Eminent artists presented papers on composers.

The Chennai Chapter of the Music Forum organised a workshop on ‘Compositions and Composers in Carnatic Music,’ on February 13, at Rani Seethai Hall. The workshop featured four half-hour sessions, one each on Tyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Syama Sastri and Swati Tirunal.  

The workshop was inaugurated by N. Murali, the president of the Music Academy. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Murali commended the efforts of the Music Forum in creating an awareness about Carnatic music among school children.  He mentioned that the Academy would be interested in joining hands with the Forum in this noble venture. Music needs to be taught to children during their early schooling just like the other subjects, he said.

The event took off with a flawless invocation song, rendered by Master Sathyanarayana, a student of the Music Academy’s Teacher’s College of Music. Sathyanarayana is a visually impaired boy spotted by Dr. Sunder’s Freedom Trust and has been receiving scholarship and intense training in Carnatic for over five years. Following this, Dr. Sunder, musicologist and musician, convener of Music Forum, welcomed the gathering and gave an account of the activities of the Music Forum.

Dr. Sundar made a power point presentation of the activities of the Forum over the years. Music Forum since 2005 has been organising mega workshops for school and college children twice every year in Chennai and also at Mayavaram, Tiruvarur, Tanjavur, Trichi, Kumbakonam, Vellore, etc and monthly workshops in Chennai for the music loving public every third Sunday. The Forum has conducted several novel programs like exclusive events to bring in corporate houses, quiz programmes for school and college students, released cassettes on compositions of Thanjavur Sankara Iyer and this cassette was given to over 5000 students as gift during workshops.

In the first session following the inauguration, vocalist Neyveli Santhanagoplan spoke about Syama Sastri, his life, compositions, and how to appreciate the beauty of his compositions. Drawing the audience into his lecture, he asked the students to clap along to the beat of Misra Chapu talam (rendered as Viloma Chapu), as he sang Syama Sastri’s Purvikalyani masterpiece ‘Ninnuvinagamari.’

The second session was on Swati Tirunal. Scholar and critic V. Subrahmaniam took the audience on a journey through the life of the king-composer, showing them rare photographs and demonstrating some of the composer’s masterpieces.  

The third session kept the audience on their feet, as they answered questions from maestro Chitravina Ravikiran on the life and works of Saint Tyagaraja. Ravikiran spoke about the pre-Trinity era, Tyagaraja’s life, the deities he composed on, his group compositions and other masterpieces. He asked students to take pride in Indian music and culture and promote it, in whichever part of the world they are. 

In the final session, Dr. Sunder presented an information-packed, yet entertaining lecture on the versatility of Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s compositions. Ably supported by his disciples Srutisagar (flute) and Keerthana (vocal), he demonstrated several facets of Dikshithar’s compositional style including the influence of Hindustani music, the liberal usage of madhyama-kala passages and the usage of yatis.  

All the musicians were ably accompanied by V.V. Ravi on the violin and Mannarkoil Balaji on the mridangam.  

All sessions were interactive, with the students raising questions, enthusiastically participating in the discussions, answering the questions put to them by the speakers and winning prizes. The workshop had more than 500 participants, from various city schools and music institutions like Avvai Home, Kola Perumal Chetty Vaishnav Senior Secondary School, the Music Academy’s Teacher’s College of Music, Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Senior Secondary School, K.K. Nagar, and Little Flower School for the Deaf and Blind.

In the valedictory function, mridangam maestro Guruvayur Durai blessed the students and gave away trophies to the schools that sent in the maximum number of participants.