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Vocal Arangetram: Sreya Sankar

Sutikshna Veeravalli

Sparks of Promise

Sreya Sankar, 15, impressed the audience with her every, cleanly delivered sangathi during her Carnatic vocal Arangetram on Saturday, September 21st, 2019 at Medway High School (Medway, MA). Her lineage, as a student of Kalaimamani Sri R. Suryaprakash and in the school of illustrious Sri Madurai Mani Iyer, was evident in her creativity within sarvalaghu, or rhythmic patterns of eight, and her careful attention to voice tone and delivery. She was accompanied on by accomplished musicians—Sri Trivandrum V. Balaji on mridangam, Sri Kamalakiran Vinjamuri on violin, and Dr. S. Karthick on ghatam.

The concert began with Veenai Kuppaiyer’s Reethigowlai ragam, Ata tala varnam, in which Sreya provided a twist at the end, switching the rhythmic gait and staying in control over talam. This was followed by a sprightly “Gananathane”, set in Saranga ragam and Adi talam. Although Saranga’s scope is not extremely extensive, Sreya’s every kalpana swaram had distinction and variety and kept the audience on its toes. This piece set the pace for a bright repertoire to follow.

The first ragam exposition of the evening was in Shanmukhapriya. Sreya handled this melakartha ragam with a balance of both decorous and unexpected sangathis, in the right places and proportions. It was complemented with equal verve by all accompanying artistes throughout the krithi, “Marivere”. Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s “Sri Maathrubhutam” followed for a more leisurely contrast.

Sreya featured the Madurai Mani Iyer stamp, “Kana Kan Kodi” as the main krithi of the evening. One of her strong points, which was evident especially during her rendition of Kamboji, was her voice range and aptness for melody. Her sangathis were well paced and built upon each other naturally. The musical conversation between both laya vidwans was one of the most memorable aspects of the evening— both Sri Balaji and Sri Karthick heightned the comfortable mood of the evening by enumerating the endless possibilities within sarvalaghu. The subsequent ragam tanam pallavi’s tisra rupaka panchanadai talam did not shake the steady and seamless flow of neraval and kalpana swaram. The RTP featured a newly constructed ragam, “Kuyil Kurinji” by Sri R. Suryaprakash, which mimicked the call of a cuckoo bird. This was beautifully echoed and enriched by Kamalakiran’s take on the ragam.

Sri Suryaprakash’s creative works were featured again in the ragamalika, “Ragangale Padalgale”, which was visibly a crowd favorite with its quick and charasteric portrayals of 30 ragams, each in one avartanam. Sreya’s strong point of melody took front seat in her poignant viruttham singing, and her control over speed and brigaa sangathis showed in her abhang, “Abeer Gulal”. She concluded with English notes and a specially composed thillana by Sri Suryaprakash in Sumanesa Ranjani. A special feature of the thillana was both swarams and sollukattus that took on lyrical meaning.

Sreya’s Arangetram showed the sparks of promise that practitioners and rasikas of music take joy in hearing. With her smiling demeanor all throughout, her childlike joy in music permeated and passed on to all those who attended the performance. Her dedication and humility towards music was evident and one would hope it continues to carry her to new heights.

Sreya's Arangetram Video:

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