Thursday, March 4, 2021

Blessed beginning

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Carnatic music group Shadja presents its first Sydney event

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The newest arrival in the arena of Indian classical music in Australia, Shadja has received the blessings of the current crop of talented and experienced musicians that comprise of global celebrities as well as culture vultures in the Australian circuit.

Shadja aims to help people to find their own “shadja“- a state of bliss that helps to connect with the divine, a musical crescendo that captures the emotions of a lifetime in a single but perfect moment of music. Shadja’s rediscovery of classical Indian music in a modern context is through performance, collaboration, discussion, debate and sharing of a passion for the old and the new. Its contribution, thus far, to promoting the fine art of music and dance may appear minuscule, but its ambitions to grandeur will undoubtedly be achieved with the passage of time, due to the youthful group associated with it.

The proceeds of their introductory Carnatic music concert by G. Ravikiran have gone towards sponsoring a school in tribal and rural India by the Ekal Vidyalaya organisation. This is a positive but definite step towards eradicating illiteracy.

Bala Sankar, founder member of Shadja and based in Melbourne, introduced the program and the artiste of the day, well-known Carnatic vocalist G. Ravikiran.

G. Ravikiran, besides being an engineer, is an artiste of great promise. He is also a disciple of T M Krishna who is an artiste par excellence. He runs an organisation called Guruguhamrita which promotes and propagates the krithis of Muthuswami Dikshitar. He was accompanied by T. Sampath on the violin, Bala Sankar on the mridangam and W.Athavan on the kanjira. They have won several prizes and awards in their respective fields. The team worked in unison throughout and the accompaniments were highly capable in their craft. G. Ravikiran’s concert stood out for the song and kirthanam selection which was anything but the regulars from the kutcheri circuit. His rendering of the varnam in raga Kamboji (Tarunimpa) set the pace. Thyagaraja’s Chala mela raa in raga Marga Hindolam and Syama Sastri’s O Jagadamba in Ananda Bhairavi were rendered competently. Dikshitar’s composition in the rare raga Vamsavati (Bhaktavatsalam abhishekham bhajeham) was pleasing, but he reserved his best for his rendering of Dikshitar’s Sri rajagopala pala pala in raga Saveri. He demonstrated his command in lower and higher octaves during the raga alapana. In a three-hour concert, he sang over a dozen compositions which showed his versatility.

The second half of the evening began with a bharatanatyam recital by Aruna Gandhi and students of the Silambam Sydney School of Indian Traditional Dance. In a unique item titled Vandhe Hiranmaya Kandam – An Ode to Australia, the riches and the expanse of Australia as a land of promise was depicted with grace and colour by the students. The lyrics were scripted in Sanskrit by Sydney’s own Dr Meenakshi Srinivasan. A second item Story of Dharawal was an equally innovative fusion piece. It was conceptualised and implemented by the School of Vedic Sciences (Australia) Inc, and sponsored by the Community Relations Commission, NSW. This was creatively choreographed and performed by Aruna Gandhi and her students.

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Malli Iyer
Malli has over 25 years experience in creative writing and has been a contributor to Indian Link for over 10 years. He is also an accredited cricket umpire for Cricket Australia.

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