How did you take to music? Ours is a traditional musical family. My mother Tiruvarur P.R. Anandavalli hails from Tirukkannamangai village, and my father belongs to Madurai where he was a businessman. When I was barely 2-1/2 years old my father passed away. My maternal great grandfather, Ramdas Nainakkarar was a renowned nagaswara vidwan and he followed the Vaishnava culture and tradition as he played regularly at the Tirukkannamangai Perumal Temple. He was also the nagaswara vidwan for the 18 Vatima villages around Semmangudi. With a scarcity of good teachers in Tirukkannamangai, my mother went to Tiruvarur to learn vocal music from Tiruvarur Sethuraman. She also learnt from Madurai Srirangam Iyengar, Tiruvarur Namachivayam and T.M. Thiyagarajan (who was also related to us). During this time we migrated to Tiruvarur and settled there; that is why I have Tiruvarur as the prefix to my name and not Tirukkannamangai.
The music season at the Madras Music Academy was inaugurated on 15 December 2018. I spent most of my days attending concerts at the Academy and occasionally listened to a few concerts at other venues as well. It was an enriching experience to attend several well laid-out concerts with in-depth raga alapana, rare kritis, complex pallavis, and lilting tailenders. Sangeetha Swaminathan, senior disciple of Sudha Ragunathan, presented a rarely heard Dikshitar kriti, Palayamam Parameswari in Tarangini. Her raga exposition was imaginatively structured to showcase the distinct identity of Tarangini through vakra prayogas, thus avoiding likely ambiguity with Charukesi. Sangeetha sang a breezy Kamalacharane—a composition of GNB in the rare raga Amritabehag, followed by an elaborate Todi before the kriti Kaddanu variki. She then went on to execute the ragam-tanam-pallavi in three ragas—Mohanam, Abheri and Amritavarshini—in three nadais. The raga alapanas were concise with the choicest of phrases and the seamless gliding between the ragas revealed her competence. The pallavi was in chatusra Ata tala employing the three nadais—chatusra and tisra nadais for the laghu and khanda nadai for drutam, which was later converted to Roopaka tala. It was a tightrope walk for Sangeetha, which she executed with admirable manodharma and precision. She concluded the concert with Unmai arinthavar unnai kanipparo, a composition of Subramania Bharati tuned in Sumanesaranjani by Tanjavur S. Kalyanaraman. R. Raghul (violin), Kumbakonam Swaminathan (mridangam) and Madipakkam Radhakrishnan (khanjira) embellished the concert. Bharat Sundar, supported by M.A. Sundaresan (violin), Umayalpuram Sivaraman (mridangam) and Giridhar Udupa (ghatam), presented rich fare.
Lec Dem Mela 2018, on the theme ‘Sthalams and Treatises’, was organised by Sruti in collaboration with the Music Forum, on 8 and 9 December 2018 at the Arkay Convention Centre, Chennai. The programme opened with a sprightly invocation sung by three visually challenged young musicians—Akshaya, Manoj and Nagaraj—of the Freedom Trust. Endowment scholarships administered by the Sruti Foundation were presented to students of music and dance. The Meenakshi Ramakrishnan Endowment Scholarship for a young vocalist was awarded to M. Sowmiya. The Manna Srinivasan Endowment Scholarships for an instrumentalist and a Bharatanatyam dancer were presented to Baby Saroja and E. Ezhilan respectively. Four lecdems were presented each day—two each in the morning and evening—which drew a good response from artists and rasikas alike. As pointed out by guest of honour K.N. Ramaswamy, Director, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai, it is gratifying to observe the growing interest among rasikas in lecture demonstrations, as was evident from the full house in all the sessions. Morning sessions In the first session on Day One, music and heritage historian Sriram V. spoke about “Sthalams in and around Chennai” with great clarity and intricate details. Slides with relevant audio clips of kritis complemented his talk.
Some months ago, I had the opportunity of meeting the creator of Koothu-p-pattarai, Na. Muthuswamy, along with R.T. Chari of Tag Centre, Chennai, who wanted to honour him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to theatre arts, through his Ramu Endowments. Muthuswamy was seated in a wheelchair in the front verandah of his house in Ayyappa Nagar, Valasaravakkam. He was not keeping well and had actually postponed accepting the award when it was offered to him earlier. This time his assistant noted down the details and Muthuswamy confirmed his participation. He spoke a few words with a smile partly hidden by his trademark moustache. Koothu-p-pattarai was full of youngsters and buzzing with activity. He had converted the second floor into a mini theatre so that he could watch them perform. During the award ceremony, writer and playwright Indira Parthasarathy spoke about Muthuswamy’s plays and congratulated him on his achievements.
6 Sruti Box
8 News & Notes
14 Birthday calendar
16 Thiruvaarur Bakthavathsalam
22 The Season 2018-19
Youth to the fore at the Music Academy
The young brigade exudes confidence
38 First person Rare goodness of heart
42 News & Notes (continued)
48 Arts abroad
Uniting communities through music and dance
50 Tribute Imrat Khan Na. Muthuswamy
54 From the Editor
Front Cover: The music season
Photos by Hemamalini S.