The young artistes showed a great sense of dedication, discipline and application. Also, there was a packed audience, representing assorted class, cutting across age groups.

Music is religion. For those living in Chennai, The Hindu, too, is a religion. Often times in the past, these two religions have merged. When they integrate, it is relished by all. After all, The Hindu has been playing a significant role in promoting the cause of this art form. For many summers, it has been promoting cross-cultural musical extravaganzas, and has taken this event national as well. The Hindu sprang a surprise on the traditional Carnatic music buff this time around by holding a one-off Navavarana Mahotsavam at the venerable The Music Academy on October 4.

A dozen talented young artistes were on show that evening, paying tribute to 18th century composers Oottukadu Venkata Kavi and Muttuswami Dikshitar. They presented kritis of these two great composers, specially created for Navaratri. Each one rendered a set of two compositions that correspond to each day of Navaratri. Venkata Kavi and Muttuswami Dikshitar were no ordinary composers. Rendering their compositions required high degree of multiple skills. A slight mis-pronounciation could alter the very meaning. They are delicate in terms of language, diction et al.

Two things are noteworthy in this Navavarana Mahotsavam. For one, the young artistes showed a great sense of dedication, discipline and application (even though each one sang just a couple of kritis). For another, there was a packed audience (fully occupied on the ground floor), representing assorted class, cutting across age groups. The audience was very mature, and appreciative of the sincerity of the efforts put in by the young artistes on stage. Perhaps, the Academy stage had brought the best in both the artistes and the audience. The fact that the rasikas (nay, readers) responded by participating hugely in the event sort of came as a trust vote to The Hindu, a classical paper in a contemporary time.

Anahita-Apoorva duo was impressive for the ease with which they delivered their twin compositions. Sriranjani Santhanagopalan was classy, as she revealed her rich voice. A no-nonsense Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna and a dedicated Nisha Rajagopalan gave the audience newer options to plan their December calander. Trichur Brothers were lively, as they packed their wares skillfully inside the chosen kritis. A break in-between (to let the sponsors have a few words) led me out to have a darshan of Sringeri Sankaracharya at Sivasailam Home closer to the Academy. In the end, it turned out to be such a lovely evening.

Navavarana kritis are unalloyed and rooted in tradition. An interesting feature of this Mahotsavam was that youngsters were fielded to render these kritis. The revelation, however, came in the form of a full-house audience, which sat through the full four-hour live programme. The Music, Academy and The Hindu - a heady mix indeed!

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