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Music for a cause

Extravagant notes

terrific trio U Rajesh, Sivamani and Stephen Devassy.  DH Photos by BH Shivakumar
A noticeable vibration ran through the auditorium and eased itself at the base of everyone’s spine. As the crescendo reached its peak, a myriad range of musical notes and styles came together in the avatar of Indian Cancer Society’s ‘Beat Cancer Musical Night’ at Chowdiah Memorial Hall.

It was a night of instrumental extravaganza as various artistes joined hands to show their support for cancer survivors, those who have succumbed and their support systems. The first to take stage was Rahul Sharma, an accomplished santoor musician who has carved a niche for himself in various genres. He was accompanied by Satyajit Talwalkar on the tabla, and the two showcased Indian classical at its best.

The soulful tunes of the 100-string santoor were heart-warming and Rahul, who is no newcomer to manipulating them, set a lightness to the air. They intricately wove notes, almost oblivious to the audience around, with expertise and charm. Soon after, Anandan Sivamani (popularly know as Sivamani) on percussions, Stephen Devassy on keyboard, U Rajesh on mandolin and Giridhar Udupa on ghatam took to the stage. Having made a name for themselves in the music industry, the four combined their talents for a few fusion songs. Sivamani was the highlight of the show as he awed the audience with his understanding of sound. Like a scene from the movie ‘August Rush’, he finds music in everything around him, including empty plastic water cans, steel boxes and water.

The variety of percussion instruments he used was stunning, and he manipulated every sound that came his way to make music. He volleyed with ghatam maestro Giridhar Udupa, who held his own. And Bengaluru-based mandolin player U Rajesh had a few tricks up his own sleeve, while Stephen keyed in notes with his eyes closed.
After this set, Stephen and Rajesh took a break, and were replaced by Bharadwaj R Sathavalli on the morsing and Satyajit Talwalker on tabla. Each artiste had a go at a solo, starting with the tabla maestro. Although he received a resounding round of applause from the audience, it was Giridhar Udupa who got them on their feet. With surprising finesse, his quick hands ran over the clay pot in movements of care and firmness.

It was even more surprising when Bharadwaj R Sathavalli produced unexpectedly mellifluous sounds from the morsing. The last set comprised the whole ensemble and saw an exciting combination of Sivamani and Rahul Sharma. This time, the santoor musician switched to fusion beats and effortlessly kept up with the rest.

Interspersed were the sounds of the rest, who had no problem keeping up with the two heavy weights.

Cancer, which is known to not only break down one’s physical self, but also their mental being, was soothed by the strains of music. The night was in remembrance of Venkat Panchapakesan, who succumbed to the disease this year.


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