The captivating vocal performance of Sikkil C. Gurucharan marked the inauguration of the 61st anniversary celebration and music and arts festival of Sri Satguru Sangeetha Samajam at Lakshmi Sundaram Hall in Madurai on Saturday.

Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, who was awarded the ‘Madhura Kala Praveena’ title by the Samajam on the occasion, was the accompanist on the mrudangam. He performed with such flair and brilliance that his ‘thani,’ matched by another doyen of percussion, Karthik, on the ‘gatam,’ received a standing ovation. The octogenarian also enlightened the audience that the ‘thillana’ sung by Gurucharan was written by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar set to Lakshmisa ‘tala’ with 108 beats to a cycle, making it one of its kind. It was rarely sung and had been a special presentation in the concerts of Semmangudi.

It was also apt that on the day Madurai was celebrating ‘Maamadurai Potruvom,’ Gurucharan chose to make the occasion auspicious by singing Meenakshi Kalyanam in raga Hamir. The main song in Varali was again dedicated to Meenakshi, in the lyrics of Dikshitar's “Mamava Meenakshi.” M. A. Sundareswaran on the violin provided excellent accompaniment and also played a scintillating solo. Tyagaraja's “Girirajasudha” in Sahana provided the devotional element and Dandapani Desikar's “Pugazhai thedi porulai thedu” in Kaanada brought the audience back to earth.

Sowmya began her concert on Sunday with “Chalamela” in Darbar and Tyagaraja's Panthuvarali kriti, ”Vadera Deivamu,” which extols the divine power of Rama. Supported by the facile play on the violin strings by M. S. Anantha Krishnan, Sowmya further manipulated the meandering patterns in Reetigowla and directed the ‘alapana’ to create the ‘bhava’ of surrender in “Nannu Vidachi,” again by Tyagaraja. This song was also embellished by Neyveli Narayanan’s mrudangam, who remained unfazed by the way the singer varied the starting point or ‘eduppu’ of the sangathis and matched them with his own creative beats for Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s lyrical entreaty beginning, “Innamum oru tharam.” Chandrashekara Sharma on the gatam was no less creative. He followed the lead percussionist and managed to make a mark of his own at the same time. “Manasuloni marmamu,” Tyagaraja's Hindola kriti, usually sung at a slow pace, was sung very fast, probably to set the scene for the elaboration of raga Poorvikalyani for the main song, “Meenakshi Memudham” by Dikshithar.

The spirit of well-being that filled the hall during the presentation of the main song did credit to Sowmya's uncompromising effort and Anantha Krishnan’s skill in capturing the essence of the song. The final pieces were sung with the same virtuosity, the very short ‘alapana’ in Desh being a case in point.