Powerful vocals mark classical festival

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This festival of Carnatic music showcases young and experienced talent, says SRI BALACHANDRAN

AGA Gnanasundaram, Sai Nivaeithan and Sai Sarangan Ravichandhira

The annual prestigious and popular carnatic musical event of Melbourne, the Mom Moorthigal Jayanthi & Tyagaraja festival, was held this year on May 5 – 6, at the Kel Watsons Theatre and the Hindu Society’s Shiva Vishnu Cultural & Heritage Centre in Carrum Downs respectively. Incidentally, the cultural centre was inaugurated on May 5, and this year’s Mom Moorthigal festival is the first large scale musical event held at this venue.

On the first day of the festival, there was a unique opportunity to showcase the talent of about 40 TYME (Talented Young Musicians Ensemble) under the leadership of Smt Jayshree Ramachandran and Sri Ravi M Ravichandhira, OAM. It consisted of vocal, veena, violin, mridangam and ghatam segments, impeccably performed by the TYME group artistes. Segments of the TYME video were also telecast and received wide acclaim on Theepam TV in London on May 23, during a live interview of Sri Ravi M Ravichandhira.

As the festival progressed, local carnatic music artists like Rama Rao, Uthra Vijay, Ahilan Sivanathan, Jayshree Ramachandran, AGA Gnanasundaram visiting from overseas and Sridhar Chari, Balasri Rasiah and Ravi M Ravichandhira performed.

The second day of the festival began with rendering of kritis of the Trinities of Carnatic music, namely Shyama Shastri, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Saint Thyagaraja. The highlight of this was the rendering of Pancharatna kritis of Saint Thyagaraja. A lecture demonstration on philosophical import in Thyagaraja’s compositions was ably delivered by Prof G Narimhan. In addition, local artists like the Iyer brothers – Ramnath and Gopinath, Narmatha Ravichandhira, Murali Kumar and Shobha Sekar performed. The festival fittingly concluded with a special concert by visiting overseas artists Seetha Narayanan on vocals and AGA Gnanasundaram, a Lalgudi Bhani exponent on violin from the UK, performing with our very own Sridhar Chari on mridangam. A special mention must be given of Seetha Narayanan’s concert which was brilliant, and given her age, her elaborate singing and diction was unique, in particular the kritis of Kalyani and Karaharapriya. Her visit was arranged through the Kala Kruthi School of Melbourne in collaboration with the Music Academy Chennai.

The Mom Moorthigal festival concluded its 24th year on a grand scale, and was organized by the Academy of Indian Music and Sruthi Laya Kendra, with assistance from the City of Monash Council.