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Remembering MS - A Tribute To The Legend

Ranjani Saigal

The name MS Subbulakshmi brings a sense of warm reverence to those who know the music of this legend. No Carnatic musician has succeeded to the extent she did to bring this genre of music to groups unfamiliar with the style. Deepti Navaratna considers MSS a “Music Entrepreneur” who with her open and innovative approach to music was able to take Carnatic music beyond its boundaries.   Branding and marketing skills of her husband Sadasivam contributed enormously to her success. However at the very core, it was her intense devotion to music and her bhakti to the divine that allowed her to excel and let the temples around the world ring eternally with her voice. 

The Carnatic Alchemy project attempts to extend the reach of Carnatic music.  Deepti Navaratna held a contest for the rendition of songs popularized by MSS. She received over a 100 entries and picked the top nine to perform at the Remembering MSSubbulakshmi event that was held at the Keefe Technical High School on Saturday Nov 15, 2014. The curtain opened to reveal a fabulous stage setting sponsored by Shobha Shastry of Alankar Decors. 

After a brief welcome by Amrit Soni, President of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA New England Chpater the musical showcased commenced. The participants ranged in age from 7 to 18. The children took the audience by surprise with the amazing quality of their presentation. The event opened with Pratik Bharadwaj singing Paratpara. Oh my !  It is hard to believe that this youngster is only a seventh grader. Other participants including, Anjana Shenoy, Sanjana Rao, Mahima Vinay, Shreya Madhu, Shreya Sankar, Amrita Krishnakumar, Kirtana Krishnakumar and Siva Emani made stellar presentations. They were accompanied on the Mridangam by  young Mridangists Kasinath Balaguru and Hariharan Shamugam. Dr. Ramachandran accompanied some on the violin.  The showcase featured very matured presentations and it was easy to forget the age of the children. 

The showcase was followed by the main attraction of the event, which was a multi-lingual concert by Deepti. Dr. Pravin Sitaram accompanied her on the mridangam and Dr. KVS Vinay on the violin.  Her rendition of the difficult Daru Varnam Mate in the Ragam Khamas was quite a highlight for me. The interesting Chittaswarms  were delivered great verve and brought the concert to life.  She tried to touch on a wide variety of compositions in a short period of time. She talked about the background for many of the pieces including an interesting one where she demonstrated how MSS had taken the musical idea from Jagadodharana and transferred it to the Ghazal Ishrate Khathara.  Deepti’s passion for music shone through the concert. 

The third part of the concert featured students of Swapna Ray, Aparna Balaji, Sarita Deshpande and Uma Sankar. Sunayana Kuchroo presented a lovely poem. The chief guest Dr. Meena Subramanium, a talented artist herself gave a moving speech on the importance of learning the arts. She also spoke about why she supports the cause of Ekal Vidyalaya, which was the beneficiary of the concert. 

The event was spiritually satisfying. It was great to hear the music of the legend. It was equally gratifying to note that the great Gurus in the New England area and those from India teaching via Skype are creating young musicians of the highest caliber. Kudos to Deepti to bring these talents out! Of course the most heartwarming part of this event was the fact that all proceeds went to support Ekal Vidyalaya, an organization that is supporting some of the most needy children in India.

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