/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": September 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

When a Golden Voice Comes with a Golden Heart - Vidwan K.J. Yesudas

For many years, if you took an early morning flight out of the Bangalore HAL Airport, you could start your journey auspiciously – listening to a golden male voice intoning “Om Namo Narayanaya”or ”Om Namah Shivaya”. The well-meaning Sankars Bookshop owner would be playing a CD of Yesudas's recitations. The whole airport would fill with the divine chant and one would just be transported by the Golden Voice. K.J. Yesudas is a singer whose popularity spans the entire country and also two worlds of music – classical and films. He is well known to be endowed with a golden heart as well as a golden voice. His voice is the envy of every male singer. Equally, Yesudas is active in serving social causes following the motto of Narayana Guru, "One caste, One religion and One God for all humanity". He is an ardent devotee of Goddess Mookambika.
Under the watchful gaze of Mysore Vasudevachar and T. Chowdiah ! Vidwans K.J.Yesudas, T.G.Tyagarajan (violin), Tanjore Upendran (mridangam), Bangalore Venkataram (Ghatam) - "Parvathi" April 13, 1987. !
The singer with the highest number of Best Male Playback Singer National Awards, K. J. Yesudas has also made a name for himself as a classical Carnatic musician. He was first taught classical music by his father, Vidwan Augustine Bhagavathar. After studying at the Swathi Thirunal Academy, Yesudas finally underwent advanced training under the all-time great Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. Since '60s, Yesudas has maintained a very busy musical career on the Carnatic stage and at the same time as a multi-lingual playback singer in Indian cinema. He is an icon for many stars: actor Kamal Hassan, Oscar-winning music director A. R. Rahman, film director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, and noted playback singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam.
Yesudas's association with Parvathi started eventfully. He was first billed by Mr. Srikantiah to sing on 14 April 1976. But he did not turn up and an upset Mr. Srikantiah had to arrange for Vidwan Neyyattinkara Vasudevan to sing on that day instead of Vasudevan's own slot the next day. Next morning at daybreak, Vidwan Yesudas called Mr. Srikantiah to explain how his party had been stranded on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway due to vehicle trouble. He agreed to sing on the 18th April instead, and a young Mysore Nagaraj got a chance to accompany him (see photo below). And the concert, featured here, turned out to be very successful. From that day began a deep bond of family friendship between Yesudas and Srikantiah. Mysore rasikas heard Yesudas in large numbers that day, and thereafter always turned up in full strength as Yesudas performed at Parvathi for many years.
How's that singing voice, these days?
Two veteran friends Yesudas and K.Srikantiah kidding each other !
Mr. Srikantiah recollects his recent visit to Kerala to attend Yesudas's son Vishal's wedding at Trissur on 22-8-2010. During the marriage ceremony, precisely at the auspicious time of Muhurtham, the recording of Yesudas's rendering of "Seetha Kalyana Vaibhogame " was played in the background. This Thyagaraja kriti was so melodious, emotional and moving in Yesudas's voice that Mr. Srikantiah was deeply touched and and entralled.
The Parvathi Concert (April 18,1976) K.J.Yesudas ----Vocal Mysore M Nagaraj -----Violin Erode Gururajan ------Mridangam Sheshagiri Das -----Khanjira Manjunath ----Ghatam
Notice Mysuru's young Violin prodigy in support of the Veteran Yesudas !
01.Sarasijanabha – Nata Varnam – Palghat parameshwara Bhagavathar *** 02. Vaathapi Ganapathim – Hamsadhwani – Muthuswami Dikshithar *** 03.Paavanaguru – Hamsanandi – Lalitha Dasar*** 04.Neekelana -Devamanohari – Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar*** 05. Teliyaleru Rama- Dhenuka – Thyagaraja *** 06.Ksheerasagara-Devagandhari- Thyagaraja*** 7.Sarasijanabha Todi – Swathi Thirunal*** 08.Sree Ramam Ravikulabdhisomam -Narayana Gowla – Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 9.Muruganai Kaana Ayiram Kann- Abheri – Arulavan*** 10.Om iti Brahma - Upanishad*** 11. Mangala darshana dayike Mookambike- Ragamalika*** 12.Chand Akela - Film song*** 13. Athisaya ragam -Film song*** 14.Bhaja Govindam-Ragamalika-Shankaracharya*** 15. Yogeendraanam -Kapi, Sindhubhairavi -Narayaneeyam***16. Pavamana – Mangalam

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bowing in gratitude to a genius – Celebrating Vidwan Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman’s 80th Birthday

Through this blog

Mr. K. Srikantiah and family wish the great maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman the following:

" Happy 80th Birthday celebrations throughout the year and fond wishes for a long and healthy life full of many more musically wonderful moments. May the Almighty shower His blessings on our friend and musician nonpareil ! "

These were Sri Srikantiah’s sentiments and felicitations as he personally called the Maestro from Mysuru, on the evening after the ceremonies in Chennai on September 18, 2010

"The Way We All Once Were !" - Parvathi in the '1960s
Celebrating Devi Bhagavata Saptaha and Gayatri Homa

[ L to R: K.K. Murthy (future builder of the Chowdiah Memorial), Vidwan Umayalpuram Sivaraman, K. Srikantiah, Vidwan Lalgudi Jayaraman, Vidwan Alangudi Ramachandran, Vidwan M.A. Narasimhachar ]

In our last posting (on Vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer) we drew a link to Sri Lalgudi’s impending 8oth Birthday and the felicitations planned in his honor, in Chennai and elsewhere.

We, ourselves, had to wait a little longer (so enraptured were we with the proceedings in Chennai) before we could express our own gratitude to this immortal maestro, who in more ways than one has lived an exemplary life, in decency,in humility and in spirituality, while bequeathing so much joy to fans all over the world through his own brilliant artistry.

We put the following question to Sri Sachi ( our chronicler on ‘Parvathi’ matters and please click here to see his homage to Sri Lalgudi ) “How is the veteran Mr. Srikantiah taking it on this great day ? (in his own devotion and friendship to Sri Lalgudi)”

Pat came the answer “ As in every other day, where he listens to these two pieces without fail and in particular to Lalgudi’s rendering of them (from the full concert posted on Aug 29, 2009 ).

(1) Marugelara: Mr. Srikantiah is particularly fond of this Thyagaraja's song in Jayanthashree, He often talks of how Thyagaraja seems to be in a continuous dialogue with Lord Rama whom he is questioning on so many things.

In this song, Thyagaraja asks, “O Raghava (Lord Rama)! Why do you need to conceal yourself? The Universe itself is your form, with the sun and the moon as your eyes. By deep contemplation, inquiry, and search, I have directly perceived that you are everything, and everything is within you. There is no place in my mind for any other God. I solicit your protection.”

Lalgudi Jayaraman's genius in interpreting this song is very impactful. Listen to the clip below, and see how he collaborates with Palghat Raghu to create a profound effect, all within 8 minutes.

(2) Brovabhaaramaa: It is special, because, if you listen, it sounds like 2 violinists are playing it (one in higher octave and another in lower octave) . It is simply that wonderful . When Sri Lalgudi happened to visit "Parvathi" some years back, Sri Srikantiah played this piece for him, and the maestro himself was thrilled to listen to it, forgetting in a most innocent demeanor that it was after all his own playing. A great artist admiring his own great art !!

O Raghurama! While You are present in and as all Universes,
is protecting me alone a burden to You?
Sri Vasudeva! Don't you have crores of Universes
in Your stomach? Yet, is protecting me a burden to You?
Didn’t You, out of compassion, lift mountains
(once) in the Ocean of Milk for the sake of celestials,
and again, for the sake of gOpis? O Merciful Lord!
(Yet) is protecting Thyagaraja alone a burden to You?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Harking Back to the Golden Era of the Voice : 'Ganakaladhara' Vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer

[ Courtesy: Arvindsdad Blogpost ]

The "Parvathi" team is back from their sabbatical! And with a bang. Not the bang associated with Diwali crackers or modern rock stars. We are talking of the high point of musical excellence that suffused the milieu of the 1950's and 1960's.

Let us not forget that these decades witnessed the most glorious era of Carnatic vocal music. The veritable doyens were holding court. And youngsters were coming up, those talented enough to peep out from under the canopy of these stalwarts.. be it in accompaniment or solo performance.

Is it a coincidence that Hindi film music of the '50s and 60's stands for the very best in pure vocal excellence, shorn of digital enhancements and airbrushed glamour of today? In the '50s and '60s, Carnatic music too had only rudimentary mike amplification. Avid listeners would throng the small halls, and get a crick in the neck getting a glimpse of the performers on stage. And each stalwart would pour out wonderful soul-stirring music over many hours that had the stamp of his or her unique style. Listeners would not be thinking of MP3 and You Tube. They lived in the moment.

And the purest ray serene of this effulgence in vocal music is Ganakaladhara Vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer (1912-1968). He had a voice that clicked from the first note in a concert. He did not cause headaches for the accompanists nor fatigue to the audience with pyrotechnics. He gave melody its true place. His voice was always sruti-aligned, a kind of yogic “samatwa” that Lord Krishna talks of in the Bhagavadgita. He was so obviously enjoying the melody and the intrinsic laya in any composition that he would only embellish it, not hide it nor distort it with his extrapolated manodharma.

It is perhaps some indication that there have been NO me-too Madurai Manis. Like there has been no Hemant Kumar again nor again a master poet in the mould of Walt Whitman. Another interesting aspect that many veterans who have heard Madurai Mani Iyer's music always say is that they think of is his version as they hum their favourite songs, be it in Tamil, Telugu or Sanskrit. His ever-tuneful, clear, and balanced presentation brought out the lyrical beauty in the song most eloquently.

And now for the Parvathi concert. Held during the Ganesha Festival in 1963 – 47 years ago! - the concert has grand accompaniment. None other than T. Chowdiah on the violin, and a spirited Umayalpuram Sivaraman on the mridangam. It seems that day Vidwan Mani Iyer was running a high temperature. But he was not to be deterred, and presented a grand concert. He began with Vatapi, in obeisance to Lord Vighneshwara, and continued with Diwakara Tanujam.. a song in praise of Lord Shaneeshwara. With their double blessings, the concert turned out to be a memorable one, Coincidentally, this year the Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated on September 11, Saturday! So Ganesha and Shani are both coming together to bless us again!

As if on cue, both Chowdiah and Sivaraman go to great lengths in their turn to embellish the concert and we have many interesting moments in the Ragamalika after the Pallavi as well as in other songs.

Concert Details

Madurai Mani Iyer ----Vocal
Vocal accompaniment -Vembu Iyer
T. Chowdiah ---------Violin
Umayalapuram K Sivaraman -----Mridangam
Sheshagiri Das ------Khanjira

"Parvathi" Ganesha Festival on August 23, 1963
For a photograph please click here

[Note: Only a few pieces of this distinguished concert were posted earlier on the blog since the audio tape was corroded, but with some effort we have now managed to restore a semblance of the whole ]

1. Vatapi Ganapathim-Hamsadhwani- Muthuswami Dikshithar *** 2. Diwakara Tanujam -Yadukula Kambhoji -Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 3. Enta bhagyamu -Saranga – Thyagaraja*** 4. Brochevarevarura - Khamach – Mysore Vasudevachar*** 5. Seethamma Mayamma – Vasantha – Thyagaraja*** 6. Vallabha Nayakasya- Begade – Muthuswami Dikshithar 7. Mahaganapathim – Thodi – Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 8. Darini – Shuddha Saveri – Thyagaraja*** 9. Sarasamukhi-Gowda malhar- Muthiah Bhagavathar*** 10.Ragam Thanam Pallavi in Simhendramadhyama followed by Ragamalika*** 11. Virutham Dhanyasi, Shloka-Hamsanandi-Thiruppuzhal*** 12. Vellai tamarai – Bhimplas – Subrahmanya Bharathi*** 13. English note – HM Bhagavathar***

In case the audio doesn't play, please click here

Felicitation of artists by Musicologist and Veena Virtuoso M Cheluvarayaswamy.

( also please click here for an earlier posting )

Festival food being served in "Parvathi"?
Participating (L to R): Krisna Gana Sabha Secretary Yagnaraman, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Veena C Krishnamurthy, Vellore Ramabhadran, Yesudas, Mrs. Yesudas (Prabha)


Sri. Krishna Vattam happens to be one of Karnataka’s and Mysore’s most reputed journalists. His contributions over several of these decades , starting from the early 50s, are about as wide and varied as his multifarious interest in causes. One can catch a glimpse of him here or perhaps here or one can take their pick over a lifetime’s compilation from any of the Internets search engines.

Recently, Sri Vattam picked up his pen to re-live a certain glorious past and wrote to The Editor, The Star of Mysore on July 25, 2010. We are honored to reproduce his words, below:


As I was reading M.R. Shivanna's write-up titled "Great musicians on blog", the blog titled as "A Home called Parvati" (SOM dated July 21), I was reliving the past.

It was not a mere dwelling house built with brick and cement but true to its name the Home had a distinct character, the like of which we can find in two or three homes in Lakshmipuram.

I was lucky to have attended from 1960 all concerts arranged on the occasion of Ganesha Chaturthi and Sri Ramanavami. They were literally a treat for all music lovers.

If MS, MLV, DKP, Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna, Semmanagudi, Madurai Mani Iyer, Madurai Somasundaram, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Par-weena Sultana, Lakshmi Shankar came out with soulful divine vocal recitals, there were giants like Violinist T. Chowdaiah, Flute Mahalingam, to mention a few, who elevated the 'bhava' of the listeners.

While the Ganesha festival concerts were held in the hall in Parvati, Sri Ramanavami concerts were being arranged in the open space abutting the Home. What was striking about Parvati was the divinity that permeated the premises, inspiring the artistes to feel a sense of bliss as they rendered. The open ground where Sri Ramanavami concerts were organised was in no way less in importance in the awesome ambience it was graced with. A photo, very big in size, of SriRamachandra, Seetha, Lakshmana, Satrugna and Hanuman used to be placed on the dais and a parijata tree just above the photo, serving as it were a divine umbrella, was dropping its fragrant flowers on the photo to the sweet strains of music, evoking a feeling of "ananda."

All good things should come to an end, they say. Parvati had its "anthya". K. Srikantiah's passion was to make people listen to good music and he found supreme satisfaction if the rasikas enjoyed it. It was good of him to have made use of the online technology so as to enable lovers to continue to listen to the music of stalwarts. However, the blog needs to be updated and concerts of all artistes mentioned in the blog may be posted there.

� Krishna Vattam