Wednesday, March 18, 2015

London concert video

Sri Sanjay Subramaniam's Kucheri @Sivan Centre. Sunday, 15th~March~2015:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tyagaraja Akhandam

My first experience of the Tyagaraja akhandam was in sometime in the early eighties. It was my first visit to Tiruvayyaru. The whole family had driven down and it was a really wonderful experience. I remember getting the autograph of Madurai Somu. The pen I handed him did not write and someone nearby prompted him to mention it in the autograph! He just gave a mischievous smile and signed the book. That evening we overheard that there was an akhandam going on in the residence of Tyagaraja at Tiruvarur and that several big guns were there including Semmangudi and Lalgudi Jayaraman. 

So we immediately started driving towards Tiruvarur following the blue Fiat car of TN Krishnan himself! After some hiccups with the straw and grain dumped on the roads we reached just in time to see Semmangudi flanked by Lalgudi and TNK on both sides beginning the Pancharatna kritis. After Dudukugala Semmangudi started “Endaro” and was immediately stopped by Lalgudi who prompted Sadinchene. Semmangudi gave a wry smile and changed tune. A friend of my dad was convinced that it was a deliberate 'attention seeking' exercise by the old man :)

After the pancharatnams, the akhandam - continuous singing of Tyagaraja kritis, commenced. Tyagaraja akhandams generally do not allow for songs to be repeated. So you have someone sitting with a big notebook writing down the songs that have been sung. In the beginning when one' repertoire is limited it may be difficult since many of the popular songs get sung. After about 10 pm when most have gone home, some of the seniors will get in to sing. Some of them had their classic favourites. Chingleput Ranganathan would sing Kalinaru in Kuntalavarali, Tiruvengadu Jayaraman, Dasharathe in Kokilapriya, Sirgazhi Jayaraman, Varashikhivahana in Supradeepam and Murthuvakkudi Gopu, Adikaadu bhajana in Yadukulakambhoji.  My favourite akhandam moment was when I had gone to Purasaivakkam for the one conducted by Sadguru Sangeetha Samajam. TK Govinda Rao was singing and he quietly enquired “Vidhi sakradulaku aayidutthaa?” (Has Vidhi sakradulu been sung) I could see the twinkle in his eye and I was convinced that he knew no one would have sung that. After all it was TKG who had notated the song and published it in the first place!

I am happy to note that vidwans CA Rajasekar (CARVA) and Poongulam Subramaniam and others are continuing to conduct the Tyagaraja akhandams at the Ayodhya mandapam in West Mambalam. A couple of years back I got to go there and sing a few songs in the middle of the night. I missed it last year but managed to find time to go there again this year and one of the songs I  sang was Vidhi sakradulaku!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sethalapathy Memorial Concert on iTunes, Spotify

The album, Sethalapathy Memorial Concert, is now available on iTunes for download. Many had written to me about wanting to use an Indian credit card and pay in Rupees. It can be done now!
The album is also available in the iTunes stores worldwide with Apple fixing the price for the same.
The album can also be heard on Spotify by users outside India -

Friday, January 30, 2015

Listen to Vaa Vaa Velmuruga on Rdio

Rdio is similar to Spotify and offers streaming music. Please do check it out. More albums should be available there in the coming months

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fitness Journey

Let’s just say that today was an important landmark in my personal fitness journey. Deadlifting 100 kgs! Nothing great for all you strength champs out there, but think of a 47 year old Carnatic musician, totally unfit and overweight for the better part of 15 years. Think of the singer who had to move his feet around 45 minutes into the concert because of constant knee pain. Think of this obese dad who had to carry his sleeping 6 month old in one hand and the tambura in the other as his wife pulled along with the sleeping 5 year old up 3 flights of stairs after an exhausting concert. Think of the ever hungry, always raiding the refrigerator, couch potato watching cricket matches or browsing the internet in his spare time.

The weight start growing slowly around 1989-90 and suddenly before I knew I was creeping up to 75 kgs by the time I was 25 years old. The fitness journey had a series of beginnings back then. Failed attempts to go ‘jogging’ in the beach. Joining a nearby gym but hardly stepping into it. Then all this was heavy stuff. All you need to do was just brisk walking for about 45 minutes right? Fast forward to 2003 and there I was 90+ kilos and knee pain starting to hit at crucial moments in a concert.

First serious attempt at fitness began with Yoga. Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram was my destination and I kept at it for a few years off and on. What was missing was discipline and continuity. Then around 2007 having reaching a peak weight of 102 kilos I finally mustered the courage to join one of these new age gyms with all those cardio machines, weight training, dumb bells, personal trainers etc etc. Things worked. One lost weight, was looking better definitely and things improved overall. Then came the “Great Half Marathon trap” that I fell headlong into. Haruki Murakami runs marathons you know. Road runs began in right earnest. 5k, 7k, 9k and then one day 13K! WOW! Wasn’t that something! It had taken 2 hours 10 minutes but still was something right! 

By this time one had crossed 40. Not much strength training done. Constant running and cardio was having its strain on the muscles. Knee pain, groin pain, ankle pain! Name it and it started hitting me soon. Rehab time! That was when I had my first interactions with Primal patterns and their physio Navneet who slowly started me on a rehab program. 2013 and things were not looking good at all. 45 years old, weight was creeping up again, knee pain appears again and finally we had that fantastic meeting with the Boss himself, Shanker Basu of Primal Patterns.

First piece of advice “Stop running  till I tell you”. Secondly, “Read these books” - Dark Side of Fat Loss, Wheat Belly, Obesity Epidemic etc etc. Slowly cut out the carbs bit by bit, add protein. Forget about workouts for the moment. Get you bio chemistry in order. Hunger craving has to come down. A couple of months and things started getting better. Lost a few kilos and things were looking better. Then began the slow path of getting stronger. That was the basic philosophy. Get strong! Get strong! Strength is important for everything. Here was a “bhagavatar” who had never held a dumb bell in his hand till the age of 37 and I was slowly doing Front squats, back squats, Dead Lifts, Bulgarian split squats.

The last 6 months has been a fantastic journey for me with my trainer Arun. I was too eager, he was patient. I wanted to workout twice a day, he restricted me to thrice a week! But then progress was slowly being made. Small goals were set and achieved. Form was being corrected. Volume was being accumulated. It was all quite familiar now. Concentrate on the basics. Get your talam in order. Sing the classical compositions. Sing a lot of concerts. Don’t worry about the audience. Get more miles under your belt. Senthil (the Tamizh actor, comedian, in ‘Boys' was it?) said ‘Information is wealth” didn’t he? When you were a music student listening to concerts was most important. You need to know what to sing, you need to know what NOT to sing.

Today an important target has been achieved! Thanks Basu! Thanks Arun! Thanks to every member of the Primal Patterns team who has encouraged em along the way! The journey continues!