Student Concerts Reviews

Roshini Narasimhan August 10, 2013 Concert Review:

By Ram Ramanathan

Anajana Mangalat Concert June 2013
Nestled amongst the meadows and woods of picturesque rural New Hampshire, the superb Bedford High School auditorium was home toan outstanding Carnatic Vocal concert by Roshini Narasimhan, a student of Smt. Sandhya Sridhar of the Aradhana School of Music. The concert was also her arangetram, that is, her debut full-length concert. She was accompanied by Sri Surya Sundarajan on the Violin, Sri Gaurish Chandrasekhar on the Mridangam, and Sri Amit Kavthekar on the Tabla.

After a short introduction by Smt Sridhar in which her genuine admiration and fondness for her student came across clearly, Roshini began the concert with a well-selected rare varnam in the ragam Nayaki set to Khanda Thriputa taalam, which she presented crisply in the customary two speeds. Next, she presented Thyagaraja’s popular “Manavyalakinchara” in ragam Nalinakanthi, with kalpana swarams. It was preceded by a short alapanai by Roshini and then by Surya who immediately impressed with his virtuosity. Gaurish and Amit played alternately for the anupallavi and charanam, while combining together for the pallavi reprise, creating a wonderful effect.

Then came Purandaradasa's “Narayana” in Suddha Dhanyasi, rendered with excellent bhava (feeling) at just the right tempo. This was followed by a majestic rendition of Muthiah Bhagavathar’s Devi Krithi “Sudhamayee” in ragam Amritavarshini, which was preceded by an elaborate alapanai and included kalpana swarams in addition to the composed Chittai swarams. The next piece was Shyama Sastri's swarajathi “Amba Kamakshi” in Yadukula Kambhoji, presented with the serenity it deserves. Papanasam Sivan’s “Shreenivasa” in Hamsanandi followed, preceded by a lovely Azhwar pasuram in the style of the legendary M.S. Subbulakshmi. Then came the piece de resistance of the concert, an elaborate and wonderfully crafted Ragam Thanam Pallavi in the soulful Kalyanavasantham. Roshini began with an alapanai and provided a complete picture of the raga swaroopam, particularly excelling as she delved into the upper reaches of the raga. She displayed an intuitive feel for the ragam and the bhava-laden phrases touched the heart. Surya’s alapanai was immaculate as ever. After a balanced thanam in which the muted accompaniments by the mridangam and tabla provided a nice touch, Roshini embarked on the pallavi with the phrase “Kadambari Kamini Kaatyaayani, Kalyanavasanthi”, ingeniously weaving together names of goddess Parvathi, set to Khanda Jathi Triputa Taalam. Displaying adept laya control, she overlaid the pallavi on the rhythmic cycle in several combinations. The flawless pallavi was followed by brisk swarams in second kaalam (speed). An unique and amazing Thani (percussion solo) followed with both Gaurish and Amit displaying their class and their rapport with each other. After a complete solo by each, they combined alternately in increasingly shorter rhythmic cycles, culminating in a combined korvai (rhythmic pattern) that was highly entertaining and pure joy.

The last phase of the concert is often referred to as “Thukadas”, or lighter pieces with minimal elaboration. Roshini presented a combination of rare and well-known pieces, including “Brahmam Okate” (Bauli, Anamacharya), “Narahari Deva” (Yamuna Kalyani, Bhadrachala Ramdas), a wonderful “Shivakama Sundari” (Mukhari, Sivan), a Marathi Abhang (“Bhare Panduranga”, Saint Thukaram) and “Narimani” (Javali in Khamas). Roshini concluded with Lalgudi’s lilting Behag Thillana and “Maithreem Bhajatha” composed by His Holiness Kanchi Chandrasekhara Saraswathi. The addition of the tabla to the accompaniment provided an ideal foil to the mridangam. Gaurish and Amit blended together perfectly, with the former skillfully guiding the turn-taking. Amit adapted the tabla brilliantly to the Carnatic style and played some amazingly fast passages reminiscent of his guru Ustad Zakir Hussain. Surya provided solid support and his Raga alapanais were full of class.

Blessed with a sweet voice with perfect alignment to sruthi, Roshini has an intuitive grasp of gamakams (note embellishments). Over and above the solid fundamentals provided by her guru, she has an excellent feeling for the raga-bhava and was impressive in the manodharma (improvisational) aspects. Her calm and serene stage presence was in harmony with her balanced singing style. A multi-talented youngster, Roshini is also proficient in Piano, and Bharata Natyam, and a high-achiever academically as well. We wish her the very best in her future and hope that she continues singing and performing throughout her life as she pursues her academic goals in Science at UC Berkeley.

Ram Ramanathan is a carnatic music rasika and the son of Shri M. Subramanian a reknowned Veena exponent, musicologist and the creator of Rasika-Gaayaka music software.

Anjana Mangalat June 2013 Concert Review:

By Ram Ramanathan

Anajana Mangalat Concert June 2013
Anjana Mangalat gave a scintillating Carnatic Vocal concert for the New Hampshire Council on the Arts. The concert was also her arangetram, that is, her debut full-length concert. Anjana is a student of Smt. Sandhya Sridhar of the Aradhana School of Music, Nashua. She was accompanied by Sri Surya Sundarajan on the Violin and Sri Gaurish Chandrasekhar on the Mridangam.

Anjana began the concert with a slokam, a prayer from the 17th century Sanskrit text Narayaneeyam which was beautifully set to tune by her guru in the ragam Kambhoji, leading seamlessly into the Ata Thala varnam Sarasijanabha in the same ragam. Quite comfortable in the challenging 14-beat rhythmic cycle, she presented the varnam in two speeds. The traditional "warm up" for the artiste was also a preview to the audience of Anjana's supremely melodious voice and her excellent range.

The next piece was Jaya Jaya in ragam Nattai, rendered crisply after a short alapanai and ending with kalpana swarams. This was followed by a wonderfully serene rendition of Thyagaraja's classic Ksheerasagara sayana in Devagandhari that brought out the bhava (emotion) of the bard's entreaties to Lord Rama. The phrase "Taraka Nama" was especially pleasing with accurate sruthi at the higher octave.

This was followed by an elaborate presentation of Papanasam Sivan's Venkataramana in Lathangi, beginning with an alapanai by both Anjana and Surya. Lathaangi is a challenging raagam that must be handled with care so as to "keep out" phrases from similar ragams like Kalyani and Panthuvarali, and Anjana accomplished this nicely while bringing out Lathangi's essence. The piece included a neraval on the phrase "Alarmel mangai" delivered with balanced laya-control, followed by kalpana swarams, thus showcasing the entire gamut of manodharma (improvisation) on a krithi. Improvisation was taken to a new level in the next item, a Ragam Thanam Pallavi (RTP) in the ragam Khamas and talam Adi. The alapanai or ragam improvisation brought out the essence of this Khamas wonderfully. Surya's violin alapanai was particularly well-crafted and soulful. After a short thanam came the pallavi with improvisation on the phrase "Santhana Gopalakrishnam Upasmahe Shree", an invocation of the central diety of the Narayaneeyam mentioned earlier. The pallavi was sung in all three speeds in full adherence to tradition. This was followed by an outstanding "thani avartanam" or solo on the Mridangam by Gaurish, culminating with a superb korvai (rhythmic pattern).

Syama Sastry's intricate swarajathi Rave Himagiri in Thodi followed, the gamakams (microtonal variations) rendered admirably to bring out the mood of this challenging ragam. For the last part of this song, Anjana shifted to the higher octave, creating a pleasing end. With this Anjana phased into the "Thukda" section with the popular viruttham "Petra thai thanai" followed by Shiva Shiva Bho in Nadanamakriya. She then rendered Mysore Vasudevachar's evergreen Brocheva rendered so impeccably, that a seasoned professional could not have improved upon it.

She followed this with excellent rendering of three select bhajans-- Dheena Karuna (in Yamuna Kalyani), Kandu Kandan irikkum (Ragamalika) a rare Malayalam composition of 17th century composer Poonthanam Namboothiri, and the poignant par excellence Main Hari Charanan Ki Daasi (transcends ragas) of Meerbhai. She closed the concert with dance pieces, a pleading padam Ini Enna (Sahana), and a vibrant Thillana in Maund of legendary Sri Lalgudi. Jayaraman. The traditional mangalam sung in Saurashtra was a fitting conclusion to the musical experience.

Overall, the audience was treated to a wonderful evening of music of the highest caliber with songs covering a wide range of composers, languages and time periods. Blessed with a very pleasing voice with perfect alignment to sruthi, remarkably so even in the higher octave, Anjana was brilliant throughout and had a good stage presence. Her top-notch training under Smt. Sandhya Sridhar on the accurate renderng of the compositions as well as improvisational aspects was evident throughout. Anjana's artistic abilities go beyond vocal carnatic music - she is, amazingly enough, proficient in Veena, Bharata Natyam (having done an Arangetram), and piano as well!

The performance of the accompanists Gaurish (student of Sri K. Kalyanakrishnan) and Surya (student of Sri Vittal Ramamurthy) was truly exemplary. Providing able support without imposing themselves, both showed excellent rapport with Anjana and with each other to make the concert a tremendous success. A bright future in Carnatic Music awaits Anjana, and we wish her the very best!

Ram Ramanathan is a carnatic music rasika and the son of Shri M. Subramanian a reknowned Veena exponent, musicologist and the creator of Rasika-Gaayaka music software.

Roshni Narasimhan March 2012 Concert Review

By Jeyanthi Ghataraju

Roshini Narasimhan KHMC Concert March 2012
This review of Roshini Narasimhan's performance in KHMC Carnatic concert series in March 2012 was published in Lokvani

Roshni has been learning Carnatic music from Smt Sandhya Sridhar for the past several years and was featured in our earlier concerts. She has diverse knowledge of Indian music and dance, learning the veena, Hindustani music and Bharathanatyam to bring a holistic approach to her presentation.

Roshni started her concert with the Saveri varnam, Sarasuda Ninne which was followed by Anandamruthakarshini in raga Amruthavarshini. It was quite the down pouring of devotion in her unhurried pace of rendition. One also has to commend the Guru, Smt Sandhya Sridhar in guiding her disciple with the wise selection of songs which included Shobillu Saptaswara (ragam Jaganmohini), Shiva Shiva Shiva Bho (Nadhanamakriya), Parulanamata (Javali in Kapi), a popular thillana, Geetha Dhuniki (Dhanashree), and finishing up with the evergreen melody, Maithreem Bhajatha (Kapi). The junior segment which was about 45 minutes long set a blissful pace for the ensuing presentation by Smt. Bhuvana Ganesh. Roshni was ably accompanied on the violin by Sri. Surya Sundararajan and Sudarshan Thirumalai, an upcoming youth artist on the mridangam.

Melodious Modulations

By Haribabu Arthanari

Amritha Mangalat's Vocal Music Arangetram

Amritha Mangalat's Vocal Music Arangetram.

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It was culmination of 12 years of rigorous training in one of the complex music system, the karnatak music. Amritha Mangalat presented a delightful performance in her maiden attempt at a full concert (Arangetram). She was accompanied by Sri Surya Sundararajan on the violin and Sri Gaurishankar Chandrashekar on the mrudangam. Amritha has been under the tutelage of Smt. Sandhya Sridhar for the last decade learning vocal music. Sandhya herself was a student of Smt. Alamelu Mani, a renowned musician trained by the legendary Sri. Musri Subramanya Iyer and Smt T.Brinda. Given the stature of her guru and her lineage, Amrita had a tall order in front of her with high expectations. In addition to karnatak vocal. Amritha had been learning veena with Smt. Durga Krishnan, barathanaytam with Smt. Poornima Gururaja and Smt. Sunanda Narayanan and Mohiniyattam under Kumari Neha Parikh.

The concert commenced with the classic Ata tala varnam "Nera Nammithi" in the ragam Kanada, a composition of Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar. The varnam was faithfully rendered in two speeds. This was followed by Dikshitar's evergreen "Vatapi Ganapatim" in the ragam Hamsadhwani set to Adi talam. This belongs to a set of sixteen songs composed by Dikshitar, in praise of all sixteen forms of Ganesha (Shodasa Ganapati Kritis) found in Tiruvarur. The composition was embellished with crisp kalpana swarams by both Amritha and Surya. Amritha then embarked on a contemplative Sivapantuvarali (Subhapantuvarali) with a rare Dikshitar kriti "Pashupatheeswaram" in Adi talam and aptly created the melancholic allure inherent to the ragam.

The main piece was Thyagaraja's classic "Pakala Neelabadi" in the ragam Karaharapriya, one of the oldest ragams whose origin can be traced to Tamil pan music, circa 500 BC (Kodi Palai). Though the ragam is old, the current manifestation of the ragam owes its due to Thyagaraja who has composed a number of masterpieces in Karaharapriya. With the absence of Karaharapriya in the Dikshitar’s asampoorna mela system, Thyagaraja practically owned the ragam. Pakala neelabadi, in mishra chapu talam, was preceded by a brief sketch of ragam by Amritha and Surya. Amritha’s rendition of the song reflected the authentic padantharam of the school and the bhavam brought out the emotive aspect of the composition, where Thyagaraja wonders what is it like to stand next to Rama. There was an elegant exchange of neraval at "Tanuvuche Vandana" and swaras between Amritha and Surya followed by a refined and pleasing taniavartanam by Gaurishankar.

The next piece was Panchanadha Iyer‘s “Arabimanam” a composition that traverses a dozen ragams in quick succession with some scintillating chitta-swaram passages. The composer has subtly etched the name of the ragam in the sahityam and Amritha's rendition was flawless, distinctly establishing the individual ragams in the short duration.

The RTP was in the ragam Simhendremadyamam , a tribute to the legend Smt. D.K. Pattamal. Amritha explored the melodic and aesthetic aspects of the ragam, establishing complete control over two octaves. Surya showcased the intricate landscape of the ragam revealing the subtle nuances that can be explored on the violin. The Pallavi "Thaaye ninadhu padhame, Thara venum Annapoorneshwari" was in Chaturashra Jathi Rupaka talam.

The highlight of the concluding section of the concert was Dikshitar’s masterpiece “Mamava patabirama” in the ragam Manirangu. One probably should need a license to sing this song as the composition is loaded with rich gamakas and emotive phrases. Amritha displayed an unswerving allegiance to classical ideals in rendering this song.

The concert concluded with Sreenivasa (Hamsanandi), Sarasamukhi (Gauda Malahar), Aliveni (Kurinji), Paratpara (Vachaspati) , Tillana (Desh) and Mangalam. The padam Aliveni, a composition of Swati Tirunal, was rendered in a slow, bhava-laden fashion, as the composition rightly deserves.

The concert was very well planned, presenting an array of diverse ragams, talams and composers. One of the challenges of learning karnatak music in the western hemisphere is in understanding the context of the music, in addition to the tonal and rhythmic components. The context is critical to elicit the appropriate bhavam, which each composition demands. Amritha’s schooling with Sandhya, her training in other instruments and dance aided to deliver a radiant performance, which was brilliantly supported by Surya and Gaurishankar. As Amritha mentioned, the efforts and sacrifices of her parents were vital in her musical development. We, in the greater Boston area, hope that this was one elegantly big step for Amirtha and expect many more great leaps in the years to come. Haribabu Arthanari

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