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.


  1. That's fantastic. It is really good to know how an artist prepares himself before every concert especially when it is under a heading. Definitely "Sabapathiku in abohi " does not have an equal song. But for that matter even Thiruvadicharanam is often sung by popular artists.Anyway your combination was toooo. good satisfying all the rasikas. Some of them were sitting for 'sabhapathikku' also. Though it is not possible to avoid popular songs in every concert at the same time the rasikas don't get satisfaction when they can't hear atleast one of their favourite song. Of course it iis very good to hear new songs for which the artist had made so much effort. We would definitely like to hear unknown krithis. Thank you

  2. It was a lovely concert and the two hours flew by.
    Loved your Thodi and perhaps it reigned over poorvi kalyani (a raga I love anytime thanks to Dikshitar's composition"Meenaksi memudam")
    I was reminded of Madurai Mani Iyer in fact quite a bit.
    Hope to hear the other compositions at Raga Sudha