Sri Annamacharya Project of North America (SAPNA)
TAX ID # 36-3866482
Chicago IL: Chitravina maestro Sri N Ravikiran delivered a two-hour concert hosted by the Sri Annamacharya Project of North America (SAPNA) at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago (HTGC) on Friday, April 26, 2013. He was accompanied by Prof. Trichy Shankaran on the mridangam, Akkarai Shubhalakshmi on the violin, and KV Gopalakrishnan on the kanjira. After rendering Carnatic (South Indian classical) compositions, including of his own creation and in the traditional style, Ravikiran embarked on an innovative excursion into fusion music with local artistes. An apt inauguration to SAPNA’s Fifth three-day Veena festival, for SAPNA’s mission is not only to recover and conserve this ancient musical heritage, here in the new diaspora context, but also demonstrate its global reach and relevance.
In his usual inimitable understated yet scholarly style, Ravikiran’s concert displayed consummate artistry, tasteful aesthetics, and rare sparkling sancharas (melodic phrases that serve to establish the identity of the raga) reflecting technical virtuosity and mastery over the ragas. Ravikiran set the pace with his own composition Adi Vinayakam, a varnam in ragam Reetigowla, followed by Annamacharya’s Paramapurusha rendered gracefully in ragam Shanmukhapriya. Nenendu Vedakudura, Thyagaraja’s composition in Karnataka Behag, was portrayed in all its grandeur – the intricate flourishes on the sangatis (variations on a phrase of the composition with changes in tune and ornamentation) brought out their essence. Chitravina and Ravikiran seem to be made for each other. What sets his music apart is a phenomenal understanding of the connotation of the ragam, sahityam (lyrics), and an exquisite expression that blends with the subtle shades of the raga to bring out richness of emotion through his preferred instrument! Being an open, receptive and inventive artiste, Ravikiran introduced the concept of “Melharmony” to the music world.
Anyone in the Carnatic music firmament can tell how deeply joyful and embellished a concert can be with Trichy Sankaran at the helm of a delightfully soulful percussive recital. K V Gopalakrishnan on the kanjira in an affectionate and playful rapport with the master mridangist, matching repartees in the rhythmic cycle khanda nadai – and their tani avartanam (percussion exchange) was a brilliant display of math, clarity of sound, and magical artistry! Akkarai Shubhalakshmi on the violin showed great ease and aplomb handling the instrument, responding to the main artiste with refinement, grace, and elegance.
Rajeswari Pariti along with her son Ravi Pariti and grandchildren Divya and Nitya Pariti had earlier presented a melodious veena concert. They were accompanied by Ethirajan Ramanujam on the mridangam. To see three generations of Veena artistes on one stage was indeed heartening: this is in line with SAPNA’s mission of perpetuating the art form!
The second part of the evening was entitled “Strings in Fusion,” featuring compositions of Chitravina Ravikiran, Kalyani-Keeravani Suite, and Behaag Thillana. Joining Ravikiran were Chicagoland musicians Saraswathi Ranganathan on the veena, Carlo Basile on the guitar and Greg Nergaard on bass. Saraswathi’s expressions on the veena were replete with enjoyably refreshing artistic nuances while “Melharmony”-inspired strums-slides of Carlo and Greg perfectly complemented the ambience. The melodic combination of fretted veena and fretless chitravina interlaced with harmonic chords from guitar and melodic slide bass was a treat to the world music connoisseur. Both compositions were soaked in the emotional character of their ragas, solo blitzkriegs, a generous dash of “Melharmony” – keeping the interpretational sensitivity of Carnatic music, yet bringing in the harmonic beauty of Jazz Flamenco grooves.
Prof. Trichy Shankaran, who has been spearheading and expanding the Indian music and ethnomusicology program since its inception in 1972 at York University in Toronto. A veteran percussionist, who returns every December to perform with the best Carnatic musicians in Chennai, he has received many honors. He launched the annual Thyagaraja festival in Toronto shortly after his move there. Shankaran too performs Indo-fusion with jazz musicians, has composed for Indonesian gamelan, and on scores for chamber music. He emphatically told Asian Media USA that, far from being a constraining boundary, his solid grounding in Carnatic music is the resource and inspiration driving his experiments and collaborations in world music.
Ravikiran, Trichy Shankaran, and other artistes were honored with plaques. This concert and the veena-festival as a whole is part of SAPNA’s goal to keep up tradition while presenting innovation, and giving excellent opportunity to deserving local (Chicago) artistes.
Article in www.Nartaki.com
(Sri Annamacharya Project of North America) was ample proof of the patronage classical art enjoys
– particularly instrumental music of the likes of veena, chitravina, and other ancient acoustic instruments.
The festival was dedicated to the loving memory of Dr. Sripada Pinakapani and legendary violinist
The inaugural day of veena festival was aptly adorned by Chitravina Ravikiran. In his usual inimitable
understated yet scholarly style, he presented a concert that displayed consummate artistry, tasteful
aesthetics and rare sparkling ‘sancharas’ reflecting technical virtuosity and mastery over the ragas.
Ravikiran set the pace of the concert with his own composition, Reetigowla varnam ‘Adi Vinayakam’
followed by a graceful Shanmukhapriya for Annamacharya’s “Paramapurusha.” Karnataka Behag krithi
“Nenendu Vedakudura” of Thyagaraja was portrayed in all its grandeur – the intricate flourishes on the
sangatis brought out their essence. Chitravina and Ravikiran seem to be made for each other. What sets
apart Ravikiran’s music is a phenomenal understanding of the connotation of the ragam, sahityam and an
exquisite expression that blends with the subtle shades of the raga to bring out the richness of emotion
through the chitravina. Being an open, receptive and inventive artiste, Ravikiran introduced the concept
of ‘Melharmony’ to the music world.
Trichy Sankaran at the helm of a delightfully soulful percussive recital. K V Gopalakrishnan on the kanjira
in an affectionate and playful rapport with the master mridangist, matching repartees in Khanda nadai –
and their tani avartanam was a brilliant display of math, clarity of sound and magical artistry.
Akkarai Subbulakshmi on the violin showed great ease and aplomb handling the instrument, responding to
the main artiste with refinement, grace and elegance. Earlier in the day, Rajeswari Pariti along with her
son Ravi Pariti and grandchildren Divya and Nitya Pariti presented a melodious veena concert – to see
three generations of veena artistes on one stage was indeed heartening.
Ravikiran, Kalyani-Keeravani Suite and Behaag Thillana. Joining Ravikiran was Saraswathi Ranganathan
on the veena, Carlo Basile on the guitar and Greg Nergaard on bass. Saraswathi’s expressions on the
veena were replete with enjoyably refreshing artistic nuances while “Melharmony” inspired strums-slides
of Carlo and Greg perfectly complemented the ambience. The melodic combination of the veena and
chitravina (fret and fretless) interlaced with harmonic chords from flamenco guitar and melodic slide bass
was a treat to the world music connoisseur. Both compositions were soaked in raga bhavam, solo
blitzkriegs, a generous dash of “Melharmony” - keeping the interpretational sensitivity of Carnatic music,
yet bringing in the harmonic beauty of Jazz Flamenco grooves. This endeavor is part of SAPNA’s
goal to keep up tradition while presenting innovation, and giving excellent opportunity to deserving
local (Chicago) artistes.
from Dr. Jaishri Prasad’s school of music. It was a delight to see children wield the instrument with
confidence and pride playing the Kalyani Malika Thillana. Dr. Jayshri Prasad’s concert was a mellifluous
display of the Mysore bani. Saraswathi Rajagopalan gave a well proportioned pleasing veena concert.
Youngster Ahtrey Nadhan, a disciple of Shrimushnam Raja Rao, accompanied the veena artistes with
an eloquently refined touch on the mridangam. The highlight of the day was felicitation and
‘Srikala Purna’ title award to Malladi Suri Babu, father of the famous vocalists Malladi Brothers,
Rama Prasad and Ravi Kumar.
With their stentorian voices, Malladi Brothers took the audience by storm singing their way into the hearts
of the rasikas. As a fitting tribute to the maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman, they began the concert with a brief but
imposing delineation of Asaveri by Malladi Suri Babu for the varnam “Jalajaksha Neepadame Gati”
composed by Lalgudi. “Parameshwara Jagadeeshwara” in Nattai set a stately pace for the entire concert.
Malladi Brothers sang Abhogi for Thyagaraja’s “Manasu Nilpa.” A sparkling alapana in Mayamalavagowla
for Thyagaraja’s “Vidulaku Mrokkeda” was brilliant with briga-filled erudite sancharas. A majestic
Shankarabharanam and a detailed RTP was the piece de resistance of the evening. TumkurRavi Shankar
on the mridangam and R K Shriram Kumar on the violin added a distinctly different dimension to the
concert with their synchronized accompaniment. It was gratifying to see father and sons trio on the stage
vying with each other in a friendly musical conversation. Shruthi Shuddham, clarity in pronunciation,
depth of classicism, and a devotedly respectful approach to art are some key qualities that aspiring
vocalists can glean from Malladi Brothers.
student of Veena Srinivas of India. Students from Vasanthi Iyer’s School of Music in an excellent exhibit
of team work sang and played Swati Thirunal’s Dhanasree Thillana. Barely a teenager, Saatvik Gurupalli
showed that he could handle the veena with ease while playing Thilang Thillana. Ensemble of Ragas
students showcased a sublime vocal and veena arrangement for presenting Dr. Balamurali Krishna’s
thillana Jaya Ragamalika, a composition with shruthi and graha bhedam, wonderfully handled by the
Indrajit Banerjee on sitar, Dhananjay Kunte on tabla and Ganapathi Ranganathan on mridangam.
While sitar presented a gratifying Desh raga, the veena answered with gamakam filled folk-tinged
musings on Kedaragowla, a close Carnatic equivalent with most notes of Desh, yet sounding completely
different in mood and flavor. It was well received by the audience.
Vikram Sundara Raman rendered a good vocal concert with veena as accompaniment. Rajeswari Pariti
on the veena sketched out Kaapi ragam in its beauteous form in typical Andhra bani to the competent
accompaniment of Ethirajan Ramanujan while Rama Gurupalli laid out a very melodious Mishra
Shivaranjani Thillana. Yet another talented youngster Sanjay Subramaniam, a student of Guruvayoor
Dorai, ably accompanied her on the mridangam.
instrument.’ Some interesting points were brought out by participants who were teachers from the
Chicagoland schools facilitated by Dr. Saradapurna Sonty. The evening began with SAPNA honoring
Dr. BMK with Lifetime Achievement Award. Interestingly, inaugurated the first year of SAPNA,
and by serendipity, he was here to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Consul General of India,
Ms. Mukta Tomar, graced the occasion as Special Guest for the evening.
Krishna. Rasikas half his age, felt older than him! At 82 years, such is BMK’s energy, passion and his
voice forays that always bear his peerless style, leaving the audience thirsting for more. The concert
was clearly aimed at the mainstream audience featuring most of his popular numbers.
his own composition in Gambhira Nattai, till date matchless in its form and presentation.
“Vatapi Ganapathim,” although a very common krithi, Dr. BMK has the knack of interpreting the same
krithi in a subtle yet powerfully expressive way that gives it a completely different signature.
“Devadi Deva” with alapana in SunaadaVinodini and “Samajavaragamana” with an articulate Hindolam
alapana: the highlight of these was the effortless tristhaayi sancharas with deep voice intonations.
The unexpected yet deliberate glides between the octaves showed an unmatched command and mastery
over his smooth unmistakable voice, despite his age. “Sogasu nee sommu Kalyani Ragini” in Kalyani
ragam, one of the many compositions of Dr. BMK was sung with such romantic abandon that “Sogasu
nee Kalyani Ragini” and raga Kalyani seemed to intertwine in their raga bhavam, sahitya bhavam,
permeating seamlessly into the portal of nada brahmam transcending the ordinary. A musical silence,
an ecstatic ‘wah!’, a hearty smile, a soul dancing with joy, even goose bumps were some of the
manifestations of the enthusiastic response from rasikas - the energy was palpable. Great maestros
immerse themselves in music and in doing so weave a tapestry of spiritual energy that transforms our
experience from the ordinary and mundane to the divine and sacred. Belief in oneself, confidence in
presentation and an abject surrender to musical saadhana are some of the virtues any aspiring learner
can observe from Dr. BMK.
concluded the magnificent concert and drew the curtains on the glorious three-day veena festival that
was held at Balaji Temple Aurora and at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago in Lemont. 25 years and
going strong, SAPNA run by Dr. Saradapurna Sonty and Dr. Sriram Sonty, gave the intangible gift
of “naadaapavarga” to classical music rasikas of Chicago. The sound of the veena is still resonating….
until next year...
SAPNA 2009 - Article in NRI Today
SAPNA 2009 - Article in INDIA Tribune