A musical camaraderie

A musical camaraderie

From the albums

A musical camaraderie

It was in the late 1960s that we seven housewives and good friends, all well-versed in classical Carnatic music, decided to use our free time to get together and practise various compositions. This photograph, taken in 1969 in Basavanagudi at one of our impromptu music sessions, is one of my favourites. It may appear faded but the memories of that day have not dimmed with time. 

That informal musical afternoon was what inspired a dream —  to bring out our shared passion for Carnatic music by giving group concerts. A few were already performing radio artistes and the rest proficient enough, so we were a well-matched group eager to scale greater heights! And that’s how Sadguru Sangeetha Samiti was born.

We lived in different parts of the city but back then, it was easy to commute and meet at a central home thrice a week, bonding over the nuances of various ‘ragas’ and compositions. Soon, we were confident enough to give small concerts. Seethalakshmi, with her seniority and artistic prowess, was our natural choice as a leader and guiding star. While ‘krithis’ were practised and sung in unison, the ‘neravals’ and ‘swaras’ were divided and rendered separately. We were a unique group, rare for those times and a pioneer, in some ways, of group singing in a structured Carnatic music concert. We shared a wonderful camaraderie, and with dedication, we were able to bring about impressive improvements in our standard of renditions.

The doyen, Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, agreed to be our patron and gave us valuable advice.
How fortunate we were to have senior vidwan Sri T K Rangachari agree to come every month from Madras to tutor us! Soon, the ‘Saptha Swaras’, as we were popularly called, were giving concerts even in Madras and other Southern towns.

Regular participation at Thiruvaiyaru festivals were memorable times. As word about us spread, invitations came in from the North too. We gave some well-reviewed performances in Jamshedpur, Delhi, Bhopal and Nagpur. Smt M S Subbulakshmi and her husband Sri Sadasivam appreciating our ‘kutcheri’ at Krishna Gana Sabha in Madras is another unforgettable moment. Of course, full credit to our husbands for their cooperation and encouragement. They would excitedly wave us off at the station, while we wondered if they were secretly pleased at the total freedom they could enjoy for a few days!

Our good musical times together lasted more than a decade before family priorities took over. But we continued to stay in touch. Sadly, over the years, we have lost a few from the group. In our 80s now, we have our daily dose of pills and potions but music continues to be for us, the best medicine!

(The author can be contacted at rajivee12@yahoo.co.in)

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