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KHMC Concert: Mahathi Athreya, Selina Banerjee Kiran Nath

Shuchita Rao and S. Sivakumar

For non-profit organization KHMC’s October 2017 concert, one of our rising young stars, Kum. Mahathi Athreya – Daughter of Guru Smt. Aparna Balaji and granddaughter of Vidwan Shri. O.S. Thiagarajan, started the evening with a delightful Carnatic Music concert, at the residence of Smt Lakshmi Mahalingam and Shri Mahalingam Santhanakrishnan.  on Saturday, October 14, 2017.  Shri Kiran Manda on Violin and Shri Varun Chandramouli on Mridangam provided excellent accompaniment to Kum. Mahathi.

Mahathi started the concert with the invocation of Lord Ganesha, with the krithi “Thathvamariya Tharama” by Shri Papanasam Sivan in the pleasant Reethigowla raga. She showed her flair for manodharmam with crisp swarams on the charnam. This was followed by a brisk rendering of Saint Thyagaraja’s evergreen krithi “Brovabharama Raghurama” in ragam Bahudhari.

Mahathi then presented the first elaborate item of the evening - a mellifluous Natakurjuni, with the krithi “Mamava Sada Varadhe”, in which she handled some deft and imaginative kalpana swarams, ably supported by Kiran and Varun. This was followed by the rendering of a fabulous presentation of the krithi “Nee Chitamu” in the raga Dhanyasi. Mahathi really showed her desire and passion in presenting this difficult krithi and sang the krithi with a divine touch.

For the main composition of the evening, Mahathi presented Muthuswami Dikshithar’s magnum opus – “Meenakshi Memudham Dehi” in raga Purvi Kalyani, where she showcased her full range of manodharmam singing. The alapana, neraval and swaram were outstanding. Kiran’s presentation on violin added a beautiful flair and Varun played a dazzling percussion solo. Mahathi concluded the concert  with the sweet Sindhubhairavi piece Gangadeeswaram and a traditional Thillana.

We are witnessing a star in the making. It is very inspirational to see Mahathi taking this art form to heart at such a young age. With her dedication, commitment and effort we are sure she will reach greater heights and share this wealth to others as well.

The Hindustani segment of the evening featured junior and senior presentations. For the junior segment, Selina Banerjee, disciple of Dr. Pradeep Shukla sang ragas Yaman, Piloo and Bhairavi accompanied by Shri Rajesh Pai on the tabla and Shri Rama Rao on the harmonium. In her first composition set to slow rhythmic cycle of twelve beats (ektaal), “Mera Man Baandh Leeno Re”, Selina created a serene atmosphere by building the raga from ground-up with structured alaaps (slow meditative movements) using words and aakaar. Increasing her pace after completing the antara section, she rendered bol-alaap and taans(fast melodic movements) with clarity and confidence. A drut khyal set to fast tempo sixteen beat rhythm cycle teentaal with fast taan movements concluded the Raga Yaman presentation.

Selina presented a pleasing thumri in Bengali language “Piya bolo abhimaan” composed by the late Gyan Prakash Ghosh and popularized by the legendary vocalist, the late Begum Akhtar as her next offering.   Composed in the complex raga Piloo and set to the six beat cycle dadra taal, the composition had dual shades of gandhar, dhaivat and nishad notes which Selina juggled with complete ease. She also showed comfort with maintaining rhythm in the concluding fast laggi section of the thumri.

Shri Rajesh Pai gave a demonstration of slow tempo twelve beat cycle ektaal as well as dadra rhythm cycles on the tabla and spoke about the use of laggi at the end of the thumri. Selina concluded her presentation with a composition Dayaani Bhavaani in Raga Bhairavi set to ten beat cycle jhaptaal.

The well-known Boston based poetess and singer Smt. Kiran Nath was the senior artist to present a lecture-cum-demonstration for the KHMC Hindustani segment. Smt. Nath is trained in classical music  and has composed many poems/songs/ghazals. In introducing the Ghazal genre to the audience and said that words and lyrics were the most important element of Ghazals. A Ghazal comprises of several couplets called Sher, and the second line of the sher (couplet) holds special importance. Smt. Nath played the harmonium, recited and sang one of her own compositions in raga Bhimpalasi  â€œUb Kya kahoon mere meherbaan, dene ko hia bus ek hi jaan” (I have only one life to give you, dear kind-hearted one). “Even if you do not understand the language you will connect to your own life through the medium of the ghazal. The Ghazal is performed for a listener to lead them to their own life’s experiences. No visuals are needed.” She explained.

Next, Smt. Nath recited another self-composed poem that her daughter Mitali performed for the listeners. Hearing the mother and daughter sing together was delightful.

Phir aank jami hai raste pur, phir aane ka socha hai tumne,

Mili aadhi duniya aaj hamey, phir mud kar dekha hoga tumne

(I am glued to the path that you are coming on, I have found half my world because you may have glanced back at me).

Smt. Nath concluded with a thumri “Chodo Kalaayi morey saiyyan hone ko hai bhor”. Members of the audience could be seen connecting with each other by humming popular film songs that were along the lines of the melodies that Smt. Nath presented. Smt. Nath’s powerful stage presence, commendable diction while reciting and singing ghazals and warm manner of connecting with the listeners brought great joy to the audience. 

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