Laya Raga Sangamam by Sukkanya Ramgopal and her all-woman percussion team was the grand finale.
Talent and expertise transcend gender preferences; ghatam, hitherto considered as an upa pakkavadyam, occupied centre stage literally and figuratively. Thanks to Sukkanya Ramgopal and her all-woman group! The group has proved that percussion is no longer to be considered a male bastion.
Sukkanya led the group and the vibrant presentation, making clear announcements before each item. She considered ‘five’ as a divine number; the addition of January 1, 2010, is five and the group consisted of five performers on five instruments; she had five pots in front of her and all the ragas presented have five notes (oudava ragas). The performers were Sukkanya (ghatam, ghata tharang and konnakkol), J. Yoga Vandana (veena), Soumya Ramachandran (violin), Ranjani Venkatesh (mridangam) and Bhagyalakshmi M. Krishna (morsing).
The programme started with ‘Gam Ganapathey’ in Hamsadhwani by Muthiah Bhagavatar set to Adi talam tisra nadai. The special aspect of this programme was the ‘ghata tarang’ which involved the participation of ghatam in the musical section, not just for rhythm -- but in niraval and swaras. This, Sukkanya achieved by setting the specific pots that could bring out the sound of the exact notes of the chosen ragas.
After Hamsadhwani, there were two ‘ghata tharang’; one in Kuntalavarali named ‘Aanandam’ followed by another in Revathi set to sankeerna chapu talam. This demonstrated Ramgopal's ingenuity in composing musical forms.
The Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi was the highlight. The raga Amritavarshini was played on the veena and violin. It was in the tanam where the ghatam also participated. The pallavi ‘Arul puri kanchi nagar annai’ in Adi talam went for niraval, trikalam and swarakalpana where ghatam also became an integral part. In the laya vinyasam mridangam, ghatam, morsing and konnakkol figured effectively varying the nadais and finally tapering to the brilliant convergence and conclusion. Tailing a folk piece in Suddha Dhanyasi was Oothukadu's popular ‘Kalinga Nartana’ tillana in Gambhira Nattai, where the jatis and sollus formed essential parts of the rendition before ‘Bhagyadalakshmi’ in Sri Ragam by Purandaradasa. The programme was thoroughly engaging without a dull moment, and Sukkanya demonstrated that one can make the pot also sing! An amazing feat indeed; the entire group interacted well and their coordination was perfect. Undoubtedly, the last programme of the 83rd Annual Conference and Concerts of The Music Academy provided a grand and fitting finale!