Unique style of Veena Concert
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Unique style of Veena Concert

May 9, 2024

Child prodigy Vid. Ramana Balachandran performed on the third day of ‘Bhagini Ramotsava – Music Festival’ at BSS Vidyodaya in Krishnamurthypuram, Mysuru, on May 7.

This boy from Bengaluru, who is trained both in veena playing and vocal music, is known for his unique style of playing. Ramana was accompanied by Vid. Anantha R. Krishnan on mridanga and Vid. Guru Prasanna on kanjira.

In Ramana’s playing, ragas are interpreted in a variety of moods and structures as he explores them in alapanas and swaraprastaras. One always looks forward to Ramana’s concerts as they are deeply rooted in classicism. He has discovered a number of playing techniques on his veena and his renditions that involve heightened repose while retaining phrasal richness are commendable.

While many performing instrumentalists do not know the full lyrics of the compositions they play, this boy sings along to express the lyrics that underlie the melody.

Ramana chose two ragas for elaboration and both the ragas were satisfying. Both the ragas — Hindola and Behag — focused on the emotions laden in the notes, thereby producing a pleasing evocation of the ragabhava.

While Hindola was pure joy to listen to, Behag, hardly chosen by musicians for detailed elaboration, brought wonders with his exploration, which dug deep into the raga.

Tyagaraja’s ‘Manasuloni marmamulu telusuko’ was rich with familiar and unusual sangatis and the swarakalpana to the pallavi was highly intellectual, during which Ramana also allowed interesting conversational dialogues for the percussionists.

‘Heccharika gA rA rA he RAmachandra’ is a soulful composition of Tyagaraja, filled with emotive content. Ramana sang along the composition bringing the content to the notice of the listeners while also emphasising on the emotive appeal.

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Behag was heavenly. Ramana unfurled the raga unhurriedly, through highly nuanced raga improvisations. The tanam was rich and immensely enjoyable with several unique structures. The Pallavi ‘Sakala bhuvana nAyike varadAyike chamundEshwari’ set to Khanda Chapu tala composed by Ramana himself followed expressive richness.

The detailed swarakalapana also included ragamalika swaras in Dhanyasi and Bagesri, allowing space for taniyavartana.

Anantha Krishnan and Guru Prasanna not only enjoyed Ramana’s playing with expressive nods, but also excelled in their taniyavartana which brought huge applause from the audience.

In the miscellaneous section after Tani, Ramana played ‘Entha cheluvage magaLanu kottanu GirirAjanu’ by Purandaradasaru and a bhajan sung by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi ‘Jaya Jagadeeshwari mAtA saraswati SharaNagati’. The concert concluded with ‘aruNAchala shiva arunachala shiva’ which imitated the tune of ‘Govinda MAdhava gOpala kEshava’ bhajan.

—Dr. Padmavathi Narasimhan

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