Music in the air…
It is that time of the year in the city of Hyderabad when the cultural sabhas and individual organisers as well as their patrons and organisers along with volunteers, all gear up for a long and interesting line-up of events. From Carnatic to Hindustani classical music, and concerts to workshops, featuring artists of all generations and from across India and some NRIs also coming in… there's something for everybody. In short, there's a large variety of listening opportunities.
Young musicians and dancers vie with one another for opportunities to perform during these two months. It provides a springboard to their career and helps them prepare for performances at bigger platforms. Senior and well-established artists too consider it an honour to be featured in the concerts of these sabhas.
An interesting sidelight is the food stalls that are springing up outside several of these concert venues offering ready-to-eat fast food, snacks and other takeaway products like crunchy-munchies, appadams, podis, pickles, etc.
However, there is also the sigh from hardcore enthusiasts and veterans every year who regret that though Carnatic music is so overwhelmingly in Telugu—with most composers either being Telugus or choosing to compose in Telugu—the city does not do enough to honour this great tradition of Carnatic music or its great exponents. There is much that the corporate world, government officials, media and the common man can do about this.
To return to the three-month calendar and what is in store for music lovers; Over the last month i.e. October, we saw absorbing fare in the classical arts and in November and December too, the city has a highly interesting line-up of cultural events, which has more or less become an annual feature making up for lacuna during the rest of the year.
South Indian Cultural Association (SICA), has just held a six-day arts festival wherein they featured top artists. (Read the review on Page 7). As the SICA management puts it: "We have been endeavouring to promote the highest values in classical music for decades now. We have been bringing local artistes as well as from all over India and even abroad and delighting connoisseurs in the city. We try to include a mix of dance and music as well as vocal and instrumental music solos to provide variety."
Ananda Mohan Voruganti and his organisation Ksheerasagaram hold monthly concerts in association with arts patron Anuradha Gunupati at Saptaparni Cultural Centre. On November 24, there will be a veena programme by Sankara Sujata. There will be classical music programmes at the same venue on December 14 and 30 as well. Ananda Mohan Voruganti and Ksheerasagaram are famed and respected for preparing their concert schedules many months in advance and inviting connoisseurs to the same.
The Rotary Club of Hyderabad is planning an annual event to give away the Pandit Jasraj - Rotary Club of Hyderabad Award for Cross-Cultural Understanding on November 26, at Hyderabad to a noted, talented artist.
As Annapurna Sastry, arts connoisseur who works to organise this event explains: ''Promoting arts is one of the aims of Rotary Club, which was established to advance international understanding, goodwill and peace. Inspired by Padma Vibhushan awardee, Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj, the Rotary Club of Hyderabad has instituted in 2007-08 an Award of Cross-Cultural Understanding to honour an artist who, 'coming from one cultural background, masters a classical art form from a different cultural milieu' to form an inspiration and a role model for society. That is the concept behind the award as well as the event."
The venerable institution, Thyagaraya Gana Sabha also hold programmes through the year. It is a hub of cultural activity given its multiple auditoriums which, except for one, are offered free of cost to genuine causes of art and culture. They have a crowded events calendar for each month and hundreds of artists of different genres receive platforms to perform here. The Vijayangar Fine Arts association is also a credible organisation known for its contributions to the arts scene with well-designed programmes for music lovers. They promote excellence by showcasing top artists and also encourage promising but unknown talent and regularly organise competitions for youngsters in classical music.
There are other respected organisations like the well-known Surmandal and also Tarang for example, which also conduct Hindustani classical music programmes regularly. Besides, the ICCR also actively contributes to the cultural scene with its regular classical music and dance programmes. The annual sangeet samaorh by Pt Jasraj is an important event on this calender. There are many other worthy organisations and it is space constraints alone which make their inclusion difficult.
Sharada Cultural Trust (SCT) an all women organisation also offers treats to the Carnatic music rasikas of the twin cities. Their annual cultural festival that coincides with Thyagaraja Aradhanotsavam held in January- February is much looked forward to.
As the SCT's Secretary Saradha Krishnan says: "We also like to conduct short-duration concerts, before the main concert, which gives a platform to encourage upcoming artists. We also hold competitions to motivate young talents in different age groups. Apart from this, a Special Tambura Prize competition is also held for senior vocal students and a mridangam competition for students of three levels."
An important cultural organisation that strives to promote good values in classical music and dance is Vignana Samithi. They are coming up with a unique programme this month at Anand Nagar, Khairatabad. On November 24, Vignana Samithi is arranging a special programme, 'Chatushashtikalalu in Annamayya Rachanalu'. This will be a continuous rendition of 108 Annamacharya keerthanas by 108 singers from 9 am to 9 pm, i.e. a daylong programme. On December 29, there will be a Carnatic classical music programme by an upcoming young talent followed by a veteran vocalist.
As the President, Vignana Samithi, Suri Venkateswarlu says: "Our main objective is promoting Indian Culture, particularly related to the Carnatic classical music and literature. We are proud to say that it has been the policy of the organisation not to have entry tickets for the programmes as the sole aim is to promote music consciousness among the general public. We are also conducting Sri Thyagaraja Aaradhana Utsavam, every year, ever since the inception of our organisation (over 42 years) in a highly elaborate manner. We provide an opportunity for young children and also take the privilege of inviting reputed graded artistes and veterans."
Another well-known arts organisation is Sujanaranjani, which in association with Amruthavarshini and Guruparampara, as part of its monthly concerts, will be conducting a vocal concert of Sri Daruri Vamsi Krishna on November 23 followed by a one hour veena concert by Vivekananda Suri with the venue being Amruthavarshini Music & Yoga studio, LIC Colony, Srinagar Colony. The monthly concert for December is scheduled for 21 and will feature a young Carnatic musician. As Mahidhara Seeta Rama Sarma, Founder-Secretary, Sujanaranjani says: "Our organisation was founded to spread and propagate the value of Carnatic music and to take forward the great heritage to the next generation."
The spiritual centre, Shivam at Nallakunta, will see a six-day festival of classical music and dance as well as some light music from November 18 to 23, both days inclusive. There will be group and solo performances in this festival being organised by Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations. Among these are a vocal performance by singers Nithya Santoshini and Varanasi Srisoumya (November 22); Carnatic music mandolin performance by V Saigovind (November 20); musical offering by Muthukumar and team (November 18); a Bharatanatyam programme by Smitha Madhav and team (November 19); as well as devotional music by Shivam Bhajan Group (November 23).
Kalasagaram is known for its consistent efforts to spread the fragrance of chaste classical music. As R Narayanan, General Secretary, Kalasagaram explains, this year they have a prestigious line-up of artists waiting to regale connoisseurs in the city.
Kalasagaram is organising their 52nd annual cultural festival of music, dance and drama for nine days from November 23 to December 1. The schedule is as follows: Pantula Rama on 23; Trichur Brothers on 24; Palakkad Ram Prasad on 25; Malladi Brothers on 26; A Jayanth flute on 27; Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna on 28; Jayanthi Kumaresh on veena on 29; and Mahakavi Tulsidas dance drama on 30. The finale is on December 1 with 'Trinity', a drama in English on Trinity of Carnatic music featuring top-ranking artistes like Vijay Shiva, Gayatri Venkataraghavan and Sundar. The Sangeetha Kalasagara title will be conferred upon Pantula Rama and RK Sriramkumar. The venue for the festival as always will be Keyes High School in Secunderabad.
Another important contributor to the classical-music scene is Sri Kartikeya Gana Sabha (SKGS). 2019 is the decennial year of SKGS and the 10th Annual Music Festival and conference is scheduled to be held from November 16 to 20 featuring celebrated musicians, lec-dems and paper presentations.
On November 17 - Lec-Dem by Mridula Ashwin, on 'Srividya Upasana Kritis of Brahmasri Kollegal Subrahmanyam' followed by a vocal concert of AS Murali. November 16 will see violin recital by Annavarapu Ramaswamy, with violin Support of Durga Bhavani. 18- Lec-Dem by N Ch Parthasarathi on 'Philosophical aspects in Thyagaraja Compositions', followed by Vocal concert by Dr Duddu Radhika. 19: Lec-Dem by Duddu Seetharamaiah on 'Art of Playing Tanam followed by a 'Jugalbandi Concert' - 'Ganga-Kaveri' – 'Flute Jugalbandi' by Flute (Hindustani)- Pt. Praveen Godkhindi and Flute (Carnatic) by MK Pranesh, accompanied by Anoor Anantakrishna Sarma, etc. 20- Lec-Dem by Parupalli S Phalgun, on 'Understanding and Enjoying the beauty of Rhythm in a Concert' followed by a Vocal concert of Aishwarya Vidya Raghunath. Venue: Kowtha Kalyana Mandapam, Padmarao Nagar.
Musician Chandrashekhara Sivaraman of Sri Chandrasekhrendra Sangeetha Educational society informs us that there will be a Bhaktha Ramadasu Navaratna Kritis Gosthiganam at Ramalayam Sitarama Mandiram at West Marredpally on November 17. These are regular monthly concerts so you can expect another in December. Moreover, they also organise Kanchi Paramacharya Jayanti every year with a feast of devotional music.
Sanskriti Foundation is organising a two-day retreat for all music lovers and students at Ananthgiri on December 7 and 8. The foundation representatives say it has been created as an event for learning and experiencing Carnatic music, wherein participants indulge in rigorous practice, discussions and performances. Sanskriti Foundation's charter is to promote Indian culture and music. In addition to conducting music concerts and regular workshops, it also focuses on educational and awareness activities in these fields.
Come 2020 and in January and extending into March, there is a long line of Thyagaraja Aradhana programmes in store. Some of these are celebrated over several days in which there are concerts in the daytime and evening before the finale of the 'goshtigaanam'. There are other 'sabhas', which only conduct a one-day programme of Thyagaraja Pancharathna Krithis Goshti Gaanam in which eminent artists sing along with the public. In other words, this is a sacred congregational singing event.
Sujanaranjani will be part of the elaborate Thyagaraja Aradhana programme to be held in January to be conducted together with Vignana Samithi, Sangeetha Ksheerasagaram, Neelambari, Vijayanagar Fine Arts and Nada Nilayam. The coming year will also see Sanskriti Foundation holding its Hyderabad Thyagaraja Aradhana Music Festival where they will have several artists of different age groups perform in a programme spread over several days.
On the last day of Sharada Cultural Trust's classical music festival in February, they will be conducting Thyagaraja Aradhana in association with Kalasagaram. Sri Chandrasekhrendra Sangeetha Educational society will also hold an Aradhana programme inviting well-known musicians and the public to participate as will Kartikeya Gana Sabha as also SICA.
UNESCO Creative Cities Network has recently recognised Hyderabad for its gastronomy. If the artists, corporate world, government officials, media and the common man got together, maybe the city will be recognised for its classical music traditions too...someday, hopefully.