Lovers, students and enthusiasts of Carnatic Music were recipients of a rare treat of musical extravaganza in Auckland during the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Organised by the New Zealand Carnatic Music Society, the three-day event, called, ‘Sangeethothsavam,’ featured some of the finest performers from India, along with students and budding artistes from local schools.
Shashi Kiran & Ganesh Parthasarathy
The Festival began on June 1 at the Fickling Convention Centre in Auckland’s Three Kings with a recital by the famous Chitravina brothers Shashi Kiran and Ganesh.
The first item, an ‘Ata Tala Varnam Sarasijanabha’ in Kambhoji Ragam composed by Swathi Tirunal, was followed by ‘Andal Kauthuvam’ (Malayamarutam) and ‘Vasudeva’ (Sahana), a composition of Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer.
The brothers are well known for their research and rendition of the Carnatic Music Trinity (Saint Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Sastry) and their compositions of ‘Uttukadu Venkata Kavi.’
The songs are not often heard in concerts. In fact, the former is a dance-based composition, which gave proper tempo to the concert.
The rendition of ‘Kumuda Kriya Ragam,’ followed by Dikshitar Kriti ‘Ardha Nariswaram’ was an added feature including its ‘Manodharmam,’ rendered extempore.
‘Narayana,’ a Purandara Dasa Kirtanam (Sudha Dhanyasi set to Khanda Chapu Talam) was superb, followed by ‘Ekamresa Nayike,’ another Dikshitar composition in ‘Karnataka Sudha Saveri’.
‘Ragam Tanam Pallavi’ is the main part of Carnatic music concerts, standing as an example of ones depth in ‘Manodharma Sangita.’ Set in ‘Gayaka Priya,’ is a rare rage of the 13th ‘Mela Kartha’ or Parent scale out of the 72.
The ‘Madhayama Kala’ or ‘Tanam’ was performed with great ease and stood as an example of the creative talent of the artistes and was a bliss to ears.
The words of the ‘Pallavi’ were ‘Priye Gita Priye Sangita, Priye Swarastana Gayaka Priye,’ in which, sometimes the ‘Swarastana Gayakapriya’ was replaced with ‘Kiwi Stana Gayaka Priye’ meaning Kiwi Land in a way with an inner sense.
The ‘Pallavi,’ in ‘Anuloma’ and ‘Viloma,’ is rendered first in different speeds with constant Talam and later in single speed (with constant change in the Talam speed). This is a very rare and difficult feature of Carnatic Music.
The ‘Tukda’ section included ‘Vara Banthamma,’ a song on Lord Raghavendra, which kept the crowd on their toes.
The concert ended with a ‘Thillana,’ composed by Sashikiran.
Nithyashree Mahadevan, granddaughter of the legendary D K Pattammal was the eye and ear of attention at her Concert held on June 2 at Mt Albert War Memorial Hall.
Beginning with a ‘Varnam’ in ‘Charukesi,’ composed by the late violin maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman, she portrayed ‘Ritigoula’ Ragam in such a beautiful manner that every music student should have heard it. Several nuances of the Ragam were brought out very efficiently.
Ragam ‘Alapana’ was followed by Thyagaraja’s ‘Nannu Vidachi,’ which was rendered with immense feel.
The main item of the concert was ‘Parama Pavana Rama’ in Purvi Kalyani Ragam. This composition, famous in the 1980s, is rarely rendered today.
It was a feast to hear such an old piece composed by Puchi Srinivasa Iyengar. The ‘Alapana Ragam,’ performed earlier and the ‘Swarakalpana’ sung in this Kriti showcased the eminence of the artiste with ‘Laya (rhythm). The item had a nice ‘Kuraippu’ and ‘Mukthayi.’
‘Kuraippu’ is a feature in which the ‘Swara Kalpana’ patterns are sung in different calculations in descending order in a ‘Talam Avartana’ (one line of Talam). This was followed by a beautiful ‘Ragamalika’ in Malayalam.
Nithyashree performed ‘Nambi Kettavar,’ a Papanasam Sivan composition in Hindola Ragam with prelude of a ‘Viruttam’ in Ragamalika, with great ‘Ragabhava’ and feel. There were several requests from the audience which she tried to fulfil.
The ‘Tukda’ section had a composition on Lord Hanuman composed by the artiste in Revagupthi Ragam, creating the mood of devotion.
Nityashree presented Prizes and Participation Certificates to children and winners of a competition conducted by the New Zealand Carnatic Music Society earlier in the day.
Both concerts had the professional touch of H N Bhaskar (Violin) and Muruga Bhupati on Mridangam.
Padma Govardhan is a renowned vocalist in Carnatic Music, and has recently completed a thesis for her PhD. She is the Director and Principal of the Sangeetha Bharathi School of Music which teaches music to scores of children, some of who are less than five years of age.
Another review of a concert by Sanjay Subrahmanyan, another maestro held on the concluding day of ‘Sangeethothsavam’ appears in this Section.
1. Chitravani brothers Shashi Kiran and Ganesh Parthasarathy
2. Nithyashree Mahadevan