Maestro K.J. Yesudas’ memorable concert was the grand finale of a fete in Palakkad that featured veterans and newcomers.

Cultural programmes in connection with the annual Sasthapreethi festival at Nurani, Palakkad, featured vocal concerts and Divyanamabhajans.

Seasoned vocalist Shenkottai Harihara Subramaniam enchanted devotees with a traditional Divyanamabhajan and he encouraged them to repeat the Namavalis in unison.

His concert was followed by a recital of vocalist G. Bhuvaneswari, Head of the Department of Music, Maharaja’s College, Kochi. Muthiah Bhagavathar’s majestic Daruvarnam ‘Mathe Malaya dhwaja pandya samjathe’ in Kamas, with lyrics and jathi in the poorvanga, provided a delightful start to the concert.

Tyagaraja’s slow-paced ‘Bale Balendu’ in Ritigoula emphasised the sahithyabhava. A melodious Malayamarutham for Arunachala Kavirayar’s ‘Hanumane’ from the Tamil opera Ramanatakam and Swati’s lilting ‘Bhogeendrasayinam’ in Kunthalavarali came next. ‘Appanavatharitha kadhamrutham’, narrating the story of the birth of Lord Ayyappa, the deity of the temple , was a judicious selection. After a captivating tani, Bhuvaneswari enthralled the devotees with eulogies on Ayyappa – ‘Saranam Ayyappa’ (Mukhari), ‘Ayyappanin namam’ (Revathi) and wound up with a Thillana in Brindavanasaranga. She was accompanied by Saraswathi Moorthy (violin) and Kallekkulangara Unnikrishnan (mridangam).

Vocalist N.J.Nandini’s performance vouched for her competence and creative imagination. She was accompanied by R. Swaminadhan (violin), Cherthala Dinesan (mridangam) and Udupi Srikanth (ghatam).

Opening with Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Kapali’ in Mohanam, Nandini moved on to a classical Panthuvarali alapana and Tyagaraja’s ‘Apparamabhakthi’, decorated with crisp niraval and sparkling manodharmaswara. Departing from convention, Nandini selected ‘Vadasi yadi kinchidapi’ from Jayadeva’s Gitagovindam in the first half of the concert. Her poignant presentation of ‘Athranthare’ in Mukhari gave the right emphasis on lyrics and bhava.

Then came the raga alapana of Kamboji. Swaminadhan’s solo bowed out the delicate nuances of the raga. The kriti was ‘Kanakkan koti vendum’, a Papanasam Sivan composition, which was enriched with an articulate niraval and vibrant kalpanaswaras.

K.J. Yesudas’ recital was the grand finale of the festival.

He was accompanied by Mahadeva Sharma (violin), Thiruvarur Bhakthavalsalam (mridangam) and Thripunithura Radhakrishnan (ghatam).

The maestro began with ‘Sarasangi’, an Adi tala varnam. Yesudas followed it up with popular compositions sung by his guru Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. A succinct alapana of Hamsadhwani preceded the Dikshithar kriti ‘Vathapi Ganapathim’, which had niraval at ‘Pranava swaroopa vakra thunda’.

Chembai’s masterpiece ‘Pavana guru Paavanapuradheesam’, a composition in Hamsanandi, and a Tyagaraja kriti ‘Entha vedukonthu’ in Saraswathimanohari struck a rapport with the audience, both with the connoisseur and the layman.

A graceful delineation of Charukesi, documenting its entire beauty, was a delight to listen to. Another Tyagaraja kriti ‘Adamodi galade’ had a radiant niraval and rich swarasancharas.

Changing the pace of the concert, he next took up the soulful ‘Ksheerasagara sayana’ in Devagandhari and then rendered a fast-paced ‘Ninuvinanamathenthu’ in Navarasakannada.

An exhaustive and evocative rendering of Vasantha provided soukyam for the rapt audience. Sharma’s response was rich in expression, melodic clarity and magnitude. ‘Hariharaputhram’, a Dikshitar composition, was rendered with correct diction, with words being split without distorting the meaning of the lyrics.

Sparkling kalpanaswaras culminated in vintage phrases. A mind-blowing tani was a celebration in rhythmic phrases.

‘Nooruruli sathussatham nedicha Nurani gramamen hridayam’, an eulogy on Nurani, was given a standing ovation. His popular devotional numbers cast a spell on the rasikas.

His evergreen ‘Harivarasanam’ and a serene but majestic ‘Yogeenthranam’ brought the curtain down on the fete.