece with a good pace and a good control over that pace. Vishaka’s accompaniment was bold and melodious throughout the varnam and properly complemented Shriya’s rendition on the vocal. Arush’s accompaniment on the mridangam was flexible and well-adjusted to each moment on the krithi where it was necessary to tone down or build up. All three performers were newly introduced in this event, and all three displayed great confidence even for the first time on the CCC stage.

Following Shriya’s performance was a rendition by Vishnu Kumar on the vocal, Srishiva Manikantan on the violin, and Shrikrishna Shivakumar on the mridangam. Vishnu began with the viruttam, ADum parivel, in the ragam Kharaharapriya. This was followed up by a short alapana by Srishiva on the violin. Subsequently, Vishnu proceeded to render Papanasam Sivan’s classic, Sendhil AnDavan, set to Rupaka Talam. Vishnu sang with clear involvement and rasikatvam in both his viruttam and the krithi, as he enjoyed both what he was rendering throughout, as well as his fellow artists’ accompaniment. His highly mature and pliant voice helped complement his energy and enthusiasm as he brought the brightest of nuances of the ragam Kharaharapriya. Srishiva’s accompaniment on the violin was at equilibrium with this standard as he set the appropriate tone for both the viruttam and the krithi on the violin throughout. His alapana demonstrated his highly improved skill and musical knowledge as he matched Vishnu’s energy and bhavam in each and every phrase he rendered. Shrikrishna’s accompaniment brought out the right ambiance of the ragam as he played in a relaxed and tranquil manner. This helped balance out the energetic rendition by Vishnu, and yet again helped make the performance harmonious and organically synchronized.

Following Vishnu’s rendition was a performance by Rhea Ram on the vocal, Yogitha Balasubramanian on the violin, and Ananth Kumar on the mridangam. Rhea began with a brief alapana in the ragam Begada. In her alapana, Rhea managed to bring out all the classic phrases in Begada, thus giving the complete scope of the ragam in such a short span of time. This helped make the alapana aesthetically correct and pleasing. After Yogitha’s response on the violin, Rhea proceeded to render Tyagaraja’s krithi, Lokavana chatura, set to Adi Talam. Throughout her rendition, Rhea demonstrated how resilient her voice was, both in her expanded voice range and her voice flexibility. Yogitha’s accompaniment on the violin helped highlight the most important phrases every moment in both the krithi in the alapana. In her response, she combined the classic phrases that were used while also bringing out a different aspect of Begada, one involving more coherence. This helped provide even more scope into the ragam, and made the overall rendition feel complete. Ananth’s accompaniment on the mridangam was quite velvety throughout the performance, and helped enhance the consonance overall.

Following Rhea’s performance was a rendition by Pramati Bharath on the vocal, Aishwarya Anand on the violin, and Avinash Anand on the mridangam. Pramati commenced with an alapana in Bhairavi. Her display of the ragam was quite grand but not too flashy. She utilized many characteristics and sancharas of the ragam as anchor points of emphasis and added bhavam, including the bashanga swarams and complex brigas, thus displaying her extensive musical knowledge of the ragam. Following Aishwarya’s response, Pramati rendered Tyagaraja’s jewel Koluvai, set to Adi Talam. Her rendition helped balance the mix of elements of bhavam and clarity, a rather challenging task for musicians in general. She took up swarams on the charanam, “manasu ranjilla”. Her swarams combined classic kanakku patterns (such as 3+5) with classic Bhairavi phrases, including those involving bashanga swaram alternations. Her sarvalaghu effortlessly flowed and gave a feeling of professionalism as she used a variety of patterns and extended them for a long period of time, followed by a nice korvai including porutham. Aishwarya’s accompaniment on the violin was equally dulcet as she utilized every nuance to bring out the bhavam in the ragam, particularly jaarus and bashanga swaram alternations, in both her alapana and kalpana swarams. Avinash’s accompaniment on the mirdangam was kinetic and yet steady as he matched every kanakku and pattern with little additions of his own. Following the kalpanaswarams, he rendered a nice mora-korvai following the same porutham pattern demonstrated by Pramati in her swarams.

Following Pramati’s rendition was a long-awaited Feature-a-Guru session, except this time with multiple teachers taking the stage. Vid. Sri. Srikanth Chary, Vid. Shivakumar Bhat, and Vid. Natarajan Srinivasan decided to focus our attention this month on the significance of our Gurus and Gurukulams beyond the scope of just music itself, and what principles we as students should be following under such privileges. In the interactive session, the Gurus talked about the insignificance of money in the larger scope of the gurukulam, mainly how it teaches us much more than how to sing or play an instrument, such as humility, discipline, and respect. They also helped to cover the culture change from India to USA, and how it has changed methods of learning. All three gurus made the very clear point that despite these drastic changes, the expectations we students must follow under a gurukulam are unchanged no matter where you go. However, taking into account geographical differences, the gurus also mentioned how to relate this to our daily lives in the USA vs. India, and how it makes it more important to understand what we’re in for learning music. Finally, they took the perspectives of three of their students on how the progression of this art compares to other parts of life, how this art is unique in their life, and how this art has changed them over time. Overall, this Feature-Gurus session was very valuable as it gave us students more insight into the musical world, our musical journeys, and how we should weigh this art in comparison to other aspects of our daily lives.

Following this valuable session was an Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi by Abirami Sambamoorthy on the vocal, Priyanka Chary on the veena, and Santhosh Ravindrabharathy on the mridangam. Abirami chose to take the ragam Saraswathi up for her RTP. In her alapana, Abirami utilized a lot of well-heard phrases of the ragam as well as her own creative phrases. Some of these phrases included skipping many swarams across the ragam scale, which is rather characteristic of the ragam Saraswathi. Priyanka’s response on the veena emphasized a more jaaru-based alapana  that provided yet another dimension to this ragam as she rendered it. Following this alapana, the thanam exchange between the vocalist and violinist was excellently done. Abirami’s thanam style was done as a gradually building up style, where she would take a pattern or a few patterns on each anchor swaram and elaborate on it rhythmically. Additionally, she gradually increased the speed of her thanam successively as she went up higher in the octave, providing a climactic feeling once she reached the upper shadjam. All of Priyanka’s responses in the thanam exchange were equally scintillating as she handled the tough, skippy nature of the ragam with ease on the veena, where it is particularly challenging to handle evenly/unevenly spaced out ragams such as Saraswathi. Abirami then proceeded to the Pallavi, which was set to Khanda Jathi Triputa Talam, Chatushra Nadai. The pallavi sahityam was “Saraswathi nee gathi bharathi, vidiyuvathi dayanidhi kAttaruL”, taken 1.5 aksharams from the samam. Both Abirami and Priyanka’s niraval responses provided a large scope of the ragam as they covered many different octaves in a short span of time. For her thrikalam, Abirami chose a “hexakalam” style, where she sang the Pallavi in keezh kalam, chatushra tisram, keezh kalam tisram, sama kAlam, sama kAlam tisram, then mEl kAlam. She effortlessly transitioned between each kAlam in her thrikalam. Following this, Abirami’s swarams began with simple sarvalaghu patterns, where eventually she transitioned to kanakku patterns taken on different eddams by nadai (such as singing swarams in tisram and landing them on the tisra nadai version of the Pallavi such that it lands on the aaradhi). She covered various nadais including but not limited to mEl kAlam, tisra nadai, chatushra tisram (which is a challenge in its own), etc. Priyanka took up to match all these kanakku challenges perfectly during her responses on the veena. Following this was a nice korappu and a eddam-to-eddam korvai. Santhosh’s accompaniment on the mridangam throughout was tireless and energetic, as he matched every kanakku challenge with joy and enthusiasm. He concluded the Pallavi with a nice mora-korvai from eddam-to-eddam, similar to Abirami’s korvai.

To conclude, each performance today was unique in the way each performer and accompanist showcased a unique style they have developed over time, with unique areas of strength and certain principles of music that they emphasize in their singing/playing. These styles have come about not just because of a performer’s strengths/desire to display these strengths, but also because of the principles/qualities a guru has imprinted in their students. Each student is obligated to sing in accordance with the standards of their ownpadantharam, with a little variation over time by generation. It follows that the credit goes to our gurus first for the way they have taught us, shaped our talents, and made sure we bring out the best of us while also adhering to the strictest of musical standards. The commitment to this art is not only due to the performer’s dedication and practice, but also the trouble each parent goes through to make sure that us students, in general, have the best opportunities to continue this art, practice it, and perfect it. Finally, venues such as CCC, and the volunteers running it behind the scenes, give us a stage to perform on such that we as students get to showcase this art, collaborate/interact with other musical students, innovate new concepts and produce different pieces of work, and enjoy what we are doing overall. Best wishes to each and every performer to continue with the art and contribute greatly to our musical society in the future.


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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