The recently concluded Tamil Isai festival in Singapore showcased songs of the Trinity and other great composers.

‘Tamizh pesu, Tamizh nesu’… that’s the motto of the annual monthly campaign supported by the Singapore Government in an effort to nurture and encourage Tamil, one of the four official languages of the country. Tamil movies, film songs, Tamilians and the language itself flourish here, with many programmes being organised regularly.

For the first time, the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society organised a Tamil Isai festival, between July 9 and 11. It was a veritable treat of classical music for one and all.

The inaugural concert was by Vijay Siva, who presented songs based on Thevaram. Meenatchi Sabapathy, a local music teacher and singer, did a fine job on Pann Isai and Tirumurai, along with an ooduvar from the Ceylon Road Temple. Karaikal Ammaiyar, Tirupuggazh and Sekkiyar's Periya Puranam were aptly demonstrated by the duo, which went down well with the audience.

V.K. Manimaran offered Moovar, leaving one with the feeling that he was not really concert material. V. Sankaranarayanan presented Ramanatakam, Arunachala Kavi’s classic on the epic. ‘Yaro Ivar Yaro’, ‘Annai Janaki Vandalae’, ‘Kanden Kanden Sitayai’ and the rare Manirangu kriti ‘Ennaiyum Varasonnaro’, where a bemused Vibhishana wonders at Rama’s regard for him, were presented with the classicism in tact, by the singer, with SIFAS students accompanying. Prasanna Venkatraman and Sankari Krishnan showcased the works of Koteeswara Iyer, Nilakanta Sivan, Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan and contemporary composers such as Papanasam Sivan and Lalgudi Jayaraman. GNB too was remembered, with Sankari Krishnan singing his famous Andolika varnam.

Shankar Rajan of SIFAS said, “Our students did justice to Arunachala Kavi's compositions. The team of tutors and students has done us proud.” Shankar Rajan also played the ganjira for T.L. Maharajan, who gave a magnificent performance based on songs of Tamil poets. A few starry airs apart, his ease on stage, great range, and casual interaction with the audience made his effort memorable.

Dr. Kasinathan of SIFAS seemed pleased at the way the festival was organised, but expressed a few misgivings about audience turnout for a few performances. Educated and willing audiences are the need of the day to foster our music, he felt.