Tuesday, October 21, 2014

December Season 2014 Schedule

Wish you all a very happy and prosperous Deepavali!!!

8th Kartik Fine ArtsNagai MuralidharanPalladam RaviS Venkatramanan
12thJaya TVS VaradarajanNeyveli B Venkatesh
15thBrahma Gana SabhaNagai SriramNanjil ArulS Karthick
17thBharat KalacharSR VinuTrivandrum BalajiAnirudh Atreya
19thVani MahalS VaradarajanSJ Arjun GaneshKV Gopalakrishnan
21stKalarasnaNagai MuralidharanSrimushnam Raja RaoS Venkatramanan
23rdNarada Gana SabhaMysore NagarajTrichy HarikumarAlathur Rajaganesh
25thKrishna Gana SabhaS VaradarajanThanjavur RamadasBangalore Rajasekar
26thMusic AcademyS VaradarajanNeyveli B VenkateshS Venkatramanan
28thIndian Fine ArtsHN BhaskarTanjore MurugabhoopathyTrichy K Murali
29thTamil Isai SangamS VaradarajanNeyveli B VenkateshKovai Mohanram
30thParthasarathy SabhaNagai SriramMannargudi EaswaranS Karthick
Jan 1st 2015Brahma Gana SabhaS VaradarajanNeyveli B VenkateshTrippunittura Radhakrishnan

Monday, October 20, 2014

Nijadasa varada

Violin maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman once had this to say about the Patnam Subramania Iyer kriti Nijadasa varada in Kalyani. Tyagaraja had composed quite a few songs in Kalyani and it must have been a real challenge for any subsequent composer to come up with an innovative take on that raga. So it took a really brilliant musician like Patnam to actually conjure the “Ni Da Ga” phrase as the take off point for the pallavi of this song!

I retain a lot of fond memories about this song. I had just begun learning from my grand aunt Smt Rukmini Rajagopalan. Her brother and my grand father Thyagu specifically told me that I should learn Nijadasa varada as she had learnt it directly from Parur Sundaram Iyer and that there is a lovely sangati in the last line of the anupallavi that has the swara prayoga “Ga Da Ri” that gave a unique touch to the song. Of course after I had learnt the song I did add a couple of sangatis specifically from the MLV version in the pallavi of the song.

Once when I had just sung Nijadasa varada and was leaving paatti’s house after class, thatha (TV Rajagopalan) stopped me and asked what I sang for the first line of the charanam. I had sung it as “kausika yAgAdi tATakAdi samharaNa.” He immediately corrected the sahitya saying that it must be kausika yAgAri and not yAgAdi. It would have meant that 'Rama killed Vishvamitra's yAga along with tATakA' instead of 'the enemy of Vishvamitra's yAga’! 

tATakAdi-samharaNa = killing of tATakA and others
kaushika-yAga-ari = (who are) enemies of vishvamitra's yAga 


samharaNa = killing of
kaushika-yAga-Adi = vishvamitra's yAga and others' 
tATakAdi = (and) tATakA and other (rAkshasas)
Many years later I sang this song in a concert and someone came up to me and said that they have not heard this in a concert for at least 20 years now. I jokingly remarked that it must have been at least 20 years since I sang it myself! Anyway it took at least another 5 or 6 years before I sang this again and this time another person came and made the same remark about not having heard the song in a long time and I managed to give my earlier patented reply. Unfortunately for me my disciple Swarnarethas reminded me that it was only 5 years back that I had sung and made the same remark! 

Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Click to download Nijadasa varada and other songs from Live at Venus Colony 2013 - https://gum.co/CYzCB

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sethalapathy Balasubramaniam

It must have been 1985 or 86. My grandfather Thyagu came into our house all excited. He had just visited his good old friend Neelu (Neelakantan who was the son of violin vidwan Tiruvalangadu Sundaresa Iyer) and had heard somebody sing. His name was Balu and he was a disciple of Papanasam Sivan. Thatha was just raving continuously about the bhavam, the intensity and the creativity of his singing especially viruthams. He immediately contacted Balu and wanted him to come home and sing and all of us to hear him. I had not seen Thatha so excited about a musician since he first heard TN Seshagopalan and thought that the void caused by the loss of GNB to the musical world had been filled!

One evening Balu mama was invited home and he came with his son and mrudangam artiste Ganapthyraman. he sang for about an hour and a half and it was a very new experience for us. We were immediately hooked to his uninhibited bhavam laden style of singing and that Margazhi we started attending the Sivan bhajanai sessions on the streets around the Kapali temple.

Day in and day out, my parents and I would get up 5.30 and go to listen to the bhajanai sessions. Balu mama was a cult figure then. There was a group of about 15-20 people who simply loved his singing and we joined that loyal band of fanatics. There were a few others who also sang in bhajan. there was of course Balu mama’s uncle Mani bhagavatar, who unfortunately passed away within a year or so of our joining the bahajnai sessions. Then there was Rukmini Ramani, Papanasam Sivan’s daughter with a few disciples of hers and her son the talented Papanasam Ashok Ramani. The popular star there was however Balu mama.

The bhajanai attracted a lot of vidwans on a regular basis. Dr S Ramanathan would come. He would invariably sing Kumaran taal in Yadukulakambhoji or Aarukkutaan teriyum in Devamanohari. He would then request Mani Bhagavatar to specifically sing Paraamukham yenayya in Karaharapriya. DK Jayaraman came usually on January 1st. Mani Bhagavatar was a giant singer. A puny looking man, frail but a singing voice that was a 4 kattai sruti with a lot of volume and bhavam. He sounded a bit like the old Musiri 78 rpm records. he sang some interesting songs like Amba manam kanindunadu in Pantuvarali (made famous by MKT), Marundalitthiduvaai in Gowla and one of his specials, Kaadali raadhayai in Karaharapriya which brought Aruna Sairam to uncontrollable tears once.

A few days into Margazhi and then requests would start pouring in for Balu mama to sing. His favourites were of course Todi, Kambhoji, Karaharapriya and Sanmukhapriya. He also loved singing Mohanam, Hindolam, Kapi Sindhu bhairavi, Behag and Suddha dhanyasi. I was a huge fan of several of his trademark viruthams like Oorilen kaani, Maarinindru ennai, Ullaasa nirakula etc. Somedays Lalgudi Swaminatha Odhuvar, the resident singer of the Kapali temple would join in, especially near Gajalakshmi textiles next the temple office entrance on North mada street and the two would launch into a virutham jugalbandhi. Whatever they sang, Keeravani and Kapi were a must!

Personally for me Balu mama was like a manasika guru. I loved the way he articulated the lyrics when singing viruthams especially dwelling on specific words and enhancing them with a torrent of sangatis. He was a big big fan of Madurai Mani Iyer and also like GNB a lot. We even started collecting some of his recordings and one such I treasure is what he sang at the residence of Kothamangalam Seenu. I got this recording from Seenu’s son Ganesh who was my asthana tambura artiste. Unfortunately the days of Meltrack cassettes ensured that the recording was lost to me when I tried to hunt it a couple of years back! SVK of Ragasudha hall, liked his music a lot and invited him frequently to his house to sing. On one such occasion I was putting the tambura. There was an old friend of SVK’s, an amateur mrudangam artiste who was playing for him. Balu mama was really irritated with his playing and after a couple of songs just called out to Arun Prakash who was sitting in the audience and said “Antha kozhantha rendu paattukku vaasikkattum” (Let that child play for a couple of songs)

Balu mama was quite a riot with his stories and anecdotes. he was very close to a mrudangam/khanjira artiste Tiruvarur Nagarajan and used to go along with him. Balu mama’s favourite story is how Nagarajan had the habit of talking to himself on stage. Especially in a kalyana kutchery playing for some one with the worst possible sense of rhythm he would mutter to himself “Mattinduttiyedaa Nagaraja! varuthappattu prayojanam ille!” (You hav got stuck Nagaraja. No point in regretting) Balu mama’s favourite description of Madurai Mani Iyer singing kalpana swarm was like 1 year old walking with small baby steps in an adorably rhythmic fashion!

Balu mama once came to my concert at the TTD and mid way asked me to sing Tiruvadi sharanam! I hesitated saying that it may not be appropriate, but he just nodded vigorously and quipped “onnu paadinaa thappu ille” (Nothing wrong if you sang one) I will never forget how he came to my wedding and blessed us with a spontaneous virutham! What more can one ask for?

Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Download Kapali (an album of Papanasam Sivan songs) - https://gumroad.com/l/YHMo

Download other albums - http://www.sanjaysub.com

Friday, October 3, 2014

Ragam Tanam Mallari - New Album launched!

Happy Vijayadasami!

I am very happy to launch my new album - Ragam Tanam Mallari, a live concert that I had sung on 4th March 2012 for Nayaki at Kotturpuram, Chennai.

As usual it can be downloaded for 0$+

Click to download Ragam Tanam Mallari - https://gumroad.com/l/YcUe

Click to download other albums - http://www.sanjaysub.com

Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Navarathri is huge especially in my household. I grew up typically looking forward to these nine days. The first excitement of course was getting all the golu bommais down from the attic. My dad was always insistent that they can come down only after the ‘padis’ were set up. The engineer that he was, he looked down on the pre fabricated steps and insisted on building them with whatever furniture we had at home. That was the challenge for the designer in him! I, being the eldest would be climbing up the lofts and bringing down everything, cursing my younger siblings for not contributing and generally playing the adult part. Preliminary inspection would reveal one or two broken and then my brother would be despatched to get Fevicol or Araldite from the nearby shop, Sandhi Stores/Jawahar Stores or whatever.

Sampling the sundal in every house in the street was primary. also the puttu served at the local temple as prasadam was another ritual. I would generally recycle the 3 or 4 varnams I knew to earn my sundal. One year my brother was dressed up as a girl to go and invite people for golu!

The biggest and most revered music festival during this period was and still is the Navarathri Mandapam Festival in Trivandrum. You grew up hearing stories of how there were no microphones, mrudangam accompanied the tan am singing, the main piece for each day was fixed, and the bell rang sharply at 8.30 and artistes had to finish. There was also this famous story of how KVN had finished Bhujaga sayino and there was still another 45 sec left and Palghat Mani Iyer finished it off with a short sweet mini tani. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer once told me that he had sung at the Mandapam for 55 years continuously!

Prince Rama Varma on the Navarathri Mandapam Festival - Navarathri Mandapam Festival

Navarathri Mandapam Festival FAQ - Navarathri Mandapam Festival FAQs

All India Radio had a lot of special programmes during Navarathri as did Doordarshan. In the eighties a lot of us referred to a particular rendering of the Kamalamba Navavarnams by a group led by Seetha Rajan, Radha Wariar and others, specially trained by Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, and rendered on the radio, as the gold standard for learning them up. AIR chose different themes every year usually highlighting Devi compositions. Today one can go to Youtube and do a preliminary search and get some of the original Doordarshan programmes. This year I am as always looking forward to singing on the 28th at the Navarathri Mandapam in Trivandrum with the main kriti Janani mamava in Bhairavi.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Click to download the latest albums - http://www.sanjaysub.com