/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Manasuna Talaci Mai Maraci – The Wizardry of Vidwan Chittibabu

It is well known that in the sixties, Mysore was a paradise of regal beauty, verdant quietude and social graces that people from Madras and Bangalore would love to escape to. The quiet nights would be free from auto rickshaw noises. In fact we children could occasionally catch the distant roar of big cats from the Mysore Zoo! One so inclined could meditate, or listen to choice music, or read a book, and dissolve into sleep in a tranquil mood.

The home of "Parvathi", accustomed to the continual flow of great music, had a preference for aural treats, and many a great musician would be on hand to perform for the family in a soiree. Those fortunately present would later recall with a faraway look these musical experiences. So transpired also this episode that we are delighted to share.


[ Vidwan Chitti Babu in "Parvathi" 1960s ]


A young and handsome prince of a vainika started making waves in Madras during early '60s. Mr. Srikantiah's brother, Mr. K. Lakshminarayana Rao ( who in those days lived in Mylapore, Madras in the shadows of The Music Academy ), introduced him to the family and thus came the vainika to stay in Mysore for a few days. The gracious hospitality of the family to this charmer was rewarded by some veena music that was truly a treat for the gods. Hardly 30 years of age, Vidwan Chittibabu was different from run of the mill musicians. He was bold in his veena play, and emphasized melody uniquely. His music had instant appeal to the layman as well as connoisseur. During his stay, he would play inside the house, without accompaniment, for the delight of the family.

It was one of those quiet nights. Mr. Srikantiah and family were oblivious to their surroundings. Nobody looked at the clock. Vidwan Chittibabu was in his element. He played a glorious ragam tanam pallavi in Kambhoji. And proceeded with his famous songs- Kommalo Kokila, Veda... Mr. Srikantiah was highly impressed with his melodious playing, soft strumming, faultless notes and perfect laya gnana. Forcing himself out of his thrall, he whispered a blessing to the young maestro. He predicted a very bright future for him and said that there was no doubt that he would reach the peak of success and popularity in the music world. Just then, the clock struck twelve, and Time nodded its “Tathasthu” to the blessing.

This, luckily, has been captured on tape. And we are pleased to share this with rasikas.

When Saint Thyagaraja says, with envy, how Seetha and Lakshmana are fortunate to serve Rama, standing on either side, and as a result find themselves in enthralled reverie, we can relate to his sentiments. Pakkala Nilabadi, in the Kharaharapriya raga that is so intrinsic to Parvathi concerts, is the next item we feature. Vidwan Chittibabu, in the company of Vidwan Palghat Raghu, has excelled in this song. He has brought out the majesty of Kharaharapriya, as well as its rich melody. The song, with interesting swara dialogue, makes this a feast. What Thyagaraja says of the good fortune of Seetha and Lakshmana (Manasuna Talaci Mai Maraci) to lose themselves in devotion, applies to our feelings when we listen to Vidwan Chittibabu.

Vidwan Chittibabu was a rage in the Carnatic music world in later years. He played at Parvathi during various festivals more than a dozen times. His concerts drew full houses and the pandal had no standing space even. Unfortunately we do not have all those concert recordings. But we do have some more items on tape and we are happy to share some of them this time. More, later!


The audio in this posting

1. Informal recording during Chittibabu's first visit *** 02. Pakkala Nilabadi – Kharaharapriya – Thyagaraja *** 03. Govindam iha – Bageshri – Narayana Tirtha ***

Accompaniment

Item 02: Palghat Raghu - K.S.Manjunath (Ramanavami -- 20-4-75)
Item 03: Vellore Ramabhadran - Vaidyanathan - H.P.Ramachar ( Ganesh Festival - 31.8.68 )




There is a beautiful article on the Mellifluous Veena by Mr. B.M.N. Murthy below (click to magnify). It explains the endless charm of this divine instrument.




And, who is author Mr. B.M.N. Murthy? The Hindu (click here) chooses to characterize him as "The man who knows everything".






Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Role of Introspection in Carnatic Music – K. V. Narayanaswamy



[ Courtesy: Narada.Org ]

The 2010 December Season is upon us. Venerable newspapers are filled with concert reviews, reports of awards and speeches, as well as scholarly articles and discussions about topics such as the monetization of Carnatic music. We also read with fascination that jet-setting Carnatic music stars are busy tweeting on their smart phones from airport departure lounges. Perhaps that is when they are not appealing to the PM for remedying neglect of classical arts(!). We also hear that some have Facebook pages to shepherd their flock of fans.

Of course there is no gainsaying that art cannot exist without an audience. But during a season reminiscent of the Kumbh Mela, it is a delightful task for us to sit back and wonder: What is the role of introspection in Carnatic music? Is Carnatic music only to feed audiences and hence on its way to head-banging rock cult status - a metamorphosis aided by media frenzy, or does it still retain some roots to nourish its avowed inner spiritual quest? Does a Carnatic music artiste introspect in the quest for reaching things beyond mundane success?

The concert we feature this time in the sanctified precincts of Parvathi gives some answers. First let us look at the artistes. We have some astounding musicians. They would be called diggajas in Sanskrit. Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, Palghat R. Raghu and T. H. Vinayak Ram. We don’t need to preface their names with titles or honorifics. Simply put, they are the lords of their art. They have given more than six decades of musical largesse to millions of ears.

A piece of history: when Raghu, born in Burma, went as a very young man seeking discipleship to Palghat Mani Iyer, Mani Iyer was teaching mridangam accompaniment to a varnam being rendered by another student- KVN. Thus began their famous life-long association as fellow travellers in Carnatic music. And that self-same eternal effulgence of a varnam in Bhairavi sung on that day is the one that begins this concert, with the same musicians. And Raghu's unique way of enhancing KVN's music is the stuff of legends.

Another piece of history: a newcomer Lalgudi Jayaraman performed first in Madras Music Academy when he provided violin accompaniment to another rising star: KVN. This was in 1948 and launched Lalgudi’s career (his first fan after that concert was GNB). These same two-some regale us with Ananda Bhairavi, Thodi and Bilahari here in this concert. You will remember their renditions for a long time.

So KVN-LGJ-PRR. What a Trio indeed, ladies and gentlemen!

But let us come back to the question of introspection. In this concert, we have a series of introspections by Carnatic composers. Music uniquely aids meditation. Hence it is called food for the soul. Carnatic music as a performing art is basically not demonstrative. It is introspective. And Carnatic music is replete with lovely krithis, all in the mould of introspections and conversations with God. It is fascinating to just think about the lyrical import of each song in this concert :

1. Shobhillu Saptaswara : Oh mind, meditate on the beauty of the seven notes that will lift you to the divine through your body: navel-heart-throat (Mainpura-Anahata-Vishuddhi chakras, Kundalini Yoga)

2. Manasa Guruguha : Oh mind, meditate on the divine, do not waste your precious human journey with outward distractions, surrender to your guru!

3. Entanuchu Sairintunu - Oh Rama, meditated upon by sages! Won’t You condescend to come near me even now?

4. Dasharathi - Oh Rama, how can I repay your debt? You have given me musical fame, and you’ve also given me the wisdom that liberates!

5. Sri Chamundeshwari: Oh Goddess of the (Chamundi) Hill, your divine deeds are worshipped by gods and mystics. I seek your grace!

6. Maataa Raamo, Jaanaati Raama – Rama, you're my mother, father, and everything – oh, for your glories!

7. Yake Bandi Jeeva – Oh soul, why did you give up the communion with God and take birth in this world of wretched goings-on?

8. Kandu Dhanyanaade – I have been blessed with the vision of the Lord!

9. Vanga Kadal – The last pasuram in Andal’s Thiruppavai wherein she describes the liberating power of loving worship of the mighty Lord who set up the churning of the sea.


If you think that we are reading some abstruse but unintended meaning into this concert repertoire, think again. K.V. Narayanaswamy was singularly meditative in his music. His interview and profile linked here are ample proof of a rare man who sought a higher realm through music.


The Parvathi Concert
Ramanavami Festival 1 April 1974

Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy - Vocal
Lalgudi G. Jayaraman – Violin
Palghat R. Raghu – Mridangam
T. H. Vinayak Ram - Ghatam


Song List
01. Viriboni – Atatala Varnam – Bhairavi – Pachimiriyam Adiappaiya *** 02. Shobhillu Saptaswara – Jaganmohini – Thyagaraja*** 03. Manasa Guruguha – Ananda Bhairavi – Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 04. Entanuchu Sairinchunu – Yadukula Kambhoji – Thyagaraja*** 05. Dasharathi – Thodi – Thyagaraja *** 06. Sri Chamundeshwari – Bilahari – Mysore Vasudevachar *** 07. Maataa Ramo – Shloka – Kapi- Traditional *** 08. Jaanaati Raama – Shloka – Dwijavanti, Sindhu Bhairavi - Traditional *** 09. Yake Bandi Jeeva – Sindhu Bhairavi- Dasarapada *** 10. Kandu Dhanyanade – Behag – Kamalesha Dasa*** 11. Vanga Kadal – Suruti- Andal Thiruppavai***


Monday, November 29, 2010

T. Chowdiah’s 'Krishnasarthaya' – Remembering a giant and his era

As we live out our lives in this supposedly great internet age, as we ‘facebook’ and ‘twitter’ away time, as we provide a mind with only moments in which to decipher an others destiny rendering instinctively a ‘raaga’ (‘I select you’) or ‘dvesha’ (‘I reject you’), we occasionally receive a stimulus which arrests us. Hopefully, the arrest provides us with a relief , wanting us to cast away that bedlam from life which we feel is so unrelentingly thrust upon us, notwithstanding any belief by newer generations that everything is just a matter of a material choice.


We would like to sometimes slink away into that other world, wistfully into the days when we were once young, into an age when time afforded us some reflection and contemplation to savor a quality ...


[1957 - Sri Chowdiah going 'solo' with disciple in "Parvathi" when Sri. K. Puttu Rao was still alive. Looking on is the revered 'Gamaki' Ramakrishna Shastri and young friend K. Srikantiah]

... when you were so poor it did not matter because you could lean on your friend for a ‘one by two coffee’ (is this just a Karnataka/Mysuru/Bengaluru phrase and feeling or is it a general one amongst all the citizens of Tamilnadu, Telangana and Karnataka who drew upon each other as one under the Wodeyars? ), where you could herald yourself to where the great Vidwans and Vidushis held magnificent courts , albeit with make shift platforms assembled as a ‘stage’, enough to give them a lift just so that you could see them in your insufficiency while you were seated far away, but sufficient enough to bask in the glory of their artistry as you let them transport you into some rapturous heaven through great god given skills.

[1959 - Sri Chowdiah preserves Sri. K. Puttu Rao's memory at the Bidarama Krishnappa Rama Mandiram, along with Sri K. Srikantiah]


Such a recent stimulus was given to this writer by a veteran member of a very popular ‘Rasikas’ forum, stylizing himself as Sri ‘Mankuthimma’, who in casting about a very few words 'I am full of Chowdiah, today!’ sent this writer into a sudden tizzy, a withdrawal of longing into those times, into that space that the once popular crooner of bygone years, the Anglo-Indian-Australian crooner Tony Brent described for us as “In my little room, I’m hiding away, planning to stay…..in my little room...”

So Rasikas, come with us.

Let us spend some moments with the great violinist of a bygone era, T. Chowdiah, and the equally brilliant great men and women of his times that drew upon him; immortal names like GNB, Madurai Mani Iyer, Chembai Vaidyanath Bhagvathar, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, M.S. Subbalakshmi and Mannakal Rangarajan (who thankfully is still with us!).

As we prepare for our next posting from "Parvathi", let us take you into their world, drawing upon the words of Karnataka’s eminent science writer, music critic, cultural organizer, the late Shri G.T. Narayan Rao [ produced here from the book Sangeetharatna Mysore T. Chowdaiah by Sri. K.Srikantiah] [Click to magnify pages below].







Ah, is it only words this time or is there any music - you ask?

Yes, we have great music! However, not from “Parvathi” (as we prepare it's music for the next occasion), but from a concert which you may all have perhaps heard but which nevertheless is considered a classic of its times. It is from the AIR Sangeeta Sammelan of 1961 with the combo of T.Chowdiah - Madurai Mani Iyer - Palani Subramanya Pillai - Kodanda Rama Iyer, all of them perhaps at their brilliant best.

It wouldn’t hurt to listen to it once again in our company. For, it does pull quite a bit at those heartstrings!



OUR SALUTATIONS TO
PANDIT JASRAJ BEING HONORED
with the
K.K. MURTHY MEMORIAL CHOWDIAH AWARD
Nov 28, 2010
by
FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA
M.N. VENKATACHALIAH

[ Also seen is Vocalist Prof. Nagamani Srinath who won the State award ]

[ Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P. The Hindu Nov 29, 2010 ]


Friday, November 19, 2010

When God beckons to Man – Flute's eternal fascination with Dr. N. Ramani


[ Lord Ramachandra as worshipped in "Parvathi" ]

Sarojini Naidu, (blessed is the land that gave birth to great souls like this Nightingale), writes in her haunting poem 'The Flute-Player of Brindaban':

Why didst thou play thy matchless flute
'Neath the Kadamba tree,

And wound my idly dreaming heart
With poignant melody,

So where thou goest I must go
My flute-player with thee?

Still must I like a homeless bird

Wander, forsaking all
The earthly loves and worldly lures

That held my life in thrall
And follow, follow, answering

Thy magical flute-call.

Such is the eternal fascination of the flute. A humble reed that epitomizes surrender at God's lips, whence come all divine vibrations. Perhaps to be a flute-player calls for several births of evolution. It is perhaps the simplest musical instrument, and yet has the maximum impact on a listener. Wordless but vibrant lips that infuse Prana or “Life-breath” into our ears and penetrate the deepest part of our souls. A simple note alone from a flute will suffice. Then what of the majestic melody of a Kharaharapriya or a Thodi, melodies born of millennia of spiritual quest of those residing in their Vishuddhi Chakra?

It is not only us Krishna-worshippers. The whole world knows the divine abandon that flute beckons us to. Keats, in his Ode on the Grecian Urn, writes,


Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone.


His words point to another key aspect of flute music. Silence is embedded in each phrase! There is an eternal tango between melody and silence in the music of the flute.

It is almost for sure that Keats is thinking of the divine flute-player we call Krishna when he says,“ happy melodist, unwearied/ For ever piping songs for ever new. ”

It is not too different from the words of Swathi Thirunal who sang: "Mohanamayii tava muraligaanam Aho..."



And so dear Rasikas, we bring you Dr. N. Ramani's concert held in Parvathi in 1970. With great accompaniment, Vidwan Ramani has transported us to a heaven we are loathe to take leave of! Come to the feast. Brochevaruevarura... Kharaharapriya, no less... Thodi RTP... and more and much more. Krishna nee begane is uniquely presented on the long flute.


The Parvathi Concert
April 19, 1970 Shri Ramanavami Festival

N. Ramani- flute
K. Alagiriswamy - violin
K. Sivaraman – Mridangam
M. Manjunathan - Ghatam



[ 01.Sarasijanabha Atatala Varnam – Kambhoji – Swathi Thirunal*** 02. Vatapi Ganapathim – Hamsadhwani – Muthuswami Dikshitar*** 03. Dudukugala – Gowla Pancharathnam – Thyagaraja*** 04. Niravadhisukhada- Ravichandrika – Thyagaraja***05. Paripurna Kama – Poorvikalyani – Thyagaraja*** 06. Broche varu – Khamach – Mysore Vasudevachar*** 07. Ninuvinaa – Navarasakannada – Thyagaraja*** 08. Chakkaniraja – Kharaharapriya – Thyagaraja*** 09.Raghuvamsha – Kadanakutuhalam – Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer*** 10. Thodi Ragam Thanam Pallavi Ragamalika*** 11. Krishna nee begane – Yamunakalyani- Vyasaraya*** (long bamboo) 12. Jagadoddharana – Kapi – Purandaradasa*** 13. Magudi *** 14. Sadho Sadho - Ahir Bhairav- Surdas Bhajan *** 15. Mangalam *** ]

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Deepavali Special : Sangeeta Kalanidhi Vidwan Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan


One of the prodigiously talented Carnatic musicians performing actively for the past four decades at always the top level is Vidwan T. N. Seshagopalan. Apart from being a brilliantly creative vocalist, he is also a talented vainika and plays even the key-board. He also performs musical Harikathas which showcase his musical as well as narrative skills and sense of humour. He comes from the lineage of Harikeshanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, being a disciple of Vidwan Ramanathapuram C. S. Sankarasivan, himself a direct disciple of the great composer.

(Gratefully acknowledged: "Photography by Kartik Pashupati" )

Being a versatile artiste. Vidwan Seshagopalan attracted the best accompaniment as well as critical acclaim early in his career. He started performing in early '70s and the concert featured here is from 1973. The concert features an absolutely brilliant Shanmukhapriya, with excellent alapana, manodharma-filled rendering of Patnam's “Marivere dikkevaraiya Rama?”.

The violin and mridangam support make the concert even more memorable.

Listening to his wonderful Mohana and “Rara Rajeevalochana Rama”, we may be excused for remembering that the delightful raga Mohana Kalyani was conceived and the Kannada kriti Bhuvaneshwariya was composed by his lineage guru Sri Muthiah Bhagavathar, while under the Mysore royal patronage.

His Kabir bhajan is very evocative, and the words have been intoned with much feeling.

Vidwan Seshagopalan has been conferred the titles of Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 2006 and the Padma Bhushan in 2004. He can be described as a connoisseur's musician, as he approaches each item in the concert with a spontaneity that stems from mastery over the idiom as well as a creative exuberance. His exuberance is shorn of egoism, which is rare. When we listen to musicians like Vidwan Seshagopalan, we are intrigued and wonder what must be going on in their minds, as their musical output seems to be always daring and fresh, and never a canned fare, all rehearsed and perfected with concert effects. This chronicler heard Vidwan Umayalpuram Sivaraman mention once that Vidwan Seshagopalan's repertoire is so vast that he knows 300 kritis in Thodi alone!

We found a very charming description from the vidwan of his early musical training in an interview in Carnatica.net:

"At that period it was music, music and only music. I used to get up at 5.30, bathe, do sandhyavandanam, visit the temple and then my guru's house. I did not even have the idea of going to the movies. No recreations, only music, spiritual discourses, temple, books and literature. That was the prevailing situation. Always bhajans, namasankeerthanams, Kamban vizha, sloka competitions, etc. If you turned to one side, there was Anantharama Dikshitar's house and on the other Variyar's... There used to be political conferences and I have attended the speeches of Anna and EVR to see how they talk. If we used to hear the news it was to know about the cricket scores. We would buy Sportstar and Illustrated Weekly to know how Barrington played and how wickets were kept. Radio was switched on only for commentary."


The Concert

Madurai T.N.Seshagopalan-----Vocal
Chalakudy Narayanaswamy ----Violin
Tanjore Upendran ------ Mridangam
Sosale Sheshagiri Das ---- Khanjira
at Parvathi on April 13, 1973


01. Chalamela varna – Darbar – Tiruvottriyur Thyagayyer*** 02.Sri Raghukula -Hamsadhvani – Thyagaraja*** 03. Ninnunera nammi naanu -Pantuvarali – Thyagaraja*** 04.Vandanamu - Shahana – Thyagaraja*** 05. Marivere -Shanmugapriya – Patnam Subramanya Iyer *** 06. Ra ra raajeevalochana -Mohana – M. Vasudevachar*** 07.Harinaama bhajare – Bhairav – Kabir*** 08.Rama mantrava japiso -Jaunpuri – Purandara Dasa*** 09. Kanden kanden Seetheyai – Bageshri – Arunachala Kavi***




Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Grapes and Wine – Madurai Somu, Lalgudi Jayaraman and Palghat Raghu



The Biblical story of how Jesus at Cana miraculously turned water into wine was the subject of an essay for Lord Byron when he was a school student. He wrote, revealing his famous romanticism, that “Water saw her Creator and blushed.“ The symbolism of wine for a divine quality that goes beyond normal sensory appeal very aptly applies to music. Especially vintage music from the masters, preserved and cherished by connoisseurs.

Bhagavan Krishna says in the Gita that as the moon (Soma), he instills the juice into life forms on earth: “puShNAmi cauShadhIh sarvAh sOmO bhUtvA rasAtmakah”. We begin to understand that heavenly intoxicant called Soma. That is the same juice that courses through music.

We have already mentioned how Somu gave of his best in the inspiring environs of Parvathi. This Parvathi concert of 1971 by Vidwan Madurai Somasundaram in the company of stalwarts Lalgudi Jayaraman and Palghat Raghu is heady vintage stuff. It is said that grapes are sweet, but a culture on their surface ferments them into wine. The culture of Parvathi rasikas surely seems to have helped the great vidwans to render this classic heady fare. The first song starts appropriately in “Deva Manohari” and the concert from that start is a feast fit for gods.

There is another saying that when it comes to good food and good wine, it's hard to choose: "Food and wine. Decide which is the soloist, which the accompanist."

That is precisely the atmosphere in this concert. Both Lalgudi and Raghu have delighted in rising to greater and greater heights on the spur from Somu and the result is an unending flow of fantastic virtuosity. We thought of grapes and wine after hearing the extremely sweet sound of the maestro's violin, which draws time and again much appreciation from the master singer. Similarly Raghu's mridangam play is such that the concert throughout is ripping with rhythmic embellishments. The tempo never flags and one can only conjecture the impact it would have had on the fortunate rasikas who heard the concert live.

The concert has many bright moments but the best are during Kharaharapriya improvisations. Again the RTP in Kambhoji has Somu waxing eloquent, singing “Rama Jayarama Raghurama Ravikula Soma”. The names encompass all the artistes on the stage!


THE CONCERT

Madurai Somasundaram ---- Vocal
Lalgudi Jayaraman ----- Violin
Palghat Raghu ------- Mridangam
H.P.Ramachar ------ Khanjira
at Parvathi on April 5, 1971

Song List

01.Ninnu nammi –varnam – Deva Manohari *** 02. Mahaganesham *** 03. Neelakantha -Kuvalayabharanam – Indira Natesan (?) *** 04. Rama Neepai – Kedaram – Thyagaraja *** 05. Gurulekha yetuvanti – Gowrimanohari- Thyagaraja *** 06. Ninne Nera Nammi- Pantuvarali- Thyagaraja *** 07. Chakkaniraja - Kharaharapriya - Thyagaraja *** 08. Sankarabharane Devi Ragamalika *** 09.O Rama nee namam - Purvi kalyani- Bhadrachala Ramadasa *** 10. Ramanaamamu -Athana – Thyagaraja *** 11. Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi in Kambhoji *** 12. Madu meikkum- Desh *** 13. Enna Kavi Paadi *** 14.Madurayil *** 15. Viruttam *** 16.Bhajo re bhaiyya – Kabir *** 17. Hara hara Shankara *** 18 Tiruppugazh *** 19. Ragamalika Mangalam ***




Saturday, October 9, 2010

Remembering 'Gana Saraswathi' Dr.M.L. Vasanthakumari in “Parvathi”



Dr. M.L. Vasanthakumari acknowledging felicitations
as Vidwan Doreswamy Iyengar shows appreciation and Mr. K. Shrikantiah muses!


We will get to 'Gana Saraswathi' Dr. MLV’s concert, all in good time.


Before that, we have a certain remembrance and a certain thanks to render on this Saraswathi Puja Day 2010.


We believe, that the common usage of the word 'ambiance' probably occurred somewhere in the early 70's when technology started to assume a greater impact. As sound quality through instruments became enhanced, as every human indulgence began to be hailed as a sign of creativity, as architects and interior decorators began to render furniture and plants with plastic, as shimmering effects of cascading waterfalls in hotel foyers became a vogue and as nightlife extended and discos came alive through the extravaganza of electric bulbs, the word ‘ambiance’ became synonymous with human activities only with the ego.


There was no quarter given to express any supplication to a higher power.


The Eagles swoop down on "Parvathi"
Actress Hema Malini and Indian Cabinet Minister S.M. Krishna
with Mysore's Who's Who in 1972

To the denizens of Mysore city, however, and particularly to members in 'Parvathi', 'ambiance' meant a whole lot more. A desire to be neat and orderly with cleanliness being hailed next to godliness seemed to come naturally, and along with that came respect of Nature in the holistic order followed by respect to Gods main propitiates, the musicians, the poets, the priests and the 'Harikatha' story tellers.

It was not uncommon to see the long lengths of "Parvathi's" concrete driveways being washed thoroughly, the ‘Rangoli’ being laid out in big and colorful welcomes , every natural plant laid out in pots befitting its size and displayed neatly alongside driveways and curbs, every tree (fruit bearing, flower bearing or otherwise) having its correct share of manure or natural vitamins with of course an appropriate share of water; orchard pomegranates and other varied fruit protected with a cloth cover till they ripened with just an adequate amount left open for nature’s hungry squirrels to feed upon, including ( as long as the matriarch was alive) enough milk every morning in front of the 'Dattatreya' tree for the local serpent to turn away from its carnivorous ways into one of becoming a vegetarian protector.



Behind every act, however, lay the strict watchfulness of Parvathi’s chief members; first, that of the grand-sire Shri K. Puttu Rao till 1959 and then for a long time when the baton went into the hands of the son K. Srikantiah. Even, if one shifted their attention to the other brother K.K. Murthy’s residence in Malleswaram, Bangalore, one would not be remiss in noticing the same penchant for the very same things.

In fact the gardens would impress Sri. Lalgudi Jayaraman so much that when he stayed overnight on his visits to Parvathi for concerts, he would get up early in the morning and walk bare-foot on the front lawn for 30-40 minutes, looking at the lawn and believing that it was good for both his eye sight and the stabilization of his body-heat.

As you go over these few slides of Parvathi , as you witness the stone slabs where N. Ramani may have been lost in his own reverie under the Champaka tree, or as Semmangudi might have shared the finer points of his music with Mr. K. Srikantiah , or as you go over the slide of the corner room with its grilled windows from where Shri. K. Puttu Rao (during his later years) would bellow to one and all of how “all respect for elders had died” (he had witnessed Mysore Vasudevachar struggling with the silvered iron front gates and nobody had come to the help of such a revered soul!), we want you to turn your attention to the final picture (slide and below), the one with the two faces.



These faces belong to the brothers Sri Madiah and Sri Basaviah, who came to Parvathi when very young and stayed on for a long time to render those beautiful creations with cues from Sri. Srikantiah. Needless to say, theirs was a labor of love as the gardens started to be singled out for trophies and praise from the horticultural society. In some ways, the vibrations and all around goodwill from “Parvathi” too, helped. In later years, the brothers came to be fixed on decent appointments at Mysore's famed National Institute of Engineering (famed alma mater of Sri. Narayana Murthy of Infosys and India’s spinning wizard EAS Prasanna), As is the dream of every parent for their children to always do better than them, Sri Madiah's elder son got admitted in the same engineering institution and from where he passed out with distinction. He continued on to his post-graduation and currently serves in an enviable position in a multinational company.

Our continued best wishes to all of them, wherever they might be today.



THE CONCERT
M.L.Vasanthakumari ---- Vocal
Prabhavati ----- Co singer
Subrahmanyam ----Violin
Tanjavur Krishnamurthy Rao --- Mridangam

On September 17,1964 during the Gowri-Ganesh Festival in "Parvathi"


[1. Ragasudharasa-(Andolika); 2. Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Karaharapriya 3. Sloka and 'Jogi mat jaa'(Sindubhairavi) 4. Sundara Mooruti-( Janjooti) 5. Krishna nee begane baaro-(Yaman Kalyani) 6.Paarkadal alai mele-(Ragamalika) 7. Jnanavu Krutayugadalli-(Ragamalika) 8. Pavamana ]




Thursday, September 30, 2010

When a Golden Voice Comes with a Golden Heart - Vidwan K.J. Yesudas

For many years, if you took an early morning flight out of the Bangalore HAL Airport, you could start your journey auspiciously – listening to a golden male voice intoning “Om Namo Narayanaya”or ”Om Namah Shivaya”. The well-meaning Sankars Bookshop owner would be playing a CD of Yesudas's recitations. The whole airport would fill with the divine chant and one would just be transported by the Golden Voice.

K.J. Yesudas is a singer whose popularity spans the entire country and also two worlds of music – classical and films. He is well known to be endowed with a golden heart as well as a golden voice. His voice is the envy of every male singer. Equally, Yesudas is active in serving social causes following the motto of Narayana Guru, "One caste, One religion and One God for all humanity". He is an ardent devotee of Goddess Mookambika.

Under the watchful gaze of Mysore Vasudevachar and T. Chowdiah !
Vidwans K.J.Yesudas, T.G.Tyagarajan (violin), Tanjore Upendran (mridangam),
Bangalore Venkataram (Ghatam) - "Parvathi" April 13, 1987. !


The singer with the highest number of Best Male Playback Singer National Awards, K. J. Yesudas has also made a name for himself as a classical Carnatic musician. He was first taught classical music by his father, Vidwan Augustine Bhagavathar. After studying at the Swathi Thirunal Academy, Yesudas finally underwent advanced training under the all-time great Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. Since '60s, Yesudas has maintained a very busy musical career on the Carnatic stage and at the same time as a multi-lingual playback singer in Indian cinema. He is an icon for many stars: actor Kamal Hassan, Oscar-winning music director A. R. Rahman, film director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, and noted playback singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam.


Yesudas's association with Parvathi started eventfully. He was first billed by Mr. Srikantiah to sing on 14 April 1976. But he did not turn up and an upset Mr. Srikantiah had to arrange for Vidwan Neyyattinkara Vasudevan to sing on that day instead of Vasudevan's own slot the next day. Next morning at daybreak, Vidwan Yesudas called Mr. Srikantiah to explain how his party had been stranded on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway due to vehicle trouble. He agreed to sing on the 18th April instead, and a young Mysore Nagaraj got a chance to accompany him (see photo below). And the concert, featured here, turned out to be very successful. From that day began a deep bond of family friendship between Yesudas and Srikantiah. Mysore rasikas heard Yesudas in large numbers that day, and thereafter always turned up in full strength as Yesudas performed at Parvathi for many years.


How's that singing voice, these days?
Two veteran friends Yesudas and K.Srikantiah kidding each other !


Mr. Srikantiah recollects his recent visit to Kerala to attend Yesudas's son Vishal's wedding at Trissur on 22-8-2010. During the marriage ceremony, precisely at the auspicious time of Muhurtham, the recording of Yesudas's rendering of "Seetha Kalyana Vaibhogame " was played in the background. This Thyagaraja kriti was so melodious, emotional and moving in Yesudas's voice that Mr. Srikantiah was deeply touched and and entralled.

The Parvathi Concert (April 18,1976)

K.J.Yesudas ----Vocal
Mysore M Nagaraj -----Violin
Erode Gururajan ------Mridangam
Sheshagiri Das -----Khanjira
Manjunath ----Ghatam

Notice Mysuru's young Violin prodigy in support of the Veteran Yesudas !

01.Sarasijanabha – Nata Varnam – Palghat parameshwara Bhagavathar *** 02. Vaathapi Ganapathim – Hamsadhwani – Muthuswami Dikshithar *** 03.Paavanaguru – Hamsanandi – Lalitha Dasar*** 04.Neekelana -Devamanohari – Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar*** 05. Teliyaleru Rama- Dhenuka – Thyagaraja *** 06.Ksheerasagara-Devagandhari- Thyagaraja*** 7.Sarasijanabha Todi – Swathi Thirunal*** 08.Sree Ramam Ravikulabdhisomam -Narayana Gowla – Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 9.Muruganai Kaana Ayiram Kann- Abheri – Arulavan*** 10.Om iti Brahma - Upanishad*** 11. Mangala darshana dayike Mookambike- Ragamalika*** 12.Chand Akela - Film song*** 13. Athisaya ragam -Film song*** 14.Bhaja Govindam-Ragamalika-Shankaracharya***
15. Yogeendraanam -Kapi, Sindhubhairavi -Narayaneeyam***16. Pavamana – Mangalam



Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bowing in gratitude to a genius – Celebrating Vidwan Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman’s 80th Birthday



Through this blog

Mr. K. Srikantiah and family wish the great maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman the following:

" Happy 80th Birthday celebrations throughout the year and fond wishes for a long and healthy life full of many more musically wonderful moments. May the Almighty shower His blessings on our friend and musician nonpareil ! "

These were Sri Srikantiah’s sentiments and felicitations as he personally called the Maestro from Mysuru, on the evening after the ceremonies in Chennai on September 18, 2010


"The Way We All Once Were !" - Parvathi in the '1960s
Celebrating Devi Bhagavata Saptaha and Gayatri Homa

[ L to R: K.K. Murthy (future builder of the Chowdiah Memorial), Vidwan Umayalpuram Sivaraman, K. Srikantiah, Vidwan Lalgudi Jayaraman, Vidwan Alangudi Ramachandran, Vidwan M.A. Narasimhachar ]


In our last posting (on Vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer) we drew a link to Sri Lalgudi’s impending 8oth Birthday and the felicitations planned in his honor, in Chennai and elsewhere.

We, ourselves, had to wait a little longer (so enraptured were we with the proceedings in Chennai) before we could express our own gratitude to this immortal maestro, who in more ways than one has lived an exemplary life, in decency,in humility and in spirituality, while bequeathing so much joy to fans all over the world through his own brilliant artistry.

We put the following question to Sri Sachi ( our chronicler on ‘Parvathi’ matters and please click here to see his homage to Sri Lalgudi ) “How is the veteran Mr. Srikantiah taking it on this great day ? (in his own devotion and friendship to Sri Lalgudi)”

Pat came the answer “ As in every other day, where he listens to these two pieces without fail and in particular to Lalgudi’s rendering of them (from the full concert posted on Aug 29, 2009 ).

(1) Marugelara: Mr. Srikantiah is particularly fond of this Thyagaraja's song in Jayanthashree, He often talks of how Thyagaraja seems to be in a continuous dialogue with Lord Rama whom he is questioning on so many things.

In this song, Thyagaraja asks, “O Raghava (Lord Rama)! Why do you need to conceal yourself? The Universe itself is your form, with the sun and the moon as your eyes. By deep contemplation, inquiry, and search, I have directly perceived that you are everything, and everything is within you. There is no place in my mind for any other God. I solicit your protection.”

Lalgudi Jayaraman's genius in interpreting this song is very impactful. Listen to the clip below, and see how he collaborates with Palghat Raghu to create a profound effect, all within 8 minutes.



(2) Brovabhaaramaa: It is special, because, if you listen, it sounds like 2 violinists are playing it (one in higher octave and another in lower octave) . It is simply that wonderful . When Sri Lalgudi happened to visit "Parvathi" some years back, Sri Srikantiah played this piece for him, and the maestro himself was thrilled to listen to it, forgetting in a most innocent demeanor that it was after all his own playing. A great artist admiring his own great art !!

O Raghurama! While You are present in and as all Universes,
is protecting me alone a burden to You?
Sri Vasudeva! Don't you have crores of Universes
in Your stomach? Yet, is protecting me a burden to You?
Didn’t You, out of compassion, lift mountains
(once) in the Ocean of Milk for the sake of celestials,
and again, for the sake of gOpis? O Merciful Lord!
(Yet) is protecting Thyagaraja alone a burden to You?



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Harking Back to the Golden Era of the Voice : 'Ganakaladhara' Vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer



[ Courtesy: Arvindsdad Blogpost ]


The "Parvathi" team is back from their sabbatical! And with a bang. Not the bang associated with Diwali crackers or modern rock stars. We are talking of the high point of musical excellence that suffused the milieu of the 1950's and 1960's.

Let us not forget that these decades witnessed the most glorious era of Carnatic vocal music. The veritable doyens were holding court. And youngsters were coming up, those talented enough to peep out from under the canopy of these stalwarts.. be it in accompaniment or solo performance.

Is it a coincidence that Hindi film music of the '50s and 60's stands for the very best in pure vocal excellence, shorn of digital enhancements and airbrushed glamour of today? In the '50s and '60s, Carnatic music too had only rudimentary mike amplification. Avid listeners would throng the small halls, and get a crick in the neck getting a glimpse of the performers on stage. And each stalwart would pour out wonderful soul-stirring music over many hours that had the stamp of his or her unique style. Listeners would not be thinking of MP3 and You Tube. They lived in the moment.

And the purest ray serene of this effulgence in vocal music is Ganakaladhara Vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer (1912-1968). He had a voice that clicked from the first note in a concert. He did not cause headaches for the accompanists nor fatigue to the audience with pyrotechnics. He gave melody its true place. His voice was always sruti-aligned, a kind of yogic “samatwa” that Lord Krishna talks of in the Bhagavadgita. He was so obviously enjoying the melody and the intrinsic laya in any composition that he would only embellish it, not hide it nor distort it with his extrapolated manodharma.

It is perhaps some indication that there have been NO me-too Madurai Manis. Like there has been no Hemant Kumar again nor again a master poet in the mould of Walt Whitman. Another interesting aspect that many veterans who have heard Madurai Mani Iyer's music always say is that they think of is his version as they hum their favourite songs, be it in Tamil, Telugu or Sanskrit. His ever-tuneful, clear, and balanced presentation brought out the lyrical beauty in the song most eloquently.

And now for the Parvathi concert. Held during the Ganesha Festival in 1963 – 47 years ago! - the concert has grand accompaniment. None other than T. Chowdiah on the violin, and a spirited Umayalpuram Sivaraman on the mridangam. It seems that day Vidwan Mani Iyer was running a high temperature. But he was not to be deterred, and presented a grand concert. He began with Vatapi, in obeisance to Lord Vighneshwara, and continued with Diwakara Tanujam.. a song in praise of Lord Shaneeshwara. With their double blessings, the concert turned out to be a memorable one, Coincidentally, this year the Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated on September 11, Saturday! So Ganesha and Shani are both coming together to bless us again!

As if on cue, both Chowdiah and Sivaraman go to great lengths in their turn to embellish the concert and we have many interesting moments in the Ragamalika after the Pallavi as well as in other songs.


Concert Details

Madurai Mani Iyer ----Vocal
Vocal accompaniment -Vembu Iyer
T. Chowdiah ---------Violin
Umayalapuram K Sivaraman -----Mridangam
Sheshagiri Das ------Khanjira

"Parvathi" Ganesha Festival on August 23, 1963
For a photograph please click here

[Note: Only a few pieces of this distinguished concert were posted earlier on the blog since the audio tape was corroded, but with some effort we have now managed to restore a semblance of the whole ]

1. Vatapi Ganapathim-Hamsadhwani- Muthuswami Dikshithar *** 2. Diwakara Tanujam -Yadukula Kambhoji -Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 3. Enta bhagyamu -Saranga – Thyagaraja*** 4. Brochevarevarura - Khamach – Mysore Vasudevachar*** 5. Seethamma Mayamma – Vasantha – Thyagaraja*** 6. Vallabha Nayakasya- Begade – Muthuswami Dikshithar 7. Mahaganapathim – Thodi – Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 8. Darini – Shuddha Saveri – Thyagaraja*** 9. Sarasamukhi-Gowda malhar- Muthiah Bhagavathar*** 10.Ragam Thanam Pallavi in Simhendramadhyama followed by Ragamalika*** 11. Virutham Dhanyasi, Shloka-Hamsanandi-Thiruppuzhal*** 12. Vellai tamarai – Bhimplas – Subrahmanya Bharathi*** 13. English note – HM Bhagavathar***



Felicitation of artists by Musicologist and Veena Virtuoso M Cheluvarayaswamy.




REMEMBERING SRI LALGUDI IN HIS 80th YEAR! (click)
( also please click here for an earlier posting )


Festival food being served in "Parvathi"?
Participating (L to R): Krisna Gana Sabha Secretary Yagnaraman, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Veena C Krishnamurthy, Vellore Ramabhadran, Yesudas, Mrs. Yesudas (Prabha)



RELIVING THE PAST

Sri. Krishna Vattam happens to be one of Karnataka’s and Mysore’s most reputed journalists. His contributions over several of these decades , starting from the early 50s, are about as wide and varied as his multifarious interest in causes. One can catch a glimpse of him here or perhaps here or one can take their pick over a lifetime’s compilation from any of the Internets search engines.

Recently, Sri Vattam picked up his pen to re-live a certain glorious past and wrote to The Editor, The Star of Mysore on July 25, 2010. We are honored to reproduce his words, below:

Sir,

As I was reading M.R. Shivanna's write-up titled "Great musicians on blog", the blog titled as "A Home called Parvati" (SOM dated July 21), I was reliving the past.

It was not a mere dwelling house built with brick and cement but true to its name the Home had a distinct character, the like of which we can find in two or three homes in Lakshmipuram.

I was lucky to have attended from 1960 all concerts arranged on the occasion of Ganesha Chaturthi and Sri Ramanavami. They were literally a treat for all music lovers.

If MS, MLV, DKP, Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna, Semmanagudi, Madurai Mani Iyer, Madurai Somasundaram, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Par-weena Sultana, Lakshmi Shankar came out with soulful divine vocal recitals, there were giants like Violinist T. Chowdaiah, Flute Mahalingam, to mention a few, who elevated the 'bhava' of the listeners.

While the Ganesha festival concerts were held in the hall in Parvati, Sri Ramanavami concerts were being arranged in the open space abutting the Home. What was striking about Parvati was the divinity that permeated the premises, inspiring the artistes to feel a sense of bliss as they rendered. The open ground where Sri Ramanavami concerts were organised was in no way less in importance in the awesome ambience it was graced with. A photo, very big in size, of SriRamachandra, Seetha, Lakshmana, Satrugna and Hanuman used to be placed on the dais and a parijata tree just above the photo, serving as it were a divine umbrella, was dropping its fragrant flowers on the photo to the sweet strains of music, evoking a feeling of "ananda."

All good things should come to an end, they say. Parvati had its "anthya". K. Srikantiah's passion was to make people listen to good music and he found supreme satisfaction if the rasikas enjoyed it. It was good of him to have made use of the online technology so as to enable lovers to continue to listen to the music of stalwarts. However, the blog needs to be updated and concerts of all artistes mentioned in the blog may be posted there.

� Krishna Vattam
Mysore
25.7.2010