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

Monday, November 29, 2010

T. Chowdiah’s 'Krishnasarthaya' – Remembering a giant and his era

As we live out our lives in this supposedly great internet age, as we ‘facebook’ and ‘twitter’ away time, as we provide a mind with only moments in which to decipher an others destiny rendering instinctively a ‘raaga’ (‘I select you’) or ‘dvesha’ (‘I reject you’), we occasionally receive a stimulus which arrests us. Hopefully, the arrest provides us with a relief , wanting us to cast away that bedlam from life which we feel is so unrelentingly thrust upon us, notwithstanding any belief by newer generations that everything is just a matter of a material choice.

We would like to sometimes slink away into that other world, wistfully into the days when we were once young, into an age when time afforded us some reflection and contemplation to savor a quality ...

[1957 - Sri Chowdiah going 'solo' with disciple in "Parvathi" when Sri. K. Puttu Rao was still alive. Looking on is the revered 'Gamaki' Ramakrishna Shastri and young friend K. Srikantiah]

... when you were so poor it did not matter because you could lean on your friend for a ‘one by two coffee’ (is this just a Karnataka/Mysuru/Bengaluru phrase and feeling or is it a general one amongst all the citizens of Tamilnadu, Telangana and Karnataka who drew upon each other as one under the Wodeyars? ), where you could herald yourself to where the great Vidwans and Vidushis held magnificent courts , albeit with make shift platforms assembled as a ‘stage’, enough to give them a lift just so that you could see them in your insufficiency while you were seated far away, but sufficient enough to bask in the glory of their artistry as you let them transport you into some rapturous heaven through great god given skills.

[1959 - Sri Chowdiah preserves Sri. K. Puttu Rao's memory at the Bidarama Krishnappa Rama Mandiram, along with Sri K. Srikantiah]

Such a recent stimulus was given to this writer by a veteran member of a very popular ‘Rasikas’ forum, stylizing himself as Sri ‘Mankuthimma’, who in casting about a very few words 'I am full of Chowdiah, today!’ sent this writer into a sudden tizzy, a withdrawal of longing into those times, into that space that the once popular crooner of bygone years, the Anglo-Indian-Australian crooner Tony Brent described for us as “In my little room, I’m hiding away, planning to stay…..in my little room...”

So Rasikas, come with us.

Let us spend some moments with the great violinist of a bygone era, T. Chowdiah, and the equally brilliant great men and women of his times that drew upon him; immortal names like GNB, Madurai Mani Iyer, Chembai Vaidyanath Bhagvathar, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, M.S. Subbalakshmi and Mannakal Rangarajan (who thankfully is still with us!).

As we prepare for our next posting from "Parvathi", let us take you into their world, drawing upon the words of Karnataka’s eminent science writer, music critic, cultural organizer, the late Shri G.T. Narayan Rao [ produced here from the book Sangeetharatna Mysore T. Chowdaiah by Sri. K.Srikantiah] [Click to magnify pages below].

Ah, is it only words this time or is there any music - you ask?

Yes, we have great music! However, not from “Parvathi” (as we prepare it's music for the next occasion), but from a concert which you may all have perhaps heard but which nevertheless is considered a classic of its times. It is from the AIR Sangeeta Sammelan of 1961 with the combo of T.Chowdiah - Madurai Mani Iyer - Palani Subramanya Pillai - Kodanda Rama Iyer, all of them perhaps at their brilliant best.

It wouldn’t hurt to listen to it once again in our company. For, it does pull quite a bit at those heartstrings!

with the
Nov 28, 2010

[ Also seen is Vocalist Prof. Nagamani Srinath who won the State award ]

[ Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P. The Hindu Nov 29, 2010 ]

Friday, November 19, 2010

When God beckons to Man – Flute's eternal fascination with Dr. N. Ramani

[ Lord Ramachandra as worshipped in "Parvathi" ]

Sarojini Naidu, (blessed is the land that gave birth to great souls like this Nightingale), writes in her haunting poem 'The Flute-Player of Brindaban':

Why didst thou play thy matchless flute
'Neath the Kadamba tree,

And wound my idly dreaming heart
With poignant melody,

So where thou goest I must go
My flute-player with thee?

Still must I like a homeless bird

Wander, forsaking all
The earthly loves and worldly lures

That held my life in thrall
And follow, follow, answering

Thy magical flute-call.

Such is the eternal fascination of the flute. A humble reed that epitomizes surrender at God's lips, whence come all divine vibrations. Perhaps to be a flute-player calls for several births of evolution. It is perhaps the simplest musical instrument, and yet has the maximum impact on a listener. Wordless but vibrant lips that infuse Prana or “Life-breath” into our ears and penetrate the deepest part of our souls. A simple note alone from a flute will suffice. Then what of the majestic melody of a Kharaharapriya or a Thodi, melodies born of millennia of spiritual quest of those residing in their Vishuddhi Chakra?

It is not only us Krishna-worshippers. The whole world knows the divine abandon that flute beckons us to. Keats, in his Ode on the Grecian Urn, writes,

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone.

His words point to another key aspect of flute music. Silence is embedded in each phrase! There is an eternal tango between melody and silence in the music of the flute.

It is almost for sure that Keats is thinking of the divine flute-player we call Krishna when he says,“ happy melodist, unwearied/ For ever piping songs for ever new. ”

It is not too different from the words of Swathi Thirunal who sang: "Mohanamayii tava muraligaanam Aho..."

And so dear Rasikas, we bring you Dr. N. Ramani's concert held in Parvathi in 1970. With great accompaniment, Vidwan Ramani has transported us to a heaven we are loathe to take leave of! Come to the feast. Brochevaruevarura... Kharaharapriya, no less... Thodi RTP... and more and much more. Krishna nee begane is uniquely presented on the long flute.

The Parvathi Concert
April 19, 1970 Shri Ramanavami Festival

N. Ramani- flute
K. Alagiriswamy - violin
K. Sivaraman – Mridangam
M. Manjunathan - Ghatam

[ 01.Sarasijanabha Atatala Varnam – Kambhoji – Swathi Thirunal*** 02. Vatapi Ganapathim – Hamsadhwani – Muthuswami Dikshitar*** 03. Dudukugala – Gowla Pancharathnam – Thyagaraja*** 04. Niravadhisukhada- Ravichandrika – Thyagaraja***05. Paripurna Kama – Poorvikalyani – Thyagaraja*** 06. Broche varu – Khamach – Mysore Vasudevachar*** 07. Ninuvinaa – Navarasakannada – Thyagaraja*** 08. Chakkaniraja – Kharaharapriya – Thyagaraja*** 09.Raghuvamsha – Kadanakutuhalam – Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer*** 10. Thodi Ragam Thanam Pallavi Ragamalika*** 11. Krishna nee begane – Yamunakalyani- Vyasaraya*** (long bamboo) 12. Jagadoddharana – Kapi – Purandaradasa*** 13. Magudi *** 14. Sadho Sadho - Ahir Bhairav- Surdas Bhajan *** 15. Mangalam *** ]