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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cometh Spring, Cometh the Song-bird

Vid. Ramakrishnan Murthy, Putturao Memorial Concert -2014

An appreciation from R. Sachi

We welcome sunny days and cool showers everywhere by featuring this wonderful concert of Vid. Ramakrishnan Murthy, held on 3rd September 2014 in the Putturao Memorial festival at Jaganmohan Palace, Mysore.

Spring is the god among seasons: RutUnAM kusumAkaraH (BG 10.34) Poet Jayadeva begins the AShTapadi with the words, vasante vAsantI, comparing Radha to a beautiful flower in spring. He goes on to say:

" lalita lavanga latA pariSeelana kOmala malaya sameerE "
" madhukara nikara karambita kOkila koojita kunja kuTeerE "

TRANSLATION: The Malaya breeze is so enchanting as he arrives and impetuously embraces the tender, charming creepers again and again. The forest bower is permeated with the sweet kuhu sound of the cuckoos and the drone of bees as they bumble to and fro.

Cometh spring, and cometh the song-bird. Poets never tire of describing the mystique of this wonderful phenomenon. Just as spring arrives invariably on Life's cue, the song-bird arrives, from nowhere almost, replete with song and celebration, schooled mystically in a long tradition of song which defies logical comprehension.

The mystique of spring and song is enacted also in Carnatic music year after year. Somehow, as mysteriously as the advent of spring brings the song-bird, the nurturing environment of Carnatic music brings out a bouquet of fresh, bewitching, talent amidst us. Sri K. Srikantiah expresses this sentiment after almost every Parvathi festival. The young Vid. Ramakrishnan Murthy (or RKM) stands out amidst such talent. For anyone who thought Irvine, California is no match for Mylapore in cultivating Carnatic talent, RKM offers a big surprise.

All credit to his parents for nurturing RKM's musical sensibilities from his school days. He pursued music with a precocious passion, even through those teen years of breaking voice. He learnt from Smt. Padma Kutty whom he describes as the finest teacher for serious beginners. He continued with Vid. Delhi Sunderrajan, Vairamangalam Lakshminarayan, Chinglepet Ranganathan, and is now under the well-known Vidwan R.K. Shriram Kumar. All these teachers have sculpted a musician of great maturity, serious talent, versatility, and endearing charm. Many who hear RKM for the first time remark how he is a "young KVN" (you will also agree after hearing his rendering of the tillana here!). His niravals, swaras, and alapanas stay long in our memory after each concert. He is honing his diction in every language- Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada. He never hurries through any song. To add to all this, he takes in his stride with genuine humility the awards, positive reviews, and audience applause.

True to its tradition of bringing the best talent to Mysore, Parvathi featured RKM in the 2014 Putturao Memorial festival. An added attraction was the senior accompaniment arranged for the young RKM - in Vid. H.K. Narasimhamurthy, Vid. Anoor Anathakrishna Sharma and Vid. Manjunath. The audio recording is excellent and brings out the mridangam naada very well.

We can see the result right away in the very first song, Shobhillu. In this song in Jaganmohini, Saint Thyagaraja exhorts every musician to sing with melody, grammar, and correct voice technique as a form of worship, in a musical tradition going back to the Vedas. The concert continues with the Subbaraya Shastry composition, Janani Ninnuvina. Then comes the pièce de résistance, Meenakshi Memudam Dehi, a masterpiece of a composition of Muthuswami Dikshitar, with the words vINA-gAna-daSa-gamaka-kriyE.

The navarasa shloka has been sung by RKM with great panache. This shloka is quite famous, and a staple of performers from the time of Semmangudi. IN RKM's exquisite rendition, words come out with beauty and melody, in a flurry of ragas matching the rasas respectively: Mayamalavagowla, Nata, Shahana, Hamir Kalyani, Ananda Bhairavi, Shubhapantuvarali, Begada, Hamsanandi, and Tilang. What a veritable treat!

This solid concert is a celebration at many levels: brilliant young talent, excellent concert manodharma of the main and accompanist performers, the tradition of Parvathi, and the great body of our compositions.

Concert Details

Ramakrishnan Murthy --- Vocal
H.K.Narasimhamurthy -- Violin
Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma -- Mridangam
M.R.Manjunath --- Ghatam
The concert was held on 3rd Sept 2014 during the K.Puttu Rao Music Festival at Mysore.

Song List

01. Shobhillu- Jaganmohini- Thyagaraja *** 02. Janani Ninuvina - Reetigowla- Subbaraya Shastry *** 03. Meenakshi Memudam Dehi-Gamakakriya/Purvi Kalyani- Muthuswami Dikshitar *** Tani *** 04. Evarani- Devamritavarshini - Thyagaraja *** 05. Navarasa Shloka*** 06. Ramarama-Tilang- Purandaradasa *** 07. Alwar pasuram, Venkatachalanilayam - Sindhubhairavi - Purandaradasa *** 08. Jagadoddharana - Hindustani Kapi- Purandaradasa*** 09. Jinjhuti Tillana - Veene Sheshanna *** 10. Mangalam ***