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Music Arangetram: Pavithra Devarajan

Janani Swamy

Pavithra Devarajan, a shishya of Guru Smt. Tara Anand at the Anubhava School of Music, presented her Carnatic vocal arangetram at the Ashland High School on September 2, 2012.  She was accompanied by Kumari Rasika Murali on the Violin, Sri Vinod Seetharaman on the Mridangam and Sri Ravi Balasubramanian on the Ghatam.   Pavithra performed to an audience that included many music and dance gurus from the New England area and the guest of honor for the evening, the eminent musician Sri Madurai Sundar.

In her welcoming comments, Guru Tara introduced her shishya to us as a sincere and talented student who has “worked beyond exceptionally hard” with incredible “drive and effort” to reach this point in her musical journey. She described Pavithra as having an “artistic soul” whose music is laden with bhava and connects her to the Almighty. Guru Tara also explained to us the concept of Arangetram- not a culmination or an end by any means- but rather a new and enlightened beginning to explore the vastness of music.

Guru Tara also shared with us two quotes that thoroughly embodied the values and mission of the Anubhava School of Music. Quoting the great poet Rabrindranath Tagore, Guru Tara stated “Music is the purest form of art, therefore true poets, they who are seers, seek to express the universe in terms of music, the singer has everything within him”. And then quoting the great legend of yesteryear, Chembai Vaidynatha Bhagavathar, “Originating in the air, it dissolves into the air, giving nirgunabhramam (formless supreme reality) which fills all space, the form of Nadabhramam (sound of God). Practice of music is therefore worship of Nirgunabrahmam and Sangitam is yoga in itself. I have no doubt that the art and practice of Carnatic music will flourish and grow”.  In the concert that followed, a young girl of mere 15 gave form to these concepts, in the process elevating music from performance to something sublime- difficult enough for seasoned musicians, remarkable for a debut performance.

I have had the pleasure of attending the Arangetram performances of many of our children who have worked so hard to learn the classical arts. However, there was something about Pavithra’s performance that was very special, very touching.  Pavithra’s skill and training are unquestionable and her music contained all the elements of good Carnatic music- a rich and expressive voice, unwavering shruthi, laya and uccharippu, effortless manodharma- and of course, the unmistakable pathantharam that is the hallmark of the Anubhava School . But it was Pavithra herself, so unaware of her own tremendous talent, of most gracious demeanor and the sweetest smile, who transformed music into something so beautiful.  For more than four hours, this delightful young girl sang with complete abandonment of self and ego, immersed in bhakthi to her Guru and to music, creating for us a most wonderful experience.  

Following the opening prayer in Bhowli, Pavithra started her concert with Varnam by Patnam Subramania Iyer in Hamsadhvani.  This was followed by Harikeshanallur Muthuaiah Bhagavathar’s Shakthi Ganapathim in Nattai, embellished with rapid kalpanaswara passages.  Pavithra then presented a most beautiful rendition of Subbaraya Shastri’s Venkata Shaila Vihara, with the shades and hues of Hamir Kalyani flowing through her presentation.  This was followed by Swathi Thirunal’s Deva Deva Kalayamithe in Maya Malava Gowlai.  Pavithra captured the essence of this ragam in the alapanai, neraval and kalpana swarams, especially with her effortless exploration of the upper octave without flaw or pause for powerful effect.  Next came Periasamy Thooran’s Thaye Tripura Sundari in Suddha Saveri.

Pavithra then presented the grand Thyagaraja composition Nidhi Chala Sukama in Kalyani.  Kalyani suited Pavithra as a color might as she presented a lovely essay of Kalyani, with insightful emphasis on the jiva swaras and swara prastharas. The krithi, neraval and kalpana swarams were presented at a caliber that attested to the rigor of Pavithra’s training and her virtuosity.  

This piece was followed by a thani avarthanam by the senior percussion artists for the evening.  Sri Vinod Seetharaman and Sri Ravi Subramaniam presented a masterful thani avarthanam in Misra Chapu which was a privilege to witness for their skill and for their obvious love of the art.  

A lovely rendition of the Dikshithar krithi “Maragatha Lingam” in Vasantha was followed by the very beautiful Ragam Thanam Pallavi which was the pinnacle of the performance.  The Pallavi “Ranganayakam Bhavaye Ranganayaki Sametham”, in Khanda Jadi Triputa thalam, was composed for this occasion by the renowned Vidushi Suguan Purushottaman.  The RTP, a dviraga (two raga) RTP in Karaharapriya and Poorvi Kalyani, was skillfully presented by Pavithra as she effortlessly wove both ragas together into one seamless whole even while fully retaining the character of each.    Pavithra’s  rendition was beautiful and skillful- demonstrating full capability over raga, thala, gathi and manodharma and the years of unflinching effort from Guru and Shishya that results in such an outcome.  The RTP was concluded with a shower of chitta swaras in a diverse variety of ragas.

The RTP was followed by a number of Thukkadas that included a bhava laden Meera Bhajan in Darbari Kanada and “Kaatrinile Varum Geetham” from M.S. Subbalaksmi’s film “Meera”.  Well into the fourth hour of the concert, Pavithra continued to sing for the sheer joy of music, without lapse in focus or energy.  Pavithra concluded her concert with Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman’s beautiful thillana in Ragesri.

Rasika, a senior student of Guru Tara and daughter of well known musician and music teacher, was described by her teacher as the “pride and joy of the school”.  In the words of her Guru and as we experienced, Rasika “makes the violin sing”.  Rasika demonstrated “wisdom” in her accompaniment so that she and Pavithra were a seamless one throughout the entire concert. Rasika’s virtuosity and musical intelligence were evident throughout the concert right from the Nattai kalpanaswarams to her emotive rendition of Karaharapriya and the many lovely phrases in the swaras that followed the RTP.

The evening concluded with words of praise and blessings from Sri Madurai Sundar and Pavithra’s parents.  Sri Madurai Sundar’s words perfectly captured Pavithra’s accomplishment on this day and what was so special about this experience. Also so apt  was Sri Madurai Sundar’s description of our beloved Guru Tara.   He explained how the role of a Guru, who is by turns a mother, a father, a friend and philosopher to the Shishya can never be understated and how Guru Tara is indeed the very epitome of a Guru.  This was amply illustrated this day by not just Pavithra and Rasika, but the many students of the Anubhava School in the first two rows who sat in rapt attention through the entire concert- the affection for their Guru and their fellow students so evident.  

There are some experiences that touch us deeply and stay with us for a very long time. Pavithra, this was one such experience and there is no doubt that you will touch many with your music as you continue to grow as a musician.  To all students of our classical arts- this arangetram illustrated the higher purpose of Sangitham and what elevates the performer and the rasika- an Arpana of self to Guru and to Art itself.

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