"MUSIC MAJAA" on 14th Feb 2015 @ 4pm
“Can there be a fundamental Right To Fine Arts?” - these opening words of Arvind Brahmakal set the tone for the first concert of RFA’s Samyoga annual festival – for an evening that was to unravel may a hidden treasure from the sea of Classical Music .
The highly acclaimed violin duo Mysore Shri Nagaraj and Shri Manjunath along with renowned percussionists Shri Giridhar Udupa ( Ghatam), Shri Jayachandra Rao ( Mrudangam) and Shri Pramath Kiran( Rhythm Pad) had come to offer, not a traditional Carnatic performance , but a divine music on a kids platter . RFA had already messaged some suspense around this ‘Music Majaa’ concert. All rasikas were in a different level of excitement – one that you feel when you are out to watch a suspense thriller! It was all the more with the children, who were very excited about the concert especially for them!
The first part of the mystery got revealed when the Mysore brothers started off with the Geetham “Sri Gananaatha”. The kids were encouraged to sing along and clap along. This is the first time I ever witnessed this in a Carnatic music platform. During this song, the Ghatam artist took out an instrument and moved it around like a Mahamangala Aarathi. Well, this rare instrument was called the cymbal! There was music, there was drama, there was suspense - was the purity of Carnatic music compromised here? No way! The virtuosity of the artists was very evident in the manner in which they delineated the simplest Pillari geetham, which every Carnatic music student learns! Kudos to the Pancha Bhuthas who had ascended the stage!
Next came a question to the kids, as to which was their favorite Raga? …and Hamsadhwani was the winner! Vathapiganapathim seemed to be a super hit with the kids and that is exactly what was rendered next. The musical progression was not what you would expect in a typical concert. I felt that one moment I was walking amongst the sand dunes in a desert, the other moment marching in an army parade, the next moment at a wedding celebration and well finally back to a classical Carnatic concert. And lo and behold, like magicians, new instruments surfaced – this time a Spanish origin instrument called Cajon prevalent in Peru! Pramath did an amazing job with this instrument. And I looked around – Yes, the kids seemed to be enjoying the music.
Another twist followed– Satish Kumar, a magician cum hypnotist cum… (The list of his skills seemed endless) was introduced. He was going to add more Majaa to the concert. Kids between 5 to 8 years were asked to come forward along with one parent who would dress them up as one of the Dashaavatharams – and guess what the raw material for this was – well, it was newspapers. Had Music stepped into the background! Not at all…From the geniuses on stage, came the exposition of the Devarnama “Narayana” in Suddha Dhanyasi. It was a unique combination. It looked as if Krishna was descending on stage and unfolding himself in the various avataars. What the parents could achieve with their children using newspapers was mind blowing! The music was outstanding, and the creation of the live Dashavatars overwhelming! Music Majaa at its best!
The next rendering was Rama nee Samaanamevaro in Kharaharapriya. Many different instruments, for instance, chimes came forth. It was not the mere suspense and sight of the instruments but the pure and pleasant music they created. The detailed exposition of Kharaharapriya was a treat for everyone!
I could not wait for the next twist…and I was not to be disappointed…..this time it was a Quiz for children above 12 years conducted by Shri Satish and his wife. Some questions came from the artists themselves. And while the children were busy writing the answers, the magic of Girirajasutha unfolded.
Brochevarevarura in Khamas followed while magic acts were going on in parallel. The Ghatam artist was weaving Music Magic by throwing the Ghatam in the air and creating amazing sounds. Pramath entertained and excelled with instruments like Djembe( or similar) and Caxixi .
There were 22 audience requests for songs, but given the time constraints Mysore brothers were kind enough to render at least two – Samajavaragamana and Yennathavam the concert concluded with Bhagyathalakshmibaramma.
To summarize, and to echo the words of many of my Music Majaa mates, I felt that the suspense movie had not ended and I was forced to get up! It was not just a music concert but a musical adventure! It was for kids, but it regaled the young and old alike.
Arvind had opened the concert asking “Can there be a fundamental Right To Fine Arts ?” On an evening when kids from a home for the underprivileged home had come to witness the concert, the proof was evident in the affirmative. Each one of us has a fundamental right to live in peace and fun and Fine Arts is the greatest medium for peace and fun. Music is life and Music is Majaa. Kudos to the artists (who were themselves magical with their music), the magicians and RFA for enabling this! Well, I am looking forward to the next suspense thriller from RFA!
- Narayana Iyer
"A Universe of Melody" on 14th Feb 2015 @ 7.15pm
Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar gave a very soulful vocal performance in the traditional Mewati Gharana style of Hindustani music. The key highlight of this concert was that all the compositions that he sang were composed by him. He even welcomed the audience to visit his website for a free download of all his compositions. Another feature of his performance was a brief lec-dem he conducted on Raag Madhukauns, highlighting how each swara within the raag is so important that it has to be treated in its purest form.
He started the concert with an elaborate vilambit ektaal composition in Raag Rageshri. A systematic unfolding of the raag created a very serene atmosphere within the large auditorium. This was followed by a druth composition in teentaal. The second raag Pt. Sanjeev Abhyankar took was an uncommon "Madhukauns". A pentatonic raag with a very melodic teevra madhyam in the mix was a real treat to the audience. A self composed rachana in madyalay Roopak taal was unfolded with wonderful bol taans, sargam taans and aakaar taans. After rendering two serious raags, he went on to sing lighter numbers. Firstly a famous marathi bhajan composed by Santa Tukaram which was followed by a Meera bhajan. The harmonium accompaniment was provided by Pandit Vyasmurthy Katti, a highly sought out, country's renowned harmonium player from Bangalore. His imaginative alap phrases and taans were so scholarly that the audience were spell bound by his harmonium playing. The breezy taans that replicated the main singer was masterfully done. Of the very same caliber, Pandit Ravindra Yavgal accompanying on the tabla gave a great support and made the concert very enjoyable.
- ChandraMouli Rao
"A Captivating Performance" on 15th Feb 2015 @ 4pm
Every year, Ranjani Fine Arts has been successfully bringing in first rate artists to the festival and this year was no exception. The two days of the festival featured absolutely brilliant concerts.
With Abhishek Raghuram on the vocal, Mysore V Srikanth on the violin and Anantha R Krishnan on the mridangam, the concert began with a rendition of the Varnam Chalamela in Raga Nattai Kuranji. The concert was off to a great start, with the captivating phrases of the Nattakurinji varnam resonating in the hall.
This was followed by the popular kriti, Janani Ninnuvina in raga Reethigoula, composed by Subbaraya Shastry. A rather slow-paced kriti, it had a soothing effect on the audience after the fast-paced varnam. The complex sangathis definitely played to the strengths of his powerful voice. The repetition of the chittai swaram in the second-speed created a unique character. His kalpana swaras were not only novel, but they also portrayed his deep sense of understanding of the raga bhava.
A short alapana in Begada served as a prelude to Lokavanachatura Pahimam, a composition of Thyagaraja. The alapana exhibited Abhishek Raguram’s voice flexibility and modulation even at very high and very low pitches. He sang neraval on the phrase ‘Saketadhipa’.
The main piece of the concert was centered around the raga Thodi. Known for his alapanas, he once again proved his acumen in the alapana of this Ghana raga. What made his alapana so special was that he began with a simple phrase and progressively added on to it making it more complex as he advanced. The kriti rendered in the raga was Sri Krishna Bhaja Manasa. This Dikshitar kriti, which contains intricate sangathis interwoven into a masterpiece, was treated with all due respect. The swara kalpana following the kriti, was the highlight of the concert, and left the audience enthralled.
Next came the thaniyavarthanam, a commendable performance energetically delivered by Anantha R Krishnan. Mysore Srikanth also provided able support on the violin, throughout the concert.
Next was another raga alapana, this time in the rare raga Pahadi. It was interesting to see how a light raga like Pahadi, can be presented in a detailed manner. There was an almost seamless transition to Sindhu Bhairavi following which he began the final piece for the evening, Harihara Ninnananu. The concert was concluded with a mangalam in Saurashtram.
A noteworthy aspect of this concert was the ample opportunities provided to the violin to play solo. Abhishek Raghuram’s deep involvement in his music is greatly reflected in his concerts and is what makes them so magical. The excellent acoustics of the auditorium at New Horizon also contributed to the memorable experience. The young trio mesmerized the audience with their breathtaking performance.
- Renuka Ramanathan
"An Ethereal Experience" on 15th Feb 2015 @ 7.15pm
The annual cultural function of Ranjani Fine Arts in it's third year brought forth innovative ways to induce taste for classical music among children of all age groups. For youth and elders, classical music programs organised in two days of function brought forth enlightenment along with entertainment.
One such programme was the grand finale on violin by none other than Padma Bhushan Vidushi N Rajam along with her daughter Vidushi Sangitha Sankar and grand-daughters Nandini and Raagini, all trained by her and all accomplished in their individual original capacities as a performer. Vidushi Rajam presented her unique gayaki style of the legendary Pandit Onkarnath Thakur, her mentor for years in Banaras through her violin.
She started her rendition with Raga Bageshwari Kanada, a combination of Bageshwaari and Kanada rag. In her portrayal of the Raga the artists aptly brought forth feelings of romantic separation of both the ragas in a seamless fashion touching the inner core of every listener. Sound of violin being close to human voice greatly stirred up the longings and emotions of every heart through the rendition of the Raga in her unique gayaki style. Accompanying young artists were equally at ease with their instruments and matured with their expressions of the Raga bringing applause from the audience frequently.
Next item was in Raga Desh, portraying the longings of heart in intense and softer ways through the usage of both suddha and komal Nisad , in a beautiful characteristic style of the Raga. Every listener simply enjoyed the symphony in a state of ecstasy.
Later She took another evening melody in Raga Khamaj in Banaras style, so sweet, so absorbing that the audience simply remained spell bound in their blissful joyous mood. The artist then took up a bhajan conveying the deep devotional mood akin to offering ones prayer to his lord.
The concluding piece was an ever green Raga Bharaivi, where all the moods and emotions converge together with the toppings of sweetness associated with this raga, which encompasses all the SWARAS in it's fold like the mother goddess encompassing all the modes of material nature in her fold. The artists were given standing ovation and applause which Vidushi N Rajam has been receiving justifiably for more than four decades. Ranjani fine Arts deserve all praise and congratulation on the grand success of the event organised with a pious objective to propagate music and fine arts among the community.
- Ramdeo Choudhary