Reviving the magic of chamber concerts

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For many rasikas exchanging and listening to recordings of the masters of Carnatic music is a passion. And many of these pieces have been captured at chamber concerts, which were fashionable in the past. A particular chamber concert in which Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and M.S.Subbulakshmi sang a composition of Muthuswamy Dikshitar ‘ Chethasri Balakrishnam’ in raga Dwijavanti is cherished by many.

A team of musicians has come together to revive and recreate the concept of chamber concerts and bring Carnatic music to listeners who have an ear for music – without mikes. The ‘Oli Chamber Concerts’ team comprises - Gowri Ramnarayanan (writer and vocalist), Bharathi Ramasubban (vocalist), M.V.Swaroop (flautist) and Rithvik Raja (vocalist). In a recent concert, vocalist Sumitra Vasudev explored songs in which the composers had used the words “Manikkam,vairam” in their songs. The venue, Rasvihar opposite Loyola College, was apt for a chamber concert with enough space for the small audience to be seated on mats and chairs. Even though there was no amplification, the pin drop silence allowed her voice to be carried to every nook and corner and even beyond.

Her song list included ‘Hiranmayeem Lakshmeem’ of Dikshitar in raga Lalitha, ‘Maragatha manivarna’ of Saint Thyagaraja in raga Varali and ‘Annai Janaki’ of Arunachala Kavirayar in raga Saveri. She was accompanied by M.Rajeev on the violin and K. V. Gopalakrishnan on the mridangam.

The Oli team has planned a total of 24 concerts for the year and plans to feature one senior and one up coming artist every month. “We do not use any kind of amplification. It is pure music. A mike is used only to record the concerts. With a smaller and serious audience we hope to explore themes that cannot be explored in a sabha concert,” explains M.V.Swaroop.

The team is looking for a venue for a nagaswaram concert by Vyasarpadi Kothandaraman next month. Those who are interested in attending the concerts could write to

Deepa H. Ramakrishnan comes back delighted after listening to “Manikkam,vairam”




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