NEWS & NOTES
SIFA’s Spring Music Festival - K.S. SRINIVASAN The Bay Area celebrated the annual Spring Music and Dance Festival on 21st and 22nd April in San Jose, California, U.S.A., under the auspices of South India Fine Arts (SIFA). The festival followed on the heels of the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana. The sponsors, patrons and ardent fans of Carnatic music were treated to a variety of music concerts including a violin duet by vidwan M. Chandrasekharan and Bharathi Gopal, and Bharatanatyam by Chitra Visweswaran. The event attracted rasika-s from as far as Sacramento, CA, which is located about 150 miles from San Jose. The festival started with a vocal recital by H.V. Srivatsan, the Bay Area’s senior vocal artist and disciple of violin vidwan Anoor Ramakrishna (Bangalore) and Palakkad K.V. Narayanaswamy. He was accompanied by Nishanth Chandran (disciple of A. Kanyakumari) on the violin and the Bay Area’s well known mridanga vidwan Narayanan. Srivatsan took the opportunity to present a variety of compositions — from Tyagaraja to Patnam Subramania Iyer.
-G. DWARAKANATH There are a number of kriti-s in which Tyagaraja directly or indirectly explains many facets of music. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer once described Tyagaraja’s Sankarabharanam raga kriti, Swara raga sudharasa, as a super-potent multivitamin capsule for musicians. From this kriti we can learn what is good music and bad, what are the secrets of great music, how mishandling can spoil or even destroy good music, the innate beauty of music, how to fuse rhythm, sahitya and raga and so on. The more we learn from this kriti, the more seems to remain to be learnt. The song runs as follows. Pallavi Swara raaga sudhaarasayuta bhakti swargaapavargamuraa, O manasaa! Anupallavi Paramaanandamane kamalamupai bakabhekamu chelagiyemi? O manasaa! Charanam Moolaadhaaraja naadamerugute mudamagu mokshamuraa, Kolaaahala saptaswara grihamula gurutey mokshamuraa, O manasaa! Bahujanmamulaku paini gnaaniyai baraguta mokshamuraa, Sahaja bhaktito raagagnaana sahitudu muktuduraa, O manasaa! Maddala taala gatulu teliyakaney marddinchuta sukhamaa? Suddha manasu leka pooja jeyuta sookara vrittira! O manasaa! Rajata gireesudu Nagajaku delpu Swaraarnava marmamulu Vijayamugala Tyaagaraajuderugey Viswasinchi delusuko! O manasaa! The pallavi explains how we can produce ‘sudha rasa’ and how that leads to God experience. The anupallavi explains how bad music can destroy good and great music.
Brinda-Muktha: Certain Aspects of their Music -RAVI & SRIDHAR Brinda and Muktha had a thousand songs in their repertoire. The popular and the rare kriti-s of Tyagaraja and Dikshitar, the gems of Syama Sastry and Subbaraya Sastri, Anai-Ayya, Gopalakrishna Bharati, Arunachala Kavi, Subbarama Dikshitar, Ponnayya Pillai, Kshetrayya, Mysore Sadasiva Rao, Subbarama Dikshitar, besides innumerable javali-s were all in their possession. Karubaru, a grand Tyagaraja song in Mukhari was their favourite. Today this song has become famous. Similarly Elavataramu in the same raga was a grand edifice of pure and deep melody. So was Sangeeta sastra gnanamu, again in Mukhari. In Todi, they knew many Tyagaraja songs including Tappi bratiki, Kotinadulu, Emi jesitenemi, Enduku dayaradura, Endu daginado, Kadatera rada, Munnu ravana, and Proddu poyenu. Manasu swadheenamai and Emi neramu in Sankarabharanam, Mundu venuka in Darbar, Nee bhajana gana in Nayaki, Seetavara sangeeta gnanamu in Devagandhari, Mummurtulu and E papamu in Athana were some of the other major pieces of Tyagaraja that received excellent treatment by Brinda-Muktha. Most of the above mentioned pieces were sung by them in vilamba kala, the slow tempo. The kriti-s sounded so different, so ravishing, that it gave the lie to the theory that Tyagaraja kriti-s were all in madhyama kala. They had a number of short, delightful Tyagaraja compositions in rare raga-s in their repertoire. Tolinenu jesina in Kokiladhwani, Tanameedane in Bhooshavali, Vinave O manasa and Manasa manasaamarthyamemi in Vivardhini and Varasikhi vahana in Supradeepam are some of them. Muktha had the habit of singing these short pieces to put her daughter, nephews and nieces to sleep.
In Memoriam Professor Dr. Sumati Mutatkar S.K. SAXENA On February 28 this year, we lost Dr. Prof. Sumati Mutatkar (10-9-1916 to 28-2-2007), the terminal light of the galaxy of eminent music scholars in Hindustani music. She was an authentic musicologist, and a competent artist well versed in almost every genre of classical Hindustani vocal music, She served for long as a distinguished teacher, and as supervisor of multiform researches in the art of music at the University of Delhi. Sumati Mutatkar was liked as much by musicians in general as by colleagues and students. Her own academic growth, scholarly contribution, and her efforts to make our music better known in foreign lands, merit recalling in detail.