Vocal: Abhishek Raghuram
Violin: Vittal Ramamurthy
Mridangam: Anantha R. Krishnan
The CM enthusiasts at OTTAWA were treated to an evening of exciting versatile Carnatic Music by the team of Abhishek Raghuram . In spite of my busy Family schedule I am glad I found the time to attend and if I do not share my enjoyment with my friends (the many Abhishek Fans) at this Forum I certainly will feel guilty Song List
1. Sarasuda Ninne kOri (varNam) – Saveri -Adi – Kothavashal Venkatrama Iyer
2. SadinchenE Arabhi – Adi- Thyagaraja
3. Bhavanuta nA hridayamuna –Mohanam –Adi- Thyagaraja
4. O Jagadamba nanu – Anandabhairavi –Adi – Shyama Sastry
5. Dviraga RTP KalyaNi/KeeravANi –KhaNDajAti TripuDai KhaNDa naDai
Pallavi: KamalAvadani kamaladaLanayani vANi bhavAni KalyANi/keeravANi
5A Happy Birthday to Vittal (audience joining in)
6. SA pasya Kausalya - Jonpuri - Adi – Pancapakesa sastry (valmiki Ramayana based)
7. nAdamAna unnai ennuL kANa – Saranga -??? (Lakshman help!)
8. Chandra ChUDa shankara - Darbari Kanada - Purandara
9. Muddukare Yashoda - Kurinji – Adi – Annammacharya
10. PavamAna (MangaLam)
Abhishek made a sedate start with the Saveri varNam executed in classic style. With a very short but adequate aalaapana the pancaratna Arabhi was quickly delivered flawless. Anantha Krishnan pleasantly and adequately handled the laya compartment. A weak aalaapana of Mohanam followed, without Vittal participating and a quick rendering of Bhavanuta with kalpana swaram at bhavanuta which however was melodious. He tried to snare Vittal with fast ‘water-fall’ swaras reminiscent of the ‘electric’ SSI in his prime but Vittal benevelontly looked on but played quite subdued though Ananta Krishnan was quite energetic. The audience got ignited and I was getting ready for the main piece. As Abhishek launched into Ananda bhairavi I said this is it but it was not to be! As Abhishek started the raga placidly I guessed that Mari vere was coming and again I was wrong though it was O Jagadamba which was equally appealing to me. He deftly handled the raga with all its beauty letting us enjoy bit by bit. Suddenly Vittal sprang into action with masterful LGJ strokes that ‘melted’ our hearts. It was indeed a bhava-laden rendition with the text-book prescribed chitta swarams by Abhishek with Vittal taking equal credits. What no kalpana swaramas! I resigned myself. But the best was yet to come.
As Abhishek started the second half it was a quiet start and kalyani showed up but not in its majesty. It was like taking the Goods train while you expected the Express! He left the aalaapana to Vittal abruptly who continued wth a quizzical look but was more lively, as from the audience reaction. Abhishek continued but it did not seem right! Was he slipping since it no longer was Kalyani. Abhishek opened up and it was clearly Keeravani. What was he up to? Vittal caught up and clearly defined the raga with excellent prayogas playing up the Nishada, the jiva swaram as I mulled “innamum sandehap padalaama”
Abhishek briskly launched into the taanam. Earlier he had complained that the AC was too high and wanted it to be toned down but since the whole complex was centrally air-conditioned the organizers could not comply. But then Abhishek took advantage of the chill to produce excellent brigas that embellished the taanam to the delight of the audience. Now Abhishek revealed his hand: it was to be an im promptu
RTP which even the accompanists were not privy to! As he outlined the pallavi lines the accompanists settled down with a smile. The rest is History. As the pallavi started he was deftly alternating between kalyani and keeravani like an expert tight-rope walker. It was a sheer beuty with Bhuvneshvari (Kalyani) dueling with Vageshwari (Keeravani). Vittal was amazingly supportive often providing new ideas to Abhishek to experiment with on the spot. The swarams that followed were from out-of-this world. Initially Abhshek played with madhyama varjya prayogams which I thought was approprite for the discrimination. But then he added the prati and shuddha madhyma intonating them and showing that he was a master of controlling the swaras impeccably. I have no words to describe the experience. It was a divine experience. We saw before our eyes the creation of the raga “keerakalyani” !
The tani that followed was short and nothing remarkable and also I am not competent to comment on the subtleties of laya. It was a surprise when Ananta Krishnan announced that it was the birthday of Vittal as the audience delightfully chimed in wishing him to his great surprise!
Abhishek followed up with the Jonpuri sApasya the masterpiece of SSI. Followed by a beautiful ‘heart-melting’ saranga. As time was running out he delivered a crisp Darbari Kanada ‘full throat’ that resonated in the hall. He finished off with the placid Kurinji of Annammacharya appropriately.
Abhishek reminds me of SSI in his mannerisms (punishing the lap and even occasional konaShTai)
Even joking apart he is our hope for maintaining the classicism in CM along with the much needed innovations. I suggest that he does more ‘full throat’ since he has excellent soaring voice which gets muffled and squeaky when he squeezes his mouth. He has a great future and I wish him well!
Vittal as a senior has the right spirit: inspiring but never overpowering. I love his beatific smile that encourages the young vocalist. Ananta Krishnan played unobsttrusively though his efforts were to support his cousin which he executed with precision.
After the show I quickly collared Abhishek and asked him what we should do (besides Cleveland) to encourage youngsters to take to CM in NA. He mentioned that in his opinion CM is alive and well in NA since Families are quite supportive. To the same question Vittal repeated Abhishek’s views but added that we should organize Carnatic Music Camps for the youth wherein they can intereact and learn from each other and get rid of stage-fright; an excellent suggestion.
On the whole it was a memorable experience which I wil remember for a long time. Thanks SICA for sponsoring the event!