Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jaya TV concert - Dec 11th 2010


Yesterday I sang for the Margazhi Maha Utsavam, Jaya TV. Every year I try to take up a new theme to work on compositions that are not much in vogue. My focus has been only on tamil compositions as I feel they have not been given their due. This year I chose the theme "Bharathi Moovar" focussing on the compositions of Kavi Kunjara Bharathi, Mazhavai Chidambara Bharathi & Suddhananda Bharathi. 

Kavi Kunjara Bharathi was the grandfather of the other great vaggeyakara Koteeswara Iyer who had composed in all the 72 melakartas. As early as 1915, Koteeswara Iyer had published the lyrics of Kavi Kunjara Bharathi (1810 - 1894). Koteeswara Iyer writes in his preface that he has sung all those songs, but unfortunately he did not publish them with musical notation. Later, KKB's Azhagar Kuravanji (the popular padham Ivanaro in Kambhoji is part of this) was published in musical notation by Shri Nagamani (son of Koteeswara Iyer) . I know for a fact the Shri TN Seshagopalan has given a full programme for the Tamil Isai Sangam based on the Azhagar Kuravanji and his rendition of Ivanaro was indeed very very special. Later Shri Dandapani Desigar had set the song Siddhi vinayakane of KKB in Jaganmohini and sung it quite often. I was not aware of the MMD tune and I had already set Siddhi vinayakane to the ragam Kalavati (the Tyagaraja Ennadu jootuno version of the ragam), and that is how I sang it yesterday. The 1915 publication does mention the ragam of this song as Bilahari, but I decided to renew the licence that Shri Desigar had used to come with my own version :) The other KKB song that I sang yesterday was Deivam undendru nambu maname in Kalyani. This song is also mentioned as Kalyani but the musical framework that I adopted is just a "cover" version of the great compositions that I have heard in Kalyani! I had not intended to sing Ivanaro yesterday, but as I was getting ready to stop for the Q&A session, Subashri (who probably was not ready with the final list of questions!) asked me to continue, so I just decided to slot that in.

Mazhavai Chidambara Bharathi, a contemporary of Kavi Kunjara Bharathi, was the grandfather of Mazhvarayanenthal Subbarama Bhagavatar on the maternal side. It is said that MSB used to sing many of these compositions in his concerts. I had learnt an MCB song (Kanmaniye solladi in Saranga) from my grand aunt Smt.Rukmini Rajagopalan many years back and used to sing it quite often in concerts. Later I came to know that the Saranga was a GNB tune and that the original was in Kapi. I even remember lsitening to a beautiful slow rendition in Kapi by Tanjavur Sankara Iyer. About 15 years back, I was at Madurai for a concert. An old man named Ramani knocked on my door at the hotel. He actually sang the song Karunai vaitthennai aalamma in Begada and said it was an MCB song and that he was a disciple of Subbarama Bhagavatar. I remembered that it resembeled the Ramaswami SIvan song Kadaikkan vaitthennai aalamma and he said that the MCB was the original and that it was later copied. The Music Academy has published a book on the compositions of MCB in musical notation and that is where I picked up the songs Poomel valarum in Anandabhairavi and Karunai thanthennai in Begada that I sang yesterday. This book also has a nice introduction by the noted Tamil writer Chidambara Subramaniam, who was also a grandson of the composer.

Suddhananda Bharati is an interesting composer and personality. I think he was more of a poet and all his songs have been set to music by others. My Guru Shri KSK has set a number of songs to music. I have sung songs like Aaduguraan kannan in Kapi and Ellaam SIvan seyal in Vasantha in the past. In fact there is a nice version of Ellaam sivan seyal in Kalyani in one of the Annamalai Univ publications, I think set to music by Tanjavur K Ponniah Pillai. I had specifically asked my Guru to set that song up in Vasantha for me to sing. Another is Brindavanam iduvo in Suddha dhanyasi about which I have written earlier. I also came across a book called "Suddhananda Melarnavam" having songs of Suddhananda Bharathi in all the 72 melakarta ragams set to music by Shri TS Raghavan. For yesterday's concert I had chosen the song Ullam urugi urugi in Kanakangi. Hopefully I'll be able to sing a few more of these melakarta songs in the years to come. The other song of SB that I sang yesterday was a patriotic viruttham and song from the book "Singa nadham". I had set the song to the ragam Patdeep which is basically s g m p n / s n d p m g r in the Gowrimanohari scale.

List of compositions sung

1. Siddhi vinayakane - Kalavati - Adi (KKB)
2. Poomel valarum - Anandabhairavi - Adi (MCB)
3. Ullam urugi urugi - Kanakangi - Rupakam (SB)
4. Karunai thanthennai - Begada - M Chapu (MCB)
5. Deivam undendru - Kalyani - Adi (KKB)
6. Ivanaro - Kambhoji - M Chapu (KKB)
7. Vazhiya bharatham - Viruttham - Ragamalika (SB)
8. Enthaai vaazhgenum - Patdeep - Adi (SB)

Sriram Guruswamy's photos from the above concert.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Concert schedule Season 2010

Here is my schedule for this year's season.


09/12/2010 Kartik Fine Arts (Narada Gana Sabha auditorium)
11/12/2010 Jaya TV (Chettinad School auditorium)
15/12/2010 Brahma Gana Sabha (Sivakami Petachi Auditorium)
17/12/2010 Bharat Kalachar
19/12/2010 Vani Mahal
20/12/2010 Narada Gana Sabha
22/12/2010 Indian Fine Arts (German Hall)
23/12/2010 Music Academy
25.12/2010 Krishna Gana Sabha
26/12/2010 Kalarasna (Rani Seethai Hall)
28/12/2010 Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha (Vidya Bharathi kalyana mandapam)
29/12/2010 Tamil Isai Sangam
31/12/2010 Kalakshetra
02/01/2011 Rasika Fine Arts (Jaigopal Garodia School, Postal Colony)
05/01/2011 Bhairavi Gana Sabha (Vidya Bharathi kalyana mandapam)

Season 2010

Another season is upon us! Something about the season gets me in the mood to write. So maybe this blog will get some attention! There is something about turning 40. It makes you want to look back and remember a few things that happened sometime ago. How we hated it when they talked about 'those' days. Now we can happily start a conversation with '20 years ago' and feel nice about it.

December 1 was really looked forward to every year. The list of concerts in every sabha would be out. In the seventies when I was still learning the violin my interest was primarily in seeing who my guru's sons were accompanying at the academy. I think for a few years L Subramaniam played for KVN and L Shankar played for Madurai Somu at the Academy. I still remember the concert at the Academy, where L Shankar was playing for Madurai Somu. CS Murugabhoopathy was on the mrudangam. The RTP was in the raga Swarnangi. As L Shankar began his turn of the alapana and moved on to the upper shadja, Somu stopped and asked him to play a bit more in the panchamam range! The advent of the internet and publishing of online schedules makes it that much less interesting to go through the Dec 1st newspaper, but there are still people who do that. The other day I was at a friend's house and this doctor came up to me and asked me how many concerts I was singing this year. I have known him for so many years and he has never bothered to ask me this in the past. I guess recent declarations by some about cutting down prompted him to ask me this! Anyway I just said that he can always count the number once the schedules are out and his response was "Yes, I can see it on the newspaper on December 1st !!" 

Titles have increased so much that there is not much excitement about who is getting what. However the Sangeetha Kalanidhi still retains its primary status as the one everybody covets! This year the Bombay Sisters have been chosen. An excellent choice by the Academy. Yes they could have given it this one or that one, but who they have chosen really deserves it. There is a saying in tamil "patti thotti yellaam paadiyirukkaal" meaning that they have sung in every nook and corner. That is exactly what the Bombay Sisters have done over the last 40 years. They have never denied the rasikas an opportunitiy to listen to them whenever they wanted. This is the best service for the art form that any musician can do. The number of recordings they have released is really amazing. After Dr MBK they were the first artistes to release 100 pre recorded albums for the Sangeetha label, a remarkable achievement! I have attended a couple of their recording sessions when Shri L Krishnan was supervising and composing music for them. Their professionalism, diction, discipline in rendition etc were a real lesson for an aspiring musician like me.

As I started typing out this post, I glanced at my previous posts on the Season and realised that the theme of " not writing regularly and hoping to write more" has been recurring. So in the name of "Sampradaya" I won't change that theme. This year my first concert will be for Karthik Fine Arts on the 9th. My Jaya TV concert is on the 11th and the theme I have chosen this year is "Bharathi Moovar" - Compositions of Kavi Kunjara Bharathi, Mazhavai Chidambara Bharathi & Suddhananda Bharathi. A little more detail on these composers will follow soon on this blog I promise!