Margazhi Festival

From the land of ANNAMACHARYA

Pantula Rama

Pantula Rama  


For Andhra and Telangana artists, Margazhi is a mega cultural showcase

At its best, the Margazhi season is educative, inspiring and stimulating. It is a magnet for novices, connoisseurs and veterans.

Some artists from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana reveal what it means to them. Since his first stage appearance in 1969, Yella Venkateshwara Rao, noted mridangam player, has performed many times during the Season.

He says, “The admirable thing about this festival and Chennai’s culture is that the rasikas recognise and respect talent. That is what makes the Season such a big draw for artists from other States.”

In fact, all classical dancers and musicians will agree that this generous and consistent encouragement has made this event an enduring success.

The city’s art-friendly milieu has led to a steady exodus of talent from Andhra Pradesh to Chennai – from M. Balamuralikrishna, Vempati Chinna Satyam, the late Mandolin Shrinivas, to A. Kanyakumari and Veena Gayatri.

“I am one of the few AP artists who resisted this temptation to re-locate,” laughs Yella. “But I always give in to this enticement to perform before Chennai’s learned audiences!”

The Visakhapatnam-based Nedunuri Krishnamurthy was another stalwart, who had stayed put in Andhra Pradesh but regularly used to make his way to Chennai to perform and listen. Praising this cultural showcase, he had said, “It is the greatest event in classical music and dance. It provides a prestigious platform for performers, from leading musicians to young aspirants; while for rasikas, it offers the richest, most varied spread. It is also the best place for insights into the way the art is evolving, and the latest trends and tastes.”

Nedunuri had recalled his first appearance, way back in 1951. Among the appreciative audience were the celebrated GNB and Chembai. “Next day, Lalgudi Jayaraman accosted me and said that henceforth wherever I performed in Tamil Nadu, he would like to accompany me!” Nedunuri had the distinction of performing continuously during the Season for over half a century.

The Hyderabad Brothers have a string of performances lined up, which they are looking forward to.

The Malladi Brothers, Sreeramprasad and Ravikumar, say, “We cherish the opportunities to perform here.” They first attended the event in 1990, when Ravikumar accompanied Nedunuri. They have memories of many great concerts including one by K.V. Narayanaswamy and his sruti-perfect voice and masterly exposition of the Trinity’s and Swati Tirunal compositions.

This Season, the Malladi Brothers have nine concerts including one with their father, vocalist and guru Malladi Suribabu at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha. There is also a lec-dem by them on composers Annamacharya and Bhadrachala Ramadas, where they will render a few compositions of Sripada Pinakapani, Nedunuri and Voleti Venkateswarlu.

Pantula Rama first attended the Season in 1990-91 as a youngster delighted at being able to perform at this prestigious platform. She has about 10 concerts on the agenda for this Season, which will express the different aspects of her musical persona.

“The Madras Margazhi Season is educative and informative,” says vocalist-violinist Komanduri Seshadri, who spends at least a fortnight every year lapping up the music and wishing that he had more performance opportunities. ”

Dancers also yearn to be part of the Season. Kuchipudi dancer, teacher and choreographer Sobha Naidu watched with awe Padma Subrahmanyam’s programme at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha during her first visit. “Dr. Padma is a Bharatanatyam legend and her performance of ‘Krishnaaya Thubhyam Namaha’ was spellbinding.” Sobha also recalls a mesmerising recital of padams during one season by the peerless Balasaraswati.

The distinguished Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Vilasini Natyam dancer, teacher and author, Swapnasundari, is the convenor of this year's Natya Kala Conference at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha. Anupama Kylash is its chief coordinator. Swapnasundari will also present her own production, ‘Nata Vesha Krishna,’ in Vilasini Natyam and Kuchipudi styles.

December will also see a lec-dem by Professor Davesh Soneji and dancer Yashoda Thakore on ‘The Aesthetics and Social World of the Courtesan Repertoire.’

Besides performances and lec-dems, there will also be workshops on a range of topics.

The overcrowded calendar, however, is a cause for concern for artists, students and rasikas as people from all over descend on Chennai. With so many performances cramming each day, concert-goers often find it difficult to be selective.

Often their choices coincide and they end up crowding the same venues leaving others nearly empty, which is disheartening for performers.

Nedunuri had pointed out, “It is discouraging for musicians, especially youngsters, to face a thinly populated hall.”

A lot depends on a performance during this important period. However, the ‘prestigious’ tag has led to some unhealthy competition and also a few premature appearances, Nedunuri had said.

Yella feels as did Nedunuri that although it’s wonderful to see the proliferation of sabhas and patrons, there are some side-effects. Let the music continue but manage the calendar better, for optimum enjoyment by rasikas.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 9:56:55 AM |

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