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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thyagaraja, The Saint Composer

Vid. Maharajapuram Santhanam – 1972 Ramanavami

Text by R. Sachi

We are happy to share with rasikas this concert from 1972 as a part of our Season’s greetings and best wishes for the New Year 2014. This season is auspicious for Hindus and Christians alike, being a period of prayer and holy celebration. The Margashirsha masa (Margazhi in Tamil) is considered the best month in the Hindu calendar as it instils a mood of prayer and tranquility.

In this concert, Vid. Santhanam has sung a wonderful composition of the saint composer Thyagaraja in Yadukula Kambhoji, a raga most suited to prayer. In the song (part of Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam), Thyagaraja describes his utter anguish at his separation from Lord Rama. His feelings are very similar to those of anguish in the voices of mystics Meera, Andal and Chaitanya. We give below the lyric and translation from The Spiritual Heritage of Thyagaraja (pub. Ramakrishna Math, Chennai)

Concert Details

Ramanavami Concert 1972, Parvathi Mysore, held on 28-3 1972

Vid. Maharajapuram Santhanamm – Vocal
Vid. M.Chandrasekaran ----- violin
Vid. Palghat Raghu ------ Mridangam
Vid. Vikku Vinayakram ------Ghatam.

Song List

01-Gananathaya-Gowla-Ambi Dikshitar*** 02-Telisirama-Purnachandrika-Thyagaraja*** 03-Banturiti-Hamsanadam-Thyagaraja*** 04-Unde Yedi-Harikambhoji-Thyagaraja*** 05-Mohanam-Alapana*** 06-Mohanarama-Mohana-Thyagaraja*** 07-Chelimini Jalajakshu Kante-Yedukulakambhoji-Thyagaraja*** 08-Kandukandu-Mohana-Purandaradasa*** 09-Yochana-Darbar-Thyagaraja*** 10-Ammaravamma-Kalyani*** 11-Sarangamarugane-Ragamalika-Veeramani***

Friday, December 13, 2013

Torchbearer of a Bani and a Role-model

Sangitha Kalanidhi Designate Vid. Sudha Raghunathan

A Review from R. Sachi

We are extremely happy to offer our felicitations and best wishes to this year’s Sangitha Kalanidhi designate Vid. Sudha Raghunathan.

A busy year indeed for Vid. Sudha Raghunathan has culminated in the famed award being announced by the Madras Music Academy for 2013. It has been a splendid journey for the lady musician since the 1970’s under her tutelage with Dr. M. L. Vasanthakumari. She has been hailed as the torchbearer of the famous MLV Bani.

We feature her concert from the 1989 Parvathi Ramanavami series. In his valedictory speech (audio featured below), Sri. K. Srikantiah hails her as a worthy successor to Dr. MLV and predicts a very bright future for her. Vid. Sudha’s music has stayed at the top of the charts all these years, garnering honors year after year.

We are also happy to feature excerpts from her interview by Lakshmi Devanath, published recently in the Hindu (click the link for the full interview):

“I dedicate this award to my Mata, Pita, Guru and Devah. They made it happen,” says Sudha. Sudha’s mother Choodamani was a trained musician blessed with a strikingly beautiful voice. Circumstances stood in the way of her becoming a professional, but the tenacious lady moulded her unfulfilled aspirations into a dream that she dreamt for her second daughter, Sudha. The way the three-year-old repeated Sai bhajans after her was enough and more indication of the child’s inherent musicality. Choodamani willed to hone that talent and entreated the Supreme Grace of Sai.

Choodamani put Sudha under the tutelage of vidwan T.V. Viswanathan and later under vidwan B.V. Lakshman. With impressive perspicacity, she decided that participation in music competitions would benefit her daughter hugely. She enrolled Sudha in every possible competition and zealously sourced teachers who would teach her daughter the stipulated songs.

The decisive turn happened, however, with Sudha winning the Central Government Scholarship for music in 1977 and subsequently, MLV’s consent to teach her.

(Courtesy : ICARC Inc)

Commenting on that crucial period in her life Sudha says, “Realising that I wasn’t in control of what was happening, I took a crucial decision - to make it big, irrespective of what I did.” This fire in her set the pace of her career graph.

“I have no time for formal teaching. You have to be sharp and grasp whatever you can when I sing.” MLV was very matter of fact in her approach. Sudha just strummed the tambura in her Guru’s performances for a year, before she graduated to being her second voice. She found the experience of sharing the stage with her teacher inestimable. Every concert was worth its weight in gold. MLV’s legendary flights of imagination as she explored ragas, her intellectually-stimulating swara matrices, her brilliant RTPs …Sudha had the privilege of being exposed to them all at close quarters. Returning home, she would mull over MLV amma’s music, listen to her recordings, sit with the notations and go back the next day fully equipped for yet another enthralling session. During her musical interactions with MLV, Sudha would always be on tenterhooks, for MLV was not given to open praise. The first telling indication of her assessment of Sudha’s capabilities happened in the early 1980s after a concert of MLV in New York. The students of Stony Brook University, who had come for the concert, requested MLV that Sudha give a solo performance at their school. MLV not only graciously agreed but also spontaneously requested her accompanists Kanyakumari and Mannargudi Easwaran to join Sudha in the concert.

The Sangita Kalanidhi award (being conferred in this Dec. season by the Music Academy on her) is an important milestone in Sudha’s career. She is overwhelmed by gratitude. “I look upon this award as an opportunity for me to thank all those who have stood by me - my family, my accompanists, my rasikas, music organisations and the press.” Even as she says this her thoughts go back to her dedication.

“I have talked about the role of my mother, father and guru. In the final reckoning they are all different manifestations of God, Sai Baba, as I recognise him. It was He who named me Sudha. I sat on His lap as a child and twirled His hair in innocent frolic. He did my aksharabhyasam, my formal initiation into the world of education. The first song that I sang was a Sai Bhajan…”

Concert Details

Parvathi Ramanavami concert held at Jaganmohan Palace on 23 April 1989.
Vid. Sudha Raghunathan – Vocal
Vid. Lalgudi Rajalakshmi – Violin
Vid. Chandramouli – Mridangam

Song List

01 Vanajakshi Varna-Kalyani- Poochi Srinivasa Iyenger *** 02 Sri Mahaganapatim- Athana-Jayachamaraja Wodeyar *** 03 Shobillu saptaswara -Jaganmohini- Thyagaraja *** 04 Marugelara Jayanthashri – Thyagaraja *** 05 Raghuvara – Kamavardhini –Thyagaraja *** 06 Shankarabharana Raga*** 07 Yeduta nilachite –Thyagaraja *** 08 Rama Rama –Vasantha -Purandara Dasa *** 09 Narayana ninna - Shudda dhanyasi – Puranadara Dasa *** 10 Shanmukhapriya Raga*** 11 Marivere dikkevarayya - Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer-Tani*** 12 speech by Sri K. Srikantiah *** 13 Rama Rama- Tilang – Purandara Dasa***