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Alamuri Gopala Krishna and Mahidhara Seeta Rama Sarma’s vocal concerts for Sangeetha Ksheera Sagaram were honest efforts

Two familiar names in the classical music circuit, Alumuri Gopala Krishna and Mahidhara Seeta Rama Sarma, known more so for their curation of music events than singing exploits, came together for brief solo vocal concerts organised by Sangeetha Ksheera Sagaram at Saptaparni recently. Among the last few Carnatic concerts hosted in the city before the dawn of 2020, the event’s purpose was to facilitate opportunities to those singers, who had a strong musical foundation and yet were focused on being the face behind concerts. Both Gopala Krishna and Seeta Rama Sarma chose simplistically tuned numbers to present their musical exploits across a two-hour event.

Musical role Mahidhara Seeta Rama Sarma (top) Alamuri Gopala Krishna in concert By arrangement

Musical role Mahidhara Seeta Rama Sarma (top) Alamuri Gopala Krishna in concert By arrangement  

The first half of the briskly-paced event saw Gopala Krishna take up a host of compositions mostly written by Annamayya, Ramadasu and Thyagaraja. The Ganesha Pancharatnam Mudakkaratta modakam was an ideal start to a concert whose lineup largely dwelled on the bhakti rasa. Neevokkada ve naku chalu, Araginchi kurchunna among the many Annamayya kirtanas composed by Nedunuri Krishnamurthy and Balakrishna Prasad kept the concert ticking along neatly, although the singing attained momentum mostly with Thyagaraja’s Nanuganna talli in Deshaadi ragam.

The second half of his concert featured songs on Lord Rama with handpicked kirtanas of Ramadasu and Thyagaraja. Abbabba debbalaku talavemira took the rasika through all the turmoil that Ramadasu would have undergone at the prison in Golconda, while the innate melodic quotient in the other works of the poet including Rama Sita Rama, Rama Rama Anarada Raghupati were literally music to the ears. Gopala Krishna’s bhava in the numbers was very much in place but it appeared that the vocalist was in his shell, slightly apprehensive about exploring his singing strengths fully. This certainly affected the clarity in his diction, although his intentions were sincere.

Mahidhara Seeta Rama Sarma

Mahidhara Seeta Rama Sarma  

Mahidhara Seeta Rama Sarma fared better than his other vocalist counterpart — an earthy yet authoritative voice, he was helped by the confidence in his abilities on the stage despite the lack of sophistication in the singing.

The music connoisseur played upon his strengths and his knowledge within the Annamayya kirtana space in the event, also focusing on the works that his late musician friend Sattiraju Venumadhav had composed for the Annamayya Padamandakini project. Athivaro Sri Venkatagiri meeda was one such rare kirtana, vibrantly set in the Nata ragam that presented the firmness of Seeta Rama Sarma’s voice and set the tone for the latter part of his concert.

But for a reasonably well-sung Marugelara in Jayanthasree ragam, Sri Ramula divyasmarana and Sree Rama nee namamentha (both works of Ramadasu), all his other renditions comprised Annamayya’s works set to tune by composers Sobharaju, Balakrishna Prasad, Nageswara Naidu and Sattiraju Venumadhav. The singer excelled more in the fast-paced compositions with a strong hook than the leisurely ones set on a melodic base — the likes of Eethade Muktidova, Kadiri Narasimhudu proved it. The latter song was memorable also for the instrumental flourish that the percussionists brought about by TP Balasubramaniam on the mridangam and Jayakumar Acharya on the tabla. The Sattiraju Venumadhav-composed Annamayya kirtana Kalada inthatidaata was straight from the heart and a worthy inclusion in his song lineup.

Although the event wasn’t an attempt to be a conventional kacheri, the absence of a musical flourish was apparent through the duration.

However, when viewed from the perspective that the attempt encouraged singers who weren’t a regular at the concert stage, the purpose of the event was fulfilled. The sight of a budding mridangam artiste Abhiram Alamuri being an accompanist to his father Gopala Krishna on the stage was a memorable one. Violinist K L N Murthy’s instrumentation lent the right aesthetics to the singing.

The wise words of veena exponent Ayyagari Syamasundaram at the event that being a listener is the best foundation that an artist could ever ask for, ended the evening on a thoughtful note.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:15:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/the-hindu-friday-review-telangana/article30535120.ece

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