To see four bright, talented youngsters — Vivek Shiva, G. Isola, M.T. Aditya and Swaminathan Selvaganesh — taking on serious classical content is a delight and a harbinger of great hope for the future.
Alluringly themed to be a tribute to Pandit Ravi Shankar, four very young performers, Vivek Shiva (mandolin), G. Isola (sitar), M.T. Aditya (tabla) and Swaminathan Selvaganesh (kanjira), graced the outdoor stage on the second day of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest as an opening act to the main performance. Despite the unpredictable downpour, a reasonably good audience turned up to watch the youngsters and encourage their effort. And there was plenty of effort evident in the performance. However, there seems to have been a series of misadventures in the concert not entirely in the musicians’ control that went against them. Or so I would like to believe.
For one, the main string of the sitar caved in early into the evening forcing the sitarist to give up his space, and with it the theme of the concert. Fazed, the mandolin player was forced to don the main role and carry the concert on his young shoulders. As a performer, I can only empathise with his plight and it will be easy for me to conclude that the manful effort he displayed in carrying the concert through should be enough to acquit him completely. However, there were certain other areas that the group could have paid more attention to.
The repertoire was haphazard, with a Yaman Kalyan that repeated itself (the opening piece with the sitar as well as the Krishna Nee Begane), interspersed with a well-executed Anuragamule in Saraswati and specifically Brovabarama in Bahudari that actually stood out as one of the better pieces of the evening with its neatly executed kalpana swaras and interesting exchanges between Vivek Shiva and the talented young Swaminathan on the kanjira. However, I was mystified as to why there were no variations in rhythm structures, no solos for the percussionists to display their talents and no forays into exciting territories in ragas that the mandolin player clearly shone in — such as the Khamas that he briefly played. Melodic improvisation as a whole was on the lower side. The lighter pieces in the concluding sections of the concert were crisp and interesting.
Definitely, Vivek Shiva is talented and has a winsome disposition. To see four bright, talented youngsters taking on serious classical content is a delight and a harbinger of great hope for the future. However, the craft of performing for an audience needs to be thought out. The musicians should develop an awareness of themselves, their art and develop greater connectedness with their audience. Mishaps will occur, and to err is human. But to ride through this and still carry off a great performance will be the mark of great artists that I wish these musicians will someday become.