Kadiri Gopalnath's saxophone, A.Kanyakumari's violin and Bombay Jayashree's carnatic vocals were the highlights of the SICA festival.

The South Indian Cultural Association (SICA) is celebrating its 46th annual art festival. In the absence of the facilities at Ravindra Bharati, SICA chose the more spacious Lalita Kala Thoranam at the Public Gardens. Though this move proved to be wise since it could accommodate more music lovers, the train horns on the adjoining rail track and the oil smell from the mirchi vendors could not be avoided. This year's festival avoided featuring the reputed drama troupes of Chennai. Looking at the audience turnout, the response to the festival appeared to be rather good.. The eight-day festival opened with a mellifluous Carnatic vocal by renowned singer `Bombay' Jayashree. After rendering Mayateeta Swaroopini in Mayamalavagowla, she went on to present O Jagadamba of Shyama Sastry in Ananda Bhairavi. The raga carried a distinct appeal. Then she sang a Tamil composition in Malayamarutham - Nadayadam Sollai. Arunachala Kavirayar's composition figured later. It was a Vilambakala kirtana. The line `Pilachite Matladarada' was appealingly rendered in many sancharies. Neevada Negana in Saranga was another delight. The main attraction was Kambhoji with a detailed elaboration, followed by a majestic O Rangasayi. The nereval at the charanam Bhooloka Vaikuntha was appealing and the swaraprasthara in variegated rhythmic spells was captivating. Gopalnath's saxophone:Kadiri Gopalnath tamed a western musical instrument, the saxophone so well to the Carnatic idiom, that he has become a hot choice for any music festival. But it appears that the contact mike he added to his wind instrument made his play so loud that it became unbearable. Added to that, there was a hi-fi sound system. Violinist A. Kanyakumari accompanied him. She intelligently played in a lower octave to that of Saxophone's pitch, to keep the two sounds distinguishable. When they were playing together, the picture of the raga was a bit hazy. But when it was Kanyakumari's turn to present a brief version of the raga with equal speed, the violinist played the raga perfectly, earning great applause from the audience as reward. Her presence too elevated the general appeal of the concert. This could be seen in the main melody of the concert - Kharaharapriya. The presence of Tavil, played by Denkanikottai Mani, also added its own appeal. And this could be seen when a brief but effective brisk play of Tavil opened the Gopalnath's raga essay of Kharaharapriya, the showpiece of the entire concert. Gopalnath began with Pranamamyaham in Gowla, with brisk swaras. Bahudari was his first raga effort for Brova Bharama. Endaro Mahanubhavulu in Sriraga, proved a welcome presentation because of its popularity. After an experimental `Niroshtya' Raga, Karnaranjani, for Muthiah Bhagavathar's Raja Raja Raajithe, Gopalnath went for Kharaharapriya. A composition of Annamayya played in this raga was quite pleasing. The nereval and swaram in this were well presented. A. Purushotham on kanjeera and Rajasekhar on morsing were the other accompanists.

Sister act

Priya Sisters — Shanmukha Priya and Haripriya — performed on the fifth day of the 46th Annual Festival of SICA, held at Lalita Kala Thoranam. The sisters were at their best, choosing the compositions with care and rendering them with clarity. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that their performance was one of the best in the festival so far. The sisters are gifted to render flawless vocals and sing in sync with each other. They began with saranga varnam and sang Ganesha Sthuti in Hamsadhwani. Maanamu Leda, Abhimaanamu Leda in Hamir Kalyani, a composition of Thyagaraja, was notable for the sahitya content. The raga essay of Mukhari by Haripriya was the first composition to be presented in the evening, and it was extremely appealing. Sarasiruhanana Rama carried devotional appeal in its expression of Sahitya. The other composition of Thyagaraja — like Gjnanamosgarada in Poorvikalyani — were presented with brief neraval and swaram. Sri Kamalambike, a Navaavarana kriti, a rare composition on the deity of Sriragam, was also presented by the sisters, before they took up majestic Thodi as their main effort of the evening. The sisters shared the presentation of all the technical features of this composition - Dasarathi Nee Runamu Teerpa naa tarama' of Thyagaraja. The way they rendered the pallavi with different sancharies highlighted the appeal of that line - the devotee wondering how he could ever pay back the debt to the Lord. The swaraprasthara in it also turned out to be another draw. Mysore Srikanth on violin and Pungalam Subramaniam on mridangam lent able support.