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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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