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Melodic homage to Lalgudi

Lalgudi G. Jayaraman  

“I am a senior student and you are a junior student of music, and before God, we are all but beginners.” The oft-repeated words of ace violinist Lalgudi G. Jayaraman still ring in his daughter Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi’s ears. “If a music icon such as my father can be so modest, who are we?” says an emotional Vijayalakshmi.

Vijayalakshmi, her brother Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan, Anuradha Sridhar and Vittal Ramamurthy, all belonging to the Lalgudi bani , have come together to present ‘Guru Vandanam’ a homage to the violin maestro today (December 26), 9.30 a.m., at Narada Gana Sabha. They will be accompanied by 22 students of the Lalgudi school, not just from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala but also from Anuradha Sridhar’s Trinity Centre for Music in California. The violinists will be accompanied by Trivandrum Balaji on the mridangam and Pramath Kiran on creative percussion.

The Lalgudi style rests not just on vocalised formatting, but it is also generously sprinkled with vocal renditions to bring out the ‘verbal flavour’ so intrinsic to instrumental music, explains G.J.R. Krishnan. “All students in the Lalgudi school are trained vocally. This is where sahityam is understood to express the bhava or emotions inherent in the kriti,” he says. “The concert will reflect these subtleties, and bring out the minutiae of the Lalgudi lineage and the magical Jayaraman touches,” adds Krishnan.

The concert will begin with a sing-and-play energetic nottuswaram-like composition of Lalgudi Gopala Iyer, reminding one of the straight-notes Western ensemble, in Sankarabharanam to invoke Lord Ganesa. Snatches from Lalgudi Jayaraman’s musical opera, ‘Jaya Jaya Devi,’ and some kritis popularised by the violin maestro will be part of the repertoire. “There a strong historical connection between the Lalgudi Panchartnam and the village Lalgudi, Tyagaraja, my father and his great grand-father, Lalgudi Rama Iyer. Tyagaraja had once acceded to Rama Iyer’s request to visit Tapasteerthapuram, a hamlet near Tiruchirapalli, later called Lalgudi. He had composed five kritis on the presiding deities and called them the Lalgudi Pancharatnam. My father popularised them, generously sprinkling them with signature Lalgudi bowing intricacies. He even presented all the five kritis at a Sri Krishna Gana Sabha concert in the 1950s to the wonderment of the audiences!” says Vijayalakshmi. “We’ll keep the audiences guessing on our choice of kriti from the Pancharatnam,” she adds.

A picture of Jayaraman is not complete without talking about his penchant for thillanas. The maestro had nearly 100 compositions in his kitty, a majority of them being thillanas and varnams. “We will present the Yamuna Kalyani thillana that my father composed at the serene Ayurveda Vaidyashala in Coimbatore during his two-weeks stay in 1980. Every time, we went there taking turns, each one of us would be treated to the thillana in parts. Finally, my mother received the sahityam in an inland letter by post!” recalls Vijayalakshmi.

“Music was oxygen to him. It was evident in his last few years when his eyes would light up just listening to us practising. This ‘Guru Vandanam’ is for that soul that worshipped music,” she says.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 2:04:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/melodic-homage-to-lalgudi/article6724851.ece

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