The annual 10-day music programme at Erinjeri Karthyayini temple in Thrissur attracts the best of musicians every year.

The Navaratri concerts in Kerala have become a grand affair that are graced by leading artistes and attended by discerning listeners. The concerts at Erinjeri Karthyayini temple in Thrissur are no different.

SUMA PISHARODY

The 26-year-old fete has always featured vocalist Suma Pisharody. True to tradition, she began the celebration with an opening varnam in raga Shahana. Violin accompaniment by D. Sunitha Harishankar was good. Shanmughapriya was the main raga chosen by Suma. Her ragalapanam highlighted the salient features of the raga.

‘Ekambreshwari’, a Dikshitar kriti in Adi, did credit to this talented artiste. N.K. Madhusoodanan (mridangam) and Alappuzha G. Manoharan (ghatam) provided able support.

VELLINEZHI SUBRAMANIAN

Vellinezhi Subramanian’s concert included well-known kritis by the great masters. ‘Sidhi Vinayakam Seve Hum’ in Mohanakalyani, Adi, a composition by Muthiah Bhagavathar and ‘Annapoorney Visalakshi’ in Shyama, Adi, a Dikshitar kriti, were some of the pieces he rendered.

The vocalist chose the grand Shankarabharanam raga for elaboration. The ragam-tanam-pallavi depicted the raga in its splendour. He ventured into Ragamalika and came back with an array of manodharma swaras in Shankarabharanam.

In the tani, Sanoj Poongad (mridangam) dominated over Vellinezhi Satheesh (ghatam). Killikkurisimangalam Ramesh’s support on the violin was impressive.

Vocal recitals by Seetha Narayanan, Pranavam Sankaran Namboothiri and Mahadevan followed on the third, fourth and fifth day.

One of the distinguishing features of this year’s festival was the presence of many young artistes. Youngsters in their twenties have achieved levels of expertise that do their gurus proud.

RAMAKRISHNA MOORTHY

Ramakrishna Moorthy is an example. His concert had the energy of youth and the maturity of a senior artiste. Beginning with ‘Sarasuda’ Varnam in Saveri, he went on to sing a kriti in Mohanam with an unusual flavour to it.

The raga vistharam of raga Begada was a treat, the niravals, were measured and systematically built up, manodharma swaras were also well arranged. The Tygaraja kriti ‘Nadopasana’, Adi, was the chosen kriti. Taniavarthanam by Kovai Prakash (mridangam), Tripunithura Kannan (ghatam) and Payyanur Govindaprasad (morsing) was rich without being aggressive. T.H. Subramaniam excelled on the violin.

V.R. DILEEPKUMAR

V.R. Dileepkumar, another veteran at the festival, having performed all 26 years, continues to scale new heights in his career. Starting with a varnam in Kedaragowla, he sang a Tyagaraja kriti, ‘Thulasidala jesi’; his manodharma had unusual swara patterns. A Dikshitar kriti ‘Naga gandhari’ was full of life.

The choice for the main raga was, surprisingly, Andolika. The alapanam gave a complete picture of this undulating raga. The tanam had very long phrases and the pallavi was taken at ‘Easwari Jagadeeshwari’.

A prolonged taniavarthanam by Nanjil Arul (mridangam), Vazhappally Krishnakumar (ghatam) and Kalamandalam Shyju (morsing) followed. Viju S. Anand sparkled on the violin.

KOTTAKAL RANJITH VARIER

Kottakal Ranjith Varier continues to go from strength to strength. The timbre of his voice has improved remarkably over the years. His concert on Durgashtami was testimony to this.

The opening varnam was Pattanam Subramaniya Iyer’s composition in Thodi. Ranjith chose well-known kritis by the great masters and did full justice to those.

Ranjith went in for an elaboration of raga Anandabhairavi, following it up with Shyama Shastri’s composition in Adi tala, ‘Himachala thanaya’. Raga Natakurinji was the main presentation of the evening. Ranjith focussed on the lower octaves of this Harikamboji Janya raga. Systematically, he moved up the scales and showcased the raga in its entirety. ‘Pahi Janani santhatham’, a Swati kriti in Misra chapu, came after the alapana.

A soulful rendition of Shubhapantuvarali was another highlight of the concert. Manjula Rajesh was very good on the violin and K. Jayakrishnan (mridangam) and his disciple Vellatanoor Sreejith (ghatam) provided excellent percussion.

O.S. THYAGARAJAN

On the Navami day, it was the legendary O.S Thyagarajan’s turn to sing paeans to the goddess. Punctuating his music recital with interesting anecdotes, he kept the audience in his thrall. ‘Chala Mela’, a varnam in Natakurinji, Adi, opened the recital. Tyagaraja’s composition in Kalyani, ‘Amma ravamma’ saw the maestro in full flow. His expertise and erudition were evident. ‘Seethamma Mayamma’ in Vasantha, Roopakam, and the rare ‘Sudha Madhurya Bhasana in Sindhurmakriya, Adi, both composed by Tyagaraja, provided variety. Raga Arabhi was detailed in a proficient manner, ‘Pahi Parvata Nandini’, the popular Swati kriti, with niraval and kalpanaswarams followed. Along with skilful accompaniment on the violin by T.H. Subramanian, this item was a rich treat. Pathri Satheesh Kumar dazzled (mridangam) and Udupi Sreedhar (ghatam)was at his competitive best. Karaharapriya was chosen for the major presentation.

The master performer spent a lot of time and effort on the raga vistharam. T.H.S gave an excellent follow up. Tani was of the high level that one can expect from such talented artistes.

SRIRANJINI SANTHANAGOPALAN

Sriranjini Santhanagopalan is another gifted youngsters who is making a mark on the concert circuit. Daughter and disciple of Neyveli R. Santhanagopalan, she is both innovative and deferential to tradition. Choosing well-known kritis, she embellished every one of them with decorative touches. She began with a varnam in Begada and did a good alapanam in Natta, with able instrumental support from violinist Trivandrum Sampath.

The Sanskrit composition ‘Sarasiruhasana priye’ was well received. The beautiful ‘Vandanamu Raghunandana’ in Shahana, Adi, composed by Tyagaraja, and the more exhaustive presentation in Dhanyasi, a Syama Sastri kriti in Meenalochana, Misra chapu, were ample proof of this young musician’s talent.

A well-constructed raga vistharam of Poorvikalyani, substantiated her adherence to the traditional bani of her father and guru. In her strong and full throated voice, she rendered a grand version of Dikshitar’s soul-stirring ‘Meenakshi Memudam’. In the taniavarthanam segment, Palakkad Mahesh Kumar’s mridangam was disturbing and tended to overwhelm Elamkulam Deepu’s ghatam performance.