Octogenarian Kalpagam Swaminathan played the veena with full control and delicacy at Guruguha Gana Vidyalaya's sangeet sammelan.
Sri Guruguha Gana Vidyalaya, Kolkata, had chosen Chennai to conduct its Sangeet Sammelan this year. The venue was R.K. Swami Hall, Mylapore. Jayaraj and Jayashri Jayaraj, both veena players and alumni of the Vidyalaya, had organised the two-day (November 11 and 12) event with the participation of other alumni. On the first day children in their teens and below presented the `note swarams' of Muthuswami Dikshitar.
Dikshitar, a versatile composer, infused Sankarabharanam with the western classical flavour in the form of simple, flat notes. `Shyamale Meenakshi', `Sakthi Sahita Ganapathim' and `Musukunda Varada Tyagarja' are a few examples and figured among the songs children rendered that evening. The participants from Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata. Some sang while the others accompanied them on the violin, mridangam, veena, guitar and keyboard. The second day featured a veena recital by veteran Kalpagam Swaminathan. Who says age causes a decline in ability? The octogenarian played the complex instrument with full control and delicacy. Her music might not have had an electrifying effect but it certainly enveloped the audience with a sense of musical grace and serenity. A pleasant surprise was her choice of kritis from the formidable treasure chest of Dikshitar, beginning with `Valachi,' the Hindolavasantham varnam of Ramaswami Dikshitar, set to rupaka talam?
The opening as well as conclusion of Kalpagam's concert were in praise of Tiruvarur Shodaja Ganapathy, `Hasti Vadanaya Namosthuthe' in Navroj and `Ganesa Kumara' in Senchurutti. A short alapana of Anandabhairavi for `Anandeswara' with a mini-pack of kalpanaswaras and the detailed alapana of Kalyani followed by tanam and `Abhayamba' were her significant offerings. Kalpagam Swaminathan complemented her veena by singing along like the old times. There was no diffidence or uncertainty as the `meettu' was sharp and the `gamakas' precise. The alapana phrases were free flowing and the rendition of kritis carried the essentials for a Dikshitar composition — candidness with clarity.`Hiranmayeem Lakshmim' in Lalitha, `Ramachandrena' in Manji and `Viswanathena' in Samanta were the other compositions impressively rendered. Discreet support was extended by disciple Ramakrishnan on the veena and Mannarkoil Balaji on the mridangam.