Piteelu Chowdiah remembered
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Piteelu Chowdiah remembered

February 4, 2021

By Dr. Rama V. Bennur

Ganabharathi of Mysuru paid rich tributes to the legendary violinist of Mysuru — Piteelu T. Chowdiah — on the 11th of January as part of his 125th birthday celebrations. Chowdiah, a multi-faceted person, is remembered for his various contributions to music. An affectionate Guru, fearless performer, gifted composer, a film-maker, singer, actor, producer, an entrepreneur and a researcher, all combined in one! That was Chowdiah. He was nurtured by none other than Gana Visharada Bidaram Krishnappa. This great Guru passed on his Sri Rama Bhakti along with his music and discipline to his devoted disciple. These have played an important role in the making of the great Chowdiah.

Ganabharathi emphasised on publicising his compositions by arranging a day-long programme. Many eminent singers of Mysuru sang his compositions with enthusiasm and Dr. Padmavathi Narasimhan gave a lecture demonstration on Chowdiah’s life and works. The opening concert was by Dr. Sukanya Prabhakar, a student of Prof. V. Ramarathnam, an able disciple of Chowdiah. She was accompanied by Vid. C.N. Tyagaraju (violin), Vid. G.S. Ramanujam (mridanga) and Vidu. Medha Manjunath (vocal). She presented ‘Prasanna Ganapathe’ (Bahudhari), ‘Devi Sri Chamundeshwari’ (Saveri), ‘Lalithambike’ (Vijayanaagari) and ‘Maha Tripurasundari’ (Jinjhoti). Vid. Vinay Sharva sang with Kritik Kaushik (violin) and Vid. H.L. Shivashankaraswamy (mridanga). He started with ‘Lalithambike’ and ‘Prasanna Sita Rama’ (Todi) was his main-piece. ‘Sri Rama Jayarama’ (Anandabhairavi) was the tail-piece. 

Dr. Sukanya Prabhakar rendering a vocal concert accompanied by Vidu. Medha Manjunath (vocal), Vid. G.S. Ramanujam (mridanga) and Vid. C.N. Tyagaraju (violin).

Vidu. Manasi Prasad sang with the same accompanists ‘Saketha Rama Paripurnakaama’ (Charukeshi), ‘Shambho Shivashambho’ (Shubhapanthuvarali) and a Thillana in Nalinakanthi. Vid. Vivek Sadashivam, along with Kritik Kaushik (violin) and Kumaraswamy (mridanga), presented ‘Prasanna Parvathi’ (Bilahari), ‘Maha maye’ (Saranga),’ Devi Sri Chamundeshwari’ (Saveri) and a Thillana in Reethigowla. Post lunch took off with the great grandson of the Maestro, Vid. A. Chandan Kumar’s flute. He started with ‘Sada Padmanabham’ (Saranga), ‘Devadeva Shree’ (Natakuranji) and gave a detailed exposition of Keeravani ‘Ide manchi samayamu’. After a Tillana in Hameer Kalyani, Dr. Padmavathi Narasimhan took over to present a lec-dem. She highlighted the colourful and multi-faceted personality of Chowdiah, his experimenting mentality and the unique features of his compositions in a short, specified time. 

Vid. Vinay Sharva performing along with Vid. H.L. Shivashankaraswamy (mridanga) and Krithik Kaushik (violin). Picture right shows Vidu. Manasi Prasad presenting a vocal concert.

Dr. R.N. Srilatha, accompanied by Dr. Veena Suresh (violin) and Vid. A. Radhesh (mridanga)sang ‘Kathyayini kalyani’ (kalyani), ‘Saketha Rama’ (charukeshi) and a thillana. Vid. Manasa Nayana with Pruthvi Bhaskar (violin) and Hanumantharaju (mridanga) presented ‘Vara Ganapathe’ (Udayaravichandrike), ‘Sharavanabhava’ (kuntalavarali), ‘Sheshachala nivasa’ (kedaragowla) and a Thillana. All these singers did a great job in introducing Chowdiah’s compositions. Their manodharma sangeetha made them more colourful. Such programmes really are a meaningful tribute to the composers. The highlight of the day was the evening concert — Violin duo by Vid. Mysore M. Manjunath and his son Karthik. They were accompanied by Vid. Tumkur B. Ravishankar (mridanga) and Vid. Giridhar Udupa (ghata) respectively.

Vid. Vivek Sadashivam, along with Kritik Kaushik (violin) and Kumaraswamy (mridanga), presenting a music concert. Picture right shows Dr. R.N. Srilatha performing by Vid. A. Radhesh (mridanga) and Dr. Veena Suresh (violin).

The father and the son duo held the audience spellbound with their mesmerising playing. It was heartening to watch young Karthik match his most talented father literally in everything that he played. The ragas were brimming with ragabhava and every possible permutation and combinations filled in the swaraprasthara to appease all kinds of rasikas. They began the concert with ‘Lalithambike’ (Vijayanagari) with a frill of kalpana swaras. ‘Ekamresha naayaki’ in Karnataka Shuddha Saveri was a real treat. After this rare piece, the popular ‘Prasanna Ganapathe’ (bahudhari) and ‘eccharikaga rara’ (Yadukulakambodhi)followed with vibrant kalpana swaras and melodious alapana. 

Vid. Manasa Nayana performing along with Vid. Hanumantharaju (mridanga) and Vidu. Pruthvi Bhaskar (violin). Picture right shows Vid. Mysore M. Manjunath and his son Karthik presenting violin duet. They are accompanied by Vid. Tumkur B. Ravishankar (mridanga) and Vid. Giridhar Udupa (ghata).

Raga Suraranjani took its birth as an opponent to Kadanakuthuhala! A rarely heard composition in this raga ‘Raghunatha nannu’ was played with vigour and vitality. Keeravani unfurled with all its emotional contents for the pleasure of listeners. Father and son were complimentary to each other throughout the concert. A stint of fast Tana too added pep to it. A Pallavi in Adi taala was handled superbly by both the artistes. A cascade of swaras enthralled the listeners. The Tani avarthana that followed proved the mettle of Ravishankar and Giridhar Udupa. After a soul-stirring ‘Manave Mantralaya’ (Shuddh Sarang), the curtains came down for the 125th birthday celebrations of Sangeetha Kalanidhi Mysore T. Chowdiah.


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