My Chennai Diary - Day 1, Part 1

I was in Chennai last weekend for the famous December season. I'll be narrating our musical experiences in the next few posts. We left from Bangalore on 21 st December and reached Madras (aka Chennai) on 22nd morning. I'd taken along printouts of the concert schedules from 22nd to 25th. Had a tough time deciding on which concerts to attend as various Sabhas host concerts of front ranking artistes simultaneously.

The first concert we attended was of Madurai R. Sundar (He is a disciple of T.N.
Seshagopalan and Ananthalakshmi Sadagopan) at Bharat Kalachar. The prime motivation for attending this concert was that he was being accompanied by R.K.ShriramKumar on the violin, Mridangam maestro Trichy Sankaran and B.Purushothaman on the Kanjira.

Struck a conversation with a mAmA at the Venue. I remarked to my mom that I'd prefer listening to Malladi Brothers than TNS and this uncle wanted to know why. I didn't know how to react as I couldn't gauge whether he was a die hard TNS fan or against him. I gave a diplomatic reply and said though TNS is a brilliant singer I like Malladi brothers more as I like Nedunuri's bani (style) more than that of TNS.I also added that I had attended many concerts of TNS at B'lore this year Mama launched a tirade against TNS and talked about his ego/arrogance despite his being a good singer. I said I'd heard that too and that helped me establish a rapport with uncle. He however acknowledged TNS's contribution to Mylapore Fine Arts society. The topic moved on to R. Vedavalli; how she and Mani Krishnaswamy were both awarded Certificates of Merit by The Music Academy at the same time but Vedavali had to wait for 7/8 years after Mani K to receive her Sangita Kalanidhi award. He also talked about Nedunuri and his music which touches ones heart. He also said that Nedunuri had had a heart attack this year and was performing too many concerts this season. Wishing NK a speedy recovery.He has been in my list of all time favorites. My grandma used to like his music a lot too. We have listened his Paddhati CDs on multiple occasions. And the first video I transferred to my Ipod is Nedunuri singing Arakimpave on Thodi.

Song list
1.) Intha Modi - Saranga - Adi
2.) Mahaganapatim - Nattai - Dikshithar - Adi (Liked R.K ShriramKumar's interpretation of the raga a lot)
3.) ShivakAmaSundari - Jaganmohini - GNB? - Rupakam
4.) Kalyani - Pankaja Lochana - Swathi Tirunal - Mishra ChApu. Neraval and swarams at Brindavana Daya .Tani Avartanam was wonderful.

Some observations on Sundar- good singer but strains at times especially in the higher octave (TAr Saptak) and his voice lacks power. I should get rid of this habit of comparing the current voices with those of stalwarts like Chembai or DKJ or KVN. Talking of voices, octogenarian singer Dr. R. Srikanthan is one singer voice belies his age.

Since this was the first time we were in Madras for attending concerts, we had decided to do some Sabha hopping. The next venue was Music Academy. Mom and I spent some time at a book store outside the auditorium. They have a very good collection. Keeping with my old habit of never walking out of a book store empty handed, picked up a book on Oothukadu Venkata Subbaier and a painting of the Trinty by S. Rajam. (His painting adorn the walls of the auditorium at Music Academy too.) Talking of the auditorium named after TTKrishnamachari, it has excellent acoustics with Bose Speaker systems. (Was reminded of Mumbai's Shanmukhananda Sabha) Paintings of Purandaradasa , the Trinity and Swathi Tirunal adorn its walls. There are photographs of TTK and TLVenkatrama Iyer on either side. Outside the auditorium, near the entrance are photographs of all Sangita Kalanidhis. Most of them are Black and white snaps. DKJ and then R. Vedavalli's are the first color photos. KVN doesn't look his usual handsome self in his Sangita Kalanidhi snap and seems pensive.

Getting to Nisha Rajagopal's singing,
1.) DhanyAsi - MeenaLochana - Shyama Shastri
2.) Yochana - Durbar - St. Thyagaraja
3.) Kamboji - Koniyade NApai - St. Thyagaraja. She was alternating brilliant and listless in her singing. My mom felt and I seconded her opinion that Nisha strains herself while singing.

Another thing I fail to understand is why most current singers don't give enough importance to lyrics and the way they ought to pronounced. Chu kkumo laguti pilli instead of Chukku Molagu Tippili my grandma used to say jokingly :-)


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