An afternoon that touched the stars

Rajamathangi Ramsubramani shares her thoughts about this wonderful event hosted by RVCF.

Apr 6, 2019

A lovely sunny and bright afternoon with all music lovers and enthusiasts, we all gathered to experience one of a kind Guru- Shishya Violin concert “Strings ‘n’ All”. The next two hours were sure to rain music with Dr. Kartik Balachandran and his students on violin and Mr. Santosh Chandru and his student on the Mrudangam.

With a quick introduction about the artists of the day by Ms. Srividya Venkatasubramanya, President of Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation, the concert was all set to begin. Dr. Kartik being a Professor, knew the right way to engage the audience. He explained each song they performed, the importance or the mood of the ragaa and all possible interesting facts.

First song of the concert was ‘Vathapi Ganapathim’ in the raga Hamsadhwani, the ‘best known piece’ of Muthuswamy Dikshitar. With a short and graceful raga alapana done by Govind Poyapakkam , the song gave an auspicious start to the concert thus making a mark. After the Diskshitar kriti was a composition of Tyagaraja ‘Orajoopu Chuchedi Nyayamaa’ in the raga Kannada Gowla. Though this particular raga is a very rare one to be performed in a concert it was great to hear it so well coordinated by the Guru - Shishya team. To pep up the tempo of the concert next came a fast number of Tyagaraja,‘Sobillu Sapthaswara’ in the raga Jaganmohini. Topping the beauty of the original composition Dr. Kartik and team took the song to a different dimension, especially the Chittai swaram, equally supported by Mr. Santosh Chandru and Siddharth Poyapakkam on the Mrudangam. I was left feeling completely wowed at the end of the song.

A carnatic concert without Mohanam? Mohanam is a very pleasing and enchanting pentatonic scale (Audava raga - Raga with only 5 swaras), that captures the mind of every listener. So was the kriti ‘Evarura Ninnuvina’ with a flawless and soulful raga alapana by Varun Krishnaswamy. On the contrary to a very common ragaa like Mohanam next was a rare and unique raga, Nasikabhushani. Personally , I haven’t heard a lot of compositions in this raga. While Dr. Kartik started to explore the scale (raga), we all began to fall in love with the ambience he created. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this kriti ‘Maara Vairi Ramani’.

While the audience was still settling back after that treat it was time for the main piece of the day - Ragam Thaanam Pallavi with a pleasant surprise to know that the Pallavi was Dr. Kartik’s own composition on Lord Shiva. Amazing choice of raga for this main part. Charukesi is a raga that’s associated with feelings of devotion and surrender. Here came the master’s role to play around the scale supported by Aditya Krishnaswamy. After that elaborate raga alapana, the master and student duo complemented each other so well and played their mind and soul in the Thaanam part. Though I knew that Kartik was a multifaceted person, it was a joyous moment to hear him sing the Pallavi before joining his student to explore the pallavi. The entire journey through Ragam Thaanam Pallavi was so divine and prayerful that would evoke even a non-believer. Another highlight of this part of the concert was the ‘Thaniyavarthanam’ or percussion solo (or duet in this case) by the Guru-Shishya Duo on the Mrudangam. The thaniyavarthanam was so beautifully jockeyed by both the mridangists that the entire auditorium was experiencing a rush of positive energy.

The following song was mine and every music lover’s all time favourite and evergreen Ragamalika ‘Kurai Ondrum Illai’, very neatly exhibited by the team. After this was ‘Narayana Ninne Namada’, a wonderful composition of the ‘Pitamaha of Carnatic Music’, Purandara Dasa in the ragam Suddha Dhanyasi. The trademark end of a typical carnatic concert is a Thillana, especially in raga Tilang was the proverbial icing on the cake.

The stage was such an inspiration for the current generation to pursue our traditional music consistently. The reason for me making this statement is because all these students Aditya Krishnaswamy, Varun Krishnaswamy, Govind Poyapakkam and Siddharth Poyapakkam have been learning Violin/Mrudangam for 4 years to 14 years. Yes, the numbers are right. As i had attended the concert with my 11 year old son, I took back this lesson to keep up the motivation process for it will certainly pay one day. The coordination among the team was so organic that we were all magnetized throughout the concert. It also showed how patient a teacher Dr. Kartik must be with his students to draw out such confident playing from his students.

Overall it was such a sensational performance and a worthy Saturday afternoon spent without any regrets. A bright sunny afternoon ended by being a star studded evening. :)

By Rajamathangi Ramasubramani

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