A concert to mark Madurai Mani Iyer's centenary

New Delhi’s Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha is celebrating the centenary year of the late Carnatic music maestro Madurai Mani Iyer this coming Sunday with a concert by eminent vocalist T.V. Sankaranarayanan.

The centenary year began on October 25, 2011, when the maestro would have entered his 100th year.

Madurai Mani Iyer (October 25, 1912 – June 8, 1968) was one of the legendary vocalists of Carnatic music. His singing had a quality that appealed to all, recall old-timers. In a genre where complex mathematical calculations (‘kanakku’) are a part of the rhythmic technique and often prized portions of a concert, especially in the improvised swara singing where the challenge is to create difficult patterns that are at once mathematically precise and aurally pleasing, his singing of swaras was set to the regular sarva laghu pattern — where time can be easily kept in units of four. But, despite not going for complicated cadences, his swara singing had his listeners in raptures.

Some of the kritis he is famous for singing during his concerts — which, incidentally, could last up to five hours and would rarely be less than three — include “Sarasa saama gaana” (Kapi Narayani), “Tatvamariya tarama” (Reetigowla), “Kaana kan kodi” (Kamboji), “Ananda nadamaduvar Tillai” (Poorvikalyani), “Shankari shankuru” (Saveri), “Orajupu” (Kannada Gowla) among others.

His singing of ragas like Durbar and Kapi Narayani, say experts, was deceptively simple: it went straight to the heart of listeners and seemed as if anyone could sing it, but in reality no one was able to replicate it.

He popularised a unique piece of music known as “Western Note” (a composition that has only notes and no lyrics and has a Western music lilt). Some fans of Madurai Mani, it is said, would sit through his entire concert waiting just for this rendering.

T.V. Sankaranarayanan is among his most prominent disciples. The programme will take place at the Delhi Tamil Sangam auditorium on August 19. The event begins at 4.15 p.m. The concert will be preceded by ceremonies such as the garlanding of a portrait of the maestro and an address by K. Vaidyanathan, editor of well known Tamil daily Dinamani.