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Roaring Reds And Serene Oranges

Tara Anand


 Musical colors rain in a double header concert weekend at Chinmaya….

October 7th, 2017, Sanjay Subramanyam, S.Varadarajan, Neyveli Venkatesh….

Aldous Huxley said, I quote, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music”.

A full house at the Chinmaya auditorium soaked in the wonder of just that…Sanjay Subramanyam expressing what the rest of us find humanly inexpressible…

The lyrics of the RTP that Sanjay Subramanyam sang were as follows..“ Eppadi padinaaro adiyar, appadi paada  aasai konden”, with the subtle addition of “Indru’ and “ Endrum”… Roughly translated, that means , “ I desire to sing like the original devotees did, ( contextually could mean, founding fathers, veterans ) today and every day” . If there is anything that can describe in a nutshell ,the power behind Sanjay’s gargantuan success as a musician, it is exactly that line. I have had the privilege of knowing Sanjay since his younger days and it is his deepest respect for the stalwarts and the most heartfelt tribute that he has paid to them in every concert through his music that has made him the top notch artist and performer he is today. His success is a result of his single minded dedication and almost inhuman work ethic.Always respecting tradition, his music has remained, chaste, classic and unimaginably creative. The RTP was in the ragam Aberi, he sang it with as much aplomb as he does a Todi or Bhairavi. The musical phrases were brilliantly sung, and as always he has a way of kidnapping the listener into a different world with every ragam and item, into an exclusively mesmerizing space occupied by that particular raga.. The pallavi line, simple yet poignant conveyed his most deep desire to do justice to this music as the many veterans that came before him had. The swaram and neraval for the pallavi was vintage Sanjay, lightning quick creativity, and easy flowing bhava. Ragamalika swarams in the first speed featured swarams in Yadukulakamboji, Subha Pantuvarali and Dravida Kalavathi ( a lilting ragam created by Sanjay himself), that was followed by a lovely foray into Behag and Charukesi before we were drawn back into the world of Abheri. There are truly no words to describe the mastery or the complete command of the music that Sanjay so amply and effortlessly presented….

His other two main items that day were a scintillating Simhendramadhyam, a most heart melting alapanai was followed by a Madhurakavi Azhwar verse sung as a viruttham, completely soaked in devotion. Then came “ Mayavamanane, Madhusoodha”, a nammazhwar pasuram. These lyrics were handled ingeniously by him in his neraval, expertly navigating and creating brilliant musical phrasing while indulging in an epicurean play of the beautiful but simple lyrics. Each creative venture seemed like a deep spiritual call and was soaked in the quintessential beauty of Simhendramadhyamam…

His other main ragam was Kamboji, Sanjay came and conquered  as he always does. The ragam Kamboji stood before us , almost palpable , as Sanjay invoked its majesty and grandeur as very few can. To delineate a ragam like Kamboji successfully and in a manner that is classically fulfilling, one must summon infinite stamina, unrelenting energy, and the deepest internalization. Those of us who have followed Sanjay through the years, know that this is child’s play for him. The Saint Tygaraja gem “ Evarimaata” followed , with a most classic and chaste neraval on “ Bhaktaparaadhinunanuchu”, followed by a most relaxed kalpana swaram section.

There was a gloriously stylistic slow speed swaram, with a a simple yet core Kamboji swaram phrase ending each section.

The entire journey starting with the Sahana Ata tala varnam, to the Anandabhairavi tillana was a delightful and a beautifully prescriptive performance, a perfectly traditional margam, rich, uncompromising in variety and depth. After the varnam , Sanjay sang a majestic Mallari, in Gambheeranaatai, in Misra Triputa tala. A Mallari is a unique piece of music, played on the nadhaswaram as the presiding deity of the temple is taken on a procession, these pieces can be very complex rhythmically and once again , Sanjay indulged, played and ruled… singing it effortlessly in many speeds, the piece was crowned with kalpana swarams again, crisp, engaging phrases setting the mood for the wondrous performance that lay ahead. Other lovely compositions with creative forays into small alapanais were Sri Kanchinayike in Asaveri, a most moving piece in Yamunakalyani, “ Nannubrovamani Seethamma thalli” Items after the pallavi included a variety of Purandara Dasa , Bharathidasan, Ghanam Krishna Ayyar and Muthiah Bhagavathar compositions, in ragas like Sindhubhairavi, Kosalam, Desh, and Todi.

Not enough can be said about his most distinguished accompanists, Sri Varadarajan on the violin and Sri Neyveli Venkatesh on the mridangam. I always marvel at the excellence and ease with which Varadarajan accompanies Sanjay, his extreme focus and involvement is an inspiration to students and artists alike. Each of his alapanais was perfection itself , perfect proportion, creativity that underlined his consummate artistry and accompaniment that demonstrated his expansive knowledge of Sanjay and his style. For every creative leap that Sanjay seemed to take , he was right there beside him waiting to delight with a leap of his own. His violin almost sang and I am sure every musical soul in that audience was touched with his performance that day… a most exemplary artist indeed.

Sri Neyveli Venkatesh on the mridangam completed the team with his robust, cheerful accompaniment, constantly enhancing, highlighting and always enriching. Once again, his understanding of the main artist was complete, it always seemed like he knew how to lift the concert to a totally different level with his percussive expertise for every song. His tani was glorious, with one section completely played on the left side of this mridangam, highlighting the resonance and his ability to produce that, and demonstrating his command of the instrument and music every step of the way. He has the ability to convey a sense of joy and touch the audience at a visceral level…that joy he spreads is infectious. And he made it look most easy, it almost seemed like he danced as he played…

We thank Sanjay and his accompanists for a concert that was so beautiful and fulfilling…As Sanjay sails through many more successes, I have no doubt that when future generations sing the lines of his pallavi, the “ adiyar” that they will be singing about will be Sanjay himself….. that he will leave his priceless footprints in the Carnatic world for many to love, follow and respect….

We were all blessed to witness this magical team in performance and we thank Durga Krishnan, Sumana Rao and the Chinmaya mission for bringing such treasures to our doorstep… 


October 8th, 2017

Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan, Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, Vidwan Trichy Sankaran, Tripunitura Radhakrishnan…..

On the second day of the double header, there was an instrumental treat in store, a violin duet by Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan, and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, accompanied by none other than the inimitable Vidwan Trichy Sankaran on the mridangam and Tripunittura Radhakrishnan on the ghatam. Anytime one listens to a concert in the Lalgudi bani on the violin, the feeling that resonates is one of lilting melody, sweetness and the lasting power of a “gayaki” bani , where there is emphasis on the lyrics and the content of the song even though the presentation is instrumental. The audience was treated to an evening of tranquil, almost meditative music, sweet and chaste. Starting with a varnam composed by their Guru in the ragam Kannada, the concert flowed, ebbing and weaving with ease, like the shining waters of a beautiful river. The sub-main item was “ Isha Pahimam” in Kalyani, a Lalgudi pancharatnam. A poised and emotion filled Kalyani alapanai was played by Vijayalakshmi. The Lalgudi version of the kirtanam was neatly set and arranged, a perfect pataanthara as one has come to expect from that school.

Then followed Swarams, the quick repartee of short swarams , small lilting patterns, simple math and melody coming together at every turn. A very lively and mellifluous ‘Manavyalakincharathate’ in Nalinakanthi was a delightful blend of catchy variations. The meditative “Enatinomuphalamo’ , Saint Tyagaraja’s compostion was the main item, a classic and earthy Bhairavi alapanai by GJR Krishnan, soulful neraval passages and swaram, that was crowned with the Tani by Vidwan Tricky Sankaran. The RTP in the Raga HIndolam was creatively handled by the duo, a lively thanam, with Ragamalika swarams garlanding the whole presentation. There was a most moving presentation of “Aye Methakadinam” a ragamalika, essayed in a very heartfelt manner by the duo. The concert ended with a brilliant composition of their Guru, in the raga Sindhubhairavi. The Lalgudi school is known for its extremely vibrant presentation of tillanas , and this was masterfully rendered by them. A feeling of tranquility and soft serenity pervaded the entire concert. The concert was appreciated by all, among them also many diehard fans of the inimitable Lalgudi Bani.

The the crowning jewel of all , was the most masterful accompaniment by none other than the Veteran Vidwan on the mridangam, Sri Trichy Sankaran. I am sure every artist on stage that day considered it a blessing to have him on stage with them that day. Brilliant performances cannot be described or recalled, they merely have to be experienced. He anticipated every musical nuance and pattern, and transformed the concert into a most uniquely transformative experience. Years of playing for stalwarts, his matchless grounding in the Pazhani school and his most grand strokes and touches made the evening an experience to treasure and cherish forever. His brillant tani avartanam was but a small demonstration of his mastery over the instrument and the art. And that tani had us all in a state of hypnotic wonder….. the power, the subtlety, all at once, touching so many hearts …. We were all blessed to listen to him that day.

Sri Tripunnitura Radhakrishnan on the ghatam, was a wonderful addition and an asset to the performance. His accompaniment was timely, nuanced and accentuated the music positively all along. He was appreciated by Vidwan Trichy Sankaran, and performed most remarkably beside him, always deferring to the master on stage, but coming into his own and demonstrating his artistry throughout the concert.

Once again, our heartfelt gratitude to the artists and to Chinmaya and the many organizers for a most soul fulfilling weekend of music….


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