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October 2017

Carnatic Chamber Concerts - October 9th 2017 Review

Authored by: Anirudh Ramadurai  and Sashwat Mahalingam


Introduction:

In the past, many musicians have reiterated the importance of extemporaneous innovation, where it is important that even with practice, a singer or accompanist ought to be flexible to any kind of change when necessary. However, the same musicians believe in the exact opposite idea as well, that of having the skill to plan a concert or performance and work towards executing that plan. This is not only limited to a song list, but also can include alapana outlines, swarams (not memorizing, just having a rough idea), Pallavis, etc. This idea can be generalized as “executive skill.” In the October 2017 CCC, each student demonstrated a good capability for executive skill, as the audience witnessed how well thought-out, planned, and cultivated each performance was overall.


Tejas Chidambaram (Vocal):

The afternoon began with the soulful renditions of Tejas Chidambaram. Accompanied by the talented Vandana Chari on violin and Umesh Gopi on mridangam, Tejas opened with a Papanasam Sivan krithi in Kharaharapriya, “Janaki Pathe”. He performed the song at a good pace, reflective of his training and comfort in the piece. Umesh held his own, maintaining the percussive strength this piece required and delivered. His performance was followed and closed with the Muthuswami Dikshitar composition “Gange Mahampahi” in Senjurutti set to Khanda Eka, a time signature you don’t see too often. Violinist Vandana echoed Tejas with a grace beyond her year throughout the recital.


Rohit Seshadri (Vocal):

Following Tejas’ powerful performance was Rohit Seshadri on the vocal. Rohit started the performance off with a strong, but brisk varnam, “Vanajakshiro” in the ragam Kalyani. Violinist Shivani Venkataraman supported the vocalist, showing skill as she braved the second speed which can be a challenge especially in a big ragam like Kalyani. This was followed by one of Thyagaraja’s old classics, “Dvaithamu Sukhama” in Reethigowla. Overall, Rohit’s performance was spirited, and mridangist Vivek Arvind kept the rhythm lively and the audience engaged throughout.


Arjun Subramanian (Vocal):

Succeeding Rohit’s energetic rendition was a mature performance by Arjun Subramanian, accompanied by Urmika Balaji on the violin and Srihari Srinivasan on the mridangam. Arjun began with a captivating alapana in the ragam Purvikalyani and was shadowed well by Urmika. Arjun then proceeded to Tyagaraja’s popular composition, “Gnanamosagarada”, set to Rupaka talam.  He took up the challenge of doing neraval and swaram at the charanam line, “Paramatmudu Jivatmudu”. The interaction between the vocalist and violinist were well executed. Arjun followed this amazing rendition by a short alapana in the ragam Sindhubhairavi. This was followed by a rare composition in the ragam by Madurai Srinivasan, “Karunai Deivame”, set to Adi thalam. Srihari’s accompaniment on the mridangam was equally brisk-paced and very involved throughout.

Prahlad Saravanapriyan (Vocal):

Ensuing Arjun was a vocal performance presented by Prahlad Saravanapriyan, supported by Aishwarya Anand on the violin, and Akshay Aravindan on the mridangam. Prahlad began with a clean alapana in the ragam Anandabhairavi, where he displayed some flexibility with her voice through some fast phrases. Aishwarya’s response was excellent overall and displayed as much of the essence as the vocalist. Following this was Shyama Shastri’s “O Jagadamba”, set to Adi thalam. For his kalpanaswarams, Prahlad chose the first line of the charanam, “Kanna Thalli”. This included some simple swarams and nice sarvalaghu patterns. Akshay’s accompaniment on the mridangam was dynamic and accompanied well throughout the performance.

Akila Suresh (Veena):

Following Prahlad’s performance was a performance by Akila Suresh on the veena and Akshay Suresh on the mridangam. Akila proceeded to render Raghunatha Nannu, a composition of Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar in ragam Suraranjani set to Adi Talam. The krithi was well-paced in the duration of rendition. Throughout the performance, Akila also demonstrated a good clarity in swaram overall in her playing. Akshay’s accompaniment on the mridangam was energetic to the right extent in order to make the performance enjoyable but not rushed.

Aishwarya Yuvaraj (Vocal):

Following Akila’s rendition was a performance by Aishwarya Yuvaraj on the vocal, Sahana Prasanna on the violin, and Rahul Swaminathan on the mridangam. Aishwarya began with a viruttam in Thodi, “lokAbhi rAmam”, a prelude for the krithi that was about to follow. Her viruttam used very distinguishable and classic Thodi phrases throughout. In the matter of interest, Aishwarya took a fresh perspective to the nishadam of Thodi by showing a subtly different aspect of it in 3 or 4 phrases during her rendition. Sahana’s alapana response to this viruttam showcased a full-out taara sthayi elaboration in Thodi with slower and equally engaging phrases. Following this was Ninnu Vina Sukhamu Gana, a composition of Saint Tyagaraja set to Rupaka Talam. For her manodharmam, Aishwarya chose to do swarams, quite a few kanakku-based, on the pallavi of the song, where she made it a point to display her bold and strong voice during elaboration. Sahana’s response to these swarams, particularly the last one, was innovative in sarvalaghu patterns and phrases. Throughout the performance, Rahul’s accompaniment on the mridangam was well-synchronized, and he played a short mora korvai where the korvai was similar to that of the vocalist.

Anchita Ganesh (Vocal):

Following Aishwarya’s rendition was a performance by Anchita Ganesh on vocal, Srishiva Manikantan on the violin, and Arush Gopal on the mridangam. Anchita began with Saint Tyagaraja’s composition, Intha Sowkhya Mani nE, in ragam Kapi, set to Adi Talam. Throughout the rendition, Anchita properly emphasized the slow, appealing phrases of Kapi ragam that were given to us by great stalwarts such as KV Narayanaswamy. Following this was Arunagirinathar’s ragamalika thiruppugazh Perava Vara, set to Misra Jampa. During both songs, Srishiva took to enhancing many of the jaaru-based and weighty phrases of each ragam. Arush Gopal’s accompaniment on the mridangam was calm and tranquilizing throughout.

Avinash Anand (Vocal):

Following Anchita’s rendition was a performance by Avinash Anand on the vocal, Ananya Devanath on the veena, and Santhosh Ravindrabharathy on the mridangam. Avinash began with an alapana in Sri Ragam. In his alapana, Avinash demonstrated a good low octave voice range that reflected his vocal maturity. He utilized lots of vadi-samvadi (harmonious) phrases. Ananya’s response utilized various authentic Sri ragam phrases, and in contrast to Avinash’s alapana she took a more quick approach that brought out a slightly different aspect of Sri ragam compared to Avinash’s steady approach. However, it is important to note that neither alapana was compromised in quality when choosing either of these ways. Following this, Avinash proceeded to render Syama Sastri’s krithi Karuna Jooda, set to Adi Talam. For his manodharmam, he chose to do a quite challenging few rounds of niraval, followed by swarams on syama krishna paripalini shulini. In his swarams, Avinash implemented a very organized style of kanakku in mEl kAlam (while also bringing phrases from the popular Thyagaraja Pancharatnam Endaro Mahanubhavulu) reflecting that of the TNS bani where a piece of kanakku is taken and built up and expanded on until it leads to something bigger like a korappu or korvai. Ananya also caught onto this kanakku very well in her responses. Following this was a nice samam-to-eddam korvai. Throughout the performance, Santhosh’s accompaniment on the mridangam was kinetic and restless. Following Avinash’s manodharmam was a nice samam-to-eddam mora korvai to follow up.

Vasudha Iyer (Vocal):

Following Avinash’s rendition was a performance by Vasudha Iyer on the vocal, Vittal Thirumalai on the violin, and Sriram Subramanian on the mridangam. Vasudha began with an alapana in the ragam kANaDA, where she utilized a lot of unique and interesting phrases that were handled at a steady pace. Vittal’s response to this was equally bhavam-filled and handled with professionalism. Following this, Vasudha proceeded to render Garbhapurvivasar’s krithi, kamalAmbanA, set to Deshadi Talam. For her manodharmam, Vasudha chose to do swarams on the pallavi of the song, where she included various sets of complex and (ragam-wise) challenging sarvalaghu. Vittal’s response to each of these swarams contained his own element of innovativeness that balanced the traditional phrases displayed throughout. Throughout the performance, Sriram’s accompaniment on the mridangam was brisk and befitting to the choice of song. He played a nice mora-korvai following a well-rendered eddam-to-eddam korvai by Vasudha.

Preetika Ashok (Vocal):

The final performance of this event was that of Preetika Ashok on the vocal, Aditya Satyadeep on the violin, and Pranav Tirumalai on the mridangam. Beginning with an alapana in Shanmugapriya, she took an unique approach starting on the taara sthayi with a rather interesting phrase. Combining an extensive range of creative ideas with her dynamic voice, Preetika brought out an energetic alapana rendition that covered various octaves. Aditya’s response to this matched the feat equally as he passionately brought out the most riveting of prayogams and the most touching of phrases throughout. Following this was Annamacharya’s composition, Parama Purusha, set to Rupaka Talam. For her manodharmam, Preetika chose the charanam line, catura mUriti catura bAhu for niraval and swarams. The niraval, although brief, covered a large range of swarams and phrases as both the vocalist and violinist explored the vast scope of Shanmugapriya in such a short time. Their swarams did no less justice to this goal. In her swarams, Preetika made it a point to showcase both nishadams (with and without emphasis). The phrases, with some element of spontaneity, were well thought-out and intricate in their depth and extent. Though Aditya’s responses were along the same ideas of swarams, it was evident that he had brought in interesting thoughts of his own that not only complemented but extended Preetika’s elaboration. Following a samam korappu was a nice eddam-to-eddam korvai. Without doubt, Pranav’s accompaniment, similar to the vocal and violin dynamic, was highly spirited and enthusiastic overall. He played a short thani at the end that was enjoyable for the audience to hear.

Conclusion:

In hindsight, each student who performed demonstrated a high capacity of executive skills and reasoning, as they brought their best ideas to the forefront as well as their own musical knowledge and skill that contribute to the successes of their performances. Of course, it is only with the guidance of a guru that such skills can come over time. The gratitude to be expressed to the gurus is immense as not only do they cultivate a student’s musical skills and teach him/her constantly what and how to perform, but they also take it to the next level as to explaining WHY we should perform this way, how we should be thinking independently, and what we can do on our own for the best outcome. Getting a second pair of eyes when not around with one’s guru is fulfilled with the help of our parents, who constantly push us to practice as well as give feedback from the perspective of an audience as to how something sounds. Finally, it is the infrastructure of CCC’s volunteers and leaders that help provide venues such as this for students to be able to showcase their musical knowledge overall.
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