About Contact Submit Article or Event

Traditions brought alive

by Abbi

Photo courtesy: Nadasurabhi

This article comes from me after a hiatus attributed to my retirement from service and moving to Bangalore from Delhi. I have known that this city has a great music fraternity and a very discerning audience as well. I was looking forward to listening to quality concerts and there could not have a better way to begin this quest than listening to an exhilarating music concert by the stalwart Padma Bhushan Sangita Kalanidhi Shri TV Sankaranarayanan on the evening of 15th July at the Indian Heritage Academy, Koramangla under the aegis of Nadasurabhi.

Nadasurabhi organised this concert as part of the centenary celebrations of the late vidwan Madurai Mani Iyer. Music lovers and connosieurs know that the late vidwan had his own unique style of singing and that swaraprasthara was his forte. He was extremely articulate in this aspect and could render kalpana swaras for hours. I was not fortunate to listen to his concerts live. But after listening to his very able disciple and nephew, I could visualise and experience the delight of a concert by the late maestro.

After a brief introduction, the organisers of Nadasurabhi handed over the microphone to Shri Sankaranarayanan whose reminiscence of his late uncle and the deep regard and reverence touched one and all in the audience. Shri Sankaranarayanan also recited a verse that he has composed in memory of Mani Iyer.

Shri Sankaranarayanan began the concert with an invocation of Lord Ganesha ; his own composition of a Krithi Vigneshwara in the raga Aarabhi. It brought out the element of Bhakti in the artiste and set the tempo for the concert. There was never a dull moment in the entire concert. Next was the Krithi Janakiramana in raga Sudha Seemandini followed by a composition of Purandaradasa in ragamalika. He then took up another Madurai Mani Iyer favourite ‘ Endaveduko O Raghava’ (Saraswatimanohari), a composition of saint Thyagaraja. The alapana was very elaborate and the niraval brought out the raga bhava in its entirety.

Next was the Kriti Venkataramana in raga Latangi. Shri Sankaranarayanan let his son Shri Mahadevan render the raga alapana which the latter did with aplomb. The Charanam Alarmelmangai Manala was chosen for Niraval and swara was rendered to the Pallavi line Venkataramana. As if this treat of alapana and swara singing were not enough, Shri Sanakaranarayanan chose Karaharapriya as the main item for the concert. The alapana sung by him again brought back memories of Mani Iyer. There was more to come. The artiste took up Sakkaniraja with he himself singing in Uchcha Sthayi emulating his Guru and his son Mahadevan in the lower tone. This was truly a remarkable listening experience as the two voices complemented one another raising the concert level to great heights. It is no wonder that Shri Sankaranarayanan has a rich repertoire of Swaras but Mahadevan was equal to the task and took the swara singing to greater heights in his own inimitable style drawing huge applause from the packed audience.

This concert was indeed a great tribute to the Late Madurai Mani Iyer coming from his disciple and nephew. To say that he was provided vocal support by his son would be an understatement as the latter excelled in all areas of singing. A word about the percussion artistes in conclusion. Shri CN Chandrasekharan on the violin, Shri Arjun Kumar on the mridangam and Shri Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam provided admirable support embellishing the concert and made the audience ecstatic. The acoustics however left a lot to be desired; may be it was a drishti pariharaam. Overall, a memorable evening with the tradition of Late Madurai Mani Iyer being brought alive.