V.P. Dhananjayan appointed Dean
Natyacharya V.P. Dhananjayan has been appointed as the Dean of the Performing Arts section of the Chidambaram Annamalai University which offers graduate and post graduate degrees in the performing arts. Shanta Dhananjayan has been appointed faculty member.
Theatre veteran Heisnam Kanhailal passes away
Renowned Manipuri theatre personality Heisnam Kanhailal passed away at Langol Tarung, Imphal, on 6 October 2016, following a brief illness. He was 75.
Heisnam Kanhailal was born at Imphal, Manipur, in 1941. Active in theatre from his school days, he joined the National School of Drama in 1968. He established his own theatre group, Kalakshetra, in Manipur in 1969 and has since been working with a wide cross-section of people, including tribals, to create an awareness of the socio-cultural identity of contemporary Manipur through the medium of theatre. He wrote over fifteen plays and directed more than thirty-five, including his most famous Thamnalai, Imphal 73, and Pebet. He received the Manipur State Kala Akademi award in 1983, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Direction in 1985. He was also awarded the Padma Shri in 2003, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2011 and the Padma Bhushan in 2016.
Felicitations to Rudrapatnam Brothers for 60 years in music
The Rudrapatnam Brothers -- R.N. Thyagarajan and R.N. Tharanathan -- are a senior vocalist duo in Carnatic music. Starting with a chamber concert in Mysore in 1956, the brothers have been giving performances ever since, in India and abroad, enthralling music lovers through the decades.
Their music is known for its aesthetic appeal and purity, and their erudite rendition of compositions. Their vast repertoire has been a hallmark of their career.
Recipients of many awards and graded in the top rank by All India Radio, the brothers were recently nominated to receive the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
Their students have made plans to honour and felicitate them in a programme scheduled for 16 July 2016, at Vyalikaval Ramamamandira, Vyalikaval in Bengaluru. Dignitaries who will felicitate the Rudrapatnam Brothers include N.S. Krishnamurthy, retired Director of All India Radio, and vidwans R.K. Padmanabha and B.K. Chandramouli.
The event will also feature a flute concert by Amith Nadig, accompanied by Mathur Srinidhi (violin), K.U. Jayachandra Rao (mridangam) and Omkar Rao (ghatam).
Father and son honoured for contribution to Tamil theatre
Tamil stage actor-playwright-director, K.S.N. Sundar was conferred the title ‘Nataka Kala Sarathy’ by the Governor of Tamil Nadu, K. Rosaiah, on the occasion of the 116th anniversary of Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, on 14 June at the Sadguru Gnanananda Hall in Chennai. Just a few minutes prior to this, his father ‘Kalanilayam’ K.S. Nagarajan – veteran stage actor and director – was honoured by the Governor, for attaining 100 years and continuing to perform on stage. (He acted in the play Yaar Payyan? penned by K.S.N. Sundar the previous day).
Not many father-son duos have had the privilege of being honoured on the same stage and it was a rare sight for the audience. While the sabha secretary M. Krishnamurthy welcomed the gathering and read out the citations, Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, President of the sabha heaped praise on both the artists for this unique honour. “Perhaps, this is the first time, or the one and only occasion that such an honour is bestowed upon the father and son,” he declared. The federation of city sabhas had performed ‘kanakabishekam’ on the centenarian a fortnight ago and this was the second occasion that the 100-year old was being felicitated in the presence of a large number of rasikas.
Former Solicitor General of India, Mohan Parasaran felicitated the centenarian for his contribution to Tamil theatre. Tiruppur Krishnan, Editor,Amudasurabhi eulogised the role played by the veteran actor in shaping several stage actors like Poornam Viswanathan, ‘Kalanilayam’ Chandru, Karur Rangaraj and a dozen other artists. He mentioned Nagarajan's innovation in presenting the ‘Janavasam’ procession in the auditorium itself when he staged Savi’sWashingtonil Thirumanam. Nagarajan has produced plays of writers like Anuradha Ramanan, Devan, Sujatha, ‘Marina’, Indira Parthasarathy, ‘Deepam’ Na. Parthasarathy. He brought over hundred artists on stage when he presented Na.Pa’s Kurinji Malar. Krishnan congratulated K.S.N. Sundar for staging the ‘Manikodi’ era writer Swaminatha Athreya’s Anubhava Aradhanai, depicting the life of saint Tyagaraja.
In his acceptance speech, K.S.N. Sundar thanked the organisers and all those who had stood by them throughout their journey in Tamil theatre.
Yagnaraman July Fest
Veteran violin vidwan M. Chandrasekaran was honoured with the 'Yagnaraman Living Legend Award' by R.T. Chari, Managing Director of Tag Corporation, on the valedictory day of the Yagnaraman July Fest organised by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in Chennai. The 'Yagnaraman Awards of Excellence' were presented to Carnatic musicians Ramakrishnan Murthy (vocal), V. Sanjeev (violin) and J.B.Sruti Sagar (flute), in the presence of Krishna Gana Sabha office bearers Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti - President, Y. Prabhu - General Secretary, and R. Venkateswaran - Joint Secretary.
Veena Sahasrabuddhe is no more
Celebrated Hindustani classical vocalist Veena Sahasrabuddhe, an exponent of the Gwalior gharana, who had been ailing for a few years, passed away at Pune on Wednesday 29 June.
A Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, Saharabuddhe was 68 and survived by her husband, son and daughter.
Born at Kanpur on 14 September 1948, VeenaSahasrabuddhe started her musical lessons with her father, Shankar Shripad Bodas, a sishya of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.
She later trained with her brother Kashinath Shankar Bodas. Her gurus included Balwantrai Bhatt, Vasant Thakar and Pandit Gajananrao Joshi.
Known for her flawless voice and diction and mastery of raga music, Sahasrabuddhe included the nuances of the Jaipur and Kirana gharanas in her concert singing.
Chitravina Narasimhan anointed Pallavi Chakravarthy
The five-day Pallavi Darbar festival, organised by Carnatica in association with Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha was inaugurated on 29 June 2016 at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai. The festival this year is dedicated to the centenary celebrations of Alathur Brothers. The programme commenced with a listening session of rare pallavis of the duo. Following this was an insightful lecture demonstration by Dr T.S. Sathyavathi on the 'Art of tanam singing'.
It was heart-warming to see a packed hall for an award ceremony. This shows the respect and admiration the students and well wishers have for Chitravina N. Narasimhan, recipient of the Pallavi Chakravarthy title this year. It is indeed a fitting recognition for the Gottuvadyam guru, who also turns 75 next month. Sangita Kalanidhi Umayalpuram K Sivaraman, chief guest for the evening, honoured Narasimhan and presented the award. N. Gopalaswami, (Chairman, Kalakshetra Foundation), Tadepalli Dr. Lokanadha Sarma (musician and scholar), T.K. Ramachandran (IAS, principal secretary, Information Technology Department), were the other guests of honour.
Chitravina Ravikiran had specially composed a kriti for the occasion – Narasimham Upasmahe – in Darbar highlighting his father's achievements. The kriti was ably sung by his students Anahita and Apoorva and supported by baby Akshara (daughter of Kiranavali).
Credit must be given to K.N. Shashikiran for successfully conceptualising and partnering many events like the Pallavi Darbar. This year’s festival has a promising line up for the next four days (30 June to 3 July), which also includes a guided listening session of pallavis from the Carnatica archives, a pallavi competition and a pallavi jam session with young musicians.
Ajit Ashok's mridangam debut
On 29 May 2016, during his mridangam debut, 13-year old Ajit Ashok proved he is a chip off the old block – following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. For the past six years he has been a diligent sishya of his grandfather-guru K.S. Kalidas who has been faithfully propagating the Palani Subramania Pillai bani. Ajit's father Dr. K. Ashok is an A-grade mridangam artist with All India Radio and also plays for music concerts; his mother Radhika is a student of Western classical music and his elder brother Rohit is an up-and-coming mridangist.
As part of the accompanying team of R. Raghul (violin) and B.S. Purushothaman (khanjira) for Carnatic vocalist Brindha Manickavasakan, Ajit displayed his percussion skills with poise and precision. Though his wrist and fingers seemed slender, his mridangam playing was marked by power, punch and clarity. The intelligent choice of compositions for the concert gave the youngster a chance to showcase his skill in handling different talas -- from the impressive start for the Ata tala varnam Nera nammiti in Kanada, followed by Misra Chapu for Sree Mahaganapati (Gaula), Roopakam for Ananda Natesa (Todi), Khanda Chapu for Amma ravamma (Kalyani), and Adi tala forNenarunchinanu (Malavi). Brinda took up Kambhoji for elaboration and sang Muthuswami Dikshitar's grand kriti Sree Subramanyaya namaste (Roopakam 2 kalai/ Tisra Eka tala) . Ajit put up a spirited display with B.S. Purushotham during the tani avartanam, eliciting appreciation from several vidwans in the audience.
The debutant was fortunate to receive the blessings of three Sangita Kalanidhis -- vidwan M. Chandrasekharan, and vidushis Saroja and Lalitha (Bombay Sisters) who were the chief guests. They applauded the lad for his mature approach, as well as for the suddham and melodious stroke-play. His guru K.S. Kalidas, known for his frank and forthright comments, said that this grandson of his had an adventurous streak and revelled in experimenting. Under the watchful eyes and mentorship of his grandfather, this talented youngster should blossom into a full fledged mridangam artist. Or may be transform into an ace creative percussionist experimenting with different genres!
Sruti Award Function
The Sruti Foundation conferred the E KRISHNA IYER MEDAL on Bharatanatyam exponent & guru Indira Rajan and VELLORE GOPALACHARIAR MEMORIAL AWARD on eminent Carnatic vocalist and guru Suguna Varadachari on February 6, 2016 at Chennai.
Radha Viswanathan was conferred the title of "Sangeetha Rathnakara" by the Cleveland Aradhana Committee on 5th Feb 2016 at Chennai.
Remembering Sruti Pattabhi Raman
A grand vocal concert by Pt. Kaivalya Kumar was organised on 7 February 2016 by Sruti Pattabhi Raman's family in association with Hamsadhwani in Chennai. Tributes were paid to the Founder - Editor of Sruti magazine. A Hindustani vocal concert was presented by well known musician Pt. Kaivalya Kumar who was accompanied by Pt. Abjijit Bannerjee (tabla) and Pt. Satish Kolli (harmonium). Vidwan Sriram Parasuram, well versed in Carnatic an Hindustani music, was the guest of honour.
Karnataka Kalashree Award
Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira, Bangalore, received the Karnataka Kalashree Award for lifetime service in the field of arts in the institutional category. The Mandira founded in the year 1955 by the late G. Vedanta Iyengar, has been a premier institution for music in Bangalore in the last five decades.
Navratna Central PSU National Aluminium Company Ltd (Nalco), presented social sector awards for the first time on its 36th annual day celebrations at Bhubaneswar on 7 January 2016. The Nalco Kharavela Award was given to Odissi exponent, Dr. Ileana Citaristi for her significant contributions in promoting Odissi, and to Saswat Ranjan Joshi for his noteworthy achievements in Odissi. The awards were presented in the presence of Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Steel and Mines and Jual Oram, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs.
Seetha Rajan was conferred the title ‘Sivanisai Selvi
Papanasam Sivan Rasikar Sangam in association with Narada Gana Sabha, & sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, celebrated the 125th Jayanthi Mahotsavam of Padma Bhushan Brahmasri Papanasam Sivan. Seetha Rajan was conferred the title ‘Sivanisai Selvi ‘
Kalamandalam Sathyabhama passes away
Kalamandalam V. Sathyabhama, veteran Mohini Attam exponent and guru passed away on 13 September 2015 at Shoranur, Kerala. Born on 4 November 1937 at Shoranur, Kerala, Shrimati Kalamandalam V. Sathyabhama began her training in Mohini Aattam in 1950 at Kerala Kalamandalam She is also trained in Bharatanatyam and Kathakali.
Sathyabhama played a significant role in the revival of Mohini Attam and created several compositions which are now part of the standard Mohini Attam repertoire. Sathyabhama was appointed Principal of Kalamandalam in 1992. She was honoured with the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award in 1976, the Kerala Kalamandalam Award in 1988 and the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1994.
Saregama App Launch
Saregama India unveiled an App on classical music that features 8000+ compositions, 400+ artists and 50 radio stations across Hindustani, Carnatic and fusion music. The guests of honour were maestros Hariprasad Chaurasia, Jasraj, M. Balamuralikrishna, Amjad Ali Khan and Ajay Pohankar. The Saregama Classical app is available for download on Android and iOS devices. It can be downloaded free from Google Play Store and the Apple Store.
Sri Jayanthi Music Festival & Awards
The 6th Sri Jayanthi music festival of Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha concluded on12 September 2015. L. Sabaretnam, Chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai inaugurated the festival and felicitated the awardees.
The title Vani Kala Nipuna was conferred on the Trichur Brothers (vocal), Pakala Ramadas (violin), Tanjavur S. Subramanian (mridangam),Shobha Korambil (Bharatanatyam), and T.S. Ananthi (theatre).
Kalki Krishnamurthy Memorial Award
The Kalki Krishnamurthy Memorial Trust honoured Carnatic musicians J.B. Sruthi Sagar and Anirudh Athreya. Singer and composer Rajkumar Bharathi presented the awards to the musicians.
Lalgudi’s 85th Birth Anniversary celebrations
Lalgudi Music Forum in association with Sri Krishna Gana Sabha celebrated Lalgudi Jayaraman’s 85th birth anniversary on 12 September 2015. A DVD titled 'Lalgudi 80 celebrations' was released by Chitravina N. Narasimhan and received by P.K. Doraiswamy. The DVD contains 'Jaya Vijayee Bhava', a musical and biographical sketch of Lalgudi's musical journey by Vishaka Hari, and excerpts from other events held during the maestro's 80th birthday celebrations.
Swaramurthy Trust awards
The Swaramurthy V.N. Rao Memorial Trust celebrated the birth centenary of Swaramurthy V.N. Rao, along with the “Veeneya Bedagu” Music Festival from 29 July to 2 August 2015 in Bengaluru. Mysore V. Subramanya is the Chairman of the Trust.
Chief guest N. Murali, President of the Music Academy, Chennai, conferred the Veena Seshanna Memorial Award on violin vidwan M. Chandrasekharan and the Swaramurthy V.N. Rao Memorial Award on Carnatic vocalist M.S. Sheela.
Sri Krishna Gana Sabha presents Choodamani Awards
During the 60th Gokulashtami Sangeetha Utsavam held on 1st August 2015,
vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy conferred the title 'Sangeetha Choodamani' on Carnatic musician and teacher Neyveli Santhanagopalan, and the 'Aacharya Choodamani' on Carnatic musician, scholar, and arts administrator S. Rajeswari, as Cleveland V.V. Sundaram, J. Balasubramaniam, Sudharani Raghupathy, Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, Y. Prabhu, R. Venkateswaran and S. Ramasubramaniam look on
Sri Krishna Gana Sabha - Yagnaraman July Fest 2015
Valedictory Function of the Yagnaraman July Fest , Sri G Srinivasan, Chairman & M.D.,The New India Assurance Co.Ltd. conferred the title 'SKGS Yagnaraman Living Legend' on Dr Yamini Krishnamurti and the SKGS Yagnaraman Award of Excellence was awarded to V Anirudh Athreya, Subhashree Ramachandran and Lakshmi Gopalaswamy.
Excellent exposition of Tiruppugazh
Enlightening moments of devotional poetry and music prevailed upon every member in the audience at a unique exposition, Chhanda Tamizh Tandha Kanda-k-Kadavul by Tiruppugazh exponent Valayapettai R. Krishnan accompanied by his wife and senior Carnatic vocalist T.V. Sundaravalli and daughter Bhavya Harisankar. The programme was part of the Panchamurti festival devised by the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram, under the guidance of its Chairman Deva and Member-Secretary Chitra Visweswaran, to a packed auditorium with intent listeners.
“Iraivaa! Edu taa, Adu taa” – “God! Whatever You have decided to give, give that”, sang the saint-poet and composer Arunagirinatha, at the shrine in Nagapattinam, expressing his utter surrender and absolute devotion to his favourite deity Lord Muruga. This was narrated by Tiruppugazh exponent Valaypettai R. Krishnan in the course of his lecture-demonstration. It was one of the many moving narrations by the versatile speaker as he highlighted the content of the Tiruppugazh hymns coated with deep devotion, spirituality, philosophy and the pursuit of salvation by the singing minstrel, Arunagirinatha.
At the outset, the speaker described the literary and poetical genius of the composer, giving importance to the aspect of chhandam – the metrical arrangement adopted by Arunagirinatha to suit his songs addressed to the deity at several holy shrines. Prevalence of the vast expanse of the different tala structures (anga talas), which do not come under the 108 tala system, their rhythmical pattern (using syllables like tana, thaana), the concluding adornment like a pendant in a necklace (tongal - hanging), Chhanda-k-kuzhippu (the winding up of a cluster of chhandams) of every segment, the use of unique phrases and references to epics in the content – were all discussed with exquisite vocal rendition of suitable examples. Other composers like Vannaccharabham Dandapani Swamigal (19th century) and Pamban Swamigal (20thcentury) who followed this mode of composing were highlighted.
Chosing appropriate Tiruppugazh pieces to explain the different aspects of the poetical set up, like the short (kuril), long (nedil), stress (vallinam), soft (mellinam), idaiyinam (middle type) usage of tonal arrangements like the Vedic recitation (at Tiruchirappalli) were all discussed in yet another inspiring episode, accompanied by the soul-filling vocal rendition by the trio including the speaker, making the exposition a very soulful, moving homage to the 650 years old Tiruppugazh compositions and their immortal composer. The speaker mentioned an extensive list prepared by Vannachcharbham Dandapani Swamigal on the different ‘healing qualities ‘ ascribed to each Tiruppugazh
In a lighter vein, Krishnan made pointed reference to the different clusters of word-setup in Tiruppugazh hymns, which are like tongue-twisters, and would surely help to improve the pronunciation of news readers in Tamil TV channels! He added on a warning note that wrong pronunciation and wrong pauses or misuse of the chhandams may cause unholy and unhealthy results. In this context, Krishnan cited a funny episode of how a humble devotee suffering from acute stomach ache, began rendering the Tiruppugazh hymns with mistakes and how Lord Muruga came down and healed his ailment to stop him from continuing his faulty approach towards the compositions of His dear devotee, Arunagiri! This incident has been recorded by Dandapani Swamigal in his work titled Pulavar Puranam which extols several mystic devotees of Lord Muruga. The speaker concluded that if such a devotee could receive the Lord’s grace at once, you can imagine the extent of the bountiful blessings that one with clear diction and deep devotion could get by chanting the Tiruppugazh as well as the shadakshari – Saravanabhava.
T.V. Sundaravalli is an inheritor of the rich musical corpus of Tiruppugazh and the traditional bhajana pathantara of the ashtapadis from her versatile father, musician-scholar T.S. Vasudevan – a profound practitioner of these musical treasures that he inherited from his father, an authority in the sampradaya bhajana paddhati). Sundaravalli’s bhava-laden singing heightened the excellence of the presentation; it was heartening to hear her talented daughter Bhavya sing all the compositions with impeccable pronunciation of the chaste Tamizh lyrics, without looking into the book even once – a rare feat in this tech-savvy music scenario.
E. Gayatri, Vice Chancellor, Tamilnadu University of Performing Arts, presided over the event and honoured Valayapettai R. Krishnan and the group, which was accompanied by talented violinist R.S. Sudha and the vibrant mridangist Sai Sankar.
By: Nandini Ramani
The title of Gurusreshta was conferred on veteran Bharatanatyam exponents and Gurus Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan, by the Peravoor Kalamandir, College of Fine Arts, Kerala, on 29 April 2015 during their annual Nataraja art festival 2015.
Homage to Rajappa Iyer
The entire hall was brimming with glowing tributes to a veteran teacher-performer from the field of percussive arts. The function was filled with deep regard and a sense of sincere reverence to Kumbakonam Rajappa Iyer on his eighth anniversary observed by his son and prime disciple, K.R. Ganesh, senior exponent of mridangam at his centre, Layodaya. This centre has been honouring veterans in the field of Carnatic music annually on this remembrance day. This year, K.S. Kalidas, veteran exponent and a prime student of the legendary Palani Subramania Pillai, and Sendangudi Jayaraman, a prime disciple of stalwart D.K. Jayaraman were honoured with mementos. The awardees dedicated their cash awards back to Layodaya. Both the recipients fondly remembered Rajappa Iyer; also, they shared their own personal musical and emotional experiences over the decades in the field while working with their illustrious masters.
Chief guests, renowned musicians, Bombay Sisters Saroja and Lalitha, offered their felicitations to the awardees as well as to Layodaya for their dedication to their 'Guru parampara'. It was heartening to see so many leading students of Rajappa Iyer participating in the event to offer their homage. The doyen, a renowned performer of mridangam and ghatam, had accompanied stalwarts during his prime career. A respected and renowned teacher par excellence, he had trained almost a thousand students in his lifetime, many of whom have reached the top as percussionists and ghatam players.
Earlier, the function began on an auspicious note with Vedic recitation. After K.R. Ganesh welcomed the audience, a short, vibrant percussive solo in Khanda Chapu tala by one of the leading disciples, Kumbakonam Ramakrishnan accompanied by Madippakkam Murali, gave a bright start to the proceedings. A brief multimedia presentation with tributes by several eminent musicians and clippings of classroom sessions of Rajappa Iyer with some of his senior students was screened.
The highlight of the event was certainly an outstanding display of tremendous skill by two young talents, Subrahmanyam from the US, currently an IITian here and Akshay Anand (from Bengaluru), both of them trained to perfection by K.S. Kalidas, in the “Pazhani" style of mridangam playing. K.S. Kalidas, at first explained the invaluable concept of playing the “Chatusram” (sarvalaghu) in concerts which is no easy task and which has its own intricate, nuanced approach. He further spoke of his training under Palani Subramania Pillai. Kalidas, a mechanical engineer by education and by profession a very senior official (retired) of the Indian Railways, has taken it as a mission to propagate the “Pazhani" school, to the future generation, in order to preserve its excellence for posterity. The two students made their teacher proud with their immense skill, involvement and stunning performances, each one carrying himself with ample confidence and verve. Eminent members of the audience like the Bombay Sisters and all leading students of Rajappa Iyer encouraged them in great appreciation. It was indeed, a fitting tribute to the great teacher Rajappa Iyer. V. Sundararaghavan, senior disciple and board member of Layodaya proposed a vote of thanks.
By: Nandini Ramani
Deepak Mazumdar's 60th birthday
Rupak Mehta, Founder Trustee and Managing Director of Brahmnaad Trust & Academy of Performing Arts, celebrated his guru Deepak Mazumdar's 60th birthday (shashthi-poorti) on 26 April in Mumbai. Deepak Mazumdar, noted Bharatanatyam exponent, guru and scholar has been active in the field for over four decades.
Well known music director Ravindra Jain inaugurated the celebration by lighting the lamp and rendering a poem. Eminent personalities in the field of art were honoured on the special occasion. Deepak Mazumdar's guru Dr. Kanak Rele and star actor-dancer Hema Malini with whom he has collaborated, were conferred the title of Brahma Ratna.
Veterans artists, scholars and writers like Darshana Jhaveri, Dr. Sunil Kothari, Dr. B.M. Sundaram, Ashit Desai, and Dr. Sandhya Purecha were honoured with Brahma Padma. The hero of the evening, Deepak Mazumdar, was presented the Kanak Ratna award.
Talented young dancers Rupak Mehta, Keerthana Ravi, Mugdha Mane and Neha Muthiyan bagged the Kanak Bhushan awards. 'Brahmabodhi', a magazine of art and culture, was released by the galaxy of dignitaries present on stage.
G. Karunambal passes away
G. Karunambal of Sri Rajarajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, Mumbai, passed away on 29 April 2015. She was the daughter of natyacharya T. Kuppiah Pillai, wife of A.T. Govindaraja Pillai, and sister of Gurus T.K. Mahalingam Pillai and Kalyanasundaram Pillai. She and her husband were among the first teachers to travel to Bombay to teach Bharatanatyam. Starting with private tuitions they went on to become part and parcel of the Rajarajeswari school from the day it was founded in 1945. She was the leader of its cultural troupe which performed in 15 cities in America and Canada in 1995, as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Kala Mandir. She served as principal of Sri Rajarajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir for several years and trained over a hundred students including famous dancers like Damayanti Joshi, Kamini Kaushal, Nalini Jayawant, Guru Mani of Kalasadan, Praveena Vashi, Sudha Chandrasekher, Lakshmi Iyer, Jayam and Asha Amarnath.
Sruti's heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved families.
Adyar K. Rama Rao passes away
Adyar K. Rama Rao, veteran vocalist, nattuvangam artist and gottuvadyam player, passed away on 3 May 2015 in Chennai. He was the elder brother of Guru Adyar Lakshman, and an alumnus of Kalakshetra. He served his alma mater for several years and was also associated with Darpana Academy in Ahmedabad. He also provided accompaniment for senior Bharatanatyam exponent Komala Varadan in Delhi. On his return to Chennai he became part of the faculty in Vyjayantimala Bali's dance school and soon became an integral part of his brother Adyar Lakshman's institution Bharata Choodamani. ABHAI – Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India – honoured him with the title of Kala Seva Nidhi Lifetime Commitment Award in 2014.
Dr D Veerendra Heggade Honoured
Dharmadhikari of Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala, Padmavibhushana Dr D Veerendra Heggade was honored by the music & dance organizations and artistes of Dakshina Kannada at his residence in Dharmasthala.
Sri Chandrashekhar Shetty, Sri P Nityananda Rao, Sri Kamalaksha Acharya, Sri Rajesh Bagalodi, Sri Gurush Puttur, Sri Shravan Ullal, Sri Ratnakar, Smt Sharadamani Shekhar, Smt Geetha Saralaya, Smt Sulochana V Bhat, Smt Latha Nagaraj, Smt Bharathi Suresh, Smt Nayana Vitla, Sri Rajesh Bagalodi, Smt and Sri Kumble Sundar Rao and others were present.
NRITHYA SARASWATHI AWARD
Dancer (Padmashri) Geeta Chandran receiving NRITHYA SARASWATHI honour from Honourable Chancellor Dr Madhukar G. Angur of Alliance University, Bangalore.
SKGS Thyagaraja Seva Rathna Award
Dr B K Krishnaraj Vanavarayar Inaugurated the 44th Sangeetha Mummoorthigal Vizha at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha and confered the title 'SKGS Thyagaraja Seva Rathna' Award (Instituted by Sri P.Vijaykumar Reddy & Dr.Preetha Reddy) on 'Padma Vibhushan' Vidwan Dr M Balamuralikrishna.
Dr. Gowri Ramnarayan was conferred the "Nataka Choodamani title by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on April 14, 2015.
Sahrdaya’s arts camp in the hills
The morning of 9th October was an exciting day for a group of dancers and dance students. As participants of the Sahrdaya Performing Arts Camp 2014 we arrived in Mettupalayam to proceed to Riverside Public School in Kotagiri, where the camp was to be held over the next four days. As we all got off the train there were many close friends, known faces and new friends to make among the 32 of us.
The drive up from Mettupalayam to Kotagiri along the winding roads of the Nilgiris, the mist, the gentle rays of the sun and the vast expanse of tea estates seemed to set the serene tone for the next four days.
From the orientation on arrival to the return train journey, it was four full days of learning to dance and studying different aspects of dance, music related to dance, exploring poetry and watching masters of the arts perform and speak to us. The days seemed to fly past us, with every moment a rich learning experience.
Every morning began with a walk. The cold weather made it very hard, but we somehow managed to pull on our sweaters and get out! We would barely have time to come back and change into our dance sarees before walking to the Riverside School campus for the day’s sessions. A sumptuous, hot breakfast would be waiting for us at the dining hall.
We started the morning session on most days at 8.30 with a practical class with Sheejith Krishna. Over the four days we learnt a tillana in Behag, a composition of Papanasam Sivan choreographed by Sheejith. These classes were very interesting. The challenge of learning the tillana within four days made the sessions very intense and required us to be attentive and observe very keenly. In the process, we learnt many principles relating to technique, and how to apply them to dance. We learnt to control the attami and let it flow with the layam, and to move from one mandala to another with no postures in between. We learnt about beauty and observed the process of choreographing.
There was a guest session everyday by Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar, music classes with Jyothishmathi Sheejith, poetry classes with Akhila Ramnarayan, padam sessions with Manjari and nattuvangam and layam sessions with Sheejith Krishna.
Guru Chandrasekhar taught us a keertanam he had choreographed. He told us how important it is to move our bodies in accordance with each sangati. Another important lesson was on the modulation between subtlety and sharpness required to enhance the dance. He got us to feel how subtlety could not be achieved without firmness in the body.
In keeping with the inter-connected approach of the camp, we learnt the kriti that he taught us, in Jyothishmathi’s music classes. During these sessions we were able to see how every musical nuance in the song had a connection to the adavus and the abhinaya.
The poetry sessions initially seemed like a non-dance activity. Little did we realise that understanding poetry is an integral part of learning dance. Over the four days we took the poem A River, by A.K. Ramanujan. Under the guidance of Akhila Ramnarayan, we understood the different interpretations of the poem. The fascinating part of the poetry sessions was to see how modern poetry, classical works and dance can merge. The conversations that emerged from these sessions were truly enriching.
Manjari taught us the padam Tamarasaksha in Yadukulakhamboji. She got us to focus on internalizing the emotions in the padam, understanding the character to be portrayed and then trying to express the emotions. This was a challenge for me personally. I understood that in doing a padam, you must understand the role you are playing, the background to the padam and also to whom you are addressing your feelings. In many ways we realised how poetry and dance seamlessly go together in such majestic compositions.
Sheejith Krishna made us understand that the art of nattuvangam is not about following the adavus on stage. He showed us the beauty in reciting the jatis and konnakol, using the instrument and in creating the jatis.
Apart from these daily sessions we had guest lectures and demonstrations. We had two lectures by Prof. Ashish Khokar on choreography and documenting Indian dance. There was a lecture demonstration on the interconnectedness of dance and music by Anjana Anand and Jyothishmathi. It was very useful and apt for us young students and dancers. Through the demonstration they shared with us historical information relating to both Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam. The presentation mainly focused on three topics – the intertwined histories of music and dance, information about musician dancers and dancer musicians, and musical compositions composed or adapte for dance. Demonstrations and explanations made the topics very accessible. This made us all see the value of learning both and understanding that music and dance have to come together for a programme to be beautiful.
The other lecture demonstration was on Kathakali by Dr. Ettumanoor Kannan. For me this was one of the highlights of the camp. I have watched many Kathakali performances but never really known the different aspects of this art form. The presentation gave us insights into the mudras used, the way pieces are choreographed, the synchronisation between music and dance and the various facial movements, among other things.
In every way, the core members of Sahrdaya Foundation — the director, Sheejith, Jyothishmathi, Manjari, Anjana, Akhila and Prem Keerth — gave us a complete experience in the arts. Whether it was the teachers sharing their inputs in every session or referring to things we learnt in previous sessions or the programmes in the evening, the camp highlighted the connections between the various disciplines.
This camp would not have been possible without the generous hospitality of the staff and students of the Riverside Public School. At every meal time we felt pampered by the staff who very caringly served us delicious food. The whole atmosphere in the school seemed very conducive for a serious art camp. We heard strains of children practising music from different corners and it was amazing to see the students and staff participate in the sessions with the same seriousness as the camp delegates.
When I look back at the four days, I am filled with happy memories of learning, friendships and experiences I will treasure. I am a student of dance who has just decided to pursue dance full time. The camp showed me that in the company of serious dancers and students, there is much unconscious assimilation with regard to style, body posture, ways of warming up, and execution of adavus.
The camp was a great opportunity for me to listen to senior artists and teachers on various subjects. It taught me that when discipline and attention come together, learning takes place. Above all, being in the presence of senior artists was a huge source of inspiration and validation for a student who has embarked on this journey.
I certainly miss the late night practice sessions, conversations over our tea and of course all the fun we had. We can never have enough of such an experience and I am already looking forward to next year’s camp.
(A student of music and dance)
First edition of Girnar festival in Junagadh
For the first time the Girnar festival of classical dance and music was organized this year at the Town Hall in Junagadh, Gujarat by Patel Cultural Foundation, Mumbai. The five-day festival of classical dance, vocal and instrumental music was a fine platform for artists from different parts of the country.
While some performances were excellent, some only partially pleased. On the whole, it was interesting to watch young performers and mature artists participating, for which the credit goes to M.K. Patel of the cultural foundation. Artists who came forward to participate in this maiden venture were Bhimanna Jadhav, Namrata Gupta, Grishma Lele, Nirali Kartik, Rajendra Solanki, Mrinal Upadhyay, Satyender Solanki, Sujata Nair, Rahuldev Mondal, Mayur Vaidya, Monica Shah, Janhavi Behra, Bijal Haria, Shuchismita and Debopriya Chatterjee, Nitin Shirale, Uddhav Rao Appegoankar, Gulzar Husain, Debasish Pattnaik, Prachi Saathi, Salma Ghosh, Leena Malakar. Hridev Ray, Satish Krishnaamurthy, Anuratn Rai, Revathi S. Vipul Trivedi and Rajendra Chaturvedi.
After Bhimanna Jadhav played the sundari, an instrument similar to the shehnai, the audience were treated to Odissi by young talented Namrata Gupta who performed a Hamsadhwani pallavi, followed by Vaishnava janato, choreographed by Namrata’s mentor Daksha Mashruwala. The other Odissi dancer at Girnar was Janhavi whose abhinaya was impressive. Kuchipudi dancer Bijal Haria from Ahmedabad, a talented disciple of Smita Shastri, left a lasting impression with her vivacious performance. Her rendering of the Mandooka Sabdam and the Tarangam won her applause. Mohini Attam was presented by Sujatha.
Many male dancers were featured at the festival – Debasish Pattanaik, Nitin Shirale, Rahuldev Mondal, Mayur Vaidya and Rajendra Chaturvedi. Debasish’s performance stood out for its fine combination of grace and vigour. Rahuldev and his students rendered a lively performance, marked by clarity of movements, and inclusion of akasa charis and karanas to depict the dance of Lord Siva. Nitin, Mayur and Rajendra are competent Kathak dancers with a distinct style.
Music concerts were also part of the fare. Gulzar Husain’s violin and Satyendra Solanki’s santoor concerts were brilliant, winning them applause. Vipul Trivedi’s vocal recital was commendable for his control over the gayaki and raga vistaar of Bagesree. Vocalist Nirali Kartik is blessed with a remarkable voice, and Salma Ghosh’s dhrupad recital was noteworthy for the distinct clarity of raga delineation. Satish Krishnamurthy and troupe won rare praise from the audience for their excellent percussion presentation. On the whole, it was a good mix of entertainment and talent at the first edition of the Girnar festival. Enthused by the success of the event, the organisers are planning to host the second festival early next year.
A devout offering
Known for picturesque descriptions steeped in devotion and sparkling jatis, Oothukadu Venkatakavi’s compositions have rarely failed to draw admiration. Be it the scholarly Swagatam Krishna, the romantic Alai payude, or the argumentative Maadu meikkum kanne, Venkatakavi expressed his devotion to Lord Krishna in various forms, but the fact remains that we have been listening to the same few kritis again and again without taking the trouble to look for more.
Hoping to bring to light more kritis of Venkatakavi, Nadha Yagnam School of Fine Arts, Coimbatore, recently organised Oothukadu Venkatakavi’s jayanti at Vidya Bharathi Hall, Saradalayam. In spite of continual rain, the programme, featuring vocal, instrumental and dance performances based on Venkatakavi’s kritis, drew a good response. Teachers Vijeya Jeya, Radha Satyanarayana and others had put in extra effort to learn and teach new kritis to their students — Bhajaswa SreeTripura Sundari (Nadanamakriya), Yoga Yogeswari (Anandabhairavi), Veekshitoham (Kedaragaula - Anjaneya Pancharatnam), Sankari Sree (Madhyamavati), Arulaalan (Sankarabharanam), Agama Rajagopala (Kedaram), Raghu Kulottama (Nagaswaravali), Pacchai ilantalir meni (Sama).
The senior and junior students of Nadha Yagnam also sang many kritis.
Well-known dance schools of Coimbatore — Bharathalayam Bharathanatyappalli, Aradhana School of Dance, Sree Natya Niketan, Jainrutha Dance School, Sri Sankara Natyalaya, Sri Karthikeya Natyappalli and Sri Thyagaraja Nritya Kala Mandir — participated enthusiastically, showcasing popular as well as rare kritis of Venkatakavi. Jayanthi Ramachandra of Sree Charan Academy of Fine Arts choreographed and presented Madhava hridi kelini in Kalyani.
Violinists Palakkad Sivarama Krishnan, Sriranjani Ramkumar, S. Anand and Rajendran, flautist C.N. Thyagaraju and percussionists Vadasithur Ramachandran, Pozhakkudi G.R. Naveen, Srikanth, Palakkad R. Venkatesh, Manikantan, Ramkumar, Chennanur Kuppuraj and Muruganandam supported many vocalists and instrumentalists.
The festival started with a nagaswaram recital by Pazhani M. Sakthivel. Vanitha Mohan, Managing Trustee, Siruthuli, presided over the inaugural function. Senior vidwan K. Sivaramakrishnan presided over the three-day festival. On the final day, senior vidwans Kadayanallur Narayanan (mridangam), Chinnari Balu (flute), Pazhani Sakthivel (nagaswaram), K. Sivaramakrishnan (vocal), S.R. Krishnamurthy (vocal) and Vasantha Aravindan (Bharatanatyam) were honoured (see photo).
C.B. Neelakandan, director Nadha Yagnam School of Fine Arts, coordinated the three-day festival.
(A freelance music and dance critic)
Classical music returns to Assam
In an otherwise vibrant cultural scenario, Hindustani classical music has visibly (and audibly) gone into decline in Assam. This is a great pity, for at one time this was a flourishing art form in these valleys, and many recollect the All Assam Music Conferences with nostalgia and pride. There was a time when there were three consecutive allnight performances, but now you are hard pressed to find even a single evening’s show of the genre in the city. This is all the more surprising because other categories of the performing arts – even traditional music and dance – flourish here. There are of course, several reasons for this, of which the insurgency related unrest is but one. Who, in this troubled region would risk organising an evening’s programme, when a chance bomb blast or bandh call could result in cancelling the programme at the last moment?
It was therefore a welcome development when the North East Centre of the Sangeet Natak Akademi organised Surangan – a festival of music, on 11th and 12th October at the SNA NEC Hall. The six artists featured in the festival are all well known, and committed to keeping the flame alive in this strife torn land.
After the formal inauguration by renowned artist Prabhat Sarma, violinist Bidyut Misra opened the programme with four compositions in raga Bilakshana. The two percussionists who accompanied him on the tabla, Sudip Sarkar and Tirthendu Bhattacharjee, added energy to the concert. His was a mature, balanced performance, showing mastery over his medium. Jayaprakash Medhi’s vocal recital with Pankaj Sarma (harmonium) and Nitul Krishna Goswami (tabla) was followed by a sitar concert by Nabin Rajkonwor. His Keeravani reflected the trademark sweetness of his guru Monilal Nag’s playing. He concluded with a dhun, ably accompanied on the tabla by Subrata Chakravarty.
The second evening began with a mellifluous exposition of raga Bhoopali by flautist Deepak Sarma. His comprehensive and nuanced demonstration of the pentatonic raga impressed the listeners, who frequently broke into spontaneous applause. He was ably accompanied on the tabla by Dhriti Gobinda Dutta. This was followed by a vocal recital by Jiten Basumatari, known for his beautiful renditions of bhajans. He has a full bodied voice honed to a mellowness that appeals to listeners. His tabla accompanist was Dibyajyoti Sangmai, who gave sensitive support, as did Bhupen Nath on the harmonium.
The festival concluded with a sarod concert by Tarun Kalita who played Jhinjhoti in Jhaptaal and Teentaal. Though marked by vigorous stroke play, the rendering was pleasingly melodious. After a few more compositions, he ended with Omor aponar dex, in which the audience joined in. He was ably accompanied on the tabla by Debashish Bhattacharya.
During the festival, it was encouraging to see the hall overflowing with connoisseurs of music and musicians. It was heartening also to note that the audience had a sizeable section of youngsters and children. This augurs well for Hindustani classical music in the region, and we hope the Sangeet Natak Akademi will organise such festivals from time to time.