Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The T. M. Krishna show

They call him a maverick. They call his music prodigious. They hang to words he says on stage, between songs. They go at him for comments made in his columns. 

Vocalist T M Krishna draws the ayes and the nayes at kuctheri stages and outside them. 

If the packed audience of some 3000 plus at the Big Mantap in Chamarajpet was some indication, it showed that TMK, as he is known by friends is a big draw at concerts.
He sailed into his concert after an extended preparation of himself and of his accompanists - Manoj Siva, B S Purushothaman and Dr Hemalatha.

He stamped in signature concert style, exploring the raga long and deep, a pace that remianed meditative and slow as rasikas sat back to soak in.

There were requests for some popular songs but TMK put them aside and went his way.

The hundis are prominent under the Big Tent

Digital hundi?

Some version of this is seen at prominent places inside the Big Mantap in Charmarajpet. The stainless steel hundi, some 3 feet tall carries a signboard of PayTM, encouraging rasikas to use the App and make a payment, a donation.

They can even drop off some notes into the hundi.

Sree Ramaseva Mandali has been keenly driving donations from NRIs and rasikas here, because the money to run this huge fest is big and obviously, all that comes from the many sponsors you see listed on the backdrop under the mantap is not enough.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Sridevi displays her philatelic collection on artistes, music instruments

A philately exhibition was planted in the driveway to the college quadrangle at Seshadripuram. And it attracted rasikas; especially children.

N. Sridevi is a keen philatelist and at the concert venue she was displaying a sale of her collection themed on music. The sample itself was a wonderful collection - unique postal cancellations which used musical instruments in the visuals, stamps on Rajarathnam Pillai and Veena Dhanammal, the Thiruvaiyaru aradhana cancellation which the postal department offers during the aradhana season at saint Thyagaraja's samadhi in Thanjavur . . .

The best of the lot here was the United Nations postage stamp on M S Subbulakshmi, recently released there when Sudha Ragunathan gave a concert, marking MS' centenary year.

"I got these stamps just before the music fest started here," Sreedevi told us.

This Bengaluru philatelist is keen to hold similar exhibitions elsewhere; so mandalis and sabhas in Bengaluru and Chennai may want to invite Sridevi to their festivals. 

Such sideshows add to the color of an event. Agree?

Sikkil Gurucharan at Seshadripuran

Sikkil Gurucharan's vocal concert at Seshadripuram drew a big audience; but the quadrangle was nit packed to capacity.

With artistes K V Prasad on mridangam, Giridhar Uduppa on ghatam and Charulatha Ramanujam on violin, Gurucharan had a top-end team around him and the concert evoked a warm response from rasikas.

With the annual Cleveland Aradhana fest in the USA happening at Easter holidays time, many top-end artistes are in the West at this time of the year and mandalis in Bengaluru have to shuffle dates if they are keen to host their concerts at Sri Ramanavami time.

Final concert at Jayanagar; scenes and sights


It was the last concert of the season for Sri Jayarama Seva Mandali in Jayanagar on Saturday evening. And the first floor hall was overflowing with rasikas.

The Mysore Brothers, the violinists who had a record attendance in Chamarajpet were to perform here. With H S Sudhindra and Arjun Kumar on the mridangam. The brothers carry their own audio gear but having clipped it into the local system, posed some hiccups and the first song went for a toss.

Many venues are not made for music or talks. And it certainly calls for hosts to work on getting the right systems in place for great music. But with keener rasikas around, the systems have got better over the years.

Sunday morning here was reserved for Sri Rama pattabhishekam, with the procession event in the evening and Monday morning was for the Sri Hanuman procession.

In the kitchen downstairs here on Saturday night, cooks were busy cutting vegetables for the Sunday feast, when a few hundred guests were expected.

The Seshadripuram fest anecdotes; rewinding 30 years

Long-time residents of Seshadripuram and Malleswaram can tell you lots of tales of the atmosphere of Sri Ramanavami concerts of times gone by.

One of them recalls the time when audio speakers would be fitted on the gates of the college campus where the concerts are held, enabling rasikas who chose to sit in the park on the opposite side to listen to the music.

"The sundal and ground-nuts hawkers would come by to sell us snacks, just the way it happens on the Marina ( the beach in Chennai)," recalled a Malleswaram resident.
"There wasn't much traffic on these roads so the music would float into the park."

The anecdotes of the 'season' here in Bengaluru are colorful, fascinating and varied. Put together, they may well make a big story; perhaps a book or a documentary film.

Post your anecdotes here!

The artist fan!

Fans of the Carnatic music world can be demonstrative too.

Violinists Mysore Nagaraj and Manjunath have a legion of fans. They pack into the venues where their concerts are on. And then there are the special fans.

At Charmarajpet, under the Big Tent on Friday a rasika presented the artiste-brothers with a large painting of their portrait, of them playing on stage.

Have you come across some special fans who made it an evening at the festivals this season? Tell us!