Concerts held at Ernakulam Shiva temple were a mix of vocal and instrumental music.

The music concerts at Ernakulam Shiva temple were huge crowd pullers. The musicians performing made it a point to keep aside the lion’s share of their presentations to compositions on Lord Shiva.

Srutisagar

Young flautist Srutisagar presented a concert in which he followed a vocal style. ‘Adi Pureeshwaram’, a Dikshitar kriti in Arabhi, was followed by ‘Muruka Tirumal Maruka’ in Harikamboji. The flautist’s dexterity in playing fast phrases was noteworthy in the swara segment. His ability to improvise further manifested in the niraval and in his Pantuvarali alapana for ‘Siva Siva Enarada’. A recent practice amongst musicians is to present devotional pieces such as the thevaram as the main item. Srutisagar did the same by choosing as the main ‘Vaananai Madi soodiya’ in Keeravani.He wrapped it up with ‘Adum Chidambaramo’ in Behag and ‘Gangadheeshwaram Sankaram’.

Seetha Narayanan

Seetha Narayanan is an expert at handling niraval passages steeped in bhava. This was evident in her rendition of the line ‘Kripanidhi ivarai pole’ in the Abhogi song ‘Sabhapathikku veru daivam’ of Papanasam Sivan. The niraval and swaras were marked by immense variety and style for ‘Sidhivinayakam anisham’ in Shanmukhapriya, and this was tagged on to ‘Anupamagunambudhi’.

The artiste’s virtuosity and evocative rendering were evident in the Sankarabharana kriti ‘Sundareshwaruni Joochi’, one of the Kovoor Pancharatnams of Tyagaraja on the shrine and the deity. Another rare piece was ‘Ennalum Vaasamai’ in raga Srikandi by Marimuthu Pillai. Accompaniment by veterans such as violinst V.V Ravi, mridangam artiste Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar and ghatam exponent Thrikkakara Santaram enriched the concert.

Sikkil Gurucharan

The musician who took the audience by storm was Sikkil Gurucharan on the fifth day of the festival. His melodic voice lifted the mood with ‘Anandanatana prakasham’ in Kedaram. ‘Palayamamayibho’ in Kamas raga saw the vocalist weaving unique swara patterns by repeating couplets and triplets of the same swara. The kalpanaswaras of ‘Saravanabhava ennum thirumandiram’ in Shanmukhapriya had many thrilling variations in vakra sancharas. C.S. Anuroop followed the musician on the violin and enhanced it by adding his own flourishes in the raga segment. Gurucharan showed flashes of Nattakurinji by altering the swaras dha, ni, ri and ga, though not resorting to a full grahabhedam.

Another highlight of the concert was an impassioned singing of a Shiva shloka in Revathi raga and the famed ragamalika ‘Ranjanimala’ in Ranjani, Sriranjani, Megharanjani and Janaranjani.

Ramakrishnan Murthy

An excellent percussion support was the highlight of Ramakrishnan Murthy’s concert. Murthy sang long swara passages with vakra korvais in his very first number, ‘Tatwamariya tarama’ in Reethigowla raga. After an appealing rendition of ‘Parka parka thikattumo’ in Harikamboji raga, he displayed his prowess in singing unique swaras of immense complexity in Roopaka tala with a steady progression in manodharma. This was done for ‘Ma ramanan uma ramanan’ in Hindolam. His Todi raga alaapana was enticing, and he considerably reduced the speed of the phrases to bring out the beauty of the raga. ‘Karthikeya Gangeya’ was delectably sung, and Murthy presented the niraval on the line ‘Maal maruka’.

N.C. Bharadwaj on the mridangam, who was exacting in following the vocalist in the swaras, was brilliant. Percussion rose to full bloom in the final swara segment and added to the sheen with a taniavarthanam, in which Bharadwaj was supported by Chandrasekhara Sharma on the ghatam. The result was a wholesome musical experience of a highest order. The concerts were held as part of the annual temple festivities.