SUGUNA PURUSHOTHAMAN (1941 - 2015) - Suguna Teacher
Some thirty young voices blend seamlessly in Saranga. The music is simple but steeped in rich bhava and leaves you with moist eyes by its sheer earnestness. It is Suguna Purushothaman’s class at her Abhiramapuram residence. Some of today’s concert singers are part of the group that impacted you that day, more than a decade ago. Suguna Mami keenly absorbs each singer’s output, silently assesses, processes in her mind and makes pertinent observations. She corrects a posture here and mildly ticks off a closed mouth effort there.
“Saranga should not be pushed too much, you know. It can sound like Hamir Kalyani or even morph into Kalyani,” she warns. As she deftly demonstrates the dangers that lurk, the children listen carefully. Many little boys are a part of the group too. The music continues and melts your heart. The song is over. Suguna Mami comes up with a joke that eases the mood of the class. Within seconds they are singing again, to rehearse for a group performance coming up soon.
V.V. SADAGOPAN (part 2) - Teacher and scholar
I had my first darsan of Prof. Sadagopan in 1963, while I was a student at the Delhi University and had joined the hostel. The Delhi University then had a ‘Vivekananda Circle’ that used to meet every Sunday near Sriram College of Commerce. Dr. V.K.R.V. Rao, the famous economist, Dr. T.R. Seshadri FRS, Chemistry, and many others of the faculty, were regular members. The meeting used to open with a devotional song melodiously rendered by Dr. Leela Omcherry, then a lecturer in the Music Faculty. A swamiji from Ramakrishna Mission or some scholar-thinker would speak on a subject. The meeting would conclude with the singing of Idu bhagya of Purandaradasa by Prof. Sadagopan in Pantuvarali raga as he maintained the Khanda Chapu tala with a set of chiplas. Even if he sang another song, Idu bhagya was sure to be there. He had great fascination for the Khanda Chapu tala.
Later in the 1970s, when I moved to Varanasi to study at the Banaras Hindu University, I was privileged to meet and interact with him at close quarters. My teacher and supervisor, Dr. Premlata Sharma, Professor of Musicology, and Prof. Sadagopan were mutual admirers. Their association had started in Sadagopan’s early years at the Delhi University, when Omkarnath Thakur, the eminent musician and Principal of the Music College, at BHU, with his sishya Premlata Sharma, was visiting the music faculty at the Delhi University. He sat and observed Prof. Sadagopan’s class in progress and was very impressed, and naturally Premlata Sharma also developed a great admiration for him.
WINDOW TO THE WORLD
THE RITE OF SPRING - It turned 20th century music on its head
Very few great ballets were written in the first half of the 20th century. And of these, as many as three – masterpieces all – came from the pen of Stravinsky alone. They are The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. And the last one, The Rite of Spring (The Rite, for short), has come to epitomise the triad’s crowning glory. “If music was Revolutionary Russia, then The Rite would be Lenin,” is how Michael Walsh, one-time music critic of Time magazine, once described this Stravinsky masterpiece. I attempt to share a well documented and entirely true, if hyped, story of the stormy launch, and marvellous journey of The Rite – one of the twentieth century’s most groundbreaking works in Western classical music. Then there is also the attendant story within the story of The Rite’s Paris premiere, in 1913, which sparked a riot. Interestingly, a book released as recently as in 2014, on the iconic Stravinsky ballet, titled The Lost Rite, by Milicent Hudson and Kenneth Archer, exhaustively documents the authors’ own version of The Rite, including that of its Paris premiere.
Theatre - Goa Tiatr
Goa Tiatr (pronounced ‘thiathro’) is a unique dramatic stage performance, popular among the Konkani speaking populace, especially in Goa. It is also known as Konkani Theatre. The word ‘tiatr’ is derived from ‘teatro’ – the Portuguese word for theatre.
A Special Cover
The Department of Posts, Maharashtra Circle, issued a Special Cover on 19 December 2014 on the occasion of ‘Goa Pex 2014’, a district level philatelic exhibition. It was held at the Maquinez Palace, Campal, Panaji from 18 to 21 December 2014. The cover was released by the Postmaster General, Goa Postal Region, in the presence of Jacob Fernandes, known as Prince Jacob, director, producer and actor of Konkani theatre and past President of the Tiatr Academy of Goa.
The special cover portrays the picture of a stage performance of Kunbi Jakki. It also shows, in inset, the pictures of the founders and pioneers of Tiatr. The cancellation carries the name Goa Tiatr and two musical instruments symbolising the music that is an essential element of tiatr.