High on rhythm, Sankara was an absorbing collaborative effort.

IT was a full house that greeted the group when the curtain went up at Dr. Preetha Reddy Auditorium of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, past Tuesday. ‘Sankara’ was led by ghatam and konnakkol vidwan T.H. Subhash Chandran. Younger brother of Vikku Vinayakaram, Subhash is also a disciple of his illustrious father Harihara Sharma, whose school of music and rhythm has contributed a lot to the cause of classical music. Many of the leading percussion vidwans of today, have had their foundation laid at Harihara Sharma’s school.

On a well decorated stage Subhash was at the centre conducting the proceedings, alternating between ghatam and konnakkol. He was the brain behind the music and concept and naturally the offering had a slant towards rhythm. Ambidextrous S. Hari Krishnan (son of Subhash Chandran) on the key board excelled in the swara improvisations for all the pieces, but sounded monotonous beyond a point.

Most of the groups in Chennai who present such collaborative music (the term fusion has been deliberately avoided) choose ragas that permit such exercises of travelling up and down the arohana and avarohana and ‘Sankara’ was no exception. The pieces were in Hamsadhwani, Nalinakanthi, Jog, Thilang and Lathangi and it was merry making both for Hari and H.N. Bhaskar (violin).

N. Ganeshkumar with his invention of the synthetic ganjira has grown in stature. Incidentally, the tonal quality of his ganjira was not much different from the conventional one. The perfect tempo that he maintained throughout the concert deserves special mention. He excelled, whether it was the khumkis, the base beat or the complicated arudhis.

Surprisingly K. Sekar on the tavil did not wear the traditional surai (kai koodu) on his right hand. If the intention was to keep the decibel level under control, it was achieved. In fact, he impressed with soft beats, not usually associated with the instrument, in perfect harmony with the team.

Subash Chandran stole the show. He has an attractive style of playing the ghatam. Sporting a gentle smile throughout, he made listening a pleasure. But it was his konnakkol that the audience seemed to love. . Here too his syncopation made it enjoyable. Infusing subtle variations he made the most difficult phrases look simple.

The group was felicitated by the chief guests of the evening - Veenai E. Gayathri, Vice- Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Music and Fine Arts University, Prakash Swamy, president, American Tamizh Sangam, and K.N. Ramaswamy, Director, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan. The programme was in aid of Bhagavan Yogamoorthy Sri Sri Sri Maha Periyava Meela Adimai Trust.