Monday, July 27, 2015

July 26, 2015 - Chamber Concert


violin - b ananthakrishnan
mrudangam - sj arjun ganesh

varnam - kathanakuthuhalam - adi - ks krishnamurthy
vaa vaa sikhivaahana - nattai - rupakam - koteeshwara iyer (s)
akhilandeswari - dwijavanthi - adi - muthuswami dikshitar (r)
radha ramana - mohanam - adi - walajapet venkatramana bhagavathar (r,s)
pakkala nilabadi - karaharapriya - misra chapu - thyagaraja (r,n,s,t)
nathajana palini - nalinakanthi - adi - thanjavur sankara iyer
rtp - durga - tisra thriputa “sri durge sukhe | sangeetha rasike"
-ragamalika: bageshri, nattaikurinji, behag
saramaina - behag - rupakam - swathi thirunal
thunbam nergayil - desh - adi - bharathidasan
slokam “matha ramo…” - bhairavi, sankarabharanam, todi, kambodhi, kalyani, sindhubhairavi
ramanai tharuvai - sindhubhairavi - adi - arunachala kavi
thillana - basanth - adi - tn seshagopalan
pavamana - saurashtram - adi - thyagaraja

Not being constrained by a time slot, I sang as full a concert as I have in a very long time last night at the residence of Mr. Nageswaran, a die-hard fan of both Carnatic and Hindustani music. Nageswaran Mama announced at the beginning that it would be a "3+ hours concert" and made a request for an RTP in Durga. I had already been told of his affinity towards Hindustani ragams so I did my best to give the RTP itself a Hindustani feel, by including a tharana during the tanam, and to include a couple more Hindustani ragams in the concert.

Enjoyed the intimate space with just a few dozen people in the audience, not just consisting of rasikas but several musicians as well. A big thanks to my accompanying artists... B Ananthakrishnan is well versed in Hindustani music himself and often inspires me to try new things. And I appreciate Arjun Ganesh's versatility, which provides me the support I need no matter what kind of song or genre I sing! And thanks to Mr. Nageswaran for having been very eager to have our concert in his house.

Friday, July 3, 2015

July 2, 2015 - Gopalakrishna Bharathi Day, Music Academy

violin - b ananthakrishnan
mrudangam - tanjore praveen kumar

music academy mini hall

shivakaama sundari - jaganmohini - rupakam (s)
thiruvadi charanam - kambodhi - adi (n)
natamaadum naathanadi - purvikalyani - khanda chapu (r,s)
varuvaaro - saama - adi
thaathai yenraaduvaar - thodi - adi (r,s,t)
virutham - “oru dharam shivachidambaram…sabhapathikku…" - aboghi, jonpuri
eppo varuvaaro - jonpuri - adi
chidambaram pogamal - senjurutti - adi

Last night's concert in Music Academy Mini Hall comprised of compositions of Gopalakrishna Bharathi, under an endowment made possible by Smt Malathi Rangaswamy. This is an annual concert that has been happening in MA for several years, and even my guru Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan has sung in it about a decade ago.

There are many compositions of Gopalakrishna Bharathi which are sung in concerts frequently today, such as Sabhapathikku in Aboghi, Thiruvadi Charanam in Kambodhi, Irakkam Varaamal in Behag, and the list goes on. As I began making an outline of songs for this concert, I wanted to feature some of the known favorites but at the same time challenge myself by learning some new songs, and bring them out to the public as well. It was a balancing act for many weeks as I decided which songs to include and which to avoid. I began getting requests from different people for different songs, and I tried my best to accommodate those as well. However it was interesting when I had a rasika request Sabhapathikku, and around the same time I specifically had several people telling me to avoid singing that same song as it is sung every time there is a Gopalakrishna Bharathi theme, and even in concerts otherwise. 

During the introduction of the concert, Music Academy committee member Sri P. Vasanth Kumar (a musician himself), shared a short story of how Gopalakrishna Bharathi had met Thyagaraja and Thyagaraja had asked him if he had composed anything in ragam Aboghi. Bharathi replied that he had not, but later that day decided to compose one, which as we all know turned out to be Sabhapathikku. After hearing this composition, Thyagaraja replied to Bharathi that he would not compose in Aboghi anymore, as his Sabhapathikku was such a magnificent composition, that he (Thyagaraja) did not feel he could do justice to the ragam beyond that. Hence, I decided to highlight just a few lines of the song towards the end of the concert, in the form of a virutham in aboghi then into jonpuri, followed by the well known composition "Eppo Varuvaaro."

Another somewhat common song I decided to include in the list is what I consider to be Gopalakrishna Bharathi's magnum opus, Thiruvadi Charanam in Kambodhi. I first heard my guru sing the song several years ago, and subsequently heard recordings of Madurai Mani Iyer singing very elaborate and emotional renditions of the krithi. Madurai Mani Iyer's neraval for the line "aduthu vandha yennai thallalaagaadhu harahara vendru sonnaalum podhaadho" is especially moving, and one of the main reasons I have developed such a strong liking for the krithi.

The main song in Thodi (thaathai yendraaduvaar) was something I stumbled upon while going through various recordings and skimming through different books with GB compositions. Being in Thodi, I was immediately drawn to it as a possibility for raga alapanai and kalpanaswara elaboration, but the song itself was quite simple and small. Finally I added a few sangathis and changed the structure a bit to feel more like a "main" item (to me at least).

I had learned a few more songs for this concert which I had to omit due to shortage of time. I will include them in upcoming concerts however.

Finally, I should thank my accompanying artists, Sri B Ananthakrishnan on violin and Sri Praveen Kumar on mrudangam, for the fantastic support they gave me. They're both artists who play for me regularly and are extremely busy in the music circuit, but a special mention must be made that they made it a point to familiarize themselves with the songs I was going to sing yesterday, especially since some of them were songs they had not heard before.

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 15, 2015 - Ganabharathi, Mysore

violin - mattur srinidhi
mrudangam - ku jayachandra rao
morsing - vs ramesh

veene seshanna bhavana

varnam - panthuvarali - adi - shatkala narasaiya
thanavari thanamu - begada - adi - thyagaraja (s)
palaya deva deva - bhairavi - rupakam - swathi thirunal (r,n,s)
dharma shravana - durga - adi - purandarasa
appan avadharitha - karaharapriya - adi - papanasam sivan
rtp - mohanakalyani - adi - “buddhi dEvi vivaram | bhOgi kankaNa karam"
ragamalika: hindolam, madhuvanthi
narajanma bandhaga - madhuvanthi - adi - purandaradasa
mayil meedhu - charukesi - adi - calcutta gurumurthi
thillana - khamas - adi - patnam subramania iyer

pavamana - saurashtram - adi - thyagaraja

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 27, 2015 - Seetharama Bhakta Samajam, Selayur

violin - r raghul
mrudangam - sumesh narayanan
kanjira - s sunil kumar


Sang in Selayur last night... Was accompanied by Raghul, Sumesh Narayanan and Sunil Kumar. Special thanks to Sumesh for agreeing to play at the last minute as the previously scheduled mrudangist was unable to make it.

In 2.5 hours, I only sang one raga alapanai (varali), but sang it without looking much at the time. This was a nice/new feeling, to sing it to the point that I was content, and not constantly looking at the clock to keep it within a certain duration.

Song list:
varnam - navaragamalika - adi - patnam subramania iyer (s)
sobillu - jaganmohini - rupakam - thyagaraja (s)
aaro ivar aaro - bhairavi - adi - arunchala kavi (n,s)
vinave o manasa - vivardhini - rupakam - thyagaraja
nathajanapalini - nalinakanthi - adi - thanjavur sankara iyer (s)
eti janma - varali - misra chapu - thyagaraja (r,s,t)
ramanai tharuvai - sindhubhairavi - adi - arunchala kavi
thillana - khamas - adi - patnam subramania iyer
pavamana - saurashtram - adi - thyagaraja

Now trying to learn some new songs while I have a slight break in the schedule. Then off to Abu Dhabi on May 7th!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 31, 2014 - Sangeeta Ganamrutam

With the emergence of several music streaming services, I decided to start the day by browsing some of the more well known services like spotify, rdio and saavn, to compare which service seems to have the best interface and library. While on saavn, I did the obligatory search for my own name (I'm only human), and found an album that I have sung on, which I have never even heard before!

Rewind to late 2013 when I ran into Neyveli Santhanagopalan Mama somewhere outside Chennai while we were both on concert related travel. Our concert trips had overlapped so I got to spend half a day with him having some wonderful discussions about music and musicians of the past. Three days later I got a call from Mama asking if I would be able to sing on an album of compositions of Veenai Sri Varadayya. He informed me that I would have to sing just a portion of them, while the others would be sung by Smt. Aruna Sairam, and the remainder by his daughter Sriranjani Santhanagopalan.

This seemed like a simple request at first, except there was a slight catch. I'd have to learn five songs (including an ata tala varnam) I'd never heard before, and record them in the studio in just three days! At first I told him I wasn't sure I would do justice to them in such a short time, but he was very confident that I could. Within a few minutes of our phone call, I had several emails with the notations for the songs along with a note saying that I could call or Skype Mama any time to go over the songs if I had any doubts. For 2.5 days, I went over the notation (for me, this starts with re-writing the entire krithi in a different form that makes it easier for me to read and sing while practicing). On top of learning these rare songs, one song was in a new ragam I'd never even heard of, 'nutana gowla.'

I had one Skype session with Santhanagopalan Mama and he gave me the approval for the first three songs to record the next day. I remember after going into the studio, one song just didn't come out very nicely. There was suddenly a lot of hesitation in my singing and doubt in the sangathis. Mama told me to leave that song and finish the other two that day. Later that night, Mama called me and asked me to come on Skype to go over that song as well as the remaining two. With his help, I was able to finish all the remaining three songs the following evening. I should mention that Mama was in the studio both days to oversee the recording, and whenever I had any doubts, he would stand in front of me and put talam while I recorded the song, giving encouraging gestures to boost my confidence.

I went back to my usual routine of travel and concerts and forgot about the album altogether. A few months later, Giri Trading invited me to the release function of the album in Mylapore, but I was not in town at the time. Suddenly today I found this album, Sangeeta Ganamrutam on and listened for the first time to the songs I had sung, as well as the ones sung by Smt. Aruna Sairam and Sriranjani.

I'm not qualified to comment on the compositions themselves, but I will definitely say they were challenging and something worth adding to any musician's or music student's repertoire. Mostly, I'm still shocked but grateful that Santhanagopalan Mama had the confidence that I could learn these songs and made sure I recorded them within just a few days.

To Stream: Saavn -
To Purchase: Giri Trading -