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Pictures of Melody Book Launch
Two new editions of the Pictures of Melody series were launched on 12th April 2014, Saturday at Ragasudha Hall. The series having covered 4 musicians so far (MS Subbulakshmi, GN Balasubramaniam, Madurai Mani Iyer and T Brinda) now expands to include the Composer Series with "Swati Tirunal - A King and a Composer" and the Vernacular Series with "MS Subbulakshmi - Isai Arasi" (the tamil edition of MS Subbulakshmi - Queen of Song). The Malayalam edition of Swati Tirunal is also to be published very shortly. The launch was a very well attended event, evidenced by the packed hall on the 12th. The book on Swati Tirunal was released by Dr Sajith EN, Director, South Zone Cultural Centre and the first copy was received by Smt Gopika Varma, noted Mohiniyattam Danseuse and member of the Trivandrum Royal Family. The tamil edition of MS Subbulakshmi was released by Dr Radha Bhaskar, musicologist and noted organiser and the first copy was received by Smt Gayathri Venkataraghavan, popular Carnatic vocalist. Dr Sajith felt very strongly that the Government should support this project in every way, while Dr Radha Bhaskar emphasised on how crucial the support of schools is, in reaching these books out to children. Smt Gopika Varma complimented the author on her eye for detail and Smt Gayathri Venkataraghavan marvelled that the sterling qualities and monumental legacy of MS Subbulakshmi had been brought out in 24 pages so completely and so entertainingly. Smt Nandini Ramani who was instrumental in ensuring that the project was a given a grant by the Ministry of Culture, was the Guest of Honour on the occasion. She was very appreciative of the books and expressed her desire that many more books should be brought out in the near future. The launch was followed by a wonderful thematic concert by Smt Gayathri Venkataraghavan on 'Swati Tirunal Kritis and Tamil Songs popularised by Smt MS Subbulakshmi'.
 
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Nataka Choodamani Award
Sri Krishna Gana inaugurated their 22nd Chithirai Nataka Vizha 2014. Mr. Girish Karnad was awarded the Nataka Choodamani. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Chairman of Kalakshetra and former governor of West Bengal presented the award to Karnad. N. Ram, presented the Poornam New Theatres Rolling Trophy for the Best Drama Troupe for the year 2014 to Augusto of Augusto Creations. M. Narendra, Chairman and Managing Director, Indian Overseas Bank and Bharathanatyam dancer Alarmel Valli felicitated Mr. Karnad. Krishna Gana Sabha president Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti and general secretary Y. Prabhu were also present.
 
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From Malaysia – to widen their horizons
On a pleasant afternoon in November, I was happy to witness some 40 and odd students from Malaysia, dancing a crisp Mallari, in the foyer of the Narada Gana Sabha. They had been trained by Bharatanatyam dancer-teacher Roja Kannan in Chennai for nearly a week. Initiated by Nalini Ratharishnan, Founder-Director of Ratharishnan Bharatanjali, even nine-year olds had come all the way with their teachers to be part of this intensive training programme, which comprised teenagers and some dancers in their twenties and thirties. As I distributed the certificates to the participants of this training camp, I was touched by the earnest pursuit of these budding dancers, who spent their time and resources to make this trip to learn more about Bharatanatyam. Nalini had organised this project with the objective of providing the youngsters some exposure to other schools of Bharatanatyam in Chennai which is undeniably an important centre of Bharatanatyam. It was a worthwhile attempt as Nalini had chosen to rope in a teacher and senior exponent like Roja Kannan, who is one of the best students of the veteran Guru Adyar K. Lakshman. It was heart-warming to see the sincere efforts of Nalini Ratharishnan who also joined her students in this camp. The students were happy to have enriched their repertoire and more so that they got an opportunity to perform the items learnt in the city before their departure. The group also learnt a little bit of the dance texts and visited some local schools. It was heartening to see the students attempting to rise to Roja Kannan’s expectations as she had put in a lot of hard work to achieve such a result.
 
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Vasantrao Deshpande Award for Deepak Raja
The Vasantrao Deshpande Smruti Puraskar was conferred on Deepak Raja during the Vasantotsava music festival organised on 19 January 2014 in Pune. The award is given by the Vasantrao Deshpande Pratishthan every year for outstanding contribution to scholarship in the performing arts. It was instituted in memory of Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande, popular and erudite vocalist on the concert platform and regional theatre. Deepak Raja received the award from the legend Vikku Vinayakram. The ghatam maestro gave a mind blowing performance before a 4000-strong crowd, which was also very appreciative of the awardee’s acceptance speech. Deepak S. Raja, a columnist for Sruti, is among the finest contemporary writers on Hindustani music. He is the author of several books on Hindustani music and frequently contributes papers to seminars and prestigious journals on music. This scholar is also a musician who plays the sitar and the surbahar. Well versed in the traditional concepts of Indian musicology, Deepak Raja brings to his writing a fresh perspective using the conceptual tools and analytical methods cultivated by his careers in media research, business journalism and financial accountancy.
 
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Percussion of Northern India
The Music of Northern India is a motley collection of musical instruments and concepts as a mixture of cultural and religious sentiments as sampled from traditional Hindu themes and Persian impressions. It is also known as Hindustani Sangeet, where Islamic influences caused Hindu music to absorb some practices and interpretation from several centuries of exposure to arrangements administered during the time of Islamic rule over Northern India. The Percussions of the Northern India album is a compilation of Jugalbandi (fusion of Northern India Percussion instrument.) It includes the Pakhawaj, Tabla, Nagada and Dholak. The first ever and extraordinary album compilation of Percussion performances by the leading and nationally recognized artists like Pt. Basant Lal, Pt. Jwala Prasad, Pt. Subash Nirwan along with other reputable artists. Six compositions constitute the album where each Indian classical rhythm arrangement comes with an exuberant tone, style and designs and holds a rich historical and cultural value. You may refer to http://guitarmonkrecords.com/product/percussion-northern-india for the sample music and more details on the album.
 
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Geeta Chandran honoured
Veteran Kuchipudi exponent and guru, Yamini Krishnamoorti honoured Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran for her contribution to Bharatanatyam, at a function held on 5 April 2014, at Azad Bhavan in New Delhi. Photo: S. Dhillon
 
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Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Inaguration
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan inaugurated its renovated main auditorium on the Bhavan’s Kendra premises in Mylapore here recently. The honours were done by Srimat Swami Gautamanandaji, president, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, in the presence of L Sabaretnam, Bhavan’s Chennai Kendra, I R Khandwala, trustee and honorary treasurer, and Preetha Reddy, managing director, Apollo Hospitals Group. The auditorium, which has seen many renowned artistes perform, received a total revamp of the interiors. The complete renovation was sponsored by P Vijayakumar Reddy. The inauguration coincided with the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Kendra. The auditorium was renovated by Arkie Atelier Design India Pvt Ltd. Director. Chief architect T S Saravanan informed that the auditorium was renovated meeting international standards. Padmavibhushan M Balamuralikrishna, rendered a concert on the ocassion. Many eminent personalities associated with the Bhavan’s Chennai Kendra including N Ravi, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, C V Krishnaswami, chairman, TAG VHS Research Centre, and K N Ramaswamy, director, Bhavan’s Chennai Kendra, presided over the function.
 
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Sangeetha Mummoorthigal Vizha
Renowned musician K.J.Yesudass received the 'SKGS Thyagaraja Seva Rathna Award' from Leela Samson, Chairperson - Central Sangeet Natak Akademi, during the 43rd Sangeetha Mummoorthigal Vizha organised by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on 9 March 2014. Other dignitaries on stage are vidwans P.S. Narayanaswamy, Sangita Kalanidhi Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti - President SKGS, Y. Prabhu - Secretary SKGS, and R.Venkateswaran of the sabha.
 
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Aalaap Quiz
Our team (consisting of Naveena, Ramya Nandakumar & Rajalakshmi Sashank) won the First Prize in the Fine Arts Quiz organised by Aalaap on Sunday(2nd March) at 136.1 Yoga Studio, TTK Rd., Chennai. The quiz revolved around classical music, dance, drama & cinema(involving music & dance) & was also webcast live by Parivadhini. The video's also available on YouTube. For further details, you can contact Ms. Akhila of Aalaap on 98410 85692. Incidentally, me(Naveena) & Rajalakshmi are both Mylaporeans. Aalaap Quiz--Photo of winning team
 
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Vyjayantimala honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award
Veteran Bharatanatyam exponent and famous actor Vyjayantimala Bali was conferred the 4th Guru Gandadhar Pradhan Lifetime Achievement Award on the concluding evening of the 29th annual Konark Dance and Music Festival 2014. The award, instituted in memory of late Odissi exponent and guru Gangadhar Pradhan by Konark Natya Mandap, carries a plaque, a citation, a shawl and a cash of one lakh rupees. The memento is a stylised image of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan (founder of the Konark festival). Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb, the King of Puri, presented the award to Vyjayantimala Bali. Ashok Kumar Tripathy, IAS, DG-Training Coordination, also felicitated the eminent awardee. Vyjayantimala spoke in Odia, Hindi and English and floored the crowd of connoisseurs, tourists and local villagers. Odissi Guru Gangadhar Pradhan launched the festival in 1986. Over the years, the Konark festival has gained a unique identity by featuring eminent artists of national and international repute belonging to classical, folk and tribal genres. The enchanting stage of the Natyashala at the Konark Sun Temple, and the natural ambience of cashew and casuarinas trees add a natural touch to the architectural marvel. The festival is held every year from 19th to 23rd February. The award is presented every year to an artist of national and international repute who has played the role of a cultural ambassador for Indian classical and traditional arts. The awardees are chosen not only for their dedication and achievement, but also for their active participation and contribution in propagating and uplifting the art.
 
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Padma Awards Announced
Following is the list of Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awardees in the Performing Arts Category which were announced on the eve of the 65th Republic day by the Government of India. Padma Bhushan Begum Parveen Sultana, Art-Classical Singing, Maharashtra T.H. Vinayakram, Art-Ghatam Artist, Tamil Nadu Padma Shri Mohammad Ali Baig, Art-Theatre, Andhra Pradesh Musafir Ram Bhardwaj, Art-Instrumental Music-Pauna Manjha, Himachal Pradesh Elam Endira Devi, Art-Manipuri Dance, Manipur Vijay Ghate, Art-Instrumental Music-Tabla, Maharashtra Rani Karnaa, Art-Kathak, West Bengal Bansi Kaul, Art-Theatre, Jammu and Kashmir Ustad Moinuddin Khan, Art-Instrumental Music-Sarangi Player, Rajasthan Geeta Mahalik, Art-Odishi Dance, Delhi Prof Kalamandalam Sathyabhama, Art-Mohini Attam, Kerala Shri Anuj (Ramanuj) Sharma, Art-Performing Art. Chhattisgarh
 
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Nrutya-Shraddhanjali
International Dance Alliance and Narada Gana Sabha presented a Nrutya-Shraddhanjali-a tribute to Leela Sekhar by senior artistes was presented in Narada Gana Sabha on February 8, 2014. The tribute included performances by Chitra Visweswaran, the Dhananjayans, the Charis, Padma Subrahmanyam, Lakshmi Vishwanathan and Sudharani Raghupathy. Leela Sekhar, was the founder of the madras chapter of IDA and has lent vocal support to the legendary Balasaraswathi for many years.
 
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Kalamandalam Gopi
101 Kathakali artistes presented a unique display of the ancient classical dance drama on January 15th 2014. The artistes included maestros of the art like Kalamandalam Gopi as well as the 97-year-old Kathakali legend Guru Chemmacheri Kunjiraman. The performance, conducted at the Melpathoor Auditorium in Guruvayoor, commenced at 7pm. The artistes had adorned various costumes including the Kathi (villain) Vesham, Thaadi (bearded) Vesham, etc. The programme commenced with a Guru Chemmancheri Kunjiraman portraying the character of Lord Krishna from the tale 'Santhanagoplan' Thejus Chemmancheri, an upcoming Kathakali artiste, made his debut as well by playing the role of the young and naughty Lord Krishna. Kalamandalam Gopi also enacted the role of Balabhadran from the tale Subadraharana. The third tale that was enacted was 'Rukumi Swayamwara.' The performance concluded with the tale 'Duryodhanavadham.' The tale depicted the way in which Duryodhana and Duhshasana were killed during the course of the Mahabharat. The play also elaborated on certain stanzas of the Bhagvad Gita. The programme also saw the performances of other renowned Kathakali personalities like Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharodi and M.P.S Namboothiri.
 
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Opera meets Carnatic in Chennai
Opera Carnatica, a rare musical confluence of Western opera and Carnatic raga, was performed recently at The Music Academy Featuring Shekinah Shawn Sikkil Gurucharan, the symphony orchestra led by Jerry Fernandes music conducted by Augustine Paul. Shekhinah Shawn performed masterpieces of legendary composers such as Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Mozart, Bizet, Verdi, Rossini, Puccini and Bellin. The evening with a grand ‘Overture’ from Bizet’s Carmen. Shekhinah Shawn continued with ‘L’amour est un oiseau rebelle’, an aria sung by the bold Carmen. This was followed by a soothing rendition of Mayamalavagoula. The violins played equivalents in Carnatic music while the violas gave the western flavour. Gurucharan’s suttum vizhi was a highlight of the evening. Read more on Opera Carnatica http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/tamil/music/Opera-meets-Carnatic-in-Chennai/articleshow/29952269.cms
 

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