Music

Musical pilgrimage

Musicians rendering the Pancharatna kritis at the 167th Tyagaraja Aradhana, Tiruvaiyaru. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj

Musicians rendering the Pancharatna kritis at the 167th Tyagaraja Aradhana, Tiruvaiyaru. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj   | Photo Credit: B_VELANKANNI RAJ

The collective homage paid captivatingly to Tyagaraja in Tiruvaiyaru needed an additional thing - more male artists.

On the banks of the River Cauvery that flowed placidly, “moving dreamily like a shy maiden” (to quote from a composition of the saint-composer of Thiruvaiyaru), yet another thrilling rendition of Pancharatna kritis was given by a large gathering of musicians as they paid their annual collective homage on the occasion of the 167th Anniversary Celebrations of Tyagaraja on Pushya Bahula Panchami day that fell on January 21, this year.

Never mind the usual carping and criticism about how it was many years ago and the falling standards, there was that unbelievable sense of horripilation as the atmosphere was supercharged with the vibrations emanating from the lyrics that flowed from a multitude of vocal chords, which cruised through the five ‘Gana’ ragas, Natai, Gaula, Arabhi, Varali and Sri.

The initial burst into the higher registers of Natai gradually settled into a more sedate movement through the next two ragas, touched a pensive and introspective chord in Varali before rising again into a crescendo in Sri Ragam. It may have sounded like the re-run of a past hearing experience and yet how spontaneous and emotionally uplifiting it was at that moment!

During the session, most eyes were seen constantly moving from the artists to the Samadhi, where the abhishekam was being performed simultaneously to the chanting of Rudram and other Vedic mantras. Occasionally, the audience longingly looked at the inspiring words, ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu - Andariki Vandhanamu,’ which formed the backdrop of the stage where concerts of the Saint’s compositions were held non-stop for the past three or four days.

Spirit of the moment

An important aspect of the rendition of Pancharatna Kritis by such a large and motley group is that, despite the inevitable warts here and there, the spirit of the moment carries the music through.

Over the years, there appears to be a general drop in the number of leading male vidwans participating in the aradhana celebrations with particular reference to group singing, while there is an appreciable increase in vidushis as was also the trend this year. While there is no doubt that the vidushis were in top form, under the baton of the current year’s Sangita Kalanidhi, the absence of a large number of senior male vidwans was palpable!

Imagine how dramatically different and exciting the whole scenario would have been, if musicians such as T. N. Seshagopalan (and his son), T. V. Sankaranarayanan (and his son), Trichur Ramachandran, O. S. Thyagarajan, Santhanagopalan, Vijay Siva, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Ravi Kiron and Sikkil Gurucharan had chosen to be with their brethren in Thiruvaiyaru on this annual occasion!

It makes sense to quote what Sikkil Gurucharan said on the subject in a daily recently: “It’s like a thanksgiving for us and gives us an opportunity to pay respect to Tyagaraja. It is actually Tyagaraja’s beautiful kritis that differentiate Carnatic music from other forms of classical music. The aradhanai gives us a chance to offer our heartfelt thanks to the saint and music composer who has given us such legendary kritis.”

O. S. Arun, who was leading the male group in Tiruvaiyaru one morning with fervour, had said in the same daily that, “as a musician, it is our greatest fulfilment to be in Tiruvaiyaru this time of the year. The feel-good factor and ambience here are unmatched.”

In the ultimate analysis, the Tyagaraja is far beyond such human attempts at remembering him! He will continue to vibe through his myriad and eternal compositions, devotion and philosophy.

(vkalidas@gmail.com)

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 1:04:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/musical-pilgrimage/article5684714.ece

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