Music reviews

Vadiraja Utsava

Gayathri Venkataraghavan

Curtains came down on the Srimad Vadiraja Kalamahotsava on Sunday, which was held under the guidance of Vidwan R K Padmanabha, senior musician. Music concerts, dance, drama and puppet shows were held during the last 12 days, apart from the rituals (Nada gana yagna), and the public response was overwhelming. 
Gayathri Venkataraghavan who gave a vocal recital in the ‘Kala Mahotsava’ on Wednesday, took the initial lessons from Padma Veeraraghavan and V Subramanian and continued her training under A Sundaresan and is being guided now by P S Narayana Swamy. She has also traveled widely and has performed in many sabha and sammellans, both in and outside India. She made an instant appeal in the opening “Mathe” of Muthaiah Bhagawathar. The “Gajamukha wandisuve” of Saint Vadiraja, was a welcome change from the routine invocatory pieces. It was enlivening with nerval (Varijanabha sri) and brief swara. She paid rich tributes to “trinity” of Karnatic music, through their compositions. ‘Karuna Judavamma’ of Syama Sastry is one of the best compositions in the raga varali.

Audience wholeheartedly welcomed choice of the ‘Ranga Pura Vihara’, one time favourite of connoisseurs. Her alap of Shankarabharana was marked for its ragabhava and the stately keertane ‘swara ragasudha’ anchored well to the lilting gait to leave a lingering effect. Her voice grew deeper and stronger to lend free reign to her creativity. She pleased the gathering with a number of devotionals. Sharade Karunanidhe (Swamijee of Sringeri), Neenyako Ninna Hangyako, and Bhavayami Gopala – were rendered with good feeling. Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi’s violin acquired a special delight in Shankarabharana. The percussion duo – Manoj Shiva and B S Purushothama – accompanied with good understanding. Gayathri Venkataraghavan concluded her good recital with the “Manniso Sri Venkatesha” of Vadiraja Swamy.


The Sangeetha Sambhrama conducted the annual cultural festival ‘Nirantharam’ – with music and dance programmes. Ramprasad and Ravikumar (Malladi Brothers) who gave a vocal recital here, were accompanied by Charulatha Ramanujam, Arjun Kumar and Omkar Rao on violin, mridanga and ghata respectively. 
‘Smarane Sukhamu’ – the evocative composition of Saint Tyagaraja, gave flying start to Malladi Brothers. It was followed by a infrequent raga Natakapriya. Then two compositions which were very popular in old Mysore – Narasimhagacha and Shivakameswari. Melody flowed like a stream in the presentation of Kambodhi. They sang alapana, nerval and swara by turns and gave a remarkable presentation of solid, scholarly and evocative music in the best classical tradition.

They concluded with a composition of Annamachar and Purandara Dasa – sung pleasantly.  

Vocal ensemble

Gana Yagna’ of R K Padmanabha is of a different concept altogether. The ‘Yagna’ will be performed through music; music compositions will be rendered while the ritual ‘yagna’ will be conducted. On Friday morning hundred of artistes sang 10 compositions of different composers, in various ragas.

The ensemble opened their vocal with the ‘Sarasijanabha’, the Kambodhi varna set to Atta Thala. ‘Pranamamyaham’ in the raga Gowla is a familiar invocatory piece. Three keerthanas of Saint Tyagaraja – Paramathmudu (Vagadheeswari), Dehi Thavapada (Shahana), Vinathasutha (Huseni); 4 compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar: Soma Sundareswaram (Sudda Vasantha), Sri Kamalamba (Aahiri), Smaramamyaham (Rama Manohari) and Meenakshee me (Gamakakriya); Yava Kaalaku Enage (Madhuvanthi – Padmanabha Dasa) – were rendered in unison under the direction of R K Padmanabha.

R Achutha Rao on violin, B N Ramesh on Mridanga and G S Nagaraj on Khanjari – supported on their respective instruments. It was a memorable-unique experience to hear hundreds of voices together.

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