It was a familiar setting at Delhi Tamil Sangam in more ways than one when two great families joined notes to push the cause of Carnatic music.
If the Bharatram and Maudgalya famlies have contributed to the promotion and propagation of Hindustani music in Delhi, the parallel for Carnatic music are the families of O.V. Subramaniam (doyen in his 90s, now settled in Chennai) and late guru K.J Govindarajan.
The three-part concert organised by Dwarkalaya at the Delhi Tamil Sangam featuring Sudha Raghuraman (vocal), G. Raghuraman (flute) and Elangovan (Bhakti Sangeet) was a refreshing musical evening. Sudha is the daughter of late Carnatic vocalist O.S. Sridhar and granddaughter of O.V. Subramaniam, while Raghuraman and Elangovan are sons of Govindarajan.
I still remember Sudha attending the audition for the Sahitya Kala Parishad scholarship as a teenager when I was one of the committee members way back in the late 1980s. She was then known as O.S. Sudha. There has been no looking back for this dedicated vocalist since. No doubt Sudha will touch the hearts of millions in the years to come. It's her dedication and hard work that have brought her to this level. Sudha's marriage to G. Raghuraman has created the bridge between the ‘O.S.' and ‘K.J' families.
Raghuraman is a fine flautist and his brother Elangovan an excellent nattuvanar, dance composer and vocalist. Marie, another disciple of Guru Govindarajan, is married to Elangovan and the two teach Bharatanatyam and music. On the other side, well-known vocalist O. S. Arun is Sudha's uncle (another son of O.V. Subramaniam). Arun also grew up in Delhi and some ten years back moved to Chennai. Of course Arun has left behind some good students in Delhi. Among them is Sai Bhavani, a fine vocalist.
Sudha proved her mastery over her chosen medium of expression in the very opening piece “Saraswati Namostute”, a composition of G.N. Balasubramaniam in Roopaka talam. When she sustained certain notes, especially Prati Madhyamam, without any vibrato, it proved her grip over swara sthaanam (accuracy of note placement). Next was a composition of Papanasam Sivan in raga Keeravani which had raga-bhavam in plenty.
Sudha sang an alpana in raga Amritavarshini (most needed for Delhi's unbearable heat) and went on to sing Muthuswami Dikshitar's composition “Anandamritakarshini”. In her alpana, she covered three octaves with ease. Her handling of the Nishad and Madhyama swaras brought about a soothing effect. Her swaraprastara without getting into too many mathematical phrases and with occasional staccato technique was superb.
She sang all the three compositions with clear pronunciation. There is no doubt that Sudha will become a top ranking exponent soon if the present quality and pace in music is kept alive.
Raghuraman's Carnatic flute concert began with a popular kriti of Saint Tyagaraja, “Shobillu Saptaswara” in raga Jaganmohini. Raghu played extremely soothingly and with complete sruti sudham. In the second composition in raga Hemavati, a composition of Dikshitar, Raghuraman was in top form. There was not a single slip anywhere in his entire concert, and the laya or pace he maintained throughout needs to be appreciated. He however should be careful while using effect processors such as reverb units and delay machines to enhance the flute's tonal quality. A reverb effect if not timed according to the tala cycle will produce repeat notes, and when playing fast phrases, notes will get jumbled up creating a jarring effect. Or he should alter his playing technique to suit such gadgets.
The last concert of the evening was devotional music by Elangovan, son and disciple of late K. J Govindarajan. This performance created bhakti rasa in the entire auditorium, and when Elangovan sang certain sangatis in the upper scale, it sounded like the famous singer, the late Seerkhazhi Govindarajan. Elangovan's Meera bhajan and Swati Tirunal bhajans were just remarkable. Elangovan successfully created a satvika atmosphere, and rasikas went home with a lot of happiness and peace from all the three concerts.
Accompanists for all the three concerts were R. Saravanan (violin) and C.V. Chandrasekhar (mridangam). Both of them gave good support and enhanced the concerts. One suggestion to Chandrasekhar is that it is better to avoid checking the tuning of the instrument while the main artist is presenting raga alpana, as this really disturbed the flow while Rahuraman was executing a beautiful alpana. Tabla exponent Jitendra Swain also joined Elangovan and gave the right support.
The people behind Dwarkalaya deserve congratulations for organising such a musical evening. Dwarkalaya seems to have not been affected by the recession. They managed support from Indian Bank, New India Assurance, Swadesh Engineering Industries, HDFC, Punjab National Bank and Sundaram Finance Group.