MUSIC A recent varnam competition brought out the singers' sincerity.

I f one perceives the bar to be high and withdraws, looking at it from a distance without even making an attempt to cross it, one has lost at the outset. On the contrary, if one makes a sincere attempt to cross the bar no matter how high it is, one is a winner regardless of whether one actually crosses it. What matters is putting the best foot forward. The Ramakrishnapuram South Indian Society conducted a varnam competition in vocal music for music students in the Capital. The rules of the competition specified that for the junior category (below 15 years of age), students should be proficient in singing at least six Adi tala varnams and two Ata tala varnams, in two speeds. For the senior category (above 15) a minimum of eight Adi tala and four Ata tala varnams were specified, in two speeds and in tisra gati. Many students seem to have thought the standard of the competition toohigh and so did not take part. But it was heartening to see some, including tiny tots, participate. Out of these, though only three were declared winners from the junior and none from the senior category, all the 33 were certainly winners, for their sincere attempt. The Society's effort in conducting this competition is laudable.

Gayathri Fine Art's annual music competitions held for students of Carnatic music (both vocal and instrumental) is similarly praiseworthy. The organisation also gives away the T. Balakrishnan Memorial Awards every year. This year's award ceremony was preceded by a violin concert by R. Sridhar. Sridhar's choice of compositions for his concert was in classical ragas like Devagandhari, Huseni , Ananda Bhairavi and Suruti. Most of the compositions were preceded by raga alapanas and suffixed with swaraprastaras. Though this brought the creative talents of the violinist to the fore, one felt that such a mechanical exercise could have been avoided. The concert was bereft of neraval too, yet another improvisation technique through which an artiste brings out his creative talents. While it was a delightful experience to see the youngster presenting the compositions in a mature manner, he could have worked a little more on structuring his concert. The hurry in which he completed the Dikshitar composition “Sri Kantimatim” (raga Hemavati) was surely a casualty of presenting more raga alapanas and swaraprastaras than required. K.N. Padmanabhan on the mridangam and N. Harinarayanan on the ghatam provided good support.