Monday, December 31, 2012

December 30, 2012 - Narada Gana Sabha


violin - b ananthakrishnan
mrudangam - sj arjun ganesh
ghatam - h prasanna

varnam - sankarabharanam - adi - veenai kuppaiyer
panipathishayi - jankaradhwani - adi - thyagaraja (r)
mamava sadha - nattaikurinji - rupakam - swathi thirunal (r,n)
eppadi manam - huseni - misra chapu - arunachala kavi
anupama gunambudhi - atana - kanda chapu - thyagaraja
paramaathmudu - vagadheeshwari - adi - thyagaraja (r,s,t)
vaanathin meedhu - mand - adi - ramalinga swamigal
panimathi - ahiri - misra chapu - swathi thirunal
thillana - gavathi - adi - s. kalyanaraman

I have been overwhelmed with the number of rasikas this season. I apologize to those of you who couldn't find a place to sit in the hall today, and especially for those who I'm told came and left after finding no room. Made for an enjoyable experience being surrounded on stage by rasikas in addition to the aisles and doorways of the hall being full. Has been a great season to say the least. Today was my last concert in Mylapore for 2012. Glad to have ended on a high note with musicians who I am very close with off stage as well as on stage.

On Tuesday I start 2013 with a concert in the Anjaneyar Temple in Nanganallur :)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 29, 2012 - Krishna Gana Sabha


violin - nagai sri sriram
mrudangam - dr. umayalpuram k sivaraman
ghatam - dr. s karthick

varnam - sahana - adi - thiruvottriyur thyaagayya
gajavadana - hamsadhwani - rupakam - md ramanathan (s)
vaananai - keeravani - misra chapu - appar (r)
bogeendra shaayinam - kunthalavarali - kanda chapu - swathi thirunal
ethavunara - kalyani - adi - thyagaraja (r,n,s,t)
vidajalathura - janaranjani - adi - thyagaraja
vetta veli - cenjurutti - misra chapu - kudhambai siddhar
sarvam brahmamayam - madhuvanthi - adi - sadasiva brahmendra
ramanai bhajithal - mand - adi - papanasam sivan
thillana - khamas - adi - patnam subramania iyer
malasai (thiruppugazh) - jonpuri - adi - arunagirinathar

There are things I've thought of as a child that were like dreams I never imagined would happen in real life. Yesterday, one of those dreams came true for me. I got to sit right next to one of Carnatic music's greatest artists and perform a concert with him. The experience from start to finish is one that I'll never forget, and hopefully there will be many more to come with him. Thanks to Nagai Sriram and Karthick anna for being very supportive and encouraging as I was nervous going into this concert with Sivaraman mama playing mrudangam. I realized after a couple songs that I need not be so nervous cause Sivaraman mama himself was being extremely encouraging, appreciative, and supportive not only with his playing, but with his jovial nature and appreciation of the other artists on stage. I have always enjoyed hearing mama play, but I felt so different being just inches away from his mrudangam, and getting to see how he makes those beautiful sollus and special sounds on the mrudangam thoppi!

Sorry if this post is shorter and less informative than the others. I know some of you were looking forward to reading more about this concert... I have so many thoughts in my mind after having this great and rare opportunity, that I don't even know where to start or what to say! Special thanks to the rasikas who made it despite the rain coming down hard, and the roads becoming quite difficult to travel.

This season has been a really special one. But its not over yet... Singing today at 2pm in Narada Gana Sabha Mini Hall with B Ananthakrishnan and SJ Arjun Ganesh. Hope to see you there :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 27, 2012 - Brahma Gana Sabha

violin - delhi sunder rajan
mrudangam - neyveli venkatesh

  1. varnam - saveri - adi - kothavaasal venkatrama iyer
  2. bhajana seyave - kalyani - rupakam - thyagaraja (s)
  3. nannu vidachi - reethigowla - misra chapu - thyagaraja (r)
  4. palaya sadha - nalinakanthi - adi - swath thirunal (s)
  5. aaro ivar aaro - bairavi - adi - arunachala kavi (r,n,s,t)
  6. edayya gathi - chalanattai - adi - koteeshwara iyer
  7. nagagandhari - nagagandhari - adi - muthuswami dikshitar
  8. rtp - dvijavanthi - khanda triputa - 'oru dharam shiva chidambaram enru || uraithaal podhume'
    • tanam ragamalika: sumanesa ranjani, begada, kaanada
    • swaram ragamalika:  surya, surutti, sindhubhairavi
  9. aarumo aaval - mand - adi - kannan iyengar
  10. thillana - basanth - adi - tn seshagopalan
  11. pavamana - saurashtram - adi - thyagaraja
Pictures by Prasanna Viswanathan
Last night I sang a 3 hour concert in Chennai after a very long time. Originally the time slot was 2.5 hours but due to some delays in the 7pm's dance, I was requested to sing an additional 15-30min. It felt good to sing a 'full' concert in Mylapore, as we don't often get that chance in the junior and sub-senior slots. Having Venkatesh anna accompanying this concert reminded me of our tour earlier this year where we regularly performed 3 hour concerts two to three times a week. I've known Sunder Rajan Sir since I was a little kid, and have known him especially well the last several years that we have been crossing paths both in Chennai and in Los Angeles (he visits regularly as he has many students on the west coast). Although I have asked him before, he was never free. But in the last two months I have been fortunate to have him accompany me twice. He is another very senior artist who I now have the privilege of singing with.
Pictures by Prasanna Viswanathan
Just when I think a concert is over and I can relax, I seem to have another big one just around the corner! Tomorrow (December 29th) I'm singing at Krishna Gana Sabha at 2pm with Nagai Sri Sriram, Umayalpuram Sri Sivaraman, and Sri S. Karthick.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 24, 2012 - Music Academy

violin - b. ananthakrishnan
mrudangam - s.j. arjun ganesh
ghatam - n. rajaraman


  1. varnam - kalyani - ata - pallavi gopala iyer (s)
  2. undhumadha (thiruppavai) - saveri - misra chapu - andal
  3. ini oru kanam - sriranjani - rupakam - papanasam sivan (r,n,s)
  4. marakathavallim - kambodhi - adi - muthuswami dikshitar (r,s,t)
  5. rtp - shubapanthuvarali - adi (4 kalai)
    ragamalika swarams: hindolam, sama
  6. narayana - sama - adi - papanasam sivan
  7. thillana - hamirkalyani - adi - harikesanallur muthiah bhagavathar

Being my first year at the sub-senior slot in Music Academy, I felt a little pressure coming into this concert. As the concert started however, I got quite comfortable and the tension eased away quickly. I owe a lot of that to the calm, cool nature of my fellow artists yesterday. However it slowly came back during the kambodhi alapanai when the mic system started to howl continuously in the monitors/speakers and interfered with the concert. Kambodhi is a ragam which I sing with some caution as it is, so this didn't help my flow. But I waited a few seconds, and after realizing the problem wasn't going to go away anytime soon, I decided to keep singing through it. Once I made that decision, I was back to being comfortable, and tried to focus on my violinist and the alapanai itself. Perhaps elsewhere one might have waited a few minutes for them to resolve the issue. But seeing that clock in front of my face, and knowing the Academy's strict adherence to time, I whispered to the violinist that we'd better just ignore it and keep going or else we'd lose time over all. He agreed. They reduced the volume and we proceeded with the rest of the concert with minimal feedback on stage. These sorts of technical issues happen everywhere I suppose, and hopefully they were able to resolve the issue for the concerts which followed mine.

Music Academy concerts remain a special experience though, and I don't think that will change anytime soon. Though I've only sung in the academy for 5 years now, I know that even senior artists hold it in high regard. Someone asked me after the concert, "Why does it seem like you all save your best stuff for this venue?" I didn't have a sure answer, because I wasn't sure if artists really do save their 'best stuff' for the music academy, or if perhaps the venue brings it out of them. For now, I'm just relieved that the concert seems to have been well received. And I am especially happy that my accompanying artists, Ananthu, Arjun, and Ramji played so well, and were so accommodating and adjusting on the stage so that we could finish on time.

Now it's time to focus on Thursday's concert in Brahma Gana Sabha at 4pm, with Delhi Sri Sunderrajan and Neyveli Sri Venkatesh!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 22, 2012 - Charsur Arts Foundation (NGS Mini Hall)

violin - avaneeswaram s.r. vinu
mrudangam - srimushnam v. rajarao
ghatam - n. guruprasad

venue: narada gana sabha mini hall, alwarpet

varnam - mohanam - ata - harikesanallur muthiah bhagavathar
swaminatha - nattai - adi - muthuswami dhikshitar (s)
marivere - anandabairavi - misra chapu - shyama shastri (r,s)
varanarada - vijaysri - adi - thyagaraja
endhukupedhala - sankarabharanam - adi - thyagaraja (r,n,s,t)
kanavendamo - sriranjani - tisra nadai ekam - papanasam sivan

Myself accompanied by Avaneeswaram Vinu, Srimushnam Rajarao, and N Guruprasad

I'm not sure where to begin with my thoughts on this concert. It's always a different, and special experience to be on stage with some of the field's most leading artists such as Srimushnam Sri Rajarao Sir. Having known him since I was a kid, there usually is a very casual relationship between us, but I still get nervous sitting next to him on stage. No matter how casual, jovial, and encouraging he is, he's also one of the best and most experienced mrudangam vidwans. When I called him a few days ago to confirm the sruthi and main item for the day, he was happy and just said "All the best, sing well." I knew he was very busy with his season concerts and didn't want to take up his time, but that was all I needed to hear. His encouragement continued last night on stage as well with his playing and lifting of the songs and concert. I can rest assured that if I ever forget a sangathi, or a line to a song, he will remind me... Not by telling me, but by showing me on his mrudangam! The tani avarthanam between Rajarao Mama and Sri Guruprasad was mind blowing. We couldn't tell the time had gone by so quickly. The audience's continuous applause for their tani showed their appreciation of these great artists, as they applauded for nearly 2 minutes after the tani finished.

Avaneeswaram Sri S.R. Vinu is another artist who I love to sing with but don't get the chance often as he is busy year round, and stays in Kerala most of the time. I'll share a couple things here which I told him last night. One was that his support, especially when I sang raga alapanais, was outstanding. At some times it was as if he could read my mind, playing where I really wanted him to help fill in some gaps, and supporting however appropriate in that moment. His own alapanais and kalpanaswarams were a great complement to whatever I was trying, and his sankarabharanam especially was a favorite of mine. Another thing is that I really hope to perform more with him in the future. Artists of his calibre and humility are something I really admire and strive to achieve.

Thanks to the Charsur team as always, and the overwhelming support of the rasikas :).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 19, 2012 - Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

violin - m rajeev
mrudangam - nirmal narayan
ghatam - h sivaramakrishnan


dhayajoo - gaanavaaridhi - adi - thyagaraja (s)
kalayaami - kannada - misra chapu - swathi thirunal (r)
aananda natam aaduvaar - purvikalyani - rupakam - neelakanta sivan (r,n,s)
naagagaandhari - naagagaandhari - adi - muthuswami dikshitar
sukhi yevaro - kaanada - adi - thyagaraja (r,s,t)
thillana - sindhubairavi - adi - oothukaadu venkata kavi

A few people told me after this concert that they had not heard kaanada ragam sang elaborately in many years, or ever. But I am not doing anything new, just a small fraction of what great artists have already done before me. As many of you must know, I am a big fan of Sri T.N. Seshagopalan, and a student of Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan. I learned Sukhi Yevaro from both of their recordings, combining their sangathis and styles. In fact, the krithi in Ganavaridhi and the OVK thillana are both compositions I learned from recordings of Sri TNS Sir. Kalayaami in kannada is a krithi sung by my guru Sri Sanjay Sir, that I learned recently and have recorded on Charsur's album, Hey Krsna.

Good to see several artists (senior, junior, local and from abroad) in the audience yesterday.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13, 2012 - Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Vani Mahal

violin - parur ananthakrishnan
mrudangam - nc bharadvaj
ghatam - n rajaraman


  1. varnam - kalyani - adi - ramnad srinivasa iyengar
  2. evarikai - devamanohari - misra chapu - thyagaraja (s)
  3. amba neelambari - neelambari - adi - ponniah pillai (r)
  4. palaya deva - bairavi - rupakam - swathi thirunal (r,n)
  5. mohana rama - mohanam - adi - thyagaraja (r,s,t)
  6. vetta veli - cenjurutti - misra chapu - kudhambai sidhar
This was my first time singing in Vani Mahal in about seven years. I can't remember exactly actually, but I think it's been that long! It was nice to get on that stage again. I've felt that Vani Mahal has one of the city's better mini halls ever since they did major renovations about a decade ago. A decent sound system, a pretty big hall (for mini hall standards), and usually a good crowd make this place one of the better venues over all. I'm seeing more NRIs in the audiences, which means that season is full-swing, and once a few more sabhas have their inaugurations, Mylapore and T. Nagar will start to feel even smaller, and see more Indian kids talking in American accents (like me!). I enjoyed today's concert for the reasons above, but also because I revived an old song (Amba Neelambari) that I don't remember having sung in several years. I also sang this krithi in bhairavi which I learned a few months ago for a recently released Charsur album. It is the first time I was singing it live in concert. I hope to continue mixing old and new for the remainder of the season.

Sabhas seem to have a recurring theme this year -- they're all freezing! I actually asked the audio engineer to reduce to the AC during the main item, and he shut it off. It was much more pleasant for the remainder of the concert. I've noticed a lot of sabhas are cold in the audience, and many people are draped in shawls/socks/etc, but I was actually cold ON stage today, which is probably a first. I don't know who designs the air conditioning systems for these auditoriums but they need to take a better look next time. I know of a popular sabha in the city (won't mention it's name here), with an AC that has two options: ON and OFF. What's worse is that once it is turned off, it can not be turned back on for 30 minutes. I wish I was making this up, but sadly I am not so clever. This was told to me by the sabha secretary after I complained to him that everyone sitting inside was frozen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 09, 2012 - Kanakadasa Pratishtana, Udipi

violin - nalina mohan
mrudangam - hs sudheendhra


1. varnam - bhairavi - ata - pachaimiriam adhiyappaiya
2. gajavadhana - hamsadhwani - rupakam - md ramanathan (s)
3. suryamurthe - saurashtram - chathusra dhruva - muthuswami dikshitar (r)
4. ramanujare - panthuvarali - adi - kanakadasa (r,s)
5. cheraravadhe - reethigowla - adi - thyagaraja
6. pogadhirelo - sankarabharanam - misra chapu - purandaradasa (r,n,s,t)
7. kandena govindhana - chandrakauns - adi - purandaradasa
8. baaro krishnaiyya - mand - adi - kanakadasa
9. thillana - sindhubairavi - adi - oothukkadu venkata kavi
10. pavamana - saurashtram - adi - thyagaraja

Although my flight from Chennai left 4.5 hours late (that's right), I had a great trip and thoroughly enjoyed the concert. The organizers went above and beyond to ensure our comfort and convenience throughout the stay. The senior accompaniments of Nalina Mohan and HS Sudheendhra helped me throughout the concert. At moments I felt tired from lack of sleep due to the early morning flight that got delayed several hours due to bad weather in Bangalore (the stopover), and no time to rest after reaching Udipi. But their energy more than made up for it, and also helped me to gain some momentum as things went on. It was the first time singing this krithi in panthuvarali which I learned from a recording of Sri T.N. Seshagopalan sir. It seems to have gone over well with the audience and perhaps I shall include in concerts in the near future. Definitely a good warm up to the music season in Chennai which continues for me from this Thursday onwards.... Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December 5, 2012 - Jaya TV

violin - m rajeev
mrudangam - sj arjun ganesh


1. varnam - nattaikurinji - adi - moolaiveedu rangaswamy nattanuvar (s)
2. sri varalakshmi - sri - rupakam - muthuswami dikshitar (r,s)
3. manavyalakim - nalinakanthi - adi - thyagaraja
4. gananaya desika - rishabapriya - adi - koteeshwara iyer (r,n,s,t)
5. ramanai bhajithal - mand - adi - papanasam sivan

First concert of the season, and my first time singing for Jaya TV's Margazhi Maha Utsavam. It was a good experience and I'm happy with the way the concert went. I was definitely a bit nervous at times with the 3 huge cameras in front of me, knowing that any part of the concert would be televised on Jaya TV at some point. But I was very glad I had great accompanying artists who I'm so comfortable with, Rajeev and Arjun. They definitely eased my nervousness and played really well, as they always do. It's always difficult to manage time in such short concert slots, but their flexibility and support helped tremendously. I tried my best to mix known and slightly unknown songs/ragas in such a short timespan, I hope that went over well with the audience members. Thanks to Rajeev, Arjun, the organizers, and of course the audience!

Hope to continue writing my thoughts after concerts through the season, in addition to the song-lists... We'll see if I manage to keep it up.