128th Sri Ramanavami Music Festival: Brilliantly rendered concert by Pt. Venkatesh Kumar
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128th Sri Ramanavami Music Festival: Brilliantly rendered concert by Pt. Venkatesh Kumar

April 5, 2018

By M.L. Krishnaswami

[Continued from yesterday]

On the fourth day of the 128th Sri Ramanavami Music Festival (Mar. 28) at Alamma Choultry, Devaraja Mohalla,  there was a Hindustani vocal recital by the well-known popular musician Pandit Venkatesh Kumar. He was accompanied on the tabla by Pandit Ravindra Yavagal and on the harmonium by Pandit Veerabhadraiah Hiremutt.

Venkatesh Kumar is a proud product of the famous Gadag School of Pandit Puttaraja Gavai, the cradle of Hindustani music in North Karnataka which has churned out hundreds of musicians. He joined this school at the age of 12 and learnt all the nuances of this art for the next twelve years. Long years of ardent learning and the discipline imbibed by the school have churned out a top grade musician in the filed that he is today. Several awards have come to him and the coveted Padma Shri award given by the Central Government is a crowning recognition of his humility and talent.

Panditji commenced his concert in raag Purya Dhanusri and with the Bhade Khayal – Vilambit Ek taal ‘abtho ruhumana’ and Chota khayal – drut teental ‘Pagariya Jhanakara Mori.’ This inaugural number was brilliantly rendered. The second number was in raag ‘Kedar.’  ‘Janakana pari’ being the number. The next raag he chose was ‘Behag’ and the song was ‘Baala More More Manake’ very well rendered.

Pandit Venkatesh Kumar totally stole the show in this and won wide applause from the more than half-a-thousand connoisseurs who had thronged the auditorium. After the pure classical repertory the Pandit, on popular demand, galloped his singing spree into:

1) A devaranama ‘Toredu Jeevisabahude’ by Saint Kanakadasa; 2) A vachana ‘Akka Kelavva Nannodu Kanasa Kande’ and ending the concert with ‘Sharanu Sakaloddara asura kula samhara,’ a Devaranama.

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The assembled crowd of connoisseurs and music-lovers rose on their feet and gave a thunderous clapping. As usual the musicians were honoured by the organising Sabha. About a month back, Pt. Venkatesh Kumar had given a concert arranged by ‘Raga Vaibhava’ here in Mysuru and the frequency of these two programmes did not deter the connoisseurs to attend this programme in large numbers.

Nadaswaram recital by stalwarts

On Mar. 29, Thursday, the artistes who graced the stage were well-known Nadaswaram stalwarts from Andhra Pradesh, the brothers S. Kasim and S. Babu. The two names prove, if proof is required, that music is a divine art form not attached  to any particular language, caste, community and religion all of which are man-made. In fact, the grandfather of the two artistes of the day was none other than the late Sheikh Chinna Moula Saheb who, in his time, had won the hearts of millions of music-lovers in India and overseas by his erudite and commanding mastery over his chosen instrument, Nadaswara. The grandsons are surely chips of the old block and have proved worthy successors in the hierarchy.  The brothers were accompanied on tavil by Vid. Pollachi M. Vijaykumar and Vid. Madurai M. Vijaykumar.

The brothers commenced their programme in Raga ‘Chakravaka’ with a composition of Mysore Vasudevacharya, a befitting tribute to the Musical Great.  The next song was in raga Nata, ‘Jagadananda karaka’ in Aditala, the opening jewel of the five Pancharatna Kritis of Saint Thyagaraja. The brisk and thorough rendering was a fitting tribute to the great Master. The next number was ‘Narayana Ninna Namada Phalavu’ in raga Shudda Dhanyasi. This was followed by ‘Rama Ninne Swamy…’ in Raga, ‘Kuntala Varali’.

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‘Mamava Pattabhirama’ in raga ‘Manirangu’ popularised by the late D.K. Pattammal followed next in great relish. This is a slow moving krithi.

One of the Ghanaragas ‘Kambodhi’ was given a detailed treatment in alapana by Vid. S. Babu, the younger brother. All the ingredients of this beautiful raga were brought out in great detail on the ‘breathing instrument’. Breath control plays a major role in handling the Nadaswara instrument unlike other musical instruments.  Not once did he falter. The kriti was ‘Sri Raghuvara’ all in praise of Lord Sriram. The Swaraprasthara followed in great detail and the ‘Tanyavartana’ by the two Vijaya Kumars was a masterly treat indeed, greatly appreciated by the listeners with loud clapping.

A ‘Ramapriya’ number, ‘Korinavara Masaku maina Kodanda Pani’ followed next.  A short number in ‘Behag’ was the next.  The concert ended with ‘Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma’ well-rendered. This aspect distinguishes the Nadaswara from other musical instruments and the rigorous practice under an able guru is the hallmark of people for this instrument which the brothers have excelled in.

[To be continued]

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