Their judicious choice of kritis gave Priya Sisters ample scope for alternative singing

If Carnatic music concerts have attained a well-established format, then vocal duets have also become a healthy subset of this whole. Modern practitioners of this duet-tradition, Priya Sisters, presented the inaugural concert at Rama Baktha Jana Sabha. Haripriya and Shanmughapriya carried forward their concert without curtailing each other’s freedom and without being overly competitive in their endeavours. They began with ‘Mathe Malayadwaja Pandya,’ a Dharu varnam in Khamas (Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar) that affords plenty of scope for alternative singing when handled by a duo. Two kritis of Tyagaraja followed - ‘Bhuvinidhasudane’ (Sriranjani) and ‘Evvare’ (Gangeyabhushani). The sisters were at home during the swara rounds that formed part of the Sriranjani kriti. These swara splendours were fashioned out with much finesse that had a glorious touch of class.

A double-delight awaited the audience, who enjoyed listening to alapanas in Thodi and Purvikalyani. Their voices are not altogether contrasting in nature and they involve themselves as active partners, always. This causes reinforcement in the sweetness of voices (kuralinimai) and the seamless handing-over of the baton from one to the other seemed remarkable. Close your eyes and you can’t guess who is at the mike. That they were able to treat both these formidable ragas, Thodi and Purvikalyani, with a maturity par excellence speaks volumes of their extraordinary abilities. The songs were ‘Rajuvedala’ of Tyagaraja and ‘Enneramum Un Namam Uraipadhe En Nemam Annaye,’ a rare Syama Sastri number in Tamil.

It would have been interesting if Priya Sisters had tried the combination of ‘one-up/the other low style’ while rendering the pallavi for the Gangeyabhushani song. One sangati, particularly, would have attained its zenith with such a deployment of voices. But that did not happen. In the same vein one has to add this observation. ‘Vazhi Maraithirukkudhu’ (Nattakurinji, Gopalakrishna Bharati) had its subtle variations while it was rendered by them. But they were not just enough to create the much-desired impact on the innermost recesses of the mind. One will perhaps, have to listen to them on another day, at another time, to get these, hopefully!

M.A. Krishnaswami, on the violin, presented some original sangatis during the alapanas for Thodi and Purvikalyani and it seemed like controlled flamboyance especially for Purvikalyani. His swara answers were impeccable.

Delhi Sairam on the mridangam and B.S. Purushothaman on the ganjira made their mark with heightened levels of anticipation. Their accompanying for the songs made us feel the import of the compositions fully. Their soft playing with minimal sound for the song ‘Vazhi Maraithirukkudhu,’ is worthy of special mention here.

Title for Sisters

Sri Rama Bhaktha Jana Sabha inaugurated its 16th Annual Music Festival, at Padma Seshadri School, K.K. Nagar, on December 30, 2012. Gomathi Radhakrishnan, chairperson, Muthukumaran Educational Trust, Premalatha Kanikannan, director, Meenakshi College of Engineering and S. Pattabiraman, General Manager, Corporation Bank, inaugurated the fest.

Priya Sisters, Shanmugapriya and Haripriya, were honoured with the ‘Sangeetha Mamani’ award on the occasion. Sri Narayana Vishwanath, senior columnist, The New Indian Express, who spoke on this occasion, praised the Sabha members for their efforts in promoting music. Felicitating the awardees he said that their singing exhilarated him. Complementing their strong commitment to music he further added that the sisters were a combination of two great voices arriving together in perfect unison and that they are simultaneously at their creative best always. He continued by saying, “Their voice(s) has an ineffable resonance and they integrated well and focussed on internalising the songs before presenting it to the audience.”

In her acceptance speech, Haripriya said that she was surprised to receive the title and whether the duo deserves such recognition. She further added they will treat this award as a gift from God. Haripriya remembered all their gurus - their father who was their first guru, Radha – Jayalakshmi and T.R. Subramanyam and of course, their parents who stood by them. She said as singers they were bound by the love and affection showered on them by the rasikas.

The president of the sabha, Venkatraman, and coordinator K.R. Saranathan were present on the occasion and Vaidhyanathan, vice president, proposed the vote of thanks.

(sivakumar2004@gmail.com)