On A warm and breezy Saturday afternoon the auditorium of the First Congregational Church, 18 Andover Road, Billerica MA, was swathed in divine music coming from the very soul of the musicians that came together to benefit Ekal Vidyalaya.
The musical ensemble comprised of Boston based musicians with special musical guests from New Delhi, India! Husband and wife duo Raghuraman Govindarajan (Carnatic flute) and Sudha Raghuraman (vocal) were featured artistes joining artistic excellence with Aparna Balaji (vocal), K.V.S. Vinay (Carnatic violin), Mahalingam Santhanakrishnan (mridangam) and Amit Kavthekar (Tabla) to create a fabulous blend of Carnatic and Hindustani music.
The concert was the first time that first cousins Aparna and Sudha came together to perform, and what a delightful musical union that was! Both vocalists complimented each other so fluidly that it is hard to imagine one without the other! The divinity within their hearts came through in their music! This concert was a tribute to O.S. Sridhar, Sudha’s father and Aparna’s uncle.
The artistes began with Jaya Jaya Swami in Nattai and Adhi talam, a composition of Narayana Theethar. The joy of singing and more importantly singing together came through immediately as they weaved through the beautiful melody in the invocation piece.
Sudha’s spirited and soulful voice came on full display in the next piece Sakhihe in Shuddha Saarang. This was a solo item and Sudha’s mastery over her craft was unmistakable – she beautifully rendered this song and had everyone transported to another realm.
Next Raghuraman presented a solo on flute Yenthamuddho in Bindumalini a wonderful composition of Saint Tyagaraja.– Raghu is one of the top Falutists in India and is much in demand for his ability to create beautiful music through his flute. Everyone present was lifted and moved by his music!
Next the cousins presented "Marugelara Oh Raghava", which they had learnt from their grandfather Acharya Choodamani Shri. O.V. Subramanian. -a very brisk rendition in ragam Jayantshri also composed by Saint Tyagaraja. The audience then got to experience Aparna’s lilting voice in her solo rendition of Venkataramana in Lathangi a composition of Papanasamsivan.
A beautiful rendition of a famous Javali "Neematalemaayanura" in ragam poorvikalyani came flowing - this was sung by Aparna’s students Amrita Pai and Mahathi Athreya. The young singers did their Guru proud for sure with their clean diction and presentation. An interesting tidbit is that this song was taught to them by Sudha, during a music workshop a few years ago.
Finally, a beautiful bhajan in hindi – Ek Mantru in Darbari Kanada, was rendered by all singers. This was a favorite of the late O.S. Shridhar and was sung as a tribute to this musical giant!
The most striking aspect of this wonderful concert was the simplicity and yet the incredible power of the music. Each musician stood out for their expertise in not only their craft but in their ability to work together as a team and melding Carnatic and Hinsdustani styles in a seamless manner. The Thani Avartanam or the Jugalbandhi between the percussionists ( Mali and Amit) was a wonderfultreat for the ears and the eyes, as one listened and watched as two completely different instruments came together to create a beautiful one.
K.V.S, Vinay on the violin was such a huge complement to all the songs presented and sadly for us Bostonians he is moving out of MA – we hope to have him return often so we can enjoy his musical skill!
The entire afternoon of music was truly filled with the love and respect by the musicians not merely for theirart but for each other as well. One really wished for the concert to continue!