Top of the afternoon, ye lovely pilgrims.
We’re still in the World Cup season at the moment and yesterday, I ‘graciously’ (**translation: kicking and screaming!**) gave up watching Germany fustigate the Argentinians 4-0 to cover, as a favour for the missus, the Centenary of GN Balasubramaniam at the London Sivan Centre.
The first ever time I went to a Carnatic concert, I made the cultural ‘faux pas’ of shaking the hand of a ‘pukka’ Brahmin Carnatic singer. How was I to know that that’s a huge ‘No-No?? That’s the last time I’ve ever attempted to shake any South Indian woman’s hand again, unless she makes the first move! I was in Chennai a couple of years ago during the famous ‘music season’, and let me just say this: Sitting through a Carnatic concert is an acquired taste. It’s not a criticism of the music as such, but rather, the duration of how long long the concert lasts, which is normally for 3 hours of one singer in one fixed position! That’s some serious butt-conditioning if ever! Now unless you’ve been brought up regimented to sit through the whole gig without fidgeting, you’ll be a bit like me: thinking “Are we there, yet?” I don’t even sit through Jazz concerts for that long, and I’m a flaming jazz head! So, as favours go, I like to think I’ve paid my due in full to the missus, thank you very much!!
That being the case, the headline act for the concert was Smt Sudha Ragunathan, who I’ve been told, happens to be a living legend within Indian musical circles and to the well versed carnatic aficionado within the diaspora. I have to say, never hearing her before, I was really impressed by her stage presence and musical vocal finesss especially when she sang ‘Valaji’, ‘Reethigowla’, ‘Thodi’ and ‘Karaharapriya‘ (Yeah, I bet you guys never knew I understand some Tamil. Not bad for a ‘Kappali‘).
Smt Sudha fine-tuning her Tambura minutes before the show started…:
…and in full vocal swing during the show…
…. and here’s a quick shot I took of her when she had a moment…
One singer who actually had his apprenticeship under GNB was Trichur Shri V. Ramachandran:
Some of the ragas that he performed included ‘Gawati’ and ‘Andholika’:
His daughter, Ms. Shubashri Ramachandran, is a rising star with the Carnatic circuit and she also performed on stage with Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth on violin & Sri R N Prakash:
I also must mention & give kudos to the young home grown talent that were part of an ensemble taught by Dr. Jyotsna that actually started of the instrumental proceedings:
Pax Vobiscum, pilgrims!