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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Deepavali Special : Sangeeta Kalanidhi Vidwan Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan

One of the prodigiously talented Carnatic musicians performing actively for the past four decades at always the top level is Vidwan T. N. Seshagopalan. Apart from being a brilliantly creative vocalist, he is also a talented vainika and plays even the key-board. He also performs musical Harikathas which showcase his musical as well as narrative skills and sense of humour. He comes from the lineage of Harikeshanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, being a disciple of Vidwan Ramanathapuram C. S. Sankarasivan, himself a direct disciple of the great composer.

(Gratefully acknowledged: "Photography by Kartik Pashupati" )

Being a versatile artiste. Vidwan Seshagopalan attracted the best accompaniment as well as critical acclaim early in his career. He started performing in early '70s and the concert featured here is from 1973. The concert features an absolutely brilliant Shanmukhapriya, with excellent alapana, manodharma-filled rendering of Patnam's “Marivere dikkevaraiya Rama?”.

The violin and mridangam support make the concert even more memorable.

Listening to his wonderful Mohana and “Rara Rajeevalochana Rama”, we may be excused for remembering that the delightful raga Mohana Kalyani was conceived and the Kannada kriti Bhuvaneshwariya was composed by his lineage guru Sri Muthiah Bhagavathar, while under the Mysore royal patronage.

His Kabir bhajan is very evocative, and the words have been intoned with much feeling.

Vidwan Seshagopalan has been conferred the titles of Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 2006 and the Padma Bhushan in 2004. He can be described as a connoisseur's musician, as he approaches each item in the concert with a spontaneity that stems from mastery over the idiom as well as a creative exuberance. His exuberance is shorn of egoism, which is rare. When we listen to musicians like Vidwan Seshagopalan, we are intrigued and wonder what must be going on in their minds, as their musical output seems to be always daring and fresh, and never a canned fare, all rehearsed and perfected with concert effects. This chronicler heard Vidwan Umayalpuram Sivaraman mention once that Vidwan Seshagopalan's repertoire is so vast that he knows 300 kritis in Thodi alone!

We found a very charming description from the vidwan of his early musical training in an interview in Carnatica.net:

"At that period it was music, music and only music. I used to get up at 5.30, bathe, do sandhyavandanam, visit the temple and then my guru's house. I did not even have the idea of going to the movies. No recreations, only music, spiritual discourses, temple, books and literature. That was the prevailing situation. Always bhajans, namasankeerthanams, Kamban vizha, sloka competitions, etc. If you turned to one side, there was Anantharama Dikshitar's house and on the other Variyar's... There used to be political conferences and I have attended the speeches of Anna and EVR to see how they talk. If we used to hear the news it was to know about the cricket scores. We would buy Sportstar and Illustrated Weekly to know how Barrington played and how wickets were kept. Radio was switched on only for commentary."

The Concert

Madurai T.N.Seshagopalan-----Vocal
Chalakudy Narayanaswamy ----Violin
Tanjore Upendran ------ Mridangam
Sosale Sheshagiri Das ---- Khanjira
at Parvathi on April 13, 1973

01. Chalamela varna – Darbar – Tiruvottriyur Thyagayyer*** 02.Sri Raghukula -Hamsadhvani – Thyagaraja*** 03. Ninnunera nammi naanu -Pantuvarali – Thyagaraja*** 04.Vandanamu - Shahana – Thyagaraja*** 05. Marivere -Shanmugapriya – Patnam Subramanya Iyer *** 06. Ra ra raajeevalochana -Mohana – M. Vasudevachar*** 07.Harinaama bhajare – Bhairav – Kabir*** 08.Rama mantrava japiso -Jaunpuri – Purandara Dasa*** 09. Kanden kanden Seetheyai – Bageshri – Arunachala Kavi***

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Grapes and Wine – Madurai Somu, Lalgudi Jayaraman and Palghat Raghu

The Biblical story of how Jesus at Cana miraculously turned water into wine was the subject of an essay for Lord Byron when he was a school student. He wrote, revealing his famous romanticism, that “Water saw her Creator and blushed.“ 

 The symbolism of wine for a divine quality that goes beyond normal sensory appeal very aptly applies to music. Especially vintage music from the masters, preserved and cherished by connoisseurs. Bhagavan Krishna says in the Gita that as the moon (Soma), he instills the juice into life forms on earth: “puShNAmi cauShadhIh sarvAh sOmO bhUtvA rasAtmakah”. We begin to understand that heavenly intoxicant called Soma. 

That is the same juice that courses through music. We have already mentioned how Somu gave of his best in the inspiring environs of Parvathi. This Parvathi concert of 1971 by Vidwan Madurai Somasundaram in the company of stalwarts Lalgudi Jayaraman and Palghat Raghu is heady vintage stuff. It is said that grapes are sweet, but a culture on their surface ferments them into wine. The culture of Parvathi rasikas surely seems to have helped the great vidwans to render this classic heady fare. 

The first song starts appropriately in “Deva Manohari” and the concert from that start is a feast fit for gods. There is another saying that when it comes to good food and good wine, it's hard to choose: "Food and wine. Decide which is the soloist, which the accompanist." That is precisely the atmosphere in this concert. Both Lalgudi and Raghu have delighted in rising to greater and greater heights on the spur from Somu and the result is an unending flow of fantastic virtuosity. 

We thought of grapes and wine after hearing the extremely sweet sound of the maestro's violin, which draws time and again much appreciation from the master singer. Similarly Raghu's mridangam play is such that the concert throughout is ripping with rhythmic embellishments. The tempo never flags and one can only conjecture the impact it would have had on the fortunate rasikas who heard the concert live. 

The concert has many bright moments but the best are during Kharaharapriya improvisations. Again the RTP in Kambhoji has Somu waxing eloquent, singing “Rama Jayarama Raghurama Ravikula Soma”. The names encompass all the artistes on the stage!

 Madurai Somasundaram ---- Vocal 
Lalgudi Jayaraman ----- Violin 
Palghat Raghu ------- Mridangam 
H.P.Ramachar ------ Khanjira 
at Parvathi on April 5, 1971 
Song List
01.Ninnu nammi –varnam – Deva Manohari *** 02. Mahaganesham *** 03. Neelakantha -Kuvalayabharanam – Indira Natesan (?) *** 04. Rama Neepai – Kedaram – Thyagaraja *** 05. Gurulekha yetuvanti – Gowrimanohari- Thyagaraja *** 06. Ninne Nera Nammi- Pantuvarali- Thyagaraja *** 07. Chakkaniraja - Kharaharapriya - Thyagaraja *** 08. Sankarabharane Devi Ragamalika *** 09.O Rama nee namam - Purvi kalyani- Bhadrachala Ramadasa *** 10. Ramanaamamu -Athana – Thyagaraja *** 11. Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi in Kambhoji *** 12. Madu meikkum- Desh *** 13. Enna Kavi Paadi *** 14.Madurayil *** 15. Viruttam *** 16.Bhajo re bhaiyya – Kabir *** 17. Hara hara Shankara *** 18 Tiruppugazh *** 19.
 Ragamalika Mangalam ***

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Remembering 'Gana Saraswathi' Dr.M.L. Vasanthakumari in “Parvathi”

Dr. M.L. Vasanthakumari acknowledging felicitations
as Vidwan Doreswamy Iyengar shows appreciation and Mr. K. Shrikantiah muses!

We will get to 'Gana Saraswathi' Dr. MLV’s concert, all in good time.

Before that, we have a certain remembrance and a certain thanks to render on this Saraswathi Puja Day 2010.

We believe, that the common usage of the word 'ambiance' probably occurred somewhere in the early 70's when technology started to assume a greater impact. As sound quality through instruments became enhanced, as every human indulgence began to be hailed as a sign of creativity, as architects and interior decorators began to render furniture and plants with plastic, as shimmering effects of cascading waterfalls in hotel foyers became a vogue and as nightlife extended and discos came alive through the extravaganza of electric bulbs, the word ‘ambiance’ became synonymous with human activities only with the ego.

There was no quarter given to express any supplication to a higher power.

The Eagles swoop down on "Parvathi"
Actress Hema Malini and Indian Cabinet Minister S.M. Krishna
with Mysore's Who's Who in 1972

To the denizens of Mysore city, however, and particularly to members in 'Parvathi', 'ambiance' meant a whole lot more. A desire to be neat and orderly with cleanliness being hailed next to godliness seemed to come naturally, and along with that came respect of Nature in the holistic order followed by respect to Gods main propitiates, the musicians, the poets, the priests and the 'Harikatha' story tellers.

It was not uncommon to see the long lengths of "Parvathi's" concrete driveways being washed thoroughly, the ‘Rangoli’ being laid out in big and colorful welcomes , every natural plant laid out in pots befitting its size and displayed neatly alongside driveways and curbs, every tree (fruit bearing, flower bearing or otherwise) having its correct share of manure or natural vitamins with of course an appropriate share of water; orchard pomegranates and other varied fruit protected with a cloth cover till they ripened with just an adequate amount left open for nature’s hungry squirrels to feed upon, including ( as long as the matriarch was alive) enough milk every morning in front of the 'Dattatreya' tree for the local serpent to turn away from its carnivorous ways into one of becoming a vegetarian protector.

Behind every act, however, lay the strict watchfulness of Parvathi’s chief members; first, that of the grand-sire Shri K. Puttu Rao till 1959 and then for a long time when the baton went into the hands of the son K. Srikantiah. Even, if one shifted their attention to the other brother K.K. Murthy’s residence in Malleswaram, Bangalore, one would not be remiss in noticing the same penchant for the very same things.

In fact the gardens would impress Sri. Lalgudi Jayaraman so much that when he stayed overnight on his visits to Parvathi for concerts, he would get up early in the morning and walk bare-foot on the front lawn for 30-40 minutes, looking at the lawn and believing that it was good for both his eye sight and the stabilization of his body-heat.

As you go over these few slides of Parvathi , as you witness the stone slabs where N. Ramani may have been lost in his own reverie under the Champaka tree, or as Semmangudi might have shared the finer points of his music with Mr. K. Srikantiah , or as you go over the slide of the corner room with its grilled windows from where Shri. K. Puttu Rao (during his later years) would bellow to one and all of how “all respect for elders had died” (he had witnessed Mysore Vasudevachar struggling with the silvered iron front gates and nobody had come to the help of such a revered soul!), we want you to turn your attention to the final picture (slide and below), the one with the two faces.

These faces belong to the brothers Sri Madiah and Sri Basaviah, who came to Parvathi when very young and stayed on for a long time to render those beautiful creations with cues from Sri. Srikantiah. Needless to say, theirs was a labor of love as the gardens started to be singled out for trophies and praise from the horticultural society. In some ways, the vibrations and all around goodwill from “Parvathi” too, helped. In later years, the brothers came to be fixed on decent appointments at Mysore's famed National Institute of Engineering (famed alma mater of Sri. Narayana Murthy of Infosys and India’s spinning wizard EAS Prasanna), As is the dream of every parent for their children to always do better than them, Sri Madiah's elder son got admitted in the same engineering institution and from where he passed out with distinction. He continued on to his post-graduation and currently serves in an enviable position in a multinational company.

Our continued best wishes to all of them, wherever they might be today.

M.L.Vasanthakumari ---- VocalPrabhavati ----- Co singer
Subrahmanyam ----Violin
Tanjavur Krishnamurthy Rao --- Mridangam

On September 17,1964 during the Gowri-Ganesh Festival in "Parvathi"

[1. Ragasudharasa-(Andolika); 2. Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Karaharapriya 3. Sloka and 'Jogi mat jaa'(Sindubhairavi) 4. Sundara Mooruti-( Janjooti) 5. Krishna nee begane baaro-(Yaman Kalyani) 6.Paarkadal alai mele-(Ragamalika) 7. Jnanavu Krutayugadalli-(Ragamalika) 8. Pavamana ]