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Ranjani And Gayatri And Sanjay Subrahmanyan Concerts At The Chinmaya Mission

Durga Krishnan

Double Header Concerts at the Chinmaya Mission, Boston

There used to be a time if you lived in the Boston area you had to go to New York to attend good cultural events, especially concerts by reputable artists from India.

Then the organization MITHAS was formed to bring artists of both Carnatic and Hindustani music from India to this area regularly and was soon followed by LearnQuest Academy of Music. Chinmaya Mission Boston organized a grand veena concert by Maestro late Dr. Chttibabu in 1994 and a very memorable concert by the violin maestro Lalgudi G. Jayaraman with his son G.J.R. Krishnan and daughter Vijayalakshmi in 2003. Bringing artists of this caliber used to be rare. But the Boston community has lately been blessed with attending concerts by maestro on a very regular basis thanks to not only to MITHAS, LearnQuest but also the Chinmaya Mission that sees music is a way to reach God....Nadhabrahmam. 

Following that sentiment the Chinmaya Mission organized two concerts by very well popular artists Ranjani and Gayatri, better known as the RaGa sisters and Sangita Kalanidhi Sanjay Subrahmanyan back to back on May 3rd and 4th at the Chinmaya Maruti auditorium in Andover. Both concerts were sold out event as they have been in the past (it was RaGa sisters' 3rd and Sanjay Subrahmanyan's 4th performance at the Chinmaya Mission). 

The RaGa sisters who are enjoying an unbelievable height of fame and have become the fan favorites in the last few years presented a concert that left the audience in absolute frenzy. They started the concert with Dikshidar's Ramachandram Bavayami in Vasantha and kept the energy throughout the concert. Their alapana of Sriranjani followed by Thyagaraja's Marubalga and Tamil kriti in Sahana, Chitham Irangadenaiya by Papanasam Sivan enthralled the audience. Then came the request for Saravanabhava in raga Pasupathipriya by Harikesanallur Muthiah Baghavathar and the sisters took the audience to an ecstasy with the past paced chittai swaram. The chosen raga for the RTP that day was Subhapanthuvarali and as always Gayatri included a few shruthibedams (shifting of the tonic note) that delighted the audience. The sisters' concert cannot end without a Marathi abhang and this concert was no exception. The abang Sharana Sharan Eku Natha they sang that day brought the audience to their feet and an auspicious ending to the concert. The sisters were accompanied on the Violin by Charumathi Raghuraman, a disciple of Prof. Sangita Kalanidhi T.N. Krishnan and on the mridangam by Delhi Sai Giridhar. 

The second day, May 4th belonged to Sanjay Subrahmanyan who has his own unwavering fan base and is the only artist whose audience travel all the way from California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Toronto, New Jersey and even from Indiana and all they showed up for the concert this time too. He somehow has a knack to keep the artists under a spell without compromising the quality of the concert and it was evident in this concert too. He seems to be the only artist who has a vast treasure of Ata Tala varnam in his repertoire and almost always starts his concerts with one of them. This time it was in Raga Ahiri by Thalangampadi Panchanadha Iyer that was followed by Subramanya Bharathi's Vandemataram in Kedaram. After a soulful rendition of Durusuka in Saveri the artist moved on to Sriranjani alapana and kriti Sri Ramachandra Rakshathumam in Misrachapu talam. The audience can pretty much expect an item in one of the 72 melakartha ragas in Sanjay's concerts and this time it was Evaritho ne Thelpudu in Manavathi by Thyagaraja. The raga chosen for the main piece was Nattaikurinji in this concert. After exploring all the possible phrases and nuances he sang Swati Tirunal's Jagadeesa Sadha Mamava. Violinist S. Varadharajan's reply to the alapana and swara kalpana deserve a very special mention. He seems to do it so effortlessly as if he could get in to Sanjay's mind and pretty much predict his next phrase. The thani avarthanam by Neyveli Venkatesh following the kriti made the audience show their appreciation by a very long sustained applause.  After a very janaranjaka rendition of Netrandhi nerathile in Huseni the artist started a very elaborate alapana of raga Mohanakalyani followed by thanam and pallavi that was followed by a string of 13 raga ragamalika. The concert ended with an eternal favorite of the audience Muruganai Baji.

The level of the artists' vidvath, the presentation, and the reaction of the audience made the President of the Chinmaya Mission, Boston so emotional  he got on the stage and bowed to the artists after a very heartfelt vote of thanks.

The local restaurant Ragini brought boxed dinners to sell on both days and these dinners were appreciated by the audience very much since the concerts ended at such late hours on both days.

There were 3 well wishing sponsors who took care of a good portion of the expenses and made it possible for the organization to let a total of 48 children attending the concert at no cost. These children sat on the stage and enjoyed the concerts in full and it was appreciated by the artists. Chinmaya Mission, Boston thanks these three generous anonymous donors whole heartedly.

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