Event The annual cultural festival began with thought-provoking speeches and stellar performances. MUKUNDAN SAMPATH

The 20th Annual Cultural Festival of Sharada Cultural Trust began on January 30 at Keyes High School with mangalavadhya kutcheri by Balaveerabhadraiya and Party who played popular items like Vatapi, Evarani, Endaro, Jagajanani and Krishnanibegane competently.

It was refreshing to see the main artists of the day including O.S. Thyagarajan (O.S.T) enjoy the nagaswaram. A brief ceremony included the trust's president Sarada Krishnan, reading out the activities of the trust, Swaminathan, the chief guest saying that women are naturally good at time management and always focus on the positive and the guest of honour Sobha Naidu, adding that learning music and dance helps improve concentration which she said, is proved by most of her students being toppers in academics.

O.S.T. started with the lovely Sujanajeevana in Khamas capping it with fluent swaras. The ever-popular Samajavaragamana in Hindolam which came next was received well. Parithapamu, a rare piece of Thyagaraja in Manohari followed. O.S.T took up Mohanam for the first alapana. He chose to sing it in a swift pace for Yevarura of Thayagaraja. Varali's alapana for Kamakshi Amba came with good jiva pidis but closed prematurely. O.S.T.'s neraval of Sukhasymale Sivasankari was full of bhava and the beauty of Varali permeated the bright pandal.

O.S.T. chose Reethigowla as the main piece giving the alapana a very traditional flavour. S.P. Anathapadmanabha on the violin showed good imagination but was unable to execute cleanly. Dwaithamu Sukhama reminded us of Semmangudi's electrifying rendering. S. Thyagaran closed the item with a skilled tani. Saravanabhava in Shanmukhapriya, Kaanavendamo in Sriranjani, Muruganin in Behag and Naadupai in Madyamavathi ended the concert gracefully. On the whole, what stood out was O.S.T.'s superb alignment to sruthi and the uncharacteristic fast pace that he chose for the whole concert.

Strong lineage

Ganesh, showed off his Maharajapuram lineage the next day. He was accompanied on the violin by S. Balasubramanian, on the mridangam by Madippakkam Suresh and on the kanjira by Madippakkam Gopalakrishnan. Starting with a Tamil varnam, Innamum in Charukesi, Ganesh quickly went on to Shri Mahaganapathe in Abhogi. He sang elaborate swaras in it. The rare Thyagaraja piece Pariyachakama in Vanaspathi was next.

Ganesh picked up Arabhi for an elaborate delineation for Choodhamurare. It is good that different schools adopt different ragas as their estate; else one would not hear a full length alapana of ragas like Arabhi. The Nyasa pidis belonged to the Maharajapuram school and reminded one of the whole clan especially the doyen, Vishwanatha Iyer.

High octaves

Next, the beautiful Dinamanivamsha in Harikambhoji was sung with good sangathis. Ganesh holding on to the higher octaves and the single avarthana swaras lent beauty to the whole piece. A quick Kanavendamo preceeded a detailed alapana of Lathangi for Aparadhamu. Ganesh's attempt of Thodi was filled with traditional details and bhava. He sang Dasarathe and a competent tani followed. Ganesh pleased all those who gave chits with Maharajapuram hits - Srichakraraja, Sarangan, Raghvendra, Santhanam's Basanthbahar tillana and Bho Shambo bringing the concert to an elegant finish.