Violin duet marks Piteelu Chowdiah’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations
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Violin duet marks Piteelu Chowdiah’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations

January 22, 2021

By Karna Ranjani

In the premises adjoining Sri Krishna Temple, under the aegis of Krishna Gana Sabha, there was a spectacular concert by none other than Mysuru’s very own musical prince Dr. Mysore M. Manjunath, his son and protege Vid. Sumant Manjunath with mesmerising percussion support from Vid. Tumkur B. Ravishankar and Vid. Giridhar Udupa. Past year has been tough on everyone and with hopes for better times, the Sabha organisers decided to honour the legendary violinist Sangeetha Kalanidhi T. Chowdiah (this year being his 125th birth year), affectionately known as Piteelu Chowdiah, by unveiling of a portrait of the maha Vidwan and a violin concert by the above team.

It couldn’t have been more apt than to have a violin concert commemorating the occasion. Dr. Manjunath as he mentioned at the beginning of concert, there was a “chaturdandi” connection to the maestro. Both of them are from the Mysuru region, music their language, with violin as their chosen instrument and last but not the least, Mysore Mahadevappa (Dr. Manjunath’s guru and father) and Vid. Chowdiah are from the Bidaram Krishnappa lineage of music. In fact, the tamburi that was used, was a 150-year-old tamburi used by none other than Sri Bidaram Krishnappa that has been passed down from the guru to shishya.

The concert started off with Thyagaraja’s plaintive call to Rama in Asaveri “Ra rama Indi Daaka”. Each kriti comes with its own in-built tempo to it and the father son duo played the sangatis with just the right tempo. This was followed by Thyagaraja’s Nada sudha Rasambilanu in a slightly higher speed, with some calculated swara exchange between the father and son. The stage was set. Shanmukhapriya was the next raga to be presented. There is something magical about the time the sun sets and listening to a raga with a dominant Prati Madhyama. The Raga alapana was exquisite, expansive, with both of them taking turns. Patnam’s classic marivere Dikkevvaru was handled with all the sangatis and neraval at the usual “Sannuthanga Shri”.  Audience soaked in the shanmukhapriya for over 20 minutes and the 2nd speed swara exchange was handled by Vid. Sumanth like a very mature violinist.  

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Shankarabharana followed and the alapana was sublime and evocative. When an alapana is played, they say that it should mirror the musical essence of the kriti that will follow suit and here we could almost guarantee that the chosen kriti was Shyama Shastri’s magnificent “saroja dala netri”. Sure enough, Saroja Dala Netri with Neraval and swaras at Sama gana vinodini with all possible facets of Shankarabharana was presented to the audience. Again Sumanth, measuring up to the standards set by the veteran Violinist, his  guru and father. 

The baton was then handed to the percussionists Vid. Ravishankar and Vid. Giridhar Udupa. Even up until then, the brilliant team effort, their coordination was evident but the Thani gave them the opportunity to further display their musical excellence. 

A. Viswanath, Chartered Accountant, Gokulam, is seen lighting the lamp after unveiling the portrait of Piteelu Chowdiah at a programme held to mark the late maestro’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations at Alwar Kala Bhavana, Sri Krishna Temple Complex, in Gokulam 3rd Stage, on Jan. 16.

The soft and yet firm playing by Vid. Ravishankar, the tone from the ghata that only the magical fingers of Vid. Udupa can manage to produce made for a spectacular Thani. The audience was soaked in the strains of Shankarabharana for almost 45 minutes. Vid. Chowdiah has composed more than 50 kritis and thillanas under the pen name of “Tri makuta”. Lalithambike maam pahi in Raga Vijayanagari is one such soulful composition which was rendered beautifully.

The blissful musical evening came to an end with an absolutely divine “Krishna nee begane baaro” by Vyasarayaru in Yaman.  Although the song implores the Lord to come fast, the song has to be presented in a cajoling manner, in vilamba kaala to deliver the desired effect. To say it did, is an understatement.

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Swami Vivekananda also said “Why not give the soul what it wants? We have to have music”. Indeed. In these unprecedented times, we need music to heal us, to help us be in the present.  Saturday’s concert at Krishna Gana Sabha did just that.


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