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
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.
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.
Begum Parveen Sultana, Art-Classical Singing, Maharashtra
T.H. Vinayakram, Art-Ghatam Artist, Tamil Nadu
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
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.
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.
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
Royston Abel’s “The Kitchen” to open 6th International Theater Festival of Kerala
The 6th edition of ITFOK beginning on 27th Jan at KSNA’s Actor Murali Outdoor Theatre opens with The Kitchen, a play exploring intimate relationship between “food and spirituality”. The play emplys mizhavus, one of the oldest percussion instruments which is an integral part of the performing temple arts of Kerala such as Koothu, Koottiyattam, and Nangiar Koothu.
As Roysten Abel, director of The Kitchen himself puts it, “Food is not just nourishment for the body but also for the soul, and the act of cooking a meal is ritualistic”. The play explores the relationship between a married couple which is “spiritually cleansed” in the process of preparing paal payasam. The performance of the ritual is followed carefully right from the boiling of the milk to the final dish distributed amongst the audience. The director has used twelve mizhavu players playing their instruments in a large pot shaped vessel which is the intrument itself. Abel claims to have stumbled upon the idea for The Kitchen, originaly titled The Soul Kitchen, four years ago upon his visit to Jalaluddin Rumi’s tomb in Konya (Turkey). In Rumi’s kitchen, he “saw a raised platform, which was the area in which Mewlana Rumi sat with his followers to meditate and pray. Below this raised area, on the right were two large vessels in which the food was cooked for all the people in the hall.” Tomorrow’s performance of The Kitchen stars two renowned actors Dilip Shankar and Mandakini. The set by Neeraj Sahai is a spectacular element of this production that promises to be a treat for the audience not only in terms of great performances but also a soul searching experience.
Abel, a graduate of National School of Drama in 1994 and then an apprentice with The Royal Shakespeare Company, England, founded his Indian Shakespeare Theatre Company and has extensively worked with street performers such as magicians, jugglers, impersonators, snake charmers, acrobats, musicians and puppeteers. Abel’s previous production Manganiar Seduction premiered first in Delhi in 2006. Manganiars are a nomadic Sufi Mislim tribe from North-West India who incorporate Hindu deities in their devotional songs. The play visualises a union between Manganiar’s music and the visual of Amsterdam’s red light areas. The set had forty three musicians setaed in a spectacular array of red curtained cubicals, one on top of the other. Abel reverses the norm of writing music for theatre to the use of theatre to create magic in music.
He also has to his credit the much acclaimed production Othello: A Play in Black and White (1999). The play places Shakespeare’s Othello in a company of Indian actors doing Shakespeare’s theatre in England. The milieu of the actors beind an affluent one is disturbed when a Kathakali trained actor is given the lead role of Othello. The lines of the actors and the characters intersect to create various sparks of theatricality. Roy’s more recent play Old Town is set in fictional Marchaland and revolves around the town’s two-thousand-year-old carnival. In Abel’s own words, the play is about a “performer who accumulates lots of emotions up to the point where the system gets clogged. When that happens, there is usually a journey to come back to one’s sane self.”
S Rajam Award
To commemorate the 95th birthday of artist-musician S. Rajam, Sunaada Trust & Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan presented S Rajam Award of Excellence to Abhishek Raghuram on February 11, 2014. Sangita Kala Acharya P S Narayanaswamy was the guest of Honour. The programme was followed by a vocal concert by Abhishek Raghuram accompanied by Akkarai Subhalakshmi, Trivandrum V Balaji and K V Gopalakrishnan.
Kalaimamani G. Harishankar’s Remembrance Day
Kalaimamani G. Harishankar’s Remembrance Day was celebrated on February 11th at Raga Sudha Hall, Chennai. Vidwan Guruvayur Dorai, Vidwan Neively Sri R santhanagopalan were the guests of Honour and Kalaimamani G harishankar memorial Award was presented to Senior mridangam Vidwan Srirangarajapuram Jayaraman (First disciple of Kumbhakonam rajappa iyar). An Audio Visual presentation on G.Harishankar was presented and the programme concluded with a Vocal Concert by Neyveli Sri R. Santhanagopalan accompanied by Sri M.R. Gopinath on the Violin Sri. Guruvayur Dorai and Sri P.K. Babu on the Mridangams, Sri Anirudh Athreya on the Kanjira
“Visesha Kala Poshakam Utsav” & “MBU”
The “Mylapore Trio” of Sri Sumukhi Rajasekharan Memorial Foundation conducted its 8th Year “Visesha Kala Poshakam Utsav” - International Art Festival for Dance, in Mylapore. It was a 7 day Festival from 20th to 26th January 2014, (Evenings) at Narada Gana Sabha (Mini Hall), Chennai. Artists across India gave dazzling performances all through the week. As The “Mylapore Trio” felt the need to expose the talents of many unsung heroes outside Chennai, there was a confluence of various dance forms of India viz., Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam & Vilasini Natyam all under one roof – a posse of colourful flowers and bouquets. Smt. Saranya Srivatsan was the Guest of Honour. She applauded the earnest efforts of the “Mylapore Trio” in promoting culture across India and Abroad and wished the Utsav a grand success. Incidentally she is the niece of Late Smt. Sumukhi, in whose name the Foundation is established.
On the inaugural day, the first performance was by Chinmaya Hegde from Mysore who gave a vibrant Bharatanatyam performance. This was followed by an energetic Kuchipudi performance by Anupama Bhushan from Banglore.
Second day of the Utsav triggered with an Odissi performance by Ajay Shendge from Aurangabad, which was subtle and expressive. Next was Ipshita Rajesh from Mumbai, presented a Solo Thematic Ramayanam with multi-lingual verses and dialogues, which won accolade.
Third day of the Festival started with a subtle Mohiniyattam performance by Rekha Raju from Banglore, was soothing with the graceful and gentle movements with a brilliant live Orcheastration. This was followed by a vibrant Kathak by Nitin Shirale from Aurangabad, whose performance was excellent with the exciting footwork and movements of Kathak. Who also presented the repertoire in traditional & modern method of dressing.
Fourth day of the Festival started with a multi lingual soul stirring Carnatic vocal concert by Shashank from Banglore. This was followed by a vibrant and pulsating Mohiniyattam demonstrating Lasya (female) genre and an effervescent Bharathanatyam performance representing Tandava (male) genre by Sugathan Mohandass - a rare performance of two dance styles by male artist. Next was a vivacious Bharatanatyam recital by Divya Ravi from Banglore showcased an enthusiastic performance. Her selection of items was brilliant and received a great applause from the audience.
Fifth day started with a Mohiniyattam repertoire by Akhila Krishnan from Kerala, was fantastic with the special swaying movements of the art form and was distinct. This was followed by a Vilasini Natyam by Poojita Krishna Jyoti from Secundrabad, was graceful and excellent with Nritta pieces. Her Padham was unusual, by sitting on floor and expressing. She is one of the very few artists who perform Vilasini Natyam in India. It is a very rare and different dance style which is not promoted much. We are happy to have given her an opening to expose this art form in Chennai. It was indeed a rare opportunity to watch such a distinct dance, which is being revived of late.
Sixth day started with an Odissi performance by Sonali Mishra from USA, was graceful in Abhinaya with delicate movements. This was followed by a Kuchipudi performance by Sree Veena Mani from New Delhi, which was energetic with a Tharangam piece too.
On the final day of the Festival, Gauri Swakul from Pune presented a vibrant and neat Kathak performance. This was followed by a Bharatanatyam performance by Uma Govind from Kerala, which was fascinating, enthralling.
The “Mylapore Trio” provided a free platform for all the artists and opened up new avenues for them, by giving a golden opportunity for their maiden performance in Chennai. There were totally fourteen gems like performers from USA, New Delhi, Bombay, Pune, Bangalore, Mysore, Secundrabad, Kerala etc. The weeklong Utsav was a spiritual journey visiting all the holy places, worshipping great Gods like “Padmanabha, Panduranga, Meenakshi, Jaganath, Rama, Krishna, Shiva through the Keerthanams, Javalis, Padams, Varnams, Thillanas by the Damsels. The Trio emphasized the importance of Spirituality & Bakthi through these Art Forms & at the same time stressed the need to promote Cultural History. Indeed it was a spectacular treat to the eyes, ears and soul of the Rasikas. Altogether it was a “Bhaarata Natya Utsav”. On this occasion 300 Children from kids to teens, who participated in 16 competitions based on the theme ‘Mylapore Mahatmiyam’ under three categories viz., Performing Arts, Fine Arts, Academic Arts in the 12th Year “Marghazhi Bala Utsavam” received their Prizes, Medals, Certificates and Special Prizes from the seasoned Performers on all these 7 days. These children were trained to be the young Rasikas to witness these spectacular dances, which was a feast to all the young minds.
Pictures of Melody
Pictures of Melody, a publishing initiative of researcher and writer Lakshmi Devnath, is happy to announce the launch of the Tamil edition of the pictorial story of the music legend--MS Subbulakshmi.
The story of MS amma that stresses on simplicity, devotion and generosity is as inspiring as her music. To reach this story out to a wider audience in Tamil Nadu, Lakshmi has now launched a Tamil edition. The translation has been done by Padma Narayanan, well-known writer and translator in the Tamil literary circles and the book is edited by the reputed Mr Charukesi S. Viswanathan.
The book is priced at a modest Rs 72/-.
Pictures of Melody is a not-for-profit venture launched by Lakshmi Devnath with a view to familiarising the young with the stories and contributions of Carnatic music legends. The pictorial format makes for a very light and enjoyable read. The research is impeccable and has been testified to by the family members/sishyas of the legend in focus. The book on MS has been endorsed by her daughter and sishya, Radha Viswanathan.
Kalaimamani Smt. D Pattammal's Family Launches Audio CD of 'Arul Keerthanaigal'
KALAIMAMANI SMT. D PATTAMMAL’S FAMILY LAUNCHES AUDIO CD OF ‘ARUL KEERTHANAIGAL’
Compositions of Smt. D Pattammal on the Sri Ramakrishna Trinity sung by Sushma Somasekaran and Adithya Prakash
Chennai, January 22, 2014: The family of Kalaimamani Smt. D. Pattammal today launched the audio CD of ‘Arul Keerthanaigal’ songs on Sri Ramakrishna Trinity. This was unveiled by Pujya Sri Rama Prana Mataji in the presence of Swami Padmasthananadaji, Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, T Nagar, Chennai and Sri N V Subramaniam of Saraswathi Vaggeyakara Trust.
The first copy was released by Mataji and received by Swami Padmasthandaji and Sri N V Subramaniam at a launch event held at Infosys Hall, Ramakrishna Mission School, T Nagar, Chennai. The music cd will be available across India in select Ramakrishna outlets and at Thejus, Chennai for free distribution with a booklet containing the text of these songs transliterated in English and Hindi.
Commenting on the CD launch, Shri D Chandrasekar, son of Smt. D Pattammal said, “We are happy and profoundly privileged to present one of the earliest compositions of our mother “Arul Keerthanaigal” songs on Sri Ramakrishna Trinity. She got her initiation from Pravarajika Bharati Prana, who was a direct disciple and a personal attendant of Sri Sarada Devi”.
He added, “On behalf of DP’s family, I take this opportunity to thank one and all for the overwhelming response and innumerable support extended to our family. We would like to bring more of such collections in the near future as her compositions kept many people poised and brought inner harmony”.
Kalaimamani Smt. D. Pattammal was a musician, musicologist and vaggeyakara. She has composed over 650 songs in Tamil and her compilation of over 5000 ragas is classified in Ragapravaham. She won many prizes in the competitions which includes two gold medals from Music Academy and the Silver shield from Indian Fine Arts in the 1950s. She was awarded the title “Kalaimamani” in 1994 by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
These collections would be used by the devotees of Ramakrishna Mission across the Globe. For more information, please visit www.dpattammal.com.
At the book release function of ‘Music, Dance, Cinema – A Flashback and Progress’, written by Lakshmi Sundaram. The author is with Sudha Ragunathan, N. Murali, and G. Sundaram.
BALA VIDHWAN BHAVANI - Sumukhi Foundation
Sri Sumukhi Rajasekharan Memorial Foundation conducted the 12th Year “BALA VIDHWAN BHAVANI” on Wednesday, 1st January, 2014 from 6.00am to 8.00am. Children and Elders including the Members of the Foundation, dressed up in South Indian Traditional Attire, participated in large numbers by enthusiastically singing Bhajans, Thirupaavai, Thiruvempaavai & Namavalis. Young girls also performed Kolattam & Kummi around the Four Mada Streets of Kapali Temple. Then all of us had a darshan of the golden Utsava murthis of Lord Kapaleeswarar and Goddess Karpagambal. Venpongal and Kesari were distributed to one and all at the end.
According to the “Mylapore Trio”, “Margazhi Procession with Bhakthi & Chillness, was a unique and a divine experience for the younger generation. We not only follow the “Foot steps” of the Musical Legends, but also retraced their “Path” on the four mada streets of Mylapore in order to perpetuate their memory..... a thrilling & chilling experience ”. Some of the senior citizens & parents felt that it was a good attempt to start the New Year with an auspicious beginning, by perpetuating the age-old tradition, involving the children. Apart from the Foundation Children & Parents, children from local Music & Dance schools along with the general public participated with enthusiasm. Few kids were dressed up as Aandal, Radha Krishna, Mylapore mami, seeing this many elders & devotees out of sheer bhakti circumambulated and prostrated before the children….. a very touching moment indeed…
The Mylapore Trio said that it was the Twelfth consecutive year that this spiritual walk is being organized… which is definitely creating an awareness among the public, especially a divine impact in the minds of the children. Their parents too are very enthusiastic to bring their wards early morning to feel the divine bliss.
Bhakthi Sorppozhivu - Sumukhi Foundation
To Celebrate the holy month of Margazhi, The Mylapore Trio of Sri Sumukhi Rajasekharan Memorial Foundation conceptualized and organized a “Bhakthi Sorppozhivu” as a Chamber Concert at the Foundation Premises recently. Smt. Karpagalakshmi, Shri. Arvind kumar talked on Saivam and Vainavam respectively. Children - Geetika rendered Thirupaavai, Mahesh sang Thiruvempaavai and Sree Rudra performed Harikathai on the life history of Andal. The place was aptly and tastefully decorated, which provided a spiritual ambience to the discourse. Later a sumptuous feast followed which consisted of traditional margazhi menu - Puliodharai, Sarkarai Pongal, Thathyonam, etc. “Sevikku alitha Vunavu pinbu Vayitrirkum Eeyappattadhu”. It was also a get together of the participants of the “Marghazhi Mangai” contest conducted last year by the Mylapore Trio. The evening was very memorable, filled with divinity and sublime thoughts.
UDDAVA GITA - Dvd Release
Bharatanatyam DVD titled UDDAVA GITA - Lord Krishna's last message, with dance performance and choreography by Bala Devi Chandrasekhar was released in Chennai. First copy released by L. Sabaretnam, Chairman Kartik Fine Arts, was received by Hon’ble Justice Chitra Venkataraman, Madras High Court.
Uddhava, the pure hearted and Vishnu's devotee feared from being separated from Lord Vishnu, but he was liberated from such fear. The ardent devotion makes a person achieve oneness which is the ultimate reality. The Gita sung by Uddhava thus became the example for crossing the three worlds.
Price: Rs. 900 available at Kalakendra.com
Srimathi Narmatha Ravichandhira
Narmatha Ravichandhira - Recipient of Award for recognising excellence in "Performing Arts and Education" Multicultural Service Excellence, presented by the Premier of Victoria at the Govt House on 4 Dec 2013
Srimathi Narmatha Ravichandhira is chosen this year for recognising excellence in "Performing Arts and Education" and received the award from the Victorian Premier as one of 12 people to receive awards for service delivery to multicultural Victoria. Narmatha is a highly respected teacher, performer, choreographer, composer, adviser of Indian fine arts, and collaborator in Indian and inter cultural arts as one who has received recognition for her unique contribution to the development of vocal, violin and Bharatha Natyam to a wider community particularly in Australia, NZ, UK and France. In August of this year, Narmatha’s traditional bharathanatyam students participated in the 2013 Victorian State School spectacular to a packed audience at the Hisence Arena. This event was televised on Channel 7 in October.
Narmatha received her initial training from her father and renowned vocalist, Sri Ayyakkannu Desigar and continued her studies in both vocal and violin under Padma Bushan Lalgudi G Jayaraman. Her initial training in Bharatha Natyam was from Sri Erambu Subbiah and his daughter Srimathi Shanthini Sivanesan of Sri Lanka. Narmatha was also trained by Srimathi Leelambigai Selvarajah (one of the earliest teachers to have trained at Kalakshetra) at Manipay Ladies College. During this period, she won a dance scholarship from the government of Sri Lanka. Her tertiary qualifications include a Masters in Vocal Music from the University of Madras, and post graduate training in Bharatha Natyam under Padmashree Adyar K Lakshman.
Narmatha was the first to be awarded the Teacher’s Certification by the North Ceylon Oriental Music Society in Indian classical Vocal, Violin, Bharatha Natyam and Kathakali. She has also received a number of awards from the Government of Sri Lanka, a graded artiste of the All India TV and has performed on Doordarshan Television in India.
After migrating to Australia in 1992, Narmatha established Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani's Sruthi Laya Kendra school of Indian Classical Music in Australia and Guru Adayar K Lakshman's Bharatha Choodamani School of Indian Dance (Aust). She has successfully reached beyond the Indian community to coach several students from their inception to presenting a full-length debut recitals. She has also presented some of her students at international dance festivals in India, including the prestigious Chennai Music and Dance Festivals and in Sydney.
Narmatha has performed at prominent venues in Sri Lanka, India, the UK, France, New Zealand and Australia, including the Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne Concert Hall, Victoria's Immigration Museum and the music departments of Monash University and the University of Tasmania. She was the first artiste to headline and perform at events including the International Women’s Festival and the UNESCO World Conference in France and at the Victorian Arts Centre and becoming known for incorporating different cultures into one performance. Narmatha provided sound-scape broadcast of Indian classical music in Sydney's Olympic Village during the Olympic Games and on bridge that connects Federation Square to the MCG in Melbourne.
Narmatha has also conducted master classes for a number of professional western classical violinists, vocalists and jazz musicians from Australia and New Zealand. In 2007, she was recognised by the Australia Council for the Arts as a creator of new works in Indian classical music and dance. She has continued to compose new music and tuned new compositions for her own dance creations and staged successful premiere productions in Australia, including those at dance debut recitals and in 'Salangai in Sangamam' in Melbourne. Narmatha consistently involves students of appropriate competences under her direct supervision in charitable performances for World Vision, Oxfam, Lions Club, JET Foundation, Parliament of World Religions, places of worship and senior citizen groups.
Narmatha has been formally acknowledged in the Parliament of Victoria for her contribution to the arts by the Victorian Government. Further, the Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development and the Minister for Women’s Affairs who was the guest speaker at a TYME ( talented young musicians ensemble) concert, addressed the audience and applauded Srimathi Narmatha and her husband Ravi M Ravichandhira OAM, for their commitment in developing a powerful fine arts infrastructure.
Narmatha holds a BA (Hons) in Economics from the Jaffna University, Sri Lanka and MA (Hons) in Economics from the University of Madurai, India; and MA in Music from University of Madras.
Srjan festival of classical music and dance
Stalwarts in the field of Odissi music and dance are honoured every year by Ratikant Mohapatra – son of Odissi guru Kelucharan Mohapatra – on the concluding night of a five-day festival of dance and music. Well known dancers and musicians were invited to perform in the 19th Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival organised by Srjan from 5-9 September 2013 at the Ravindra Natya Mandap in Bhubaneswar. This year the festival was dedicated to the memory of the famous vocalist and composer Raghunath Panigrahi (see Sruti 349). Seasoned musician Ghanshyam Panda and Odissi guru Shankar Behra were each honoured with a purse of 50,000 rupees.
Of the dancers on the opening night, Bijoyini Satpathy from Nrityagram presented a delectable fare of Odissi. She presented Parvatipanchaka followed by a pallavi in Ritubasant composed by Raghunath Panigrahi, an Odiya song Manasija manamohana and Sivashtakam. In Manasija manamohana, the poetic concepts came alive with exquisite Odiya poetry and music. In the Sivashtakam, choreographed by Surupa Sen, the dance of Siva seemed to acquire an extra dimension in terms of kinetics, as presented by Bijoyini. Lighting by Lynne Fernandez enhanced the visual appeal.
It was followed by Nayan Ghosh on tabla who regaled the audience with his expertise in presenting a series of bols of various gharanas, with rhythmic prowess. He was accompanied by Hiranmay Mitra on the harmonium.
Next day Deepak Maharaj (Birju Maharaj’s youngest son) took to the stage and displayed his taiyyari in Kathak. That he is well versed in the Lucknow gharana was obvious with his unleashing of pure dance numbers in Teen tala, todas, tukdas, parans, uthans, and tatkar. While the whirling movement of the wrists was amazing, he could have eschewed facial distortions and strained eyebrow movements executed as he achieved the ‘sam’. He sang a melodious thumri and performed abhinaya with restraint.
Hindustani vocalist Ulhas Kasalkar was in his element when he rendered Behag in Teen tala followed by a tarana. The bandish Kaisi bijali chamak rahi hai in Kafi won him warm response from connoisseurs.
On 7th evening, the audience enjoyed flautist Ronu Majumdar’s creative orchestrations with his colleagues Ramdas Palsule (tabla), Mukul Dongrey (drum) and Atul Raninga (keyboard). He played Hamsadhwani followed by Jaysutra, a combination of traditional and Western musical patterns. The orchestration of raga Janasammohini and Kalavati was noteworthy.
The implicit grace of the peacock was suggestively woven into the Mayura alarippu by Bharatanatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan. Her Swati Tirunal ragamalika Pannagendra sayana with emphasis on the ashtanayika, had imaginative postures of Padmanabha on the serpent couch. The text was interpreted with finesse on two levels – physical and metaphysical. The transition from one to the other, with excellent rendering of ragas was a delight. She concluded her recital with Jivah Sivah Sivo from Skanda Purana treating the number like Moksha in Odissi. The musicians gave her excellent support.
Purbayan Chatterjee, the noted sitar player charmed the audience with his command over the instrument. The jugalbandi with his tabla accompanist Anubrata Chatterjee won them rounds of applause, though at times Purbayan got carried away and sang the composition – this seems to be a trend amongs instrumentalists now.
The grand finale on the last day was Ratikant Mohapatra’s Gitamritam, a group choreographic work, based on the Bhagavad Gita. Sanskrit scholar Nityananda Mishra had written the libretto, using familiar slokas from the Gita, and this was enjoyed by the audience. The chain of events portraying Arjuna’s disheartened state on seeing his relatives on the war front, Krishna’s message Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati Bharata, revealing his Viswaroopa, and goading Arjuna to do his duty Karmanyeva adhikaraste, were woven in classical Odissi technique to the music composed by Raghunath Panigrahi and Bhubaneswar Mishra, with inputs from Satyabrata Katha.
In the presentation, Ratikant moved a step further from his father-guru Kelucharan Mohapatra by dispensing with male costumes for characters like Krishna, Arjuna and the warriors. There was therefore more sophistication and uniformity in the overall presentation.
In terms of choreography, Ratikant’s choreography was imaginative with war scenes created as a backdrop with dancers on a higher level than where Krishna and Arjuna were standing. The Viswaroopa sequence had fire, rivers and oceans, mountains and clouds, animals and nature, presented in dance by other dancers, as Krishna remained in on one spot. It would have had a better impact if the petite Krishna, portrayed by Rajashree, with Arjuna kneeling before him, had been placed on a higher level to create an illusion of a larger than life Krishna. Jaydev’s lighting was effective, as it created illusions and the impact of war. It was well supplemented by the music. The momentous situation of Arjuna in the battlefield was symbolically presented to suggest man’s own tryst with life and destiny. The well trained dancers performed well as a team, highlighting the quintessence of the Odissi dance form for group composition. The coordination in all aspects of this major dance production was almost flawless.
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Dhwani-BKF Music Festival 2013
What health is to body and mind, music is to the mind and soul; it can enrich our lives. Tuned to this thought, the Bangalore Kidney Foundation (BKF) launched Dhwani-BKF Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur Hindustani Music festival some years ago. The dialysis centre at the Rangadore Memorial Hospital (an initiative of BKF and Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham Charitable Trust) is one of the largest dialysis centres and caters mostly to poor patients. It offers its services free of cost or at subsidised rates.
The story behind the Dhwani-BKF Music Festival is an interesting one. When the famous Jaipur-Atrauli musician, Mallikarjun Mansur was brought to BKF’s Dialysis Centre with complaints of renal dysfunction, he was immediately put on dialysis and given treatment. He was so impressed with the treatment, the affection and attitude of the hospital staff, that against all medical advice he decided to present a concert and donate the proceeds to BKF as a gesture of goodwill. Later, in spite of their best efforts, it was not possible to save the maestro. The BKF has been paying homage to this kindhearted musician every year by organising the Dhwani-BKF music festival in his memory.
Over the years, the BKF festival has featured famous musicians like Shivkumar Sharma, Kishori Amonkar, Ashwini Bhide, Shubha Mudgal, Viswa Mohan Bhatt, Dhondutai Kulkarni, N. Rajam, Ulhas Kashalkar, and Malini Rajurkar.
The Dhwani-BKF music festival 2013 was held at the JSS Auditorium in Jayanagar, Bengaluru on 21st and 22nd September and featured artists like Aarti Anklekar, Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, and Viswa mohan Bhatt. Dr. Ashwini Bhide also received the prestigious Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur Award for the year 2013.
Aarti Anklekar performed on the opening evening with Ravindra Yavagal (tabla) and Ravindra Katoti (harmonium). Her training under Vasantrao Kulkarni of the Agra and Gwalior gharanas, Kishori Amonkar of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, and from Dinakar Kaikini were reflected in her music. She started the evening with raga Lalit-Gauri, a raga often rendered by Mallikarjun Mansur. Aarti handled the sancharas beautifully and her open and steady voice brought out the melody with clarity. The flow of fast taans, with flashes of both the madhyama swaras, was truly melodic. Yavagal, with his excellent rhythm, and Katoti with his mellifluous support complemented the vocal presentation. Aarti also presented ragas Durga, Hemant and a tarana. The jhoola in Misra Yaman, Aao sab sakhiyan was enjoyable. She concluded the concert with raga Bhairavi, a tappa and a bandish set to Teen tala. Mention must be made of her disciple Meghna Kulkarni who gave admirable support all along.
On the morning of 22nd September, Ashwini Bhide gave an unforgettable performance of morning ragas. She explored the serene beauty of Lalit and steadily built it up with a vilambit, then Jagiye Nandalala in madhya laya, and a drut Ab to jago Kanhaiya – her own compositions. The speciality of her music is that it has so much bhava – as she sang, you could experience mother Yasoda’s deep love for Krishna. Ashwini’s voice traversed the three octaves with ease and the effect was stunning as she touched the tara sthayi panchama. The elaborate rendering of Lalit was a treat on a beautiful morning. She sang Deshkar, then Jonpuri – soft and soothing in the madhya laya bandish and brilliant in the drut taans. Ashwini concluded her recital with raga Suddha Sarang. In the vilambit, set to Roopak tala, the alap was pure, her sanchar in the poorvanga was melodic and meditative. She excelled in the drut in Teen tala, and the taans came like a downpour, much to the delight of the audience. She was accompanied by Ravindra Yavagal (tabla) and Ravindra Katoti (harmonium), who provided excellent support. She has a good disciple in Nishad who received a lot of encouragement from the guru during the concert.
Mention must be made of the discerning audience at the festival. When Ashwini asked them whether she should conclude with a bhajan, abhang or another raga, the audience – after listening for almost three hours – wanted another classical raga. The rapport between the artist and the audience added to the beauty and serenity of the concert.
Vishwa Mohan Bhatt enthralled the audience for nearly three hours on his Mohan Veena on 22nd September. His rendering of raga Yaman evoked lovely images and was followed by a short pleasing lori in Jaijaivanti. In response to audience request, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt sang Saiyyan even as he played on the instrument, which drew repeated applause. He played Keeravani raga as a tribute to Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur, and concluded with his own Grammy Award winning A Meeting by the River. The audience enjoyed his mohan veena concert.
The Dhwani-BKF music festival is organised with two objectives. First, to create an interest in Hindustani music among youngsters by providing an opportunity for music lovers in Bengaluru to listen to some of the stalwarts who do not often perform in the city. Second, to raise funds for the Foundation for its “One free Dialysis Day Scheme” through advertisements and donations.
By Pushpa Lakshman
(Dr. Pushpa Lakshman has a doctorate in Sociology, and performs Carnatic and Hindustani music. She is a freelance writer and music critic)