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Rising Stars Deliver Impressive Recital

Ranjani Saigal

The inaugural concert of the MITHAS fall series was a held that the Wong Center at MIT on September 18, 2004. In a slight shift from the norm the inaugural concert of the MITHAS fall series featured up and coming Indian American performers. It was a Carnatic vocal recital by Sangeetha Swaminathan. She was accompanied by Sandya Srinath on the violin and Rohan Krishnamurthy on the Mridangam

Even though the concert started slightly late, the performers held the attention of the audience for over three hours presenting elaborate Raga Alapanais and a beautiful Ragam-Thanam-Pallavi. Daughter of musician Karoor Krishnamoorthy, Sangeetha, now based in California after her marriage, is a disciple of Sudha Raghunathan. She is an ‘A’ grade AIR artist. Her presentation was indicative of her fine training. She was accompanied by Sandhya Srinath on the violin. Sandya Srinath got her initial training from Mr. V. Janakiraman of AIR, Delhi. She went on to get advanced lessons from Lalgudi G Jayaraman and Prof T.N. Krishnan. She has been living in Maryland since 1996. She is also an ‘A’ grade AIR artist. Her playing of the violin was an example of fine musicianship. Both artists are recipients of prestigious awards in Carnatic music.

Rohan Krishnamurthy, who provided the Mridangam accompaniment, is a young prodigy who is the disciple of Guruvayoor Dorai. Only seventeen he has already won the Yuva Kala Bharathi award. He was born and brought up in Michigan and is a freshman at Kalamazoo College in Michigan where he is double majoring in Music and Math.

Sangeetha opened the concert with an Ata Tala Varnam in Ragam Kanada. She followed this with the Koteeswara Iyer’s composition Vaarana mukhava in Hamsadhwani. Sadhachaleswaram in Bhoopalam was followed by GNB’s Sivananda Kamavardhani in Kamavardhani ragam. She then presented Thyagaraja’s Mariyaada gaadaiya in Ragam Bhairavam. An elaborate Raga Alapanai in Karaharapriya preceeded Samana Mevaru. The alapanai by both the vocalist and the violinist in Ragam Kharaharapriya was impressive.

Rohan did an elaborate thani in Roopakam. The use of complex rhythmic patterns indicated his through grasp of the Thalam and displayed his mastery over the instrument. Niravadhi sukhadha in Ravichandrika followed.

Just as the audience thought the main part of the recital was complete they were treated to a Ragam-Thanam-Pallavi(RTP) in Kalavathi,keeravani and kalyani set to Kanda triputa kanda nadai. Sangeetha checked with Rohan if he was comfortable with this Talam and he responded with utter confidence. The RTP often considered the cornerstone of a Carnatic music recital beautifully demostarted the combination of melody with interesting rhythmic patterns.

A soulful Viruttam taken from Arunachala Mahatmiyam in sahana and Nalinakanti was followed by "Isane" in Nalinakanti. The concert concluded with a Lalgudi Tillana in Ragam Kamas.

It was wonderful to see these artists who are pursuing a career in Carnatic music in a land that is so far away from home. Their talent, training and presentation could rival some of the finest back in India and MITHAS should be congratulated for encouraging such performances. I am sure these performers will go a long way in keeping this art form alive in American soil.

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