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Veena Arangetram: Prisha Naduthota

Venkatesh Tyagasamudram

Prisha Naduthota’s Veena Arangetram 

On Saturday, August 14th, 2021, Prisha Naduthota, student of Guru Smt. Durga Krishnan, a renowned Veena Vidushi in the New England area, gave an exemplary performance of Carnatic music in her Veena arangetram. The event was hosted at the beautiful auditorium of Chinmaya Mission in Andover, MA. Vidwan Shri Mahalingam Santhanakrishnan (Mali) and Vidwan Shri Vaikom Gopalakrishnan, a highly regarded senior artist visiting from India, accompanied her superbly on the Mrudangam and Ghatam, respectively. Prisha, who has been learning Veena for over ten years, delighted the audience with her three hour long rendering on the Divine instrument.   

The function started on time with a welcome note by Prisha’s uncle Shri Pradeep Naduthota followed by her brother Shri Prayuth Naduthota introducing the Guru and the artists of the evening.  Prisha started the concert with a traditional varnam piece “Sarasijanābhā” in rāgā kamboji followed by an invocation to Lord Ganesha – “Sri Maha Ganapathi” in the raga gowla set to triputa tāla (seven-beat cycle). 

Duly invoking the Goddess of knowledge and arts with a flawless rendition of Shri Muthuswami Dikshitar’s “Sri Saraswati namostute” in rāgā ārabhi, Prisha then set the stage beautifully for the rest of the concert by rendering the magnum opus composition of Shri Shyāma Shastri - “Kāmākṣī..”, a swarajathi in the vibrant rāgā bhairavi. Her innovative selection of the first line of the last charanam “Shyāma Krishna Sahodari…” to execute the kalpana swarams was noteworthy. 

After a sweet rendition of Saint Tyagaraja’s “Gnanamosagarada” in rāgā purvi kalyāni, Prisha embarked upon her main piece of the evening with Mysore Vāsudevācāryā’s “Rā rā rājīva locana Rāma​” in the popular rāgā mohanam set to ādi tāla (the eight-beat cycle). A beautiful rāgā ālāpanā revealed her mastery in playing the veena effortlessly. Her dexterity was evident from the ease with which she was handling the instrument. Her kalpana swarams were adeptly done and the effervescent tani āvartanam (percussion solo) by the seasoned accompanists further uplifted the main piece, providing a treat to the glued audience, who reciprocated with a thunderous applause. 

Having melodiously rendered Purandara Dāsā’s “Nārāyaṇā ninna” in rāgā śuddha dhanyāsi set to kandachāpu tāla, Prisha proceeded to the ragam-tanam-pallavi part. The tri-rāga pallavi was composed in rāgas, śhaṇmukhapriyā, sāma, and ānandabhairavī, set to chaturasra ata-tāla. Prisha’s deft handling of the veena was again on display as she traversed the octaves with great ease. The tānam was beautifully executed by varying the tempo to perfection. By including the snake charming notes in between, a technique often employed by the legendary Vidwan Shri Chitti Bābu, Prisha smartly paid a tribute to the Guru paramparā. (Vidwan Shri Chitti Bābu being Smt. Durga Krishnan’s Guru). Prisha briefly exhibited her vocal talent also by singing the Pallavi śhaṇmukhapriyā janani sāma gāna vinodhini sadānanda bhairavi melodiously and followed it with neraval and kalpana swarams. The percussionists’ support cast of the artist was one of the highlights of the concert. Prisha demonstrated her technique, creativity and focus commendably in the rāgam-tānam-pallavi portion of the concert.    

As she skillfully executed the popular composition “Theerāda vilāyattu pillai” of the famous Tamil poet Shri Subramaniya Bharathiyar, the special effects created by the percussionists made the piece even more enjoyable as the instruments fittingly conveyed the emotions of the composer. Since the event coincided with the seventy-fifth year of Indian independence, (Aug 15th had already dawned in India then) Prisha surprised everyone by presenting a tribute to Bhārata mātā with “jayati jayati bhārata mātā” in the rāga khamās. 

The audience were then treated to another surprise by Prisha’s brilliance in playing the sindu bhairavi thillāna composed by the late Violin Maestro, Padma Bhushan Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman, quietly replacing the one published in the brochure. Prisha executed this difficult thillāna with aplomb as though she was a senior pro, a fact later acknowledged by Guru Smt. Durga Krishnan. The thillāna certainly was the icing on the cake and further enhanced the quality of the concert which was already of a high order. 

Having invoked Goddesses Saraswati and Kamakshi earlier, Prisha fittingly praised the Goddess of wealth with an invitation to come and bless her by presenting Saint Purandara Dāsa’s “Bhāgyada Lakshmi Bāramma” as her penultimate piece. Bhadrāchala Rāmadās’s “Rāmachandrāya janaka...” brought the curtains down on an enthralling debut performance. 

The accompanists Shri. Mahalingam Santhanakrishnan on the mridangam and Shri Vaikom Gopalakrishnan on the ghatam provided spectacular support to the debutante as they would have given a senior artiste on stage, throughout the performance. They both complemented each other and the main artist perfectly with their skill and years of experience making it an enjoyable experience throughout. 

While an arangetram showcases the debutante’s, skill acquired over many years of learning, it also serves as a tribute and compliment to the Guru for nurturing, perfecting a disciple’s skill and bringing out the best on the stage debut. Prisha is indeed blessed to have a great Guru in Smt. Durga Krishnan whose care, composure and attention to details deserve special mention.   

Prisha also learns Carnātic vocal music and one of her former Gurus Smt. Aparna Balaji graced the occasion. She recalled her long association with the Naduthota family and blessed Prisha with her words of wisdom and encouragement. 

Prisha had to wait an extra-long year as the previously planned date of her arangetram had to be postponed from last year due to the Pandemic. Everything happens for a reason, it is said. In the end, the wait proved its worth as the additional practice time and special guidance from her Guru that she gained due to this, were very evident in her stellar performance. 

Best wishes to Prisha to pursue this art form and achieve many more successes in future. 

Photo courtesy: Saravanan Meyyappan

To watch her performance online visit ( https://youtu.be/vXIkXl9q9o8 ).

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