Unexpected fine weather welcomed the array of international musicians here in Sydney today. The first day of the Festival commenced with cheer. The C3 Church Auditorium in Silverwater great acoustic surroundings added to the experience. The Festival commenced with a talk given by Sudha Raghunathan who spoke about her esteemed guru ML Vasanthakumari and Carnatica Bros who talked about GNB. Later I did ask Shashi Kiran whom he considered the GNB of today to which I received the reply not surprisingly, “I wont go there”. Manasi Prasad a noted Bharathanatyam dancer and singer, sang as she portrayed the life of Meera in a unique dance which had influences of the Kathak and Bharathanatyam.
Carnatica Brothers concert accompanied by Murugabhoopathy on the mridangam and Sriram Kumar on violin and SV Ramani on Ghatam had all the ingredients of a great concert with the main item being a Ragam Thanam Pallavi set to two ragams, Vasantha and Bhairavi to a 9 per cycle thalam, which progressed to a Swara Ragamalika introducing ragams such as Anandha Bhairavi Salaga Bhairavi and Sindhu Bhairavi amongst others. Carnatica Brothers were ably accompanied by Sriram Kumar and the thani avarthanam, to 9 counts per cycle, was played with prowess by Murugabhoopathy on the mridangam. I saw to my surprise many eminant musicians sitting in the front row. Notably amongst them was TM Krishna casually in jeans seeming like any one of us, and the unassuming Shashank the flautist. Did I glimpse Nisha Rajagopalan and Mannargudi Easwaran as well…Carnatica Brothers concert concluded with a Thillana in a composition composed by Ravi Kiran, Shashi Kiran’s brother, in ragam Bindumalini. Containing attractive jathis this thillana was rendered beautifully by both Ganesh and Shashi Kiran, one that could seek popularity with the dancers.
O S Thyagarajan accompanied by Trichy Sankaran on Mridangam and Embar Kannan on Violin made for a scintillating partnership. OS Thyagarajan conventional style was elegantly portrayed with systematic development of rhythmic explorations during the rendition of the main ragam in Karaharapriya, Chakkani Raaja. Prior to this piece OS Thyagarajan sang a famous song in Kapi “Pattabhi Rama Raghukula Soma”. The approach of OST to his music and the development of the raga was unhurried. His Hecharikaga in Yadukula Kambhoji set to Jhampa Tala [Mohan corrects me in saying it was sung in a Khanda Eka] was a turning point in the concert when all the artists and the audience seemed to have warmed up to each other. It felt as though he was considering each aspect of the music as it unfolded in partnership with Embar Kannan who played the violin befittingly. Trichy Sankaran’s mridangam was heartfelt and the sounds of his ‘Uruttal’, the sound the mridangam makes with the left hand stayed with me as I left humming the Nilambari and then the Shurutti that OST finished the concert with. More Photos from the festival here