FRIDAY REVIEW

Tomorrow's heroes

THE YOUNGER generation of Carnatic musicians have made bold to come out of their cocooned existence, not completely severing the umbilical chord, yet making an endeavour to reach out to Gen Next. Indeed a laudable effort.

The trendy Ganesh-Kumaresh's ensemble turned out to be the star performance of the South Indian Cultural Association's (Sica) annual festival. It was a sure hit with the youth who have an ear for music. Articulate, savvy and succinct, the duo, violinists by profession, chose to present a thematic composition that ran for close two hours without a moment of boredom.

`Colours of India' was as vivacious and vital as the present-day India, which is a mix-and-match of the acquired new (from the West) with the preserved old. This in a nutshell was the content of the concert. The classification of our populous sub-continent into different aspects formed the core of this ensemble. The ragas chosen (from the Carnatic genre) to delve into each flowed seamlessly into a coherent whole mirroring our colourful country through sheer melody. The looming communal factor that threatens to severe the bond of brotherhood was also delicately hinted at as a concluding note. No overtones of heavy patriotism and didacticism, no distortion of classical framework (as some sceptics would like to believe) — just meaningful entertainment.

The ensemble opened to raga `Gambheera Natai' to reflect the majestic India (Gambheera) — its stately rivers, the magnificent Himalayan range, its grand temples and above all its baffling spiritual and mystic traditions. The racy raga was defined in Ganesh's deft bowing of his violin with the percussion falling into soft beats. At the end of a crescendo, Kumaresh took over and phase wise both brothers picturised the land.

`Gambheera Natai' flowed into `Shudda Dhanyasi' (Dwimadhyama) as the colourful festivals (Utsav) that dot the entire country unfolded themselves. Dhanasekhar on the keyboard took the lead setting afloat the sweetest of notes. The spirit of traditional Indian festivals is fun and frolic-hence the violin duo took to elongation of syllables in lower and middle octaves indicating the gaiety and mirth, crowd and noise that go into celebrations.

A brief serve and volley followed, which perhaps was an indication to the brief by Ganesh at the very commencement of the composition, that today's India reflects a composite culture of native festivals and those adopted from the west. Ganesh's sonorous rendering of the `swaram' of the `raga' came as a bonus offering to the spell bound audience.

The Taj Mahal (Romantic India) was a tribute of immortal love from our country to the world. Set to the syrupy `Nalinakanthi', the violin (Ganesh) sans accompaniment meandered through the meter conjuring an aura of romance in the air that could actually be felt. Deducing every syllable of the raga, he made for a most memorable experience. `Chanchal' was a play of contrasts and contradictions; of temple gongs merging with the tinkle of mobile phones, of Lord Ganesha and his mouse juxtaposed with the mouse of the personal computer — a plethora of choices for the present-day Indian say the artistes.

`Ranjani' (raga) explored the dissimilarities that have become part of our lives adding new sparkles. `Ranjani' is a raga that has an innate rippling quality that seemed to identify with the theme. Arun Kumar on the drums turned out to be a pleasant surprise wielding the `morsing' at this juncture with equal dexterity. And so was S.V. Ramani on the `ghatam' who took to the `kanjira' in a jiffy with equal agility. This particular piece gave a lot of scope for display of technical prowess to all the artistes on stage and they excelled one another.

The old was represented by the twang of the `morsing' to that of the `kanjira' beat. Soon it gave way to the raging sound of the drums, with the guitar (Keith Peters) and the keyboard (Dhanasekhar) joining the tempo. It must be said to the credit of the musicians that they were able to produce the effect of silence and noise without as much bordering on cacophony. The `gamakam' by Ganesh and the rhythmic utterances (Konnakkal) by Kumaresh replicated on the `ghatam' in solo (thani) by Ramani, and the solo by drums was a brilliant exposition of instrumental expertise. The scene opened to the varied folk songs across India, some very popular pieces in phases with Ganesh singing some of them.

A little more care on the diction with full import of the meaning of the language would have avoided flaws like `murisina cheekatlo' (Telugu Mokkajonna thotalo) instead of the correct `musirina' (enveloping darkness) and `mancha kaada kalusuko', which was missing in the second line.

The violinist was obviously unaware of the language and its import. Ahimsa (non-violence) wraps up the `Colours of India' with a `bhajan' `Govinda bholo gopal bholo' a lyric that touches on the universality of all creeds and conveys the message of love. Kudos to the ensemble (led by Ganesh-Kumaresh) for achieving a perfect and fine balance of the classical with the trendy and presenting a harmonious blend of excellent music that glued the audience to their seats. Sica should present more such vivacious concerts if it wants to draw a varied crowd of music lovers apart from just senior citizens.

RANEE KUMAR

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