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Chennai Margazhi season

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Bharatanatyam has broken barriers..

Tanjore temple tale finds a global stage

Chennai: From New Jersey to Chennai, where people of myriad traditions coexist, is a distance of more than 13,500km. Culturally, the two cities have a lot setting them apart, yet some things bind them. Non-resident Indian (NRI) classical artists are one of these, who try their best to find the elusive connect between cultures through their art.

Bala Devi Chandrashekar, an award winning NRI Bharatanatyam exponent from New Jersey, could perhaps lay claim to that group. For more than a decade, she has flown in from the US to the city during Margazhi, which has always offered her a rich audience of dance connoisseurs. "There is no unbridgeable distance in classical performing arts. We speak in gestures, communicate in movements. Bharatanatyam has broken barriers," says Bala whose solo 'Brihadeeswara — Form to Formless', which was premiered in Thanjavur, will be staged at Bhavan in Kilpauk on December 25

The production across the four acts celebrates a Devaradiyaal, who dedicated herself to the eternal service of the god. In four acts, Bala will depict in mudras and movements the beauty of the Devaradiyaal and the architectural wonders of the temple. "I will present her day-to-day life, connecting the spectacular form of the temple and the awareness of the god's formlessness as the cosmic dancer. It is an association of the physical, metaphysical, lyrical and spiritual significance of the magnificent structure," Bala says. She plans to take the production to Mumbai and Dubai in the coming months.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/tanjore-temple-tale-finds-a-global-stage/articleshow/62215018.cms
Margazhi music at your fingertips

ecuring a season ticket for the music concerts in Chennai sabhas has become an ordeal for many rasikas this year. They have to stand in long queues for hours together and there are highly elaborate security checks in many sabhas.

The long-pending wish of rasikas to source tickets online, which remained a distant dream, is slowly becoming a reality. Music-lovers can download Music of Madras, an app that serves the purpose. You don’t have to call up the organisers and look through Book My Show for tickets; with the app you are literally just one click away – hit the SMS link and you can book tickets and even get donor passes.

Tara Sridar, a resident of Mylapore, has been trying to secure a season ticket for her mother-inlaw from a well-known sabha but in vain.

“We are not even aware of the date the tickets are issued. I started calling the sabha a few months back itself. I received the reply that issuing of tickets had not yet begun. Now, when I contacted them a couple of weeks ago, they say that all the season tickets are over. I think only a minimum number of season tickets are sold to the public. The rest are sold on a daily basis to make more profit,” alleged Tara.

‘But by downloading Music of Madras app will help me overcome this problem. Technology is a boon, apps like this are most needed,” she adds.

With more youngsters and people from abroad evincing keen interest to attend kutcheries, apps like this would come in handy as we fi nd it is tough to get tickets for evening concerts in a few sabhas, says Umesh, a techie.

Read more at: https://www.newstodaynet.com/index.php/2017/12/24/margazhi-music-at-your-fingertips/
[h=1]Nurturing the talent of kids thro Namasankeerthanam…[/h][h=1]Finding their song in the lord’s name[/h]CHENNAI: In 2011, when this group of girls broke into song after song at a music competition, little did they know that this little school show would be their window to performances around the world. Meet the Nava Gana Bhajana Mandali, that comprises of 11 children from the city who have mastered a signature rendition of the Nama Sankeerthanamand also has some of the country's most prominent religious and cultural organisations hooked to it.

"I remember casually mentioning to another parent during that school show, how nurturing the talent of these kids, could put them in the spotlight. Right then, a lady who'd been listening to us came up and asked us if we would like to train the group the kids for performances around the country. Turns out, she was a coordinator for Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams' (TTD) Dasa Sahitya Project which propagates and popularises the literature of the saint composers of Karnataka. We also came to know that TTD was looking for a group of kids to perform for them, and we thought, why not?" says Veena Rajesh, a parent of one of the girls and the group's mentor.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/finding-their-song-in-the-lords-name/articleshow/62235253.cms
Of numbers and notes

CHENNAI: It is not often that a scholar in applied econometrics gets his alaaps right. But Palghat Ramprasad, born into the family of legendary Carnatic musician Palghat Mani Iyer, found his love for numbers and music was not mutually exclusive.

Grandson of the incomparable mridangam legend, the persona of Mani Iyer is writ large over the thoughts, words and deeds of all the musical reflections of Ramprasad. "I have grown up listening to more stories about my grandfather than tales from epics," says the independent economist who consults for Tamil Nadu government projects as well as organisations like the UN and its sister concerns.

In 2004, when he was making a name in music circles, he had to take a hard decision to become a full-time economist. Having bagged a record of gold medals in his postgraduate study in economics at University of Madras, academics seemed a stable investment. He went onto get a PhD in applied econometrics on gender, poverty and other social issues from the University of Georgia, Atlanta, but his loyalty to music remained and he eventually devoted enough time for 'sadhakam'.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/of-numbers-and-notes/articleshow/62245155.cms
‘To be a classical musician, you need to have a lot of patience’

Though singer Mahathi shot to fame as a playback singer first, she says her priority has always been Carnatic music. "Even though I was doing playback, I kept doing kutcheries at the 12pm slot back then. But no one knew that I was regular with my kutcheries," she smiles. She could identify ragas from the age of three, and Mahathi avers that all through her life, she's been in love with Carnatic music. "Music is in the family. I've been a regular listener right from the age of three. I still remember going to Mandolin U Shrinivasji's concerts at Mylapore Fine Arts Club, when I was three. It was then that I began recognising the ragas. Once, Shrinivasji and violin Kanyakumari amma called me on the stage and played ragas; I identified them back-to-back," she smiles.

Her current Margazhi calendar began with the Isai Peroli title (from Kartik Fine Arts), and she has over 15 concerts lined up this season. She says, "Usually, in the month of February or March, we get calls from organisers who want to line up artistes for the forthcoming season. And we vocalists would want to space it out nicely so that we can rest our throat. But over time, the dates would eventually clash, and we have to sing without any break. But once the season starts for me, I try to remain as quiet as possible. On the day of my concert, I speak only in sign language. Though it is a stressful period, I can't miss out on the joys of performing during this season!"

So, what does Margazhi season mean to her? How does she prepare? "The season gives me a high. Even though you perform till the end of November, performing on December 1 in Chennai is a huge feat. I always have butterflies in my stomach when I perform the season's first concert. I usually don't like to repeat raga or ragam tanam pallavi that I sang the previous year. Since my parents are musicians, they help me list out my items for the concerts. Sometimes, I take rare ragas and at times, I take the regular ones like Thodi, Kalyani and Bhairavi. You can't eliminate them as there will be rasikas who would want to hear them, too. It is almost like a full-plate meal that we have to chart out. I am a person who believes in team work. I work in unison with my accompanists," she says.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/tamil/music/to-be-a-classical-musician-you-need-to-have-a-lot-of-patience/articleshow/62253853.cms
88-year old RR Sabha, makes a comeback with an architectural upgrade and diverse music concerts.

A Sabha revamped and reinvented

CHENNAI: Mylapore is famous for its three Rs —Rayar Cafe for its tiffin, Rajaji Seeval Store for its betel leaves, and Rasika Ranjani (RR) Sabha for its patronage of Carnatic music. And 2017 marked a new beginning for this sabha.

Established in 1929 in Mylapore, RR Sabha was pulled down in 2004, then revamped in 2017, architecturally and in terms of art as well. A multi-storeyed building now stands in the place of the old sabha, and plans are afoot to promote not just Carnatic music but also other forms of music and entertainment including drama.

RR Sabha has a rich cultural history, says sabha secretary R Nagarajan. "It was the place that several stalwarts like former chief minister J Jayalalithaa and actor Kamal Hassan gave their first Bharatanatyam performances," says Nagarajan, adding that the founders donated seven grounds of land to build the sabha. Until 1958, performances were held in a shed on the premises. "The Music Academy and several other sabhas, which were established during this period, used the premises for their concerts," says Nagarajan.

It was in 1958 that the sabha management constructed a building. "We had to pull down the old building in 2004. But due to some internal hiccups, construction of the new building was delayed and it was only in July that we completed it, and started hosting shows," says Nagarajan. He adds that though the auditoriums were inaugurated in July, they have been hosting test programmes to get audience feedback. "On Saraswathi pooja every year, the sabha would organise dance programmes and members would be given a gift hamper containing a small sachet of TSR sandalwood powder, a packet of biscuits and a small bottle of Amrutanjan," recalls D Sundaravaradan, sabha regular and long-time resident of Mylapore.

The new building has been constructed at a total cost of `18.63 crore. There are two auditoriums in the new building with a total capacity of 1,000. "It has good acoustics and lighting. We invited experts to decide on the type of wood that would give better sound and visibility," says Nagarajan.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/rr-sabha-revamped-and-reinvented/articleshow/62273634.cms
Technology taking over… new app.. Thyagayya..offering solution

Concerts to classes: One-stop app for Carnatic music

CHENNAI: This Margazhi, Carnatic artists have come together to make learning, listening to and teaching the classical arts many notches simpler. And helping them in this mission is their new app — Thyagayya — which aims to offer solutions to artists, students, audience and anyone interested in Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam and event management.

Named after saint-composer Thyagaraja, the app was launched by Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan in the presence of several artists on December 28. "The app has been created to help people across the world know what is happening and where, with regard to Carnatic music. Through this app, people can also get details about the venue, artists who are performing, and venue and ticket availability," said veena artist Nirmala Rajasekar.

Rajasekar is one of the brains behind the app, along with mridangam artist Thanjavur Murugaboopathi, saxaphone artist E R Janardhanam, vocalist K N Sashikiran and others. "One can also find details on the places where instruments are available, finding a guru near you and institutions concerned with Carnatic music in a particular city. Generally, there are websites that give out these details during the December season, but this app will be live throughout the year," said Rajasekar. "Students of Carnatic music can clear their technical doubts through this app. They can also opt for live discussion sessions with senior artists, students and upcoming artists. This will be of great help to students learning Carnatic music abroad as well as those in other cities," she added.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/concerts-to-classes-one-stop-app-for-carnatic-music/articleshow/62286927.cms
Margazhi musings with Aruna Sairam and Nisha Rajagopalan

This was one semma conversation — a chat between the seasoned musician like Aruna Sairamand the young Nisha Rajagopalan. They might be generations apart, but both shared a surprising camaraderie, what with Nisha using this opportunity to clear all her doubts and Aruna offering her advice. Both Aruna and Nisha are happy that the Margazhi season is going strong without any interruptions from Mother Nature as it had been happening in the past couple of years. So, here they are, the duo discussing all things music over an hour-long chat. Excerpts:

Carnatic music over the years...

Aruna: I went for a sound check for one of my performances and it seemed like I had gone down the memory lane. There were young musicians running around and chatting with their seniors and opinion makers in the sabha. Things were exactly the same 30 years ago, too. I remember running around the same places, trying to catch a glimpse of some senior musician. In that sense, I am so happy there is still that excitement for Carnatic music among the youngsters.

Nisha: Yes, the enthusiasm hasn't waned. Also, technology has helped us reach out to many more people. Recently, a portion of my concert went live on Facebook and several people pinged me. Though a large number of people enjoy live concerts, technological advancements like this have only helped us reach out to those who don't come to listen to concerts. So, things are evolving in the Carnatic music scene. And gladly, all of them are only helping it grow.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/tamil/music/margazhi-musings-with-aruna-sairam-and-nisha-rajagopalan/articleshow/62281788.cms
[h=1]Music should sensitise people: Singer Subatra[/h]

Chennai: Art can be used not just to entertain, but also to inspire and empower. Meet vocalist S Subatra, a 20-year-old, who has been excelling in all genres of music. She is familiar to television viewers, as she has been participating in many reality shows. She could get into the top 17 list of the V Voice talent show.

But what differentiates her from other budding singers is the fact that she uses music to sensitise people. The undergraduate student from the Madras Christian College is the lead singer of an album called 12 am, which lends voice to key issues concerning women. “The band by Rap Rakesh talks about women’s safety. I was the lead and chorus singer,” said Subatra. Subatra is an all-rounder.

She can tone her voice to Carnatic music as well as light music easily. “All the genres are my favourite. I see no difference in music,” says the singer. She is grateful to her Gurus Sri Ramanadar and Leelavathi Gopalakrishnan, who have trained her to become what she is now.

Read more at: https://www.newstodaynet.com/index.php/2017/12/28/music-should-sensitise-people-singer-subatra/
Teacher, guardian of Thanjavur bani

As she sits draped in an emerald green sari, explaining the intricacies of Thanjavur bani of Carnatic music, one really cannot guess her age: Talking about her passion makes her gleam. Radha P Namboodiri, 70, started her journey of Carnatic music holding the hands of T V Ramamurthy in 1960 in Bombay. And now, nearly 60 years later, she will be honoured as a pundit in the path that she chose for herself, with the Sangita Kala Acharya award from the Music Academy on January 1.

A principal at the Shanmukhananda Fine Arts & Sangeetha Sabha Music School in Mumbai for a decade, the award came to her as a pleasant surprise. Teaching for her is a way to pass on the tradition and style of her gurus to the next generation. "Maintaining the rich heritage and legacy of Carnatic music is immensely important," says Namboodiri, who has composed music and been performing in the city during Margazhi until recently.

Coming from a family which was extremely zealous about music, Namboodiri realised her calling from a young age. On the advice of her sister's music teacher, her parents started her music training, and there was no looking back. Born and educated in Bombay, her love for music brought her to Chennai, where she joined the Central College of Carnatic Music.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/teacher-guardian-of-thanjavur-bani/articleshow/62321259.cms
[h=1]A SEASON OF LEARNING[/h][h=1]Students From Across The World Descend On The City, To Research On Ragas or To Get Them With The Best Of Musicians.[/h]Chennai: It's about a month since Brent Matusiewicz from Chicago came to Chennai. Matusiewicz loves the nadaswaram, he has visited the city before to learn it and this time around he is on a mission to perfect it. But this means more than a month of waiting, when the number of concerts in the city would taper and he can find a guru to tutor him. Until then, Matusiewicz has decided to attend concerts and soak in the season's musical spirit.

He's among the many arts students and research scholars from across the world who throng the city during the month of Margazhi every year, to learn or publish papers on various attributes of the festival.

"I had learned to play the nadaswaram from a teacher in a village in Mannargudi. I would wake up at midnight to practise it, and play at the village Shiva temple whenever they needed me to," says Matusiewicz. He had in fact, also spent time at Narasinganpettai in Kumbakonam, the mecca of nadasvaram makers.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/a-season-of-learning/articleshow/62329704.cms
[h=1]A jugal of a different kind[/h]

Divya Kasturi is a familiar face on the Chennai dance scene. And Chitravina Ganesh is well-known in the kutcheri circuit, both as a chitravina player and a vocalist (as part of the Carnatica Brothers). Tomorrow, on the first day of Brahma Gana Sabha's dance festival, as part of the Margazhi concerts, Divya Kasturi and Chitravina Ganesh will be coming together to perform a one-of-a-kind Bharatanatyam concert, where the vocals will be replaced by the chitravina.

Divya, who learns Carnatic music from Ganesh, says that the idea just popped up during one of their discussions. "We were having a conversation on different things, and he just brought up this idea. We tried two-three sessions together and it was a pleasure dancing to the chitravina, as it is close to human voice. Since he is my guru, we found that we had a better connection while performing together. We did a performance in London, in September 2017, at the Indian High Commission, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We thought we should do this in Chennai as well, and what better time than during the Margazhi
season?" she asks.

She says that replacing vocals with an instrument has been attempted earlier, but this is probably the first time the chitravina is being used in a dance performance in Chennai.

She says that replacing vocals with an instrument has been attempted earlier, but this is probably the first time the chitravina is being used in a dance performance in Chennai.

Ganesh says that the chitravina, a 21-string, slided instrument, produces a sound that is close to human voice, and so, using it for a Bharatanatyam recital works very well. "Divya is a multi-faceted artiste; she is a dancer who also knows vocals. I just trust her completely and give her a lot of responsibilities, and play as I usually do in my concerts. She does abhinayams for ragams, swarams, everything... I even asked her to sing a few lines as she danced so that the audience will be surprised," he says and adds, "During the London performance, we took some compositions from the Pancharatna Kritis, for which, when the swaram comes, she put thalam and for the sahityam part, she danced. And towards the climax of the performance, I did a rhythmic exercise for which she had to respond."

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/tamil/music/a-jugal-of-a-different-kind/articleshow/62306793.cms
[h=1]Lalgudi Jayaraman a treasure house of music: Padma Shankar[/h]

Born and brought up in Mumbai, even as a little child, Padma Shankar could decode any kind of tune. "My mother, Lakshmi Narayanan, is a vocalist and vainika, and any song she would sing, I could tell its swaras. So, she felt that the violin would be the right instrument for me to take up, as you need to have a keen sense of swaras to play the music. She wanted to be a musician, but couldn't, so she wanted me to live her dream," begins Padma Shankar.

After learning Carnatic vocal under her mother, she started learning the violin under Ramakrishna Sharma, a disciple of Lalgudi Jayaraman. When she got to meet the great violinist in Mumbai, she told him that she wanted to do advance training under him.

She states that while Ramakrishna Sharma was a music teacher, Lalgudi Jayaraman was a performer, a musician, a musicologist and a teacher all rolled into one. And that made a huge difference. "When a performer is your teacher, he grooms you for the stage. It's like going to a finishing school," she says and elaborates, "He taught me how much music you should have and how much you should present — the balance between learning and performing, what you can perform on stage, and what your stage demeanour should be. For example, when you are learning the violin, you just play it, and you are mostly looking down. But he taught me how to face the audience as I'm playing because when hundreds of people are looking at me, I cannot establish a connect with them, my audience, if I'm looking down. So, the first grooming lesson was how to sit erect while playing the violin. He made me practice looking at myself in the mirror, saying, 'First, look into your own eyes. If you can't see your own eyes, where can you see the audience'," she recalls.

Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/tamil/music/lalgudi-jayaraman-a-treasure-house-of-music-padma-shankar/articleshow/62352103.cms
[h=1]Chronicler of the stage, KEEPER OF TRADITION[/h][h=1]City-Based Sruti magazine celebrates 35 years and 400 Editions[/h][h=1]CHENNAI: After a long stint as a diplomat in the United States, N Pattabhi Raman returned to Madras in the 1980s and was struck by the idea of starting an arts magazine — a dream he found wouldn't fade easily and quickly went on to be shared by Gowri Ramnayaran.

"At that time, we found that The New Yorker had carried a lengthy profile of a Japanese film star neither of us had heard of. It went on to about 10,000 words and we realised we just couldn't put it down until the very end. And I told him, this is the kind of writing we should do," says Gowri, who was involved during the conception of the magazine.[/h]And so, the first edition of what went on to become one the country's most referred chronicler of everything in Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam, the Sruti magazine, was published in October 1983. Its main story was a profile of 'Mandolin' Srinivas — then a young prodigy who had successfully introduced a western instrument into Carnatic music; and a longer profile of music icon D K Pattammal that ran into the next issue.

[h=1]Thirty-five years later, the magazine's latest copy will be unveiled on January 4 at The Folly, Amethyst, that will also be its celebratory 400th edition. "And it will be a collector's edition," promises the magazine's managing trustee Sukanya Sankar. "The issue will trace various art forms from the 1970s and 80s to now, and taking us through their journey and evolution will be experts in each of these fields like Sunil Kothari, Leela Venkataraman," she adds.[/h][h=1]Read more at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/sruti-magazine-celebrates-35-years-and-400-editions/articleshow/62357845.cms[/h]
[h=1]Chennai Margazhi Season 2017: A look at new dance trends and presentations[/h]There are artistes who balance tradition and trend through their works. A look at some of the contemporary expressions presented recently

How long can you keep watching the same trope — pining Nayika constantly waiting for her lord and his love — in this day and age, questions one faction of the audience watching dance performances. Contemporary dance is the route that a few dancers take to camouflage their bad dancing skills and poor technique, says another group. Both these viewpoints have been expressed for some time now and there is some truth in both. But it cannot be generalised. Whichever path is chosen, it is the artiste’s calibre, commitment and conviction to their concepts that determines their reach.

Interestingly, the two dance conferences that unfolded in Chennai during the Season more or less focused on these two diverse angles of tradition and its relevance today.

Natyadarshan, the dance conference, hosted by Kartik Fine Arts and curated by Krithika Subramanian with the title, ‘Now or Never ‘sought to focus on the traditional finding a voice in a contemporary milieu, initiating a dialogue among the performers, audience and connoisseurs.

“In today’s world, art forms need to be competitive without diluting their identity and this is the real challenge I had taken on as convener.

Besides the lectures and discussions, there were performances that were examples of genres pushing the boundaries set by conservative thinking,” says Krithika.

Read more at: http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/trends-in-dance-margazhi-season-2017/article22367024.ece
[h=1]When Carnatic meets Celtic[/h][h=2]Twin-musicians Sahana and Shruti’s latest work, ‘The Celnatic Experience’, highlights cross-genre influences in world music[/h]

They were born six minutes apart. But that doesn’t stop Sahana and Shruti from completing each other’s sentences.

These musician-twins have just released a novel music project, titled The Celnatic Experience, which seeks to celebrate the 225-year legacy of Muthuswami Dikshitar and the East India company. The project, which includes a coffee table book, a children’s book and a CD that are available for purchase online, is an extension of their recent thesis in the Berklee College of Music.
[h=2]Competitive start[/h]“We started learning Carnatic music when we were just six and growing up in Muscat,” recalls Sahana. The thrust came from their father, Kumar, an ardent follower of Carnatic music. Soon, the family moved lock, stock and barrel to Chennai to strengthen their musical base under the tutelage of Bombay Jayashree. “It was initially very difficult to cope here because the scene was quite competitive,” says Shruti.

The two knew that music was their future. After a bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media from MOP Vaishnav College, they packed their bags to Valencia (Spain), to train in the prestigious Berklee College of Music. That sowed the seeds for their present endeavour. “Even before enrolling there, we were supposed to submit a topic that we’d take up for our final thesis, and we chose ‘Nottuswarams’, something close to our heart.”

Read more at: http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/this-chennai-based-singer-twins-track-the-link-between-carnatic-music-and-the-east-india-company/article22352070.ece
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