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Carnatic Chamber Concerts: February 11 2018 Event

Authored By: Sashwat Mahalingam, Anirudh Ramadurai, Srishiva Manikantan and Shreya Virunchipuram

Introduction by Anirudh Ramadurai:

Carnatic Chamber Concerts, (CCC) is a music club where every month not only do young musicians have an opportunity to show their learning and yearly progress, it is also a great environment for students of the art to learn by listening to the performers. In February’s CCC event, we had a total of eight performances and each vocalist showed their improvement over their rendering from last year. With each presentation, we were able to see that with consistent hard work and dedicated practice any musician would be able hone their skills, work on their areas of challenge, and thereby become a more mature and confident performer.

Kavya Kodungallur by Srishiva Manikantan:

Kavya’s vocal performance was accompanied by Apurvaa Anand on violin and Avinash Anand on mridangam. Kavya chose a classical composition of Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, Seshachala Nayakam in Varali, 39th mela Jhalavarali janyam set to Rupaka talam. Kavya started with a brisk alapana in Varali demonstrating a good voice range. She meticulously drew a scholarly picture of the alapana, skilfully including many different phrases of the raga. Violinist Apurvaa was precise in presenting the contours of Varali. Kavya did niraval on the charanam line “Aravinda patra nayanam, Govindam uraga sayanam”. The neraval was measured and well done in both madhyama and mEl kalam; her enunciation of neraval line was well done. Followed by Niraval was swaram where Kavya chose various sets of complex sarvalaghu patterns leading to an interesting korvai. Apurvaa’s response to all the swarms were quick and innovative. The mridangist Avinash laced the performance with his seemingly effortless sound effects. There was a soothing quality in the manner of his accompanying technique combined with intense and energetic rhythms.

Ambika Ramadurai by Shreya Virunchipuram:

Following Kavya's sensational Varali was a crisp performance by Ambika Ramadurai supported by Urmika Balaji on the violin and Anirudh Rao on the mridangam. They presented Saint Thyagaraja’s Amma Ravamma, in Kalyani, the 65th melakartha ragam, set in khanda chapu. Ambika sang Kalpana Swarams at the anucharanam, Tamarasa daLa netru -at 2 matras after samam. Ambika and Urmika showcased a dialogue of swarams incorporating kanakku, yathi, and poruthams. Anirudh then played an samam to edam mora-korvai. He kept the audience enrapt with his supportive mridangam playing, while Urmika’s smooth violin playing was pleasing to listen to throughout the song.

Rohini Bharat by Shreya Virunchipuram:

Subsequent to Ambika’s appealing presentation was a performance by Rohini Bharat, accompanied by Prahlad Saravanapriyan on the violin and Sachin Venkat on the mridangam. Rohini started with a brief and bright aalapana in the ragam mohanam. Prahalad responded melodiously, also showing various phrases in Mohanam as the vocalist did. Following this, they rendered Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar’s Raajagopalam Bhajeham in Mohanam, set to Rupaka thaalam. Kalpana swarams were rendered at the the first line of the pallavi in two speeds. Sachin enthusiastically supported Rohini and Prahalad on the mridangam throughout. He concluded with a samam to samam mora-korvai. Despite their young age, the accompanists skillfully embellished the performance throughout.

Shreya Virunchipuram by Anirudh Ramadurai:

Next up was Shreya Virunchipuram, accompanied by Aishwarya Anand on the violin and Srihari Srinivasan on the mridangam. Shreya started her performance with a grand alapana in Begada. Shreya’s alapana utilized a lot of key phrases and brought out the best flavors of the ragam. Violinist Aishwarya then played a beautiful solo, which added on to Shreya’s rendition. Shreya then sang  ‘kaDaikaN vaithennai ALammA’, a composition of Ramaswamy Sivan, set to Misra Chapu. The  neraval at ‘vandanai shei marakatavalliyE’ was the highlight and Shreya followed that with very well improvised and calculated kalpanaswarams. This being an impromptu performance, violinist Aishwarya rose to the occasion and was able to give fitting response to Shreya’s kanakku-filled swarams. Mridangist Srihari supported Shreya very well and kept a steady tempo and accentuated the entire performance following both the vocalist and the violinist very closely.

Manasa Pooni by Srishiva Manikantan:

Manasa’s vocal performance was accompanied by Vandana Chari on violin and Rajeev Devanath on Mridangam. Manasa started with raga alapana in Kalyani followed by a beautiful krithi, “Nidhi Chala Sukhama” which is deeply introspective in nature composed by Saint Thyagaraja set to Misra chapu talam. In her alapana, Manasa brought out the nuances of the popular, prati madhyama raga. Vandana’s response on the violin was equally good and precise. Manasa rendered the krithi well, emphasizing the appealing phrases of Kalyani. Rajeev’s mridangam accompaniment was marked by its adherence to the required pace of the song.

Gayathri Baskar by Shreya Virunchipuram:

Ensuing Manasa’s performance was a mellifluous presentation by Gayathri Baskar, Sahana Prasanna, and Arush Gopal. Gayathri first sang a bold alapana in the ragam thodi (the eighth melakarta), including some fast phrases. Sahana responded with a vivid alapana of her own, capturing the essence of the raagam. This was followed by Sri Papanasam Sivan’s popular composition - Karthikeya gangeya - in aadi thaalam. The anucharanam phrase “vel maruvum amala kara kamala” served as the anchor point for kalpana swarams. Gayathri incorporated a variety of swarams including yathi, kanakku, swarams that highlighted thodi’s symmetry around “sa” and “pa”, and nyasa swarams that showed various approaches to “da”. Sahana’s skillful responses showed her comfort in handling thodi.  After Gayathri’s beautiful korvai was a brief mora-korvai by Arush. He kept the audience engaged throughout with his enthusiastic mridangam playing.

Anirudh Raja by Anirudh Ramadurai:

Gayathri and team were followed by Anirudh Raja and his accompanists, Aditya Satyadeep on the violin and Pranav Tirumalai on the mridangam. Anirudh started his performance with a bright alapana in Sarasangi, the 27th melakartha ragam, highlighting the signature phrases of the ragam. Violinist Aditya shadowed Anirudh very well and delivered an equally good impromptu alapana. Anirudh then proceeded to perform ‘nEEkEla dayarAdu’, another composition of Ramaswamy Sivan set to Khanda Chapu. For his manodharma, Anirudh did neraval at ‘gurunAtha giridhara guhadAsannutapAda’, which was very well planned and rendered. For his kalpanaswarams, Anirudh not only presented intricate sarvalaghu swarams but also presented a lot of kanakku patterns thereby showing his progress in his learning.  Aditya’s response to the neraval and swarams were spot on and complemented the vocalist very well.  Pranav Tirumalai’s support on the mridangam was dynamic and enhanced the presentation that much more.

Geeta Shankar & Aparna Thyagarajan by Srishiva Manikantan:

Veena-Violin Duet performance by Geeta Shankar on veena and Aparna Thyagarajan on violin was accompanied by Akshay Aravindan and Shrikrishna Shivakumar on mridangam. Aparna and Geeta performed an excellent RTP with the pallavi composed by Sri. Neyveli Santhanagopalan. Aparna started with a raga alapana of an elegant bhashanga raga, Hamirkalyani, that has both shuddha and prati madhyama notes. Aparna played the raga demonstrating different shades with effortless ease. Geeta responded equally with her robust pull and perfect fingering. Each and every phrase they both played showed the volume of their work and signified their passion and sincerity. Following the bright alapana, the duo played a beautiful Tanam in Hamirkalyani taking turns. Following Tanam, a brisk Pallavi was played in Hamirkalyani with a ragamalika swarms embellishment set to kanda nadai khanda jAthi triputa talam. In the swarm section, the duo exchanged swaras in ragas, Kharaharapriya, Shanmukhapriya, Rishabhapriya and Varnapriya. The swara streams passed through multiple combinations before the grand finale. The thani played by Akshay and Shrikrishna together (dual mridangams) was an interesting and extended one. It turned in to an enjoyable thunderstorm with quick and sharp rhythmic structure towards the end.

Conclusion by Srishiva Manikantan:

On the whole, all the performers showcased their talents and demonstrated a positive attitude to improve on their skills in the great art of carnatic music. Kudos to all the performers who worked hard and their gurus for their wonderful encouragement, training and support.  Sincere appreciation to all the parents who have taken the challenge of scheduling rehearsals, classes and driving around in bay area traffic during weekday or weekends to make the best team effort. Finally, sincere appreciation goes to all the volunteers of CCC for their constant support and encouragement to all young musicians in the Bay Area. Best wishes to all the performers for a bright and enjoyable musical future.