A Grand Vocal Concert by Dr. S Sowmya

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The Powai Fine Arts presented a grand carnatic classical vocal concert by Sangeetha Kala Bharati Dr S Sowmya (Chennai), disciple of Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr S Ramanathan and Guru Smt. T Mukta on 19th January 2013. She was accompanied on the violin by R K Shriramkumar and on the mridangam by Neyveli Narayanan. The concert showcased as to how a confluence of scholarship and immense musical capability can provide an enriching experience for the listeners.

As part of its endeavour to nurture young talent, the PFA presented Master Karthic Suresh Iyer, the reigning Carnatic Music Idol (junior), who sang the invocatory piece “Siddhi Vinayakam Seveham” in Mohana Kalyani composed by Sri. Harikesanallur Muththaiah Bhagavathar.

Dr Sowmya commenced her recital with a varnam “Karunimpa” in ragam Sahana. This was followed by Saint Thyagaraja’s kriti “Janaki Ramana” in ragam Shuddha Seemanthini. The sangathis, niraval and swaraprastharam were all replete with innovative explorations of finer nuances of the ragam. While flashes of manodharma occurred in scintillating phrases, the singer could at will drop anchor and savour the beauty of a given swaram. The smooth flowing “Shiva Shiva Shiva ena rada”, yet another Thyagaraja kriti in Panthuvarali presented in depth, came next. The singer then presented a rare kriti “Vachamakocharundani” in Atana composed by Mysore Sadashiva Rao. While the Kriti itself, a lyrical marvel, described the entire Mahabharata in three charanams, the short chittai swaram brought out the lilting, typical beauty of Atana. Next came the fast paced “Aadi Kondar” that described the celestial dance of Lord Shiva, composed by Muthuthandavar in ragam Mayamalavagaulai.

At this stage in the concert, Dr Sowmya shared her joy of traversing through ragam Narayanagoulai. She elaborated on the closely allied ragams characterised by micro variations of swarams that make up the family of these ragams. “Comprehend the beauty of the ragam,” she exhorted the listeners. In the alapanai that followed, Shriramkumar’s violin followed closely and brought forth the beauty of Narayanagoulai as propounded by the singer. A slow tempo Dikshithar kriti “Sri Ramam Raghukulabdhi Somam” captivated the musical attention of the rasikas. The main fare of the evening’s concert, an elaborate exposition of the ragam Bhairavi came next. The choice of Shyama Sastri composed swarajathi “Kamakshi” was an interesting one. The “thani” that followed was a crisp rendering of perfectly delineated rhythmic ornamentations and explorations by Neyveli Narayanan.

Sowmya then moved into realms that are absolute comfort zones for her and ones she has passionately pursued on her musical journey. In this phase, the Kamas raga javali “Modi Jese velara” was followed immediately by a padam “Indendu Vachchedira” composed by Sarangapani in Surutti, and later by a Behag raga kriti “Sri Madhava” by Papanasam Sivan. Just as the sukhanubhavam of these pieces placed the listeners in a state yearning for more, the singer quickly moved on with Subramanya Bharati’s two songs: a thematically relevant “Parukulle nalla Nadu, engal Bharata Nadu” in ragam Jonpuri and a folk genre based kavadi chindu “Villinai ottha puruvam”. The concert concluded with a traditional Mangalam.

Terming the concert as a highly engaging one, Narayan Rangaraj himself a connoisseur and performer of carnatic music said that a combination of well known kritis and rare ones in equal measure, rendering of heavy items too in a manner that appealed to both rasikas in general and serious students of music too, were the highlights of the concert. He also mentioned that it was a highly seasoned team; that the trio – the singer, violinist and the mridangist – enjoyed great rapport was evident in the performance.

To sum up, the evening’s concert saw Dr Sowmya lead the listeners through a guided tour showcasing broad beautiful pictures, sharp focus on details, scintillating delineations and share the joy she derived from music with others around her. To cap it all, the variety in the choice and import of kritis and ragams linked the concert to the thematic concern of “Mera Bharat Mahan” as envisioned by the Powai Fine Arts.


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