Music lovers in Hyderabad had much to cheer for during the last week with a bonanza of performances in the classical tradition holding listeners in...
Music lovers in Hyderabad had much to cheer for during the last week with a bonanza of performances in the classical tradition holding listeners in thrall. The South Indian Cultural Association (SICA) celebrated sixty years of existence through six memorable programmes, five dedicated to music and one to the classical dance form of Kuchipudi, while the Dhrupad Gurukulam Hyderabad, dedicated three evenings to the “Dhrupad style” of singing, which is gaining increasing acceptance and following among music students in the city. Attended by a sizable number of youngsters both events signal revival of interest in traditional forms of music and a realisation that a good grounding in classical music helps master other styles of singing with ease.
Sons of soil: Malladi Brothers
Malladi Brothers opened the annual festival of SICA in Hyderabad. Malladi Sreeramprasad and Malladi Ravikumar, who have been the torchbearers of the Carnatic music tradition propagated by the great Gurus Sripada Pinakapani, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy and Voleti Venkateswarlu were bestowed with Sangeetha Chakravarthi title for their contribution that spans over 25 years. The brothers received the award as their father and first Guru Malladi Suri Babu watched along with the audience that filled the auditorium at Ravindra Bharathi.
Speaking on the occasion Sreeram repeated their Guru Nedunuri’s emphasis on the three Ts important to learn classical music - Talent, Tradition and Taste. Ravikumar, on the other hand, called out to the organisers, musicians and music lovers to get together and organise Bhadrachala Ramadasu Jayanthi festival and celebrate great composers like Syama Sastry, Dikshitar to propagate their compositions.
Malladi Brothers' concert is a treat as it is an opportunity to listen to some rare and popular compositions of Annamacharya and Ramadasu as main pieces in addition to Thyagaraja Swamy, who does find a prime place in every music concert. The flag bearers of Telugu land feel it is their responsibility to pay tribute to the great composers of the land and uphold the music parampara (tradition) that they inherited from their Gurus.
Even though the first-day concert at SICA celebration began late, they tried to pack in as much as possible. They began by singing the popular Annamacharya kriti composed by Sripada Pinakapani in vasanta ragam ‘Vade Venkatadri Meeda Varadaivamu’. Armed with the strength of classicism and technique the duo added the spirit of devotion to make their renditions appeal to music lovers. In addition to Thyagaraja kritis ‘Ganamurte Shri Krishna’ and ‘Dwaitamu Sukhama’ in Reetigoula ragam, they sang Syaama Sastri’s ‘Shankari Shankuru Chandramukhi’ and Papanasamsivan’s ‘Sivakama Sundari’. It was Ramadasu kritis in Hamsanandini ‘Telisithe Mokshamu’ and the one composed by Malladi Suri Babu in Kalavathi Ragam ‘Bhalira Vairagyamentho’ made it a wholesome concert.
If it’s Trichur Brothers in concert, it’s hard to find a dull moment. With a delightful selection of compositions, brilliant control over aalapana and swaravinyasam; Carnatic music concert by Srikrishna Mohan and Ramkumar Mohan from Trichur is spirited and that they stay true to tradition even while appealing to music lovers of all ages is commendable.
When they performed for SICA it was full house reverberating with applause at every tricky gamakam and for every mellifluous raga rendition that was on glorious display throughout. The notes were at their beck and call, and ably supported by their father on the mridangam R Mohan, Sai Rakshit, a student of the legend Kanyakumari on violin and Venkatraman on kanjeera, the duo took the audience on a musical high.
What began with Muthuswamy Dikshitar Krithi ‘Anandamruta Karshini Amrutha Varshini’, Trichur Brothers went on to sing Thyagaraja’s ‘Nada Tanumanisham’ and ‘Sobhillu Sapthaswara’ and Syama Sastri’s ‘Palinchu Kamakshi’ in Madhyamavati. They sang Purandara Dasu ‘Enna Paliso Karunakara’ and ‘Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma’ ended the concert on a high note with the audience clapping away to a popular Telugu bhajan ‘Rama Neela Megha Syama’. It was heartening to watch them request the audience to stay seated in their chairs during nerevel and prompt them to clap along with instrumentalists to enjoy the experience.
Bhamakalapam- Bhavana Reddy
Bhavana’s dance performance had an interesting introduction. Beginning with a mother-son duo arguing over attending a classical dance concert with the son clearly disinterested, the performance ended with the teenager witnessing the last scene wherein Satyabhama and Krishna are surrounded by devoted Gopikas, with folded hands. The performance began as per the hoary tradition of Kuchipudi with the sprinkling of holy water and the fragrance of Sambhrani enveloping the stage and wafting across the front rows of the auditorium. “Bhamane… Satya...Bhamane” the pravesa daruvu, which introduces Satyabhama Krishna’s beautiful consort, who is proud of her power and place in Krishna’s heart and also torn apart by jealousy over his dalliances with the gopis, was portrayed well by the young dancer. Raja Reddy played “Madhavi” Satyabhama’s confidante and messenger to Krishna, the friend who alternately teases, provokes and sympathises with her plight. This sequence where there are beautiful dialogues between the two was barely audible to the audience as there were no lapel mics.
Bhavana showed her prowess as a singer too as she sang the part where Satyabhama writes a letter to Krishna. Casting a young dancer as “Madhavi”, like the sprightly dancer who portrayed Krishna, would have added value to the otherwise riveting performance.
Clad in the nine yards of a yellow and green silk saree draped in traditional style with jasmine flowers in her hair, the chartered accountant turned musician and harikatha exponent who is known not just by her music but kathakalakshepam (storytelling) and views on culture and tradition on social media vowed audiences through her beautiful anecdotes, music and excellent presentation. Vishaka Hari’s concert at Ravindra Bharati was significant as it was held on the eventful day of Uthaana Ekadasi or Kaikasi Ekadasi, which she pointed out was a day to celebrate the power of the Saptaswaras. Paying a tribute to the trinity of Annamayya, Ramadasu and Thyagaraja she presented many of their soulful compositions with appropriate anecdotes. Her concert was an impeccable blend of music, devotion and knowledge. Annamyya’s “Vandeham Jagat Vallabham” Ramdasu’s “Ye Theeruga Nanu’’ and Thyagaraja’s “Samayaaniki” were some among the many compositions of the trinity that livened up the evening. Padma Shankar’s violin was outstanding in making the concert a memorable experience.
Kumaresh and Jayanthi Kumaresh
The “strings attached” concert of the husband-wife combination of Kumaresh on violin and Jayanthi Kumaresh on the veena was a beautiful dialogue between violin and veena that received thunderous applause from the audience every now and then throughout the duration of the concert. In perfection coordination, the couple enthralled with a soulful rendering of ragas aided by ghatam and mridangam, which added to the magical experience. Thrichur Krishnaswamy on Ghatam was particularly applauded for his mastery over the ghatam. Raga “Vasantha” and “Dharmavati’’ were truly memorable along with other beautiful pieces that came alive with different nuances during the concert.
One of the most ancient styles of Hindustani classical music “Dhrupad” known for the purity of ‘ragas’ and ‘swaras’ is meditative, infusing peace and contemplation among listeners. Hyderabad resonated with the mesmerising notes of Dhrupad in three different venues over the three-day festival where several eminent Dhrupad artistes from the country performed to full audiences. Organised by the Dhrupad Samsthan Bhopal and the Dhrupad Gurukulam Hyderabad, the first day saw an outstanding Pakahawaj performance by Pt. Akhilesh Gundecha and disciples. On the second day, young students from the Gurukulam in Hyderabad showcased their talent. The final day witnessed fine performances by the Bihar Brothers Sanjeev and Manish Jha and the maestros Ramakant and Umakant Gundecha. The soulful rendition of raag Shyam Kalyani by the Gundecha brothers sent listeners into a trance. The audience gave a standing ovation to the artistes clearly showing the impact that the music had on them.
-Inputs from Aruna Ravikumar and Rajeshwari Kalyanam