Both up-and-coming and eminent musicians presented an assorted fare at the annual music festival, organised by Manoranjitham, Coimbatore.

A week-long annual music festival was organised by Manoranjitham, the cultural and Fine Arts wing of Sri Ayyappan Puja Sangham, Coimbatore, at the Sangham premises.

Ranjani Guruprasad (known earlier as Ranjani Hebbar) is blessed with a rich and pliable voice that reaches dizzy heights when she wants it to.

Her delightful Mohanakalyani preceding 'Bhuvaneshwariya Nene Maanasave' by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar was as impressive as the fulfilling Thodi that she presented before Syama Sastri's 'Ninne Namminaanu Sadha.' The famous kriti, soaked in karuna rasa, perfectly suited the mood set by the alapana. Her lighter session became a little too long, though quite enjoyable. She could have included another weighty kriti or an RTP. There were some rarely heard songs such as 'Kumkuma Shobhite Karuna Bharite' in Anandabhairavi. After a scintillating alapana of Maru Behag 'Nudidhare Muthina Haaradhendhira Beku,' a vachana by the great sage Bhasaveswara, was presented in a moving manner. She remembered to include 'Shanti Nilava Vendum' in honour of the father of our nation as it was Gandhi Jayanthi day. Kovai S.Chandran on the violin and Ramnad Ramanathan on the mridangam gave excellent support.

Rare pieces

Young Saketharaman's popularity is growing in leaps and bounds. This disciple of Lalgudi Jayaraman presented an assorted fare that included the usual as well as the rare kritis.

His depiction of Ritigowla for Ambujam Krishna's composition 'Guruvaayoorappane Appan' was gentle and endearing. After the vivid and soulful portrayal of Khambodi he presented Tyagaraja's rare kriti, 'Elaraa Sri Krishna' as the centre piece, with an admirable niraval and sparkling swaraprastharas. The RTP in Saraswathi with the pallavi 'Vaanee Saraswathi Arul Puriya Vaa,' was crisp. 'Aiye! Methakkadinam' by Gopalakrishna Bharathi in Punnagavarali was immensely moving.

The supportive team of accompanists comprising the three veterans from Coimbatore, Kovai Balasubramanian (violin), Kovai Prakash (mridangam) and Kovai Suresh (ghatam) made Saketharaman's concert immensely enjoyable.

Sweet melody

The violin duet of Akkarai sisters, Subhalakshmi and Swarnalatha, was characterised by the 'zing' that was present all along. Flanked by giants Neyveli Narayanan (mridangam) and S. Karthick (ghatam), the sisters were quite at ease and coaxed out the sweetest melody from their instruments.

Subhalakshmi depicted Kapi with inexplicable smoothness and the sisters followed it with the Tyagaraja kriti, 'Intha Sowkyamani' in which the saint expresses his inability to describe how it feels.

The sisters filled the hearts of the rasikas with an equally inexplicable joy. Some of Oothukkadu Venkatakavi's compositions are extremely popular.

But there is a vast treasure trove, still unexplored. Like Tyagaraja's Pancharathna, Venkatakavi has composed Saptharathnas comprising seven kirtanas. Subhalakshmi sang 'Bhajanamrutha,' the Saptharathna in Nattai. She sang the intricately woven kriti, set in chaste Sanskrit with perfect pronunciation.

Her RTP in Varali with the pallavi, 'Maamava Veeaa Paani,' and 'Varali Venee' was succinct.

The diminutive Swarnalatha grew in stature as she depicted the ragas and met the challenges of her older sibling with graceful ease.

The sisters presented a few light, melodious songs towards the end and gave a perfect conclusion to the concert with a thillana and a Thiruppugazh.

The thani by Neyveli Narayanan and S. Karthick was a class apart and won a lot of cheerful applause.

R. Suryaprakash, Amritha Murali, Srivalson J. Menon and Vijayalakshmy Subrahmanian were the other artists who presented great vocal music at the festival.