Music

On a different platform

Pramila Gurumurthy Vocal concert at Kartik Fine Arts in Chennai. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

Pramila Gurumurthy Vocal concert at Kartik Fine Arts in Chennai. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan  

Premila’s line-up was decorated with both familiar and rare kritis.

The platform she occupied on Wednesday may be different from the distinguished role she normally assumes as professor and head of department of the faculty of music in the University of Madras. But singing for Narada Gana Sabha in a late evening concert, Dr. Premila Gurumurthy made the fairly convincing following case. Namely, that the demarcation of boundaries – between academics and the performing arts, as in this instance - might not always be narrowly construed even in this age of specialisation.

Consider her opening varnam ‘Vanajaakshi Ninne Kori’ in ragam Kalyani, set to the 14-beat cycle - ata talam. Listening to this piece, one might have pondered over the following point. That despite the innumerable compositions set to this rhythmic form, presumably also being taught to contemporary students, only two seem to be the most commonly featured on stage, the piece in ragam Bhairavi, or, to a lesser extent, that in Kanada. When artists opt to sing a varnam these days, their intuitive preference seems to be for those set to the eight-beat adi talam.

Professor Gurumurthy since made it a point to mix the familiar with the not so common place in her singing. The Gowla raga kriti, ‘Sri Mahaganapati’ of Muthuswami Dikshitar was presented first. Then followed Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Kandaa Vandarul Tharalagaadaa, Gathi Veredu,’ in Abheri, deploying the suddha daivatam.

The subsequent two full-length compositions were Tyagaraja’s ‘Nadasudha Rasambilanu,’ in ragam Aarabhi and Dikshitar’s ‘Anandaamrithavarshini.’ If the former was decorated with an impressive kalpanaswaram, the latter was embellished with an extensive alapana and swaram. For their part, the violin and the mridangam artists showcased their prowess.

Gopalakrishna Bharati’s kriti in ragam Saama ‘Varuvaaro Varam Tharuvaaro Manadu Sanjalikkude’ provided a brief interlude prior to the main composition in ragam Kharaharapriya. This was Swati Tirunal’s ‘Sathatham Thaavaka Pada Sevanam.’ The vibrant niraval ‘Madhusoodhana Sowre Mamahrudi’ was suitably followed by a percussion solo.

Prominent among the miscellany was a ‘Kavadi chindu’ composed by Chennikulam Annamalai Reddiyar in ragam Chenjurutti. Professor Gurumurthy then paid her tribute to the poet-composer Subramanya Bharati on his 131st birth anniversary with his ‘Thondru Nigazhnda’ in ragam Bhairavi. A tillana in ragam Hamsaanandi concluded the recital.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 4:38:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/On-a-different-platform/article11601494.ece

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