R. Suryaprakash proved himself a worthy scion of Madurai Mani Iyer's school of music with his hearty performance at Carnatica's Bharat Sangeet Utsav 2011 at Sarojini Nataraj Auditorium, Coimbatore. His Brindavana Saranga preceding Dikshitar's ‘Sowndararajam Aashraye' and Kalyani for ‘Naradagaana Vishaaradha' by Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar were impressive with masterly phrases. ‘Kandhan Karunai Puriyum Vadivel,' after an appropriate virutham, was laudable. His talented team of accompanists comprised M.A. Krishnaswamy (violin), Neyveli Venkatesh (mridangam) and Coimbatore Subramaniam (ganjira).

Priya Sisters, Shanmukhapriya and Haripriya, were lively as always. After the varnam, ‘Jalajaksha,' they proceeded with Periyasamy Thooran's ‘Gananathane, Gunabothane' in Saranga. Koteeswara Iyer's rarely-heard song in Dharmavati, ‘Kanda, Bhakta Chinthamani' was presented with élan. ‘Kadhanuvaariki' in Thodi reigned as the centre piece with a detailed alapana, enjoyable niraval and lively kalpanaswaras. M.A. Krishnaswamy on the violin accompanied the Sisters with his masterly strokes and delighted the audience with his raga delineations. Neyveli Skandasubramaniam on the mridangam and Madippakkam A. Murali on the ghatam performed a grand and pleasing thani.

Lavanya Sankar's game show ‘Thaka Dhimi Tha', based on Bharatanatyam proved to be a learning experience. The participating teams were tested for their mastery over nritta, nritya and abhinaya as well as their theoretical knowledge. The interesting and sensible quiz round that included almost everyone from the field of Bharathanatyam deserves kudos. Anjana Anant's confident compering and Lavanya Sankar's encouraging comments added to the success of the programme. Vamika Sagar and Manjupriya of Aradhana School of Dance, Coimbatore, came out winners.

Grasp over ragas

The smoothness with which Kunnakkudi Balamuralikrishna went about his concert was proof of his persistent hard work. He began majestically with ‘Sri Vignarajam Bhaje' and exhibited his grasp over the ragas during his delineation of Pantuvarali (‘Shambho Mahadeva') and Kharaharapriya (‘Raamaa Nee Eda'). ‘Saama Gana Lolane,' ‘Manavyaala' and ‘Bhaja Bhaja Maanasa' brought in variety.

Experienced accompanists such as V.V.S. Murari (violin) and Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam (mridangam) gave admirable support.

After discussing the salient features of some of the Carnatic ragas and their Hindustani counterparts, Charulatha Mani presented enjoyable samples. Towards the end of her ‘Isai Payanam' she presented a medley of film songs, old and new, set to ragam Sindubhairavi.

K.N. Sashikiran and P. Ganesh began with the popular varnam of Balamurali Krishna, ‘Ammaa, Aananda Daayini' in Gambhira Nattai. Kedaragowla as the main raga (‘Saraguna Paalimpa') was wholesome followed by the expert strokes of Arun Prakash on the mridangam and Tiruchi Murali on the ghatam. Nagai Sriram's tuneful violin was pleasant and enjoyable. Purandaradasa's ‘Raagi Thandheeraa' was packed with meaning. The cousins concluded their concert with a lively thillana by Ravikiran and the Dasavatara mangalam by Purandaradasa, ‘Makutakke Mangala Matchavatarake'.

V.K. Manimaran's ‘Tamizh Isai Virundhu' with the same set of accompanists was well-received by the audience.

T.V. Sankaranarayanan dedicated his concert to his uncle and guru Madurai Mani Iyer, this being his centenary year. ‘Intha Paaraamugam' in Purvikalyani pulsated with devotion, especially during the niraval for ‘Nee Oru Silaiyo' - it flowed freely with swaras dripping with the essence of the raga. When he sang ‘Kaana Kann Kodi Vendum' in Khambodi, the rasikas relived the days of the guru as Sankaranarayanan almost recreated the original, including the swara phrases, ‘Ga ma paa ma gaa, ri ga saa ri gaa'.

V.V.S. Murari on the violin, Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam on the mridangam and Tiruchi Murali on the ghatam vied with each other in bringing out their best.