May 02, 2019 04:54 pm | Updated 05:48 pm IST

Jaalam: A tribute to Mandolin U. Shrinivas

AR Rahman Foundation’s Sunshine Orchestra, Mandolin exponent Arvind Bhargav and Shivanali’s Temple of Fine Arts weaves together a magical evening of music

We are about half way through the concert and one is already feeling bad that the evening will end soon. There is something so fulfilling, soothing, civilised and uplifting about music. And when names such as AR Rahman, Mandolin Shrinivas and Aravind Bhargav are being tossed around, it means it is a special affair. The concert, Jaalam, has been brought to the city by Shivanjali’s Temple of Fine Arts. The venue is the auditorium at the beautiful tree-lined campus of Kumaraguru College of Technology and AR Rahman Foundations’s Sunshine Orchestra is performing. Nine instrumentalists and their conductor Srinivasa Murthy cast a spell with some classics.

A welcome dance by students of the Temple of Fine Arts, the orchestra plays its first piece - ‘Kaatrinile Varum Geetham’ and the ‘seniors’ in the audience lap it up as it brings back memories of MS Subbalakshmi in Meera . A grand rendition of ‘Krishna nee begane baaro’ follows and then there is Mozart’s dearly beloved ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’.

Spreading light
  • The Sunshine Orchestra is a project of the AR Rahman Foundation where underprivileged children are sought out and if they have an inclination to music, are provided free training by the best in the business. It is to encourage them to explore possibilities of making a career in music. The music they learn is global. They are as much at ease with a composition of Thiagaraja as they are with Mozart

The synchronised movements of the musicians seemingly controlled by an invisible string in the hands of their mentor and conductor, Srinivasa Murthy (a violinist of considerable repute) is mesmerising. With his flashing kadukan (earrings) and colourful jacket, Srinivasa Murthy’s energy and enthusiasm is obviously flowing straight to his wards who are playing their hearts out. The ensemble includes Vignesh U, Nandhini A, Balaji A, Ebenezer Gnanaraj M, Dinesh A, Balaji M, Deepa S, Vaijayanthi R and Anish Franklin V.

Bharathiyar’s tender ‘Chinnanchiru Kiliye Kanamma’ flows over the audience as does the next song that never fails to bring tears - ‘Kurai Ondrum Illai...’At that moment, it is not difficult at all to believe that music can unite and spread joy and love! It is that very same song performed by the Sunshine Orchestra that Aravind Bhargav happened to see on YouTube. The orchestra was practising for a performance at the United Nations as part of Rahman’s tribute to MS Subbalakshmi. As Aravind planned a tribute to his guru Mandolin Shrinivas, he wondered if he could do so with the Sunshine Orchestra. Rahman approved the project and the result was a collaboration that led to Jaalam (performed for the first time in Coimbatore!).

Service with a smile...
  • Shiva Shanta Health Care provides healthcare to women
  • Lavanya the craftshop employs and empowers women and promotes craft
  • Shivanjali Sweets and Spices
  • Annalakshmi Restaurant
  • Shivanjali Printing Works that prints spiritual books
  • The Temple of Fine Arts that brought the Jaalam concert to town teaches music, dance and the arts to its students

There is a rustle of anticipation as Aravind takes his place and is flanked by Dr Patri Satish Kumar on the Mridangam and Sri S Harihara on the ghatam. Aravind speaks a few lines about his Guru, and starts playing. There is pin drop silence as his music ebbs and flows. Then when the mridangam and the ghatam join in, it is sheer exuberance. One can’t get enough of the play offs between the mridangam and mandolin, the ghatam and the mandolin and then the magical combination of all three. Just when one thinks it surely can’t get better, all of them (including the orchestra) launch into Sant Tukaram’s invigorating and vigorous abhang ‘Bolava Vitthala’.

The finale is another beautiful aarti dance by the Shivanjali dancers, and a grateful audience wends its way home humming.

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