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Arangetram: Latika Sridhar

Janani Swamy

Latika Sridhar, a student of Guru Smt. Tara Anand, presented her Carnatic vocal music arangetram at Babson College on September 21. She was accompanied on the violin by Ashwin Gargeya, also a student of Guru Tara and on the mridangam by Dr. Pravin Sitaram.

Latika’s performance had all of the elements of good carnatic music- a lovely voice, a keen instinct for manodharma, technical proficiency and an ease that comes from rigorous training steeped in classicism as well as incredible talent. When writing about Latika’s music, it would be easy to yield to a string of superlatives- except that this would not do justice to this very special young artist. Just 14 years old, Latika delivered her 3.5 hour performance with the poise and confidence of a seasoned performer and with a prodigious ability that made music seem as natural as breath itself.  

Latika started her recital with an Ata tala varnam in Kanada ragam..  This was followed by Gananathane in Saranga, with neat kalpana swaras.  Next, in the Panthuvarali alapana that preceded the Thyagaraja krithi, “Apparama Bhakti”, Latika struck a perfect balance of meditation on the jiva swaras and lightning speed essays of key phrases.  This was followed by GNB’s composition Kamala Charane in Amrutha Behag.  Latika then presented the grand Thyagaraja composition “Kaddhanu Variki” in the ragam Thodi..  Latika’s alapanai thoroughly captured the intricacies of majestic Thodi.  This was followed by “Bhogindra Shayinam” in lilting kuntalavarali.

Latika then presented the dazzling centerpiece – a brilliant Ragam Thanam Pallavi in the ragams Dharmavathi, Lalitha and Bhairavi.   Composed by the renowned musician Suguna Purushotaman, the challenging pallavi was delivered to perfection by Latika.  Latika effortlessly managed the instantaneous changes in ragam and gathi even within a single tala cycle seamlessly as the three ragas flowed in unison. The RTP was the crowning glory of  the concert and perfectly captured Latika’s incredible achievement in this difficult art form.

The RTP was followed by the lighter compositions of the concert in which aesthetics played a prominent role.  Latika’s lovely voice perfectly conveyed the emotion of ragas such as Kapi, Sindhubhairavi and Desh.  She concluded her concert with a spectacular thillana in Hamir Kalyani.

Ashwin Gargeya’s virtuosity on the violin was a perfect complement to Latika’s caliber.  Ashwin’s Thodi alapanai deserves special mention- unmarred by even a single false note, Thodi sounded regal yet beautiful.  Ashwin held his own during the complex RTP,  perfectly blending with Latika’s presentation yet showcasing his own inspiration. Pravin Sitaram is a respected senior artist who supports our youngsters with his time and generous encouragement; as always, Pravin’s support was masterful.

Latika is another example that without question and as proven by their many achievements, Tara Anand’s students can hold their own against their counterparts in Chennai and shatter any notion that chaste carnatic music can thrive only in India.  What is amazing is Tara’s ability make Carnatic music so relevant and so natural to these youngsters in a setting so different from its origins.  Indeed, Tara’s gift to her students is so much more than Carnatic music- it is the gift of their heritage in all its splendor.    

Latika, no doubt, is an inspiration to many young students of Carnatic music.  We are sure to hear of the many accomplishments and successes that await her.

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