Shivkumar Sharma's hour-long exposition on santoor was aesthetically enriching.

The K.G. Foundation of Coimbatore presented the 15th Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival featuring concerts by Pt. Shivkumar Sharma and Dr. L. Subramaniam at the Music Academy, Chennai, in aid of the K.G. Crusade against Childhood Blindness.It was an evening of music to be savoured, beginning with Kavitha Krishnamurthi Subramaniam's effortlessly soaring voice raised in invocation in the Tulsidas composition, "Sri Ramachandra," rendered with deep involvement.Palpable anticipation tinged the air as Pt. Shivkumar Sharma took centre stage with his santoor recital, accompanied by Anish Pradhan on the tabla.The maestro more than fulfilled expectations. His hour-long exposition of Purya Dhanasree, the sandhya prakash or evening raga, in alaap, jod and jhala, was an aesthetically enriching experience. The stark beauty of the pancham — eschewing opening notes of the alaap gracefully traversing the lower and middle registers and weaving in phrases touching upon the pancham at intervals, launched a journey into a surreal twilight landscape illumined by shades of half-remembered dreams.The jod spoke of the soughing of pines through the hills and valleys of a land burnished by autumnal hues, the air golden with promise. Interspersing forceful strokes with gauze-delicate frissons, the tonal variations of the jhala thrummed with a thousand unspoken thoughts, the constantly indicated shadja, a rivulet of pure sound tinkling through the cascading notes. The composition in jap taal (10 beats) followed by that in teen tal (16 beats) gradually gathered momentum to culminate with a dramatic flourish. Anish Pradhan proved his mettle, playing with keen anticipation and sensitivity and displaying a tangible empathy with the main artiste. The concluding piece was a light classical melody with folk undertones brushed by airy touches.


Although paucity of time due to the delayed start of the programme limited Dr. L. Subramaniam to a fairly brief presentation, he cut a formidable dash. Commencing with the Navaragamalika varnam, "Valachi Vachhiti" in four speeds, he moved on to a delineation of Kapi that alternated nimble three-octave flights with sensitive long-drawn prayogas at the panchamam and vadi-samvadi-enlivened phrases. The composition was "Kuzhaloodum Kamala Kanna," followed by kalpanaswara. The full-bench percussion ensemble comprising Vellore Ramabhadran (mridangam), E. M. Subramaniam (ghatam), Yogaraja (kanjira) and Sathya Sai (morsing) provided a vibrant tani avartanam capped by the final swaraprasthara that showcased Dr. L. Subramaniam's virtuosity in full measure, bringing the audience to their feet in a standing ovation.