STATE OF THE ART
DEBATE Carnatic music: Trends and Responsibilities- V. RAMNARAYAN A rare concert featuring two frontline vocalists in unison set aficionados thinking about the state of Carnatic music today. Vijay Siva and T.M. Krishna came together in a probably one-off demonstration of what two stalwarts belonging to different schools and sporting different styles complementing each other can do together on stage by way of enhancing the effect of solo concert music. Both are die-hard traditionalists when it comes to the brand of music each projects, the depths each is ready to plumb to go back to authentic sources, and their adherence to fundamental musical values. Yet, neither of them is blind to the advantages of technology, aware that mature musicians not looking for shortcuts can embrace it without injury to their classicism. The programme was titled a jugalbandi, a term which instantly raised visions of sawal jawab, razzmatazz and discordant notes, not the kind of serenity that pervaded this very special concert. The varnam, much maligned by critics of the Carnatic system, hinted at grandeur rather than pyrotechnics. The Viriboni varnam set the tone for the rest of the evening, suffused with the warm glow of chaste music, deep feeling and the joy of uninhibited collaboration. (In this K. Arun Prakash and B.S. Purushothaman supported the singers on the mridanga and khanjira). The choice of raga-s and compositions was ripe and orthodox, and the rendering majestic. Rarely has an experiment met with such unqualified success. Full marks to Y. Prabhu, the secretary of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, who threw the gauntlet, and the musicians, friends from their YACM days, who accepted the challenge.
S. Rajaram S. Rajaram was a Carnatic musician, composer and arts administrator. Born in 1925 in Mysore, he learnt to play the mridanga from D. Seshappa and Yella Somanna, the jalatarangam from Devendrappa and vocal music from his famous grandfather Mysore Vasudevacharya. Rajaram served All India Radio for over three decades and later Kalakshetra in Chennai as Principal of its College of Fine Arts. He was appointed Director of the Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai in 1995 and served the institution till 2005. He moved to Bengaluru after his retirement. A prolific composer, Rajaram composed the music for several dance-dramas produced by Kalakshetra – including some in the famous Ramayana series, and others like Bhakti Vijayam, Bhakta Jayadeva, Akka Mahadevi, and Karna Sapatham. When approached by private organisations and individuals, he also composed the music for individual items and thematic presentations like Sakuntalam, Natya Veda, Sree Krishna Jananam. Rajaram composed a number of varna-s and tillana-s for solo Bharatanatyam. He travelled widely, leading the Kalakshetra troupe to festivals in Europe, the Far East, and the former Soviet Union. He received many prestigious awards from various sabha-s and institutions including the central Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 2001.