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September 2017

Carnatic Chamber Concerts - September 2017 Review
Authored by: Anirudh Ramadurai  and Sashwat Mahalingam

When preparing for a concert or a performance, a musician would typically plan or outline what they are to do, and practice according to that plan. However, on stage, the game becomes different. It could be the stage fright, or time delay, or simply the capacity to think of ideas on spot, but there is always a slight change between what one practices and what happens on the stage. The adaptability that lets a musician adjust to these differences is extremely essential to be able to succeed. In the September 20th, 2017 CCC event, every performer that went on stage displayed this form of extemporaneous thinking and enhanced their performance by doing so.

Aditya Bashyam:
The event began with a performance by Aditya Bashyam,  who was accompanied by Preetika Ashok on the veena and Avinash Anand on the mridangam. Aditya started the event off with Sivan’s Malayamarutham composition, karpaga manOharA set to Khanda Chapu. This brisk composition was followed by another krithi, sarasija bhava jAyE. This song was composed by Oothukadu Venkata Kavi, and was in ragam Kalyani, set to Thisra Gathi Adi. This song showed some unique phrases that are not normally heard in other krithi’s in this ragam. Throughout the performance, Preetika mirrored the melody of the performance with her veena accompaniment, while Avinash kept the audience engaged with his mridangam playing.

Alaap Rag:
Succeeding Aditya’s energetic rendition was a mature performance by Alaap Rag, accompanied by Anirudh Prabhu on the veena and Akshay Aravindan on the mridangam. Alaap began with a calm, but captivating alapana in the ragam Panthuvarali, showing the essence and the depth of this ragam. This was shadowed beautifully by Anirudh Prabhu, who showcased a short, but rich alapana.  Alaap then proceeded to Tyagaraja’s popular composition in Panthuvarali, siva siva siva enarAdhA, set to Adi talam.  He took up the challenge of doing second speed kalpanaswarams at the pallavi line, and finished it with an edam to edam korvai. The interaction between the vocalist and vainika were well executed. Akshay’s accompaniment on the mridangam was equally brisk-paced and very involved throughout.

Arya Venkat:
Ensuing Alaap’s captivating presentation was a performance by Arya Venkat, accompanied by Vandana Chari and Rahul Swaminathan. Arya started his performance with karuNai seivAi, Papanasam Sivan’s composition in Hamsadhwani ragam, and set to Adi talam. This was followed by Tyagaraja’s famous sItamma mAyamma, a composition in Vasantha ragam, set to Rupakam. Both songs were taken at a moderate tempo, and helped emphasize the ragams in both songs. Vandana followed and accompanied Arya very well throughout the performance, and Rahul kept the audience engaged with his mridangam playing.

Aditi Anand:
Following Arya’s staging was a presentation by Aditi Anand, who was supported by Vishaka Ashok on the violin and Sachin Venkat on the mridangam. Aditi rendered Tyagaraja’s popular krithi in Kambhoji, mA jAnaki set to Deshaadi. Aditi took this song at a slow pace, and showed the nuances of the ghana ragam throughout the song. Vishaka was supporting Aditi very well and showed perfect synchronization with her, while Sachin gave huge support with his dynamic mridangam skills on stage.

Thejaswini Sai Swaminathan:
Following Aditi was a vocal performance presented by Thejaswini Sai Swaminathan, supported by Yogitha Balasubramanian on the violin, and Abishayan Siva on the mridangam. Thejaswini began with a clean alapana in the ragam Thodi, where she displayed some flexibility with her voice through some fast phrases. Yogitha’s response was excellent overall, and displayed as much of the essence as the vocalist. Following this was rAju vEdala, one of Saint Tyagaraja’s Sriranga Pancharatnams, set to Rupakam. For her kalpanaswarams, Thejaswini chose the anucharanam (sEvanu gani surulu virulacE). This included some simple swarams and nice sarvalaghu patterns. Abishayan’s accompaniment on the mridangam was dynamic, and accompanied well throughout the performance.

Aditya Satyadeep:
Following Aditi’s rendition was a performance by Aditya Satyadeep on the violin and Santhosh Ravindrabharathy on the mridangam. Aditya began with a smooth and free flowing alapana in the ragam Madhyamavathi. He then proceeded to render deva srI, one of Saint Tyagaraja’s Lalgudi Pancharatnams, set to Misra Chapu. For his manodharma, Aditya chose the anupallavi (pAvana pravruddha) for kalpanaswarams. Similar to his alapana, Aditya’s sense of classicism and bhavam dominated his swarams overall. Following some nice kanakku, Aditya rendered a korappu on the eddam with a eddam-to-eddam korvai. The accompaniment Santhosh gave on mridangam was quite befitting and spirited on stage, including a short mora-korvai following the swarams.

Anirudh Ramadurai:
Following Aditya was a performance by Anirudh Ramadurai on the vocal, accompanied by Urmika Balaji on the violin and Pranav Tirumalai on the mridangam. Beginning with an alapana in Vachaspati, Anirudh brought out his innovativeness in the creation of phrases throughout the range of octaves covered. Urmika’s response to this was filled with an equal amount of skill and variety of flavor. Following this, Anirudh proceeded to briskly render Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s krithi ennADu nI krpa galgunO set to Deshadi Talam. On the anucharanam, ninnu nEranammI, he took up a few rounds of rapidfire niraval and 2nd speed swarams.  The types of patterns Anirudh utilized in his sarvalaghu including mel thisram were creatively thought out, and every response from the violin was on point to that. After a swaram essay and a nice samam-to-eddam korvai was a samam-to-edam mora and korvai by Pranav. In the duration of performance, Pranav’s accompaniment on the mridangam was equally brisk-paced and very involved throughout.

Sanika Pande:
Following Anirudh was a performance by Sanika Pande on the vocal, Sahana Prasanna on the violin, and Sriram Subramanian on the mridangam. Sanika began with a calm alapana in the raga Shankarabharanam, where she displayed her voice’s flexibility through a variety of difficult and quick phrases. Sahana’s response to this on the violin was equally mellifluous and soothing to hear overall. Following this was Mysore Vasudevacharya’s composition harI nI bhajincE, set to Khanda Jathi Triputa Talam. For her manodharmam, she engaged in the uncommon but interesting practice of niraval and swarams on the pallavi of the krithi. Sanika’s and Sahana’s niraval displayed the use of very traditional phrases in Sankarabharanam, with the extended range of rendition given how relatively long Kanda Triputa is. In her swarams, Sanika used a lot of jaaru-based phrases and sarvalaghu throughout, which Sahana kept up with extemporaneous skill on stage. Throughout the performance, Sriram’s accompaniment on the mridangam was maturely accomplished, and following a nice samam-to-eddam korvai by Sanika, Sriram rendered a short mora-korvai as well.

The Feature-a-Guru segment this month in CCC featured a rather significant topic amongst many musicians. In his 20 minutes today, Vid. Sri. Arvind Lakshmikanthan gave us students a huge insight on what real practice is, and what makes a practice effective and not unnecessary. The five steps to practice per his perspective in the session were mindfulness of timing, clarity of goals and achievement, patience to practice, determination to master, and intelligence to practice (smarter, not harder). Going into the intensity and personalness of practicing overall, Vid. Sri. Arvind Lakshmikanthan’s session helped us students gain a more needed focus and attitude given the tips that were presented overall. Knowing what is necessary to do is very important in the practice of any art, and the session given today helped clear the distinction and pave way for more effective musical improvement and fruits of benefit.

Abinaya Srikant:
Following the informative Feature-a-Guru segment was a Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Purvikalyani by Abinaya Srikant on the vocal, Aparna Thyagarajan on the violin, and Srivatsan Tennathur on the mridangam. The alapana was very intricate with the use of of difficult and complicated phrases as well as vadi-samvadi harmonious notes such as r,d,r, close to the end. Aparna’s response was with equal grandeur as she utilized an appropriate style of elaboration and emphasis, especially in the taara sthayi octave. Following a brisk and enjoyable tanam was the pallavi, which was set to Kanda Nadai Kanda Jathi Triputa Talam. The sahityam, in regards to Navarathri, was “mInAkshI mA madura mInAkshI, mE mudam dEhI maragathAngI.” The niraval was a well-handled challenge as the pallavi structure was rather elongated to ensure that keeping the tempo while rendering niraval would be difficult. Following a brief thrikAlam in keezh kAlam, chatushra tisram, and mEl kAlam, were the swarams. The first few beginning swarams were handled effortlessly as nice sarvalaghu and quick transitioning dominated throughout between the vocalist and violinist. In the rAgamAlikA section, Abinaya chose to take Bahudari, Kalyanavasantham, and Rasikapriya, and as an added challenge, transition between all three in the final swaram essay towards the eddam-to-eddam korvai that followed. Throughout this Pallavi, Srivatsan’s accompaniment on the mridangam was enthusiastic and tireless as he handled every rhythmic challenge with accuracy, including a nice mora-korvai in the end.

In hindsight, each performer, through their respective renditions, demonstrated an ability to innovate, think, and adapt on stage when needed to do so. The experience and previous training that goes into making this possible is thanks to the gurus, who actively and completely give each student the resources and experiences they need to continue forward. Next, without the parents to be able to push their children to grow in the right direction musically, the thought of even performing on stage would be impossible. Finally, it is because of the selfless support of organizations such as CCC and their volunteers that help give a reason for students themselves to want to grow and perform overall.