Author: Hemamalini Srinivasan; Photo Courtesy: Prakash Bala

Editor’s Note: The first concert that one attends for the season is usually much looked forward to. Needless to say, if the first concert you attend is as brilliant as this one that our Friend of Margazhi Hemamalini Srinivasan attended, it sets the tone for more enjoyment in the days to come. 

My first concert for this season was of Ra-Ga that is Ranjani and Gayatri. Packed with a full house, I started listening from the 2nd song. It was a Dhandapani Desikar composition, which was followed by a bright Vasantha with “Ramachandram Bhavayami”.

The choice of songs were very unique and different. I have been attending their concerts for quite sometime now. It is remarkable that they ensure no song is repeated. After the brisk Vasantha came Dhanyasi. An elaborate dhanyasi raga alapanai rendered by Ranjani took the audience into a meditative mood, further enhanced by HN Bhaskar’s beautiful rendition of Dhanyasi on the violin. The sisters rendered a nice Thyagaraja composition in Dhanyasi with “Ramabirama manasu”. The niraval and swaras at “Sangeethamu” were a real treat to the listeners and evoked the best bhakthi rasa.

RaGa then sang Gopalakrishna Bharati’s Surutti raga krithi “Thillai Ambalathaanai”, followed by Harikeshanallur’s Pashupathipriya krithi – “Sharavana bhava samayamidhira”. The main central piece for the evening was in Vachaspathi. A detailed raga aalapanai was essayed by Gayatri with an interesting shruthi bedham to distinguish the difference between Vachaspathi and Vaasanthi. Smt Gayatri explained it to ensure the audiences did not get confused. It was very nice to watch many young rasikas take all this in and learn about shruthi bedham. The raga exploration was exquisite and majestic, containing all the essential nuances. “Pahi Jagatjanani” (Swati Tirunal) was adorned with stately niraval and moving swaras. HN Bhaskar’s violin support in his solo versions and swara repartees was soothing and impressive.

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The thukkadas came in the form of virutham followed by “Sharavana Bhava ennum” in Shanmukhapriya. As far as rasikas like me go, no RaGa concert is now complete without an Abhang. Rasikas wanted a Dasar krithi and smilingly the sisters obliged with a dasar krithi in Behag, “Naaneke badavanu”.Before rendering abhang, Gayatri explained the meaning of the abhang and continued singing “Rama Naama” in Jhinjotti.

Brilliant percussion support came from K Arun Prakash on the Mridangam and KV Gopalakrishnan on the Kanjira. The thani was really note-worthy for the rhythmic articulation by both percussionists.

It was an excellent start for the season, and it has set the bar high for my own expectations from a lovely season of music !

( Hema is a Management graduate with over 12 years of experience in the Learning & Development space, currently working as a Delivery Leader with a consulting firm in Chennai. She is an avid Carnatic music rasika, thanks to her parents who instilled a love for music right from her childhood. She has been attending concerts regularly every season.Her favorite past time is listening to carnatic music,writing. One of our earliest and most loyal Friends of Margazhi, we are happy to have Hema join in as part of our content crew this season. )