“Guru Utsava - 2013” @ RFA was celebrated on July 27 and 28, 2013. The event was inaugurated by Sangeetha Kala Acharya Vidushi Neela Ramgopal, featuring a series of half-hour performances by 18 music teachers from nearby areas in Bengaluru.
Thanks to the event’s sponsors - Sri. M.R.Seetharam and Mahaveer Orthopaedic Clinic, Haralur Road - and the collective efforts of many volunteers, RFA’s first Guru Utsava was a great success, and served to bring together so many people - local music teachers, professional artistes, students, their families and a large number of rasikas - under one roof for 12 hours over 2 days! It was a memorable sight to watch children coming forward to offer tamboolam on behalf of RFA, and seek their Guru’s blessings after each performance. Also unforgettable was the delicious prasadam on both days, enjoyed by all who attended the event. It is indeed hard to capture in words the wonderful spirit that prevailed, the goodwill that flowed or the sheer positive energy in the air during the course of these two days, but it is our hope that the words and pictures here give the readers some idea.
Addressing the assembled rasikas, Vidushi Neela underscored the importance of the Guru as the dispeller of darkness(Gu=darkness; Ru=dispeller), and highlighted the fact that a real Guru is not just a teacher, but also a role model. AsSankara TV’s camera rolled on, covering the event, it was heartening for the organizers to hear Vidushi Neelamention that RFA’s Guru Utsava was perhaps the first of its kind in Bengaluru.
The first concert was by Smt. Anjali Sudhir, herself a student of Smt. Neela Ramgopal, andthe founder of Geetanjali School of music . Smt. Anjali started off with Sarasijanabha - a SwatiThirunal varnam in Mayamalavagowla. A detailed exposition of the raga Sahana followed, andshe went on to render the famous Tyagaraja kriti Dehi Tavapada Bhaktim. Smt. Soumya on theviolin excelled in bringing out all the nuances of Sahana. Sri. Somaskandan on the mridangam,provided good support. The concluding piece of this mini concert was a Suddhasaveri piece byKanakadasa (Samsaravemba).
Smt. Savitha Kartik's rendering made us realise the rich padantharam ofD.K.Jayaraman's throughout. She started with Neelayadakshi, a composition of SyamaSastri in the ragam Paras. Next, she took up Muthaiah Bhagavathar's composition inKarnaranjani ragam-"Vanchatho" with its brisk chittaswaram. The highlight of her recitalwas a well-delineated Kalyani ragam, which was beautifully matched by SoumyaRamachandran’s return alapana. Savitha took up Pankajalochana of Swati Tirunal, doingfull justice to it with an extremely well sung niraval and kalpanaswaras. Sri Vinay Nagarajanprovided good accompaniment on the mridangam.
Next, the concert by Smt. Aparna Chander was marked by the poignant rendering of a setof melodious ragas. She started off with a Behag varnam. The second piece was themajestic Pakkala Neela badi in Kharaharapriya. This was the major piece, and Aparna did afair attempt to delineate the various shades of Kharaharapriya in the short time. The kritiKelathi Mama Hridaye in the beautiful Bhageshree came next. She concluded with thepopular Papanasam Sivan piece Nambi Kettavar in Hindolam. The good choice of ragasand kritis evoked audience interest. Smt.Aparna was ably supported on the violin by Sri.Anirudh Vishwanathan and Sri. T. Raghavendran on the mridangam.
Sri A.P.Rao started his performance with a brisk varnam in Saveri ragam- Sarasuda. Nextcame Dikshitar’s Maha Ganapatim in Nattai and the beautifully rendered Syama Sastri'sswarajithi – Kamakshi, in Yadukulakambhodhi. This particular composition, with its numerouscomplex swara patterns, is very rarely heard in the concerts, and RFA rasikas were fortunate tolisten to this piece. He concluded with his own composition - a “Ranjanimala” ragamalika –which gave us a glimpse into his "vidwat". R. Raghuram on the violin and Vadiraja Bhatt on themridangam .rovided excellent accompaniment.
Smt. Sumitra Nitin gave a stellar performance on Day One of Guru Utsava. The highlightof her concert was the choice of kritis that extolled the virtues and greatness of the Guru.First came an Ambujam Krishna composition in Kedaram – Guru Thanda, tuned by Smt.Ananthalakshmi Sadagopan. The main piece was Mysore Vasudevachar’s “Guru kripa leka”,in the rare ragam Pushpalathika, where she did alapana, neraval and kalpanaswaram.Sumitra concluded with a kriti on Guru Raghavendra in Tilang, set to tune by Sri. T.M.Thiagrarajan. Smt. Soumya matched Smt. Sumitra’s melodious voice note for note on theviolin, and Sri R.S.R.Srikanth excelled on the mridangam, leaving the audience spellbound.
Smt. Bindu Nair started off with a Pantuvarali varnam by Ramanathapuram SrinivasaIyengar. She followed this with a very good rendering of the popular Dikshitar kriti VatapiGanapathim, in Hamsadhwani, which included kalpanaswarams. The beautiful Mohanam pieceRara Rajeevalochana Rama was rendered very well. Tyagaraja’s Entanerchina in SuddhaDhanyasi and the popular Purandaradasa kriti Ksheerabdi Kannike (Aarabhi) were theconcluding pieces. Five kritis well rendered - that too in a short span of 30 minutes - was acommendable effort! Sri. Anirudh Vishwanathan (on violin) and Sri. T. Raghavendran(mridangam) provided good accompaniment.
Smt Chitra Rajagopalan was at her confident best as she started with ShakthiGanapathim in the grand Nattai ragam. She elucidated the nuances very nicely and wonthe rasikas’ attention instantly. The jewel in the crown was an elaborate Mohana raagamfollowed by the less heard kAdambari Priyaayai of Muttuswamy Dikshitar. The neraval andswaras that followed brought out the essence of the raga beautifully. Ranjani Mala ofThanjavur Sankara Iyer was a fitting finale for a wonderful performance by Chitra. SoumyaRamachandran on the violin was in her element as she returned phrase by phrase thebhava. This program had two mridangams, R.S.R. Srikanth and V. Swaminathan (guru andshishya respectively). It was an enjoyable sight to see both the teacher and the pupil talk toeach other through music on stage.
Smt Madhu Govindarajan presented a neat concert with a varied selection of songs. Sheopened with the Nattai kriti - Mangala Layavara and followed it with Mayilmeedhu inCharukesi. The highlights were a nice rendition of Tyagaraja's Sucharithram kriti Maravakaveand the ragamalika Yadava Raya. Madhusudan on the violin and N Gurumurthy on themridangam lent admirable support. Day 1 of the Guru Utsava concluded with the final piecerendered by Smt. Madhu – a Meera Bhajan in the ragam Sindhubhairavi,
Dr.Priyashri Rao opened Day 2 an auspicious start, with a graceful and charmingrendering of GNB’s brisk Andolika varnam - Nee Dayarada, set to Adi talam in singlekaalam. She sped up the tempo from the charanam. An alapana in Ramamanohari camenext, followed by Ponniah Pillai’s Rajarajeswari, with a samashti charanam. The brilliance of“TMT bani” was very evident in her neraval and swarams. A mini thaniavarthanam was bySri T.M Ramesh on the mridangam . Shri. Arunachala Karthik played equally well on theviolin, bringing out all the shades of Ramamanohari. Dr. Priyasri concluded the recital with amelodious rendering of ‘Pranata Sureshwari’ from Ashtatalakshmi sthothram set in RagaChandrakauns. Dr.Priyasri Rao indeed gave a very beautiful performance with her bright,well-trained voice. Her time management was also excellent, a true mini-kutcheri with all theingredients in 30 minutes!
Next came a Veena recital by Guru Smt. Radha Srisailam, with SriD.N.Nandakumar on the Mridangam. Smt. Radha started with the Mysore MaharajaJayachamaraja Wodeyar kriti Sri Mahaganapatim in Atana, She continued with analapana and taanam in ragam Bhairavi followed by Tyagaraja’s kriti Upacharamu,set to Roopaka talam. She concluded the recital with Doreiswamy Iyengar’s “Note” -a composition in raga Sindhubhairavi. It was a nice performance, in terms of boththe song selection, as well as the disciplined and traditional rendering.
Smt. Srirajalakshmi's Veena performance began with Tiruvettiyoor Tyaagayya'svarnam Karunimpa idi, set in Sahana. After adeptly bringing out the zig-zag (vakra)patterns of Sahana, she changed the tempo with Patnam Subramania Iyer'sParidanamichite set in Bilahari. Adorned with swarams, this song had the audiencehooked. Perhaps as a reflection of the monsoon weather, Smt. Srirajalakshmiperformed Dikshitar's Anandamritakarshini set in the beautiful Amrithavarshiniraaga. She once again upped the tempo with a Thillana, which was performed withprecision.
Amidst all the Veena performances on Day 2, Smt. Shobha Kukke's vocal performance beganwith the lesser heard, but no less enjoyable Navarathri kriti in Suddha Saveri by Swati Tirunal.She then rendered an alapana in Charukesi, followed the popular Tyagaraja kriri Aadamodigalade. Her rendition did kindle memories of listening to Innum En Manam by ShriMaharajapuram Santhanam, and brought Charukesi to Ranjani Fine Arts for the first time. As aconcluding piece, Smt. Shobha sang a Devarnama in raga Behag. Overall, a very well deliveredvocal performance !
Smt.Sobha Mokkapati was third Guru to play the Veena on Day 2. PapanasamSivan’s Sri Ganesha charanam in the raga Tilang was the first kriti she played. Shefollowed with the popular Tyagaraja kriti Telisirama chintanato, in Poornachandrika. Analapana and taanam in Pantuvarali came next, followed by. the Tyagaraja kriti ShamboMahadeva, set to Roopakam tala. This included a good set of kalpana swaras. In thelast she played the popular Meera Bhajan ‘Payoji Maine’. Sri Srinivasamurthy on themridangam provided very good support.
The opening notes of Smt. Soumya Ramachandran’s Valaji alapana on the violin madeRFA regulars sit up – here was another raga that hadn’t been featured at RFA in a while.Soumya didn’t disappoint them a bit with the brisk Lalgudi Jayaraman varnam thatfollowed. She maintained the tempo with Tyagaraja’s Vara Narada (Vijayasri), with“sAramu gAnu brOvumika” of the Anupallavi played especially well. Next came the mainpiece - a lovely Kharaharapriya alapana, followed by Tyagaraja’s Pakkala Nilapadi, withgreat swarams. Soumya concluded her performance with another Lalgudi Jayaramancomposition – a Behag thillana - as a tribute to the late violin maestro. Sri R.S.R.Srikanth’s mridangam accompaniment was excellent throughout.
Smt. Savitha Narayanan rendered a Papanasam Sivan kriti in theragam Sriranjani in praise of Lord Vinayaka and followed it up with theJaya Jaya Janani in the ragam Bhageshree. The performance wascompact and rendered with good bhava. Sri Narayanan Iyer began hisperformance with Singara Velavan vandan in Ananda Bhairavi, acomposition of Sri Papanasm Sivan. He followed it up with his owncomposition in praise of Lord Shaneeswara in Abhogi set to Aadi talam.A Swati Tirunal thillana, was the last piece in the programme, and wasrendered very well. The accompanying artists – Sri Chandramouli onviolin & Sri T Raghavendran on Mridangam, provided very good support.
Sri Arun Achanta enthralled the audience with the Varnam, Sarasijanabha in ragam Nattaifollowed by an elaborate rendition of Tyagaraja’s Enduku Nee Manasu in Kalyani, completewith alapana, neraval and kaplanaswaras. The rendition gave a full blown chaya of Kalyaniand the swaraprasthara by the artist was stylish and was soothing to the ears. There was avery good blend of speed, manodharma and bhava in Arun’s performance. The accompanists– Chandramouli and Vadiraja Bhatt provided great support, particularly during theswaraprasthara in Kalyani.
Smt. Bhagyalakshmi Chandrashekar was in a meditative mood throughout theprogram, as she rendered Guru varulum tiru varulum (Abhogi), Ettanai naal tedivandumo(Huseni), Ullum Puramum(Neelambari), Mamava Meenakshi(Varali),Ninuvina marigalada(Abheri), Ranga Baarane (Khamas), Kreedati Vanamali(SindhuBhairavi ) and Karunajalade(Nathanamakriya). Most of the songs had a brief alapanasketch that captured the essence of the rAga in a soulful manner. Each phrase hadthat element of 'nirnayam' and all the key notes were touched to provide an elevatedexperience. The song rendition was uncomplicated with deep focus on the "gayaki"style. She used the right hand pluck with a sense of minimalism, with most of the sounds and gamakas brought outlargely by the deft left hand movements. She also preferred to sing the sahitya as she played the veena. Herconclusion of the concert with a "mantra pushpam" was apt, leaving the soft sound of the veena reverberating in thehearts of the rasikas. R.S.R.Srikanth's soft handling of the mridangam was in perfect harmony with the overall moodof the concert. One was reminded of the immortal Tyagaraja kriti "Sogasuga Mridanga Taalamu" as Srikanth'sfingers provided that simple, feather-like touch.
SriVasudevan began the last performance of the event with the evergreen Vanajakshirovarnam in Kalyani. His well-balanced song list covered the Trinity, as well as othervaggeyakaras with a nice selection of kritis. Dikshitar’s Santana Gopalakrishnam (Khamas),Tyagaraja’s Shambo Mahadeva (Pantuvarali) were very well rendered, followed byVanamamalai Jeer’s Janaki Ramana in Kapi. An aptly chosen viruttam in Sankarabharanam –the opening stanza of the Meenakshi Pancharatnam - was the prelude to Syama Sastri’sSaroja Dhala Netri. Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna’s thillana in Brindavana Saranga came next. SriVasudevan’s melodious voice was matched well by the violin of Sri Shankar.
Finally, allrasikas joined Sri Vasudevan in rendering the mangalam as the weekend’s celebrationsended in a crescendo with Vadiraja Bhatt’s delightful mini-solo on the mridangam.Thanks to the event’s sponsors - Sri. M.R.Seetharam and Mahaveer Orthopaedic Clinic, Haralur Road - and thecollective efforts of many volunteers, RFA’s first Guru Utsava was a great success, and served to bring together somany people - local music teachers, professional artistes, students, their families and a large number of rasikas -under one roof for 12 hours over 2 days! It was a memorable sight to watch children coming forward to offertamboolam on behalf of RFA, and seek their Guru’s blessings after each performance. Also unforgettable was thedelicious prasadam on both days, enjoyed by all who attended the event. It is indeed hard to capture in words thewonderful spirit that prevailed, the goodwill that flowed or the sheer positive energy in the air during the course ofthese two days, but it is our hope that the words and pictures here give the readers some idea.
- Arvind Brahmakal, Jayashree Vaitheeswaran, Krishna C. Mysore, Rohini Krishnamoorthy,Santosh Narayanan, Santosh Shaastry, Dr. K.G.Shyam Krishnan and P. Venkataraghavan