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Surya Sundararajan And Bharath Ramesh Present Carnatic Violin Duet Concert

Sangita Raghunathan

Carnatic Violin Duet Concert

New England music lovers were treated to an enchanting evening on June 2nd 2019 at the Stony Brook School, Westford MA. Sri Surya Sundararajan and his student Bharath Ramesh presented a violin duet concert, partly sponsored by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as part of their Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant program. This was Bharath’s first full-fledged concert (we could call this his Violin Arangetram!).

The program followed the traditional kacheri repertoire of starting with Varnam in ragam Sahana. We were then carried through a musical journey with popular yet challenging classical numbers such as Sri Pattnam Subramanya Iyer’s Garuda Gamana (Nagaswaravali); Dikshithar’s Sri Maha Ganapathy (Gowlai) and Sri Kanthimathim (Hemavati); Sri Thyagaraja’s Entharo Mahanubhavulu (Sri), Marugelara (Jayanthasri) and Niravadhi Sukhada (Ravichandrika). The Raga Alapana played before these numbers were lilting and given that this was Bharath’s first official violin concert, he played flawlessly.

We then came to the main segment of the Kacheri – the Ragam-Thanam-Pallavi set to Khanda Triputa thalam (9 beat cycle). This was indeed a musical treat with the main ragam being Mohanam. Surya and Bharath then took turns in playing the Pallavi in different ragams. Surya’s melodic Malayamarutam was followed by a vibrant Abheri by Bharath. We were musically drenched in Amritavarshini by Surya, and were soothed in Revathi by Bharath. Smt. Harini Darbha helped the artists by providing thalam support. Keeping the thalam at a steady pace in spite of the various note and rhythm patterns played by the artists is one of the most challenging tasks one can take up. Harini did a phenomenal job in keeping a strong hold on the thalam throughout the 3-hour kacheri.

The recital was further enhanced by popular numbers such as Jagadodharana, Kurai Ondrum Illai and Muddugare Yashodha. The finale was Dr Lalgudi Jayaraman’s Desh Thillana. Surya’s rendition of Hemavati was heart-rending and soulful. Surya and Bharath’s swaram interplay for Sri Kanthimathim and the ending korvais were a treat. A fitting end to the piece was the outstanding Thani Avarthanam by Sri Gaurish Chandrasekhar (Mridangam) and Dr Ravi Balasubramanian (Ghatam) that left the audience tapping our feet and clapping our hands to the thalam. As we all know, violin is not an easy instrument to learn. If the finger placing is off even by a smidge, the note will be off-tune and will be harsh to the ears. Bharath did extremely well on all the ragas he played, and the nuances of each raga was delivered beautifully. There were places where he played the notes softer and some places in a song where the notes were bolder. This enhanced the listening experience significantly. The “Lalgudi Bani” was truly kept up, in feeding emotions into the songs that were rendered. We could see the amount of practice and effort that went into creating this evening, by both the guru (Surya) and sishya (Bharath).

Sri Vittal Ramamurthy, one of India’s leading Violinists graced the occasion and shared his expert views. Vittal Sir, who is Surya’s guru, also helped coach Bharath in preparation for this concert. He was very proud to call Bharath his “grand-student”. He commented that when hearing both of them, he could not make out that there were 2 violins playing, he could only hear one sound. We could not agree more.

Both were completely in sync and all the songs were perfectly delivered. Kudos to Malini and Ramesh (Bharath’s Parents) for their encouragement and support of Bharath, a high school sophomore. We look forward to more performances from both Surya and Bharath. We all know what an amazing artist Surya is and are very happy to note that another excellent violin player is now emerging in the New England area to delight its Rasikas with mellifluous music.
Author Sangita Raghunathan is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer in the New England area. She runs a dance school, Sanskruthi in Bedford, NH. She is also an ardent Carnatic music rasika.

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