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Carnatic Music Arangetram - Meghna Chandra

Banu Subramaniam
11/09/2009

Meghna Chandra, a student of Aparna Balaji, Abhyaas Academy of Music performed her music arangetram on Saturday, July 11, 2009 in the Bedford Old Town Hall in Bedford, Massachusetts.  She was accompanied in her Carnatic music recital by K.V.S. Vinay on the violin and Gaurishankar Chandrashekhar on the mridangam. Usha Dwaraknath, a trained Carnatic music singer herself, served as the MC for the event and initiated the proceedings. On an unusually beautiful day (a rare day without rain this summer!), Meghna performed to a packed and very appreciative audience of over 140 people.  Meghna has been learning Carnatic music for the past eleven years. She started her training with Sandhya Sridhar and has been training with her current guru, Aparna Balaji for the last five years. Meghna is an accomplished performer of the Carnatic Arts; having completed her Bharatanatyam Dance Arangetram in an equally impressive debut in 2006 (She is a student of dancer/teacher Neha Parikh). 

Meghna’s years of rigorous training and dedication to the art were well on display in her debut vocal arangetram. Meghna’s powerful, yet rich and mellifluous voice roused an enthralled audience for an hour and a half. She began with a traditional Varnam in Hamsadhwani (Mânambhuchâvadi by Venkatsubbaiyer). Competently performed, the varnam set the tone for a wonderful sequence of songs. This was followed by four beautiful compositions - Mâm Avathu (by Mysore Vâsudevâchâri) in Hindolam, Padumanâbhan Maruga (by Pâapanâsam Sivan) in Nâgaswarâvali, Devineeyethunai (by Pâapanâsam Sivan) in Keeravâni and Thelisi Rama (by Thiâgarâjâ) in Poornachandrika. The sequence allowed us to see the range of Meghna’s repertoire, going from the melodious Mâm Avathu (in Hindolam) to the quick pace of Thelisi Rama where her training for bringing out the sweetness of a ragam as well as her voice control in scaling the brisk swaras was easily apparent.  

After a short break, she sang Sârasâksha (by Swâthi Thirunâl) in Panthuvarâli. She began with a beautiful alapana of the ragam. She displayed her command of the ragam and her ability to bring out the beauty of this popular ragam. She followed this by a wonderful rendition of the pallavi.  She then performed three beautiful pieces, the first a haunting rendition of Vedanâyakam Pillai’s, Nâle Nalla Nal in Kapi, followed by a stunning rendition of Mâsillayodhiyini by Neela Râmamoorthy. This Râgamâlikâ included the ragams Bowli, Bilahari, Kedaragowlâ and Shanmukhapriya. In hearing her sing this piece it was as if she took us from the rising sun through a joyful day of music. She followed this with Yevinainervizhi (Thiruppughazh by Arunagirinâdhar) in Valaji. She concluded the concert with a joyful Thillânâ by Lalgudi Jayaraman in Rageshri and Thiâgarâjâ’s Panthikimangalam in Aarabhi.  

The accompanists, K.V.S. Vinay on the violin and Gaurishankar Chandrashekhar were wonderful. Encouraging and patient, they guided the budding singer Meghna with competence and variety.  While they kept their solo expositions to a minimum, the depth of their musical talent was readily apparent to a very appreciative audience. 


After a beautiful and impressive concert, most moving to the audience were the speeches at the end. What does it take to get to a Carnatic musical arangetram for a young Indian-American student? Usha Dwaraknath, the MC of the event , Meghna's guru, Aparna Balaji and her mother Karthi Chandra spoke eloquently about the difficulties of pursuing such passions as well as the discipline, time and effort this had taken Meghna for over a decade. Meghna in turn thanked her parents, her guru and the audience.. She thanked the accompanists for their patience and encouragement.

As for the audience, we could only cheer and marvel at Meghna’s talents. In addition to her accomplishments as a Bharatanatyam dancer and a Carnatic music vocalist, she is an intellect to be reckoned with as well. Interested in politics and international relations she worked on Barack Obama’s important and critical campaign in New Hampshire and is now on her way to her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, here she comes! 



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