A Little 'Older' Champs!

Just the day before the concert Tara and I watched a program called the 'The Little Champs'. It is a competition for singers who are little, not in talent, but in age and they were so natural. I was a bit concerned as to how they would fare later in this highly competitive arena. We hear stories of neglect once they are out of the limelight.

Anyway, I am happy now to write about the concert which Viji sponsored on February 9, 2008 and Gayathri and Tara chipped in with their own special talents in organizing the concert. The Venue was the NIST Auditorium and the Chief Guest was the Ambassador of India to Thailand, H.E. Latha Reddy.
(Viji's mother lighting the lamp.)
Viji and Khalid take pleasure in sponsoring artists from India to perform in Bangkok. This provides us a rare opportunity to hear some very good artists. This year was no exception with a Carnatic music recital by Sangeetha Vidwan Shri K. Saranathan – Vocal, Shri T.V. Parthasarathy – Violin and Shri S. Radhakrishnan - Mridangam.

Vidwan Shri Saranathan is the Asthana Vidhwan of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and the Ahobila mutt. He is awarded the titles of Nadhakkanal, Ganalaya Choodamani and Swararaga Saragner and is a faculty member of Department of fine arts, Annamalai University, Chidambaram. He is the disciple of Sri V.R. Sethurama Iyer (Disciple of Shri Madurai Mani Iyer).

Shri T.V. Parthasarathy, a staff artist of All India Radio, is the disciple of his uncle Shri T. B. Subramaniam and has travelled all over the world with almost all the renowned artists, Dr. Madurai Somu and Sri T.N. Sehsagopalan, just to name a few. Amazingly he has performed non stop for 28 hours before an invited audience.

Shri T. S. Radhakrishnan, disciple of Shri T. Ramachandra Iyer and Shri A. Natesa Iyer is an Asthana Vidwan of Kanchi Kamakoti mutt and has accompanied many stalwarts of carnatic music, Dr.Ramanathan and Mandolin Srinivasan to name a few, for the last forty years. He is also a pharmacist running his own business.

The concert was well attended and was preceded by light refreshments of bonda, uppama and coffee courtesy Viji and Khalid. Very thoughtful of them as many of us come from long distances! The program commenced traditionally with the National anthems of Thailand and India. The variation this time was that the audience sang the Indian National anthem lead by Tara on the mike. It sounded wonderful with so many trained voices in music in the auditorium. Tara did well as a compere as our regular compere Gayathri had lost her voice!

Gayathri had done a wonderful job of introducing Carnatic music to the audience with a very well designed power point presentation. This was continuously on display till the program commenced. I believe that it was also the first time that Bangkok had a concert in the carnatic style organized in such a formal manner and style. The audience was knowledgeable in music and enjoyed the concert immensely, evident from the standing ovation the artists received at the end of the program.

A review I saw on the net should convey to you about the quality of the program. " SADGURU SRI THYAGARAJAR ARADHANAI--Students of the music school and the teachers celebrate Sri. Thyagaraja Aradhanai every year in the month of Jan-Feb corresponding to the month 'Thai' in Tamil calendar. The function consists of singing of the 'Pancharatna Keerthis' as is done in Thiruvaiyaru the birth place of Sri Thyagarajar. On February 4th a team of eminent musicians under the guidance of the stalwart vocalist Sri K.Saranathan gave the rendering in a soul stirring fashion with accompaniments. The other rituals connected with the Aradhana were also performed bringing Thiruvaiyaru in to our School Auditorium."

I add a comment made by the Ambassador while felicitating the artists. She said that most of us in South India grow up learning or listening to carnatic music while we were still little kids and it stays with us all through our life. She also said that carnatic music while known for its spirituality and its sahitya is also very precise and mathematical. She said its design is worthy of a Nobel Prize!

It was a pity that the concert had to end as planned. The artists were in a mood to sing further and in fact Shri. Saranathan continued to sing a few more songs at home as the table was being set for dinner. I was talking to Viji about her first cousin Shri. Saranathan and learnt that he started singing at the age of twelve along with his elder brother and continued to learn and sing as a serious hobby all through his working life. He is now retired and devotes all his time to music.

It was so good to see the three artists performing together. They combined and complemented each other well. It was also great to see them smiling at each other with genuine friendship, I believe they have been playing together for forty years! Suddenly I was reminded of the program the day before and thought ' My God, they are just like the little champs!'

While the clarity of rendering, the obvious spirituality in their approach to music was enthralling, I think the real sensation for us was the fun they brought in to their music. I had never been to a formal carnatic concert where singing was so joyous! It was wonderful to recognize many familiar ragas and be a part of a ride which Shri. Saranathan and Shri Parthsarathy took us along with such ease, exploring these great ragas and Shri Radhakrishnan was very gentle with his mridangam and embellished the concert with his fine touches. To me to it was a memorable day, adding to those that I have in my psyche, listening to great performers of music live.

I wish the artists well and a long tenure of this great partnership. I also thank Viji and Khalid for giving us this great treat, especially her Mother, who suggested this concert to Viji. Thanks also to Khalid for all the Pictures!

This concert also reassured me about my worries regarding the 'little champs' I saw the day before. I am now certain many of them will turn into 'a little older' champs like the ones we heard at the concert on Saturday.


rohini said…
Maggie said…
I always enjoy the Indian musical events organised by Tara. Even though this one was held in the NIST Theatre, it seemed like it was a much smaller and more intimate and friendly gathering. I found the rhythms fascinating and had to listen carefully to work out the patterns.
vinu said…
WOW - Fantastic achievement. It must have been a real treat for the Bangkok residents.

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