Music festival – NMKRV Jayanagar Bangalore

Every spring Shri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira, one of the premier sabhas of the city, organizes a music festival at the NMKRV festival in Jayanagar for a week. Some of the top artistes of Carnatic music perform to a packed audience. This week the inaugural concert was kick-started with a vocal concert by the popular duo, Ranjani-Gayatri. A brief introductory speech by the organizer and artiste, and the concert began with none of the fanfare or fuss normally seen on inaugural concerts. Some of my friends had stayed home fearing that the concert would start late with long drawn out speeches!
Ranjani-Gayatri’s concert was a neat presentation. Beginning with Kalyani varnam (vanajakshi)and a brisk Sarasiruha (Nattai – Swati Tirunal), a scintillating Durbar alapana by Ranjani (Ramabhi rama – Tyagaraja), and the evergreen favourite Tiruvadi charanam (Kambodhi – Gopalakrishnan Bharti) were the highlights. Their manodharma reached great heights with the kambodhi alapana and the neraval “‘adutthu vandha ennai thaLLalaagadhu hara hara endru sonnaalum podhaadho”. The thani avarthanam by percussionists Cheluvaraju (mridangam) and Sukanya Ramgopal (ghatam) was a class act and got a deservedly rousing ovation. RTP was in Shubhapantuvarali. I left as soon as the pallavi began, strains of Shubhapantuvarali echoing in my head. The crowd was overflowing and the aisles were blocked.
The second day had Sanjay Subramanium present a lively concert with several emotive pieces such as Raga sudharasa (Andholika), Ariyaaro (Mukhari – Arunachala Kavi), Evvare Ramayya (Gangeyabhooshani) and a rarely heard Tyagaraja kriti Sive pahimam in Kalyani. During the raga alapana he sang a few phrases omitting some notes thereby sounding a bit different (all within the boundaries of the scale). The RTP in Kirvani was outstanding and took the concert to commendable heights. The violinist Nagai Muralidharan complemented Sanjay’s energetic style throughout the concert. The percussionists Neyveli Venkatesh and Trichy Murali gave a spirited thani. I did feel that their mic volume was slightly high. Perhaps the fact that I was right in front of the stage made a difference.
The third day saw one of Bangalore’s finest, Neela Ramgopal take the stage at the same venue. Beginning with Ritigowla varnam, the fast paced Samayamide in Kedaram (Patnam Subramanium Iyer) had the audience tapping their feet. The chittaswarams were very lively. Mami’s brisk rendition of the kriti and neatly executed kalpana swaras set the tempo for the concert. A beautiful alapana of Abheri followed and reminded me of Musiri and his contemporaries (another era). One hardly gets to hear Abheri in today’s concerts. Gangeyabhooshani alapana was a pleasant surprise. Vivaadhi ragas are rarely heard in concerts today, especially raga alapana. This was followed by a Purandaradasa kriti. For the main piece, she took up Mamava karunamaya (Shanmukhapriya – Swati Tirunal).
A note about the concerts themselves. They begin on time. The acoustics are wonderful. If people are unable to find a seat, and there are empty rows in the front for VIPs, the organizers open the side doors upfront after the concert is well underway and allow the latecomers to sit down. Little things go a long way. Kudos to the organizers for making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience for carnatic rasikas in Bangalore’s southern belt.

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