December Music Festival 2011 – My Experiences

Chennai, December Month & Music are inseparable. For me if it’s December it has got to be Chennai. This year I took my holiday from Christmas to New Year for the music season. It was great to see people filling up music halls, rain or shine.(Cyclonic weather threatened to play spoil sport for a couple of days)
I managed to attend concerts of most of the great artists and of some selected upcoming youngsters.
Sanjay was easily the best among the lot. He is the ‘Dravid’ among the artists- very very consistent and innovative as always.
TM Krishna is one musician no one can ignore. He would make news for all good as well as bad reasons. He loves controversies as much as he loves his music! And undoubtedly he has a great fan following. Here are some quotable(read ‘controversial or amusing’)quotes or incidents happily shared by his ‘rasikas’:
-When the audience clapped before he completed a song, he showed his annoyance openly
-When they clapped a little late for the next song, he seemed to have remarked, “I don’t mind even if you don’t clap”
– “People say I talk a lot but will still keep talking”.
– In reply to a question he made an interesting and valid distinction between BAANI and Style. (Baani, according to him, is an intellectual process where a musician tries to structure the methodology of presentation of music and this is meticulously passed on from one generation of disciples to another. On the other hand Style is merely a personal way of rendering music.(for instance, MDR or Balamurali’s music can’t be termed as Baani – it’s merely their personal style which is difficult to copy).

The concert of TM Krishna that I attended at Mylapore Fine Arts was not free from controversies. He made an elaborate rendering of the main Raga Thodi but to everyone’s surprise chose to take up a trivial Varnam (Kanakaangi…)as the ‘Kriti’, which can not offer much scope for elaboration. What is more, he chose to do ‘NERAVAL’ with the most insignificant part of the Varnam – ANUPALLAVI starting with DHANADUDAINA..SARAFOJI… RAJENDRA… etc, which has neither depth of meaning or nor the inherent strength of bringing out ‘Raga Bhava’. In a typical NERAVAL, there is invariably a beautiful convergence of RAAGA BHAVA & SAHITYA BHAVA.
Choosing to sing a Varnam for the main Raga ignoring so many ‘weighty’ Kritis of VAAGGEYAKAAARAAS can only be termed immature!

Bombay Jayasri’s concert was exceptional. Her music can only be described by phrases such as divine, soulful or Blissful. One can really relax and become blissfully unaware of the surroundings, listening to her music. The quality of divinity only got enhanced as she began to slow down her tempo of music for the past more than an year. The slow tempo,perfect Sruti and Bhava together make her music captivating. And one gets completely soaked and absorbed in her music as a concert progresses.
Ranjani & Gayatri, whose music is usually fast paced, also shifted to slower pace – again with a good effect.
Sudha Raghunathan’s concert was, on the other hand, full of VIDWAT and the manner in which she glided smoothly from one Raga to the next during the main raga presentation was simply superb (She handled with complete ease the transition from SANKARABAHRANAM to Thodi to Kalyani to Darbar and back to Sankarabharanam). Besides exhibition of technique, it was also melodius.
We had a great beginning to the New Year thanks to Music Academy organizing a Flute concert by Shashank.
Among the upcoming artists, I must make a special mention of Abhishek Raghuram and Sandeep Narayan. Abhishek certainly has all the ingredients in his music to make it big in the future. However, I felt he needs to tone down on BHRIGAS and use adequate ‘karvai'(effective silent periods) between SANGATIS while presenting a RAAGA Or a KRITI.

I will conclude my review of my music season with an interesting incident for the benefit of those who may not be familiar with the various Sabhas(Halls)of Chennai. On 24th Dec, I went to Krishna Gana Sabha in T Nagar with great enthusiasm to listen to the concert of TV Sankaranarayanan. I paid 200 Rs and in my anxiety to ensure a seat for the next day, bought another ticket for 200 Rs for the concert of Sanjay Subramanyam. To every one’s shock, TVS’s concert was completely spoiled by the very poor sound management system of the organizers. TVS was 15 minutes into the concert and tried in vain to reason with the sound engineer. At this point, the artist was so upset that he wondered whether he should continue with the concert. The secretary of the Sabha, however, forced him to continue anyway. I came out of the Hall and protested to the secretary and demanded refund of both the tickets. In an unprecedented develpment, the secretary refunded my money, while blaming the artists of coming in late and confusing their Sound engineers!
I came to know later that this hall is notorious for mismanagement.
I think it is advisable to stick to 4 or 5 good Sabhas – Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha, Mylapore Fine Arts, Parthasaradhi Sabha and possibly Brahma Gana Sabha on Luz Church Road.

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Published in: on January 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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