Shillika’s photostream on Flickr.
With the music season at its peak and the dance fever catching on. Vazhapoo vada, kuzhi paniyaram, kasi halwa and coffee at Jayaram’s Gnanambika to satisfy my stomach on a timely basis, things couldn’t have got more exciting for me in a December month in Chennai.
21st December, 2009 started off with the weather playing spoil sport. A lecture demonstration by M.B. Vedavalli on Ragas with dual names in the post trinity period followed by a talk on Hindutani and Karnataka Music styles with reference to Aesthetics and Gamakas by T.V. Gopalakrishnan at the music academy was in the brewing. Recitals by Shashank on the flute and Embar Kannan and Kanyakumari on he violin was to follow as the schedule for the later part of the day. The raindrops however had me immersed in the sounds of nature. It was then that I decided to go to the beach and spend my day absorbed in the music existing all around us. You know when they say things happen for a reason, you nod your head but don’t really believe it till you experience it.. well it was one of those days.
I drove to the beach with no great hurry, windows down, wind blowing through my hair, the sweet smell of rain and chirping of birds kept me company. The sound of traffic and honking of horns was unheard at 6:30 a.m. A broad smile extended on my face. I was looking forward to a day with the sea, assuming of course that activities on a Monday morning at the beach was very unlikely in the city. I was proved wrong just as I neared the parking. Cops swarming all around isn’t a common sight. I noticed that cranes were being mounted on the sea-shore.. completely bewildered I marched up to the group of people by the crane and enquired as to what was going on.
“In matters of pollution we feel that nature s the ultimate victim, and yet we never listen to what the victim has to say. We’re conducting a project in collaboration with Greenpeace to try and get the sea to speak to us,” said Joono Simon, the Executive Creative Director, South for Mudra Communications.
Not that I had any problems of comprehension, the statement somehow went a good four feet above my head. Yet interested in the thought of the sea speaking made me stay a while longer to see what he meant. Soon after the cranes were set and cameramen were seated high, large alphabets were carried to a couple of boats by local fishermen. With the letters tucked away in the boats, the firsermen set sail. After going a hundred feet into the sea, they set afloat the three foot high blocks of wood wrapped neatly in khadi and paper pulp. I noticed that the event brought together many more curious audiences like myself.
It was a spectacular event! The sea did break the silence! The word ‘HIC’ was washed ashore leaving everyone there spellbound. A chill down our spines, a certain awareness and sensitivity that was rekindled.
Nature is saying something all the time. The music is there all around us. All we have to do is listen.
After a long hiatus, I sat down at the writing desk. The sound of the waves still ringing in my ears, and the music continuing to fill my soul.
Evam, in association with The Boardwalkers, presents “An idiot for Dinner “, a light-hearted play targetted both old and young folks. It promises to be filled with entertainment and has the Evam element of sit – back and enjoy right through. They will premiere at Ranga Sharkara in Bangalore before bring it to the Chennai audience in the forthcoming week. The play will be staged in Sivagami Petachi auditorium in Chennai. Tickets will be available at all landmark outlets and www.bookmyshow.com
For more about the play visit www.evam.co.in/idiot.html
Carnatica is conducting their programs this season at the Tattvaloka auditorium. Carnatica was founded and continues to be run by eminent Carnatic vocalists, S. Soumya and K.N. Sashikiran. They have established centers in Chennai and the United States and have also brought out an online tutorial.
Today, Chitraveena N. Ravikiran is performing at seven. A little about Ravi.
He was born on 12th February 1967 to Chitraveena Narasimhan and Choodamani. In 1969, he made his first appearance in the Malleshwaram Sangeeta Sabha, Bangalore.
Soon after that he was presented in The Madras Music Academy, Krishna Ghana Sabha where he stunned the music world with his ability to identify and render about 325 ragas (melodic scales) and 175 talas (rhythmic cycles). He was also able to answer complex technical questions on various aspects of Carnatic music when quizzed by luminaries such as Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Pandit Ravi Shankar, M S Subbulakshmi, Flute Mali, Palghat Mani Iyer, T N Krishnan, Ramnad Krishnan and Alla Rakha. The Music Academy, Madras, awarded the two-year-old, a monthly scholarship for the next few years.
Ravikiran went on to learn Carnatic music under the guidance of his father, Narasimhan. The latter’s unique teaching methods enabled Ravikiran to develop rigorous discipline and have fun at the same time. Ravikiran debuted as a vocalist in 1972, at Coimbatore, India, at age five. His ability to perform full-fledged three-hour concerts with senior accompanists, displaying rare mastery over both the melodic and rhythmic aspects (such as singing a khanda ata tala varnam in khanda eka tala in the five jati-s) of Carnatic music, amazed scholars and lovers of music alike.
Ravikiran presented concerts to packed audiences for major organisations in various cities until the age of 10, at which time (anticipating a voice change),he switched over to the beautiful 21-stringed chitravina.
However, he resumed his vocal recitals in 1999 and now presents both vocal and instrumental concerts. His masterful knowledge of Carnatic music, his musical acumen, imaginative approach, breath control and diction, have made him a much desired artiste in prominent venues both in and outside India.
From the late 1980-s, Ravikiran had the rare privilege of learning from the celebrated vocalist T Brinda, widely acknowledged as a musicians’ musician. His interaction with her added a whole new dimension to his perception of the microscopic nuances of music.
His thematic vocal recitals on works of venerated composers such as Tyagaraja and Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi have won approbation from music lovers.
Ravikiran is easily one of the most prolific composers in the world of Carnatic music now. He has introduced a number of ragas also. He discovered a raga at the age of two and named it Choodamani after his mother. He has also introduced ragams such as keshavapriya, Mohini, Snehapriya, Shivamanohari and Andhakarini. He has to his credit in excess of 500 compositions. These include, apart from over 300 conventional musical forms, several short numbers that form a part of his music-dance productions as also those created for instrumental ensembles and orchestras. His Carnatic compositions cover a range of themes in various musical forms such as varnam, krti, padam, javali and tillana.
He is the first composer to have composed in each one of the 35 talas of Carnatic music. Like most traditional Carnatic composers who used signature (mudra) for their compositions, Ravikiran signs his pieces with the phrase, Ravi-Shashi. However, many of his operatic pieces will not bear this signature and some pieces also have the word, ‘Ravikiran’ incorporated in the lyrics.
He started the International School of Carnatic Music to promote Carnatic music around the world. He has also authored two books -
Appreciating Carnatic Music, Perfecting Carnatic Music – Level I and II and Inaiyatra Innishai. He has directed several audio and video albums and has also published books by other composers like Tanjavur Shankara Iyer.
He was the youngest and the first Indian to receive some prestigious International awards in the field of music.
I have had the good fortune of knowing this great man and learning from him! Today will be great! Updates after the concert will be up.
Today’s session at the Music Academy was in the memory of Madurai Somu.
The lecdem was presented by three eminent speakers, Meegada Ramalinga Sastry, Arimalam Padmanabhan and Balakrishna Bhatt who spoke on theatre and music of Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka respectively.
I managed to borrow Satya’s camera so my morning involved capturing the moments. I shall post them up shortly on my Flickr homepage.
After breakfast, I attended a concert by the Rudrapatnam brothers. The music was transforming. Once again i indulged in taking photographs and was contended with some of them.
Carnatic Summer, here i come…
The TAG meeting yesterday was by Sriram V. Most of us would already know him. For those of you who don’t, it’s about time. Briefly, Sriram is an engineering and Business Administration in marketing and advertising graduate. He is currently involved with his family business in Industrial Hydraulics and Software. Music has been a passion for Sriram since the age of 8. This combined with a great interest in history has led him to study the art form in depth.
He has also done a considerable amount of research on the history of Chennai.
In 1999, Sriram set up http://www.sangeetham.com, a website devoted to spreading awareness about Carnatic Music and its heritage with the eminent Carnatic vocalist Sanjay Subramanium. The site was operational till 2005. Sriram writes frequently on the subject of fine arts for Shruti, the Carnatic music station on Worldspace radio and The Hindu. In 2004, he became the contributing editor of Sruti, the classical music and dance magazine and is currently in the editorial advisory committee. He is also the associate aditor of Madras Musings, the city’s fortnightly devoted to heritage. He writes a monthly column in the Chennai edition of India Today which looks at the history of various streets in Chennai. He writes on places of heritage interest on a weekly basis for The Times of India. He is known for the heritage walks during the Madras week and Music season.
Sriram has authored four books – Carnatic Summer – the lives of 22 exponents of Carnatic Music which has been reprinted for the 5th time now. The Devadasi and the Saint, the life and times of Bangalore Nagarathnama which was released in 2007 and awarded him the UNFPA LAdli award for Gender Sensitivity in writing. Semmangudi – Life and Music – on the life of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer which was released by Hon. APJ Abdul Kalam and Historic Residences of Chennai – a bilingual on 50 historic homes in the city which was released during the Madras week 2008.
Sriram was invited to unfold the life of the great maestro Harikesanallur L Muthiah Bhagavatar. Through the talk, Sriram took us through the childhood of Muthiah, his musical tutelage and performances. He dealt with this in depth showing portraits and playing snippets of Muthiah’s compositions rendered by various artists such as Neivelli Santhanagoplan, Sanjay Subramanium, Madurai Mani Iyer etc. His talk as usual was filled with a great sense of humor. I was truly very lucky to have been present for this talk. Loved it. When i started out to write this piece i thought of putting down all that Sriram said. I have however decided to do my bit and just add the information and elaborate upon the Wikipedia article instead.
Am currently reading the Carnatic Summer. Back to my book