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Even as December has entered its second week, music season 2012 has started to gain momentum. Brahma Gana Sabha has proved a warm-up platform for many artistes. It has already seen some top-notch recitals by leading artistes.

Retaining brand identity
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
This brand has a wider appeal. She ensures that the brand image is firmly intact. Sudha Ragunathan reiterated her status in the Carnatic music world as she gave a concert for Narada Gana Sabha on the evening of December 31, 2012. Out came evergreen melodies - ranging from Darini Telusukonti in Suddha Saveri of Thyagaraja to Papanasam Sivan’s “Chittam Irangadu” in Sahana and “Chinnanchiru Killiye” of Subramania Bharathi – all bearing brand Sudha Ragunathan. Dikshitar’s “Sri Valli Devasenapathe” saw her dip into an expansive alap in Natabhairavi. RTP in Hamsanadam was rendered in an easily comprehensible style, even as she exhibited her creativity in raga and swara expedition. As her wont, she sang a Purandaradasa kriti (Venkatachala Nilayam). This brand goes on and on.

When tradition rules ...
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
The nearly 200-minute concert of the Violin siblings - Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi - on the maiden morning of year 2013 for Mylapore Fine Arts was refreshing, and reinforced the ever-green attribute of Carnatic music. There was clarity of notes and convergence of effort. And. the music was aesthetic. The audience profile, too, was encouraging, comprising as it was people from different age groups. V. Suresh on the Ghatam and Trichy Sankaran on the Mridangam added further vibrancy and authenticity to the whole concert exercise. `Adamodi Galathe..'', a lovely Charukesi piece of Thyagaraja, a Kannada number of Mysore Vasudevachariar, `Maravairi Ramani ...'' in Nashikabushani and an enticing RTP (bringing out the gender difference in ragas) - they all underscored the classical nature of the concert. The sister-brother violion duo rounded off the concert with a double tillana. ``Such concerts bring out the best of traditional and conventional style and ideas in me. God has given me this grace of donning tradition and modernity in its originality according to the occasion,'' says Ghatam Suresh. Well, tradition survives time indeed.

Infectious music
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
Bombay Jayashri signed off the year 2012 in style with a joyous concert for Narada Gana Sabha on December 30, 2012. The evening saw all the accompanying artistes on stage - Violinist Embar Kannan, Mridangist Patri Sathishkumar and Kanjira artiste Anirudh Athrea - giving an inspired performance. The three-raga alap (Dwajavanthi, Durga and Madhuvanthi), the expansive pallavi line and the unique swara prayogs in RTP have all reinforced Jayashri's instinct for innovation. The `thani' during the Bhairavai piece was a stand out sub-show in the evening's concert. Embar Kannan was at his soulful best. Jayashri's music was infectious, and had a positive fall-out on accompanists.

Meditative music
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
Giving a concert is not a mere academic exercise for her. She puts her heart, mind and soul into it. The Music Academy is a temple for Carnatic music. Giving a recital for the Academy on the evening of December 29, 2012, Bombay Jayashri transformed herself and the huge audience into a world of divinity. It was a soulful 180-minute experience. From a Purvi Kalyani piece of Swati Tirunal to a tillana in Durga, Jayashri was unto herself, dipping deep into musical depth. Her Hindolam crept all over the mind. And, the Kalyani alap was evocative. Bombay Jayashri’s is indeed a meditative music.

Eminently listenable
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
This flautist is eminently listenable. He has control over the instrument. And, he has a good measure of his blowing power.
When you add dedication to these, it shows up in his music. To cap it all, he has good schooling. Young Sruthi Sagar's flute recital for Brahma Gana Sabha on the afternoon of December 28, 2012 is still resonating in the mind. Be it the Natakurunji alap or the Madhyamavathi piece and Dikshithar's Yamuna Kalyani kriti - Sruthi Sagar was at peace with himself, and spread tranquitlity across the 75-odd people in the audience. Well, his music has the power to hold you!

A promise of the future
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
She comes from a worthy school. Endowed with a nice voice, she wears a likeable countenance. Keerthana Vaidyanthan is ready to arrive on the big stage. Giving a concert at the Mini Hall for Narada Gana Sabha on December 26, 2012, this student of Bombay Jayashri had a capacity audience, cutting across gender and age. An elaborate Todi piece, a Kapi number and a tillana - they all revealed the time and effort expended in learning from an artiste of eminence. A hugely talented youngster, Keerthana the artiste is a promise of the future.

Genunie artistes
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
They are known for their sincerity. They show it with dedication. Giving a concert for Sri Parthasarathy Sabha on the evening of December 23, 2012, Priya sisters defined it with a sense of serenity. `Ganamurthe' of Thyagaraja and a Malahari piece of Dikshithar said it all. As their wont, they inserted a couple of numbers on the Lord of Seven Hills. The RTP in Gowri Manohari was well-conceived and delivered. Priya sisters are indeed genuine artistes.

Sketching a creative space
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
Elegant movements, graceful expressions, delicate balance, and skillful management of stage space epitomized the over two-hour dance recital of Priyadrashini Govind for Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on the evening of December 24, 2012. It was an exquisite show. Sami Ninnekori in ragamalika, a Javali, a composition on Lord Natarajar and a Lalgudi tillana in Sindu Bhairavi are among the numbers she played on the eve of Christmas. Indeed, Priyadarshini has carved out a creative space for herself in the art world.

Music for the mind
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
Her music occupies a vast mind space. Be it the opening Sahana number "Vandanamo ...'' or the sensitive Shubapantuvaralai piece, Bombay Jayashri spread tranquility across. Her concert for Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on the evening of December 21, 2012 marked for its aesthetic appeal, and elevated experience. Well, she has a way of resting the mind with her brand of soulful music in an unhurried manner.

Recognising a talent
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
She has class, and her music is sweet. Indeed, she is a rated artiste. She is, however, a vastly under-focussed artiste. If quality is the bench-mark, she is way ahead of many a `packaged artiste'. Dr. Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam deserves more than what she has been getting. Her Kalyani alap for Narada Gana Sabha on the evening of Decembe 21, 2012, reveals the stuff she is made of. Thyagaraja's `Sarasa sama dana...' in Kapi Narayani stood out for the racy rendition and clear diction. The Consul-General of the U.S. Consulate in Chennai sat through her concert. Well, talents do get recognition in some form or the other!

Transcending generations
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
Not for nothing fans flock to his shows in huge number. At Narada Gana Sabha on the evening of December 20, 2012, the auditorium was fully occupied. The white attire he sports symbolises the purity of his music. "Ah ahs' are aplenty at his show. An inspired Sanjay Subrahmanyan constantly egged his accompanists on with intermittent `bale bale'! `Sri Varalakshmi...' in rag Sri was impressive. The racy Nalinakanthi piece `Manavyala...'' provided further momentum to his concert. His Todi piece was melodious. The Swati Tirunal composition "Sarasasama mrithu pada ...' in rag Gowrimanohari was excellent. The RTP in Ravichandrika saw him make a swara foray into rags such as Piryadarshini and Hamsanandhi. From PBS (P.B. Srinivas) to Sandeep Narayan (Sanjay's student), all were in attendence at his concert. Well, his music truly cuts across generations!

Greying artiste, a vibrant brand
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
K.J. Yesudas is greying. But brand Yesudas is vibrant as ever. With a nearly 200-minute concert for Narada Gana Sabha on the evening of December 19, 2012, Yesudas clearly drove home the point that "age is a mere number''. He began his concert to a capacity audience. As the the time ticked by, some (for assorted other reasons) trooped out. But a strong contingent of listeners remained seated even as the clock moved past 10.30 p.m. He showed a great sense of dedication, and sincerity of purpose. Yesudas the artiste was truthful. Dikshithar composition, Swathi Tirunal kriti, Thyagaraja number and a few pieces on Lord Krishna and his favourite Ayappan, the concert had a rich portfolio of songs. It had enough for all - traditionalist, modern and lay listeners. What more can one ask for? Well, Yesudas has redefined the rasikas for Carnatic concert. Indeed, he holds a lesson or two to Carnatic musicians, in general, and younger artistes, in particular.

A darling of listeners
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
It was a full-house concert. An LCD outside accommodated the overflowing audience. Aruna Sairam is an inspirational artiste. Young and old alike flock to her concerts. They don't just listen to her. They participate in her music. Her concert for Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on December 16, 2012 reinforced her status as a listeners' artiste. She has the uncanny ability to combine traditional and contemporary tastes. When these are mixed with high-level of energy, this dynamic vocalist remains the darling of listeners.

The arrival of an artiste
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
As the Main Hall at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha is soaked in Aruna Sairam music, behind in the closed-door Mini Hall young Savitha Narasimhan was going about her concert religiously. As she was handling with fineness the not-so-easy Shyama Sastri kriti "O Jagadamba ...'' in rag Anandabairavi, people peeped in to have a glimpse of the artise. Her voice was irresistable, and the music flowed smoothly. Savitha is a name reckon with, and an artiste to listen.

Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
Designed to dance
Kalakshetra imbroglio is firmly behind her. She returns to where she belongs - dance stage. And, she comes back with a bang. Sri Krishna Gana Sabha just saw a full-house audience for the vocal concert of Aruna Sairam. In comes the next performer, dancer Leela Samson. A new set of people fill up the Sabha. Inside few minutes, over half the auditorium is full. Leela Samson has style, grace and elegance. These came out in full in the opening piece itself on "Kalabhairava ashtakam...'' in rag Hamsadhwani. Well, Leela Samson is desinged to dance.

A masterly exercise
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
Experience can't be wished away. When class combines experience, it shows up. If proof were needed, it was available aplenty at the concert senior Carnatic musician T.N. Seshagopalan gave for Narada Gana Sabha on the evening of December 15, 2012. A recalcitrant throat was intermittently restraining TNS all through his over two-and-a-half hour concert. Yet, the senior artiste brushed it aside, and gave a resource-packed recital. Difficult Trinity compositions, tough ragas (Bhairavi, Kalyana Vasantham and the like) and telling Todi, the concert had all. Throat irritation wasn't restraining factor. Rather, TNS was focused like a blinkered-horse. The Todi alap not just revealed his artistic skill but also his mastery over the irritator (his throat)!

Rising star
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
Abhishek Raghuram, the rising star in the Carnatic music world, was all pumped up when he gave a performace for Brahma Gana Sabha. He looks deceptive. The frail frame is anything but misleading. When he opens up, the music flows like a cascade. The vibrancy of his voice is matched only by the energy in his delivery. He sang like a man possessed. The ease with which he scales ocatves brings out the class artiste in him, and reveals his `patanthra'. Young Abhishek knows no fear, it appears.

Spreading positivity
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
These two girls from Bombay have come a long way since they stepped into the city of Chennai very many seasons ago. From an accomplished Violin-duo, the sisters have now become a sought-after vocalists. Their transformation is indeed phenomenal. They have aesthetic sense - not just in music but in dress as well. More than anything, sisters Ranjani-Gayathri freely spread positivity all around as they keep the capacity audience at Brahma Gana Sabh refreshed through out their three-hour concert. They have the uncanny ability to connect with the rasikas. Even as they do it with fineness, they submerge themselve in music. Sincerity and dedication when combined with energy produces a scintilating stuff, leaving the audience totally in a tizzy.

Richness
Photo credit - Sudha Jagannathan
Class is permanent, they say. Nithyashree Mahadevan has proved it often time, season after seaon. The Shubapantuvarali alap at Brahma Gana Sabha clears it beyond doubt. She serves variety. At the same, she sticks to the tradition. She, too, has high energy level. She seems to have a blinkered horse-like approach. And, she goes about her concert in a no-nonsense way. There is some richness to her works. Not surprisingly, it comes out revealingly.

Well, the season has begun in right earnest.