Amrita Venkatesh sang some unusual kritis of Dikshitar
Guruguhaamrta recently hosted a vocal concert by Amrita Venkatesh, accompanied by B.K. Raghu (violin), and B.C. Manjunath (mridanga) in Bangalore.
The performance, devoted entirely to the compositions of Muthuswami Dikshithar, included krithis in some rare ragas, the arohana, avarohana, and salient features of which were demonstrated lucidly, and handled with admirable felicity and finesse by the young vocalist. The opening number, “Kanakambari Karunyamrithalahari” in Kanakambari raga and tishra ekatala, was adorned with brief kalpana swaras highlighting the vivadi characteristics and jaru glides of the nishada and gandhara.
“Mangalambayai Namasthe” in Malavasri raga and jhampa thala, beginning with the swarakshara ‘ma' in the tara sthayi was instantly arresting, and was followed by the beautiful krithi “Kumaraswaminam” in Asaveri.
Sumadyuthi, generally equated with Simhendramadhyamam, was taken up for a short alapana that threw its unique identity and distinct ‘pa dha sa' usage into sharp focus. “Pamarajanapalini” was rendered with a few avartanas of kalpana swaras. The main raga of the evening, Shankarabharanam, was elaborated in a series of soft, mellifluous sancharas that combined spontaneity with technical virtuosity. “Akshayalinga Vibho” in mishra chapu thala featured an excellent neraval and kalpana swaras suffused with raga bhava at “Badarivana”, and was succeeded by a tani avarthana. The concluding item was “Sri Kamalambike Sive Pahimam” in Sri raga.
The mellow majesty of the compositions and the uniformly sedate tempo maintained throughout, generated an effect that was different from that of the usual concert format in vogue. The accompanying artistes sustained and accentuated the underlying tenor of the recital with expert and appropriate responses. According to vocalist G. Ravi Kiran, the driving force behind Guruguhaamrta, the aim is “to preserve and propagate the singing of Dikshithar's compositions” through a series of concerts and lecture demonstrations, the material for which is sourced primarily from the “Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini” of Subbarama Dikshithar.
Along with clarifications about the musical form, explanations of the lyrics and their spiritual significance, and of literary embellishments such as rhyme, alliteration and assonance, and deployment of yathis and madhyamakala sahitya, which are integral components of the compositions, will definitely lead discerning listeners to higher levels of enjoyment and edification.