Classical Carnatic music and the western classical piano married with enchanting results at Yaksha 2011.
Thousand and eight beautiful lamps lit up the backdrop. Classical pianist Anil Srinivasan and Carnatic vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan were awaited by the audience outside the Linga Bhairavi temple at the Isha Yoga Centre. The chill air was pregnant with the sweet smell of rajnigandha. The musicians ascended the stage and said they dedicated their music that evening to the Devi.
The first offering was Papanasam Sivan's famous composition in Navarasa Kaanada, Naan oru vilayaatu bommaya. Gurucharan, in his impeccable Tamil, echoed the poet's question – Why have you made me your play thing, Devi? Anil caressed the keys in accompaniment. Pillai Tamizh, a poet, inscribed his poems on Devi on the stone walls of a temple in Tirunelveli. One such poem was performed next. It was Nee varadhirundhaal. Poetry morphed into resonating sangathis as Gurucharan soulfully sang Kaanthimathi thaaye varuga. “Allied to music literature, we have inherited dance literature too. Padams are lyrical poems set for dance. In this poem that we are about to perform, Muthu Thaandavar, a prolific composer talks about a young maiden, who expectantly waits at a Chidambaram doorstep for her lover, Lord Shiva,” said Anil. Theruvil vaarano, based in Khamas, conveyed the yearning of the maiden, who asks, “Won't Lord Nataraja come dancing down my street?”
Before moving on to the next song, Anil narrated a small story for the children, present in the gathering. It was about 12 year-old Mozart, who was given a test. He was asked to improvise on
‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. Little Mozart composed 12 variations, within three hours, with only a quill and a paper! Anil said, “There are variations or sangathis in a song that can express a simple thought in various ways. It is not meant to merely state the genius of the composer or the composition.” True to what Anil said, Gurucharan's diverse sangathis in all the songs brought poetry to life.
Ulundurpettai Shanmugasundaram's Chinnanchiru pen pole set in Sindubhairavi was next. Devi was worshipped a young goddess, who played “aeroplane paandi” (hopscotch) on the sand. The following composition was dedicated to the ambience at Velliangiri hills. Ekkalathilum in Poorvi Kalyani divulged the poet's wish to stay as close to Devi as possible, forever in time.
Anil's prelude and Gurucharan's alapanai were hypnotising, to say the least. The tani avartanam by the Kanjira artist was equally wonderful. There were lengthy, introspective pauses in the vocalist's phrases, as well as the pianist's notes and moments of meditative silence.
Mystic and philosopher Annamacharya's Ksheerabdhi kanyakaku (in Kurinji ragam) was rendered in praise of Lakshmi. The composition describes the beauty in performing neeraanjanam (bathing the goddess with water and turmeric) for Mahalakshmi. This tender adulation was followed by Sadashiva Brahmendra's poignant Sarvam brahmamayam in Madhuvanti .
The audience sat transfixed as the boundaries of Madhuvanti were stretched and Anil's interludes deepened the mood of contemplation.
The thillana set in Maand, the last song for the evening, left one yearning for more. The evening was a poetic love affair between Western notes and classical kritis.
The event was part of Yaksha 2011 organised by Isha Foundation recently.The media partner for the event was The Hindu.