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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ingredients of delicate artistry in Carnatic music

Vid. S. Sowmya – Ramanavami 1995

An appreciation from R. Sachi

We are pleased to share with rasikas a fine vocal concert from the 1995 series, by Vidushi S. Sowmya.

S. Sowmya is a Carnatic music vocalist as well as a vainika. She learnt music initially from her father Dr. Srinivasan, and later from Dr. S. Ramanathan and Smt.T. Muktha. In 1998, Sowmya co-founded Carnatica - an institution dedicated to classical music and dance instruction, archival, talent search and other related activities. She co-authored the first comprehensive reference CD-ROM on Carnatic music, Nadanubhava. She is also a visiting professor at the Advanced School of Carnatic Music of the Music Academy Madras.

S. Sowmya is a distinguished alumnus of IIT Madras with postgraduate qualifications in chemistry. She has been awarded a PhD for her research into the technical aspects of mridangam design and construction. We learn also that she is on her way to acquiring a PhD in Sanskrit from Madras University.

While listening to this present concert, we are to be forgiven for forgetting all these academic accomplishments of this distinguished vidushi. What shines forth is a high order of delicate artistry honed under great teachers including two legendary maestros. We feel her music is suffused with a rare quality in Carnatic music called “saumya” guna or delicate artistry.

The word “saumya” in Sanskrit signifies the epitome of aesthetic evolution. The dictionary defines it as resembling the moon, placid, gentle, mild, auspicious, happy, pleasant, cheerful and even “cool”- the buzzword these days. In the Bhagavadgita, after beholding the Vishwaroopa, Arjuna is so badly stirred and shaken that Krishna decides to cool him down with his “saumya” appearance – bhUtvA punaH saumyavapuH mahAtmA (BG 11.50). Even in the lalithAsahasranAma, Devi is described as sAmagAnapriyA saumyA (v.168).

In this concert, a young and extremely melodious Sowmya sings so many beautiful ragas – Saveri, Athana, Begada, Vasantha, Pantuvarali, Anandabhairavi, Shankarabharana, Bageshri, Nadanamakriya…each song is presented with a delicate voice modulation which has the stamp of scholarship as well as artistic sensibilities of the highest order. The Begada krithi is a rare Kannada one, and the alapana (seldom attempted by women vocalists!) is like a beautifully painted landscape. The swaras in Pantuvarali and Shankarabharana show her solid vidwat. The Anandabhairavi song is her gentle tribute to the vainika-gayaka Muthuswami Dikshitar.

The accompaniments of Vid. Narayan, Vid. Sharma and Vid. Srinath add further charm to this concert.

So, let’s enjoy the wonderful music of Vid. Sowmya!

Concert Details

S.Sowmya ----- Vocal
S.V.Narayan ---- Violin
Ananthakrishna Sharma ---- Mridangam
Srinath ------ Ghatam
on 9-4-95 during Ramanavami at Parvathi, Mysore

Song List

01 Sarasuda-Saveri Varna - Kotthavaasal Venkatrama Iyer *** 02 Anupama gunambudhi -Athana- Thyagaraja *** 03 Nimma bhagya- Begada -Purandara Dasa *** 04 Rama Rama -Vasantha- Purandara Dasa *** 05 Shiva Shiva- Pantuvarali -Thyagaraja *** 06 Manasa Guruguha- Ananda bhairavi – Muthuswami Dikshitar *** 07 Swararagasudharasa- Shankarabharana –Thyagaraja *** 08 Shloka & Rogaharane –Bageshri – Jagannatha Dasa *** 09 Karunajaladhe –Nadanamakriya- Thyagaraja *** 10 Mangalam