We were at the opening weekend of the 32nd Tyagaraja Aradhanai in Cleveland, Ohio. And what a feast it was for the eyes and ears!
The 'Pancharatna' rendition started early on Saturday morning. The stage of the "Waetjen Auditorium" erupted in festive colors as all the gathered vidwans and vidushis -- about 150 of them -- gathered on stage. Dr. Ramani and Haridwaramangalam Pazhanivel took the lead in co-ordinating the performers. Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan on mridangam gave a rousing finale to "Endaro Mahanubhavulu"!
MS Gopalakrishnan performed Saturday evening with his son and daughter. Even though a RTP in Todi was the main piece, "Siva siva" in Panthuvarali was easily the best! I heard later that MSG's school is famous for their Panthuvarali. They render it with a Hindustani touch which adds beauty to the Ragam. My next personal favourite was Nalinakanthi. MSG's delicate handling of the Ragam is sure to have melted hearts in the audience! Dr. Narmada's violin literally speaks. She easily won the most applause even topping her father.
Wesleyan University students performed Sunday morning. I was amazed and moved by the dedication these Americans had toward Carnatic music. To be able to relate to songs composed in an unknown language about things far removed from their daily life/culture is no mean feat! It was a treat to watch them sing.
'Nrityacharya' Dhananjayan suggested to Sudha on the morning of her concert to have a Tambura. "Tambura irundha dhaan kalaiya irukkum!" were his words. They looked for a Tambura player minutes before the concert was due to begin. Dhananjayan himself volunteered to play the Tambura for Sudha! It was one great talent saluting another graciously. I think this pic of mine might be worth millions in another 100 years..:p
Nisha Rajagopal has one of the most commanding voices I've heard in recent times. Slightly remniscient of Sowmya's voice, it is quite arresting to hear her sing. I wouldn't be surprised to see her star rise in the coming years!
Gopalakrishna Bharathi's "Nandanar Charithram"
was the highlight of the entire trip. With all all-star team comprising the vocal and instrumental support, it was a treat to watch Dhananjayan speak with just his abhinaya and bhavam. Even if there was no music in the background, I think I'd have understood what he communicated! Prof V. Balasubramaniam has a very pleasing "Othuvar"-like rendition of Tamizh songs. Subhasree Thanigachalam, the anchor, did a very good job of presenting the opera.
All-in-all, a very satisfying weekend!