The classical scene

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It’s been a busy period on Melbourne’s Indian classical music and dance calendar.

Federation of Indian Music and Dance.Indian Link

Federation of Indian Music and Dance Victoria

This annual event, held aptly on 15 August and dubbed EKTA 2015, was a fabulous feast of classical fare.
Since its inception five years ago, it has succeeded in bringing together classical Indian musicians and dancers of Melbourne together under one umbrella, and in putting together a pan-Indian classical event.
The dance items this year included Satriya Dance by Nilakshi Bora: one does not often get the opportunity to see this dance style in Australia, so it was a privilege to see such a polished presentation.
This was followed by a very spirited and innovative Odissi-cum-Hatha yoga performance by some of Monica Singh’s students.
Monica has carved a niche for Odissi in Melbourne and the grace and precision of her group was impressive indeed.
The very talented Govind Pillai and Meghala Bhat delighted the audience with a kaleidoscope of Bharatanatyam items all set to Swati Thirunal’s music, beginning with the very classical and traditional rendering of a kriti, followed by a dazzling darbari-Kanada Tillana.
The Tillana was a jazzy rendering of the very popular Tirunalveli composition, and the duo’s crisp and energetic piece vowed the audience.
The Indian classical music items that evening consisted of a very eclectic selection. Murali Kumar presented a soulful raga Yemen on the violin accompanied by Pandurang Torvi on the Tabla.
Uthra Vijyaraghavan and Rama Rao’s duet, accompanied by Sridhar Chari and Pandurang Torvi and Murali Kumar on the violin, was a superb improvised melody in raga Kalyani, with lyrics adapted from the Rig Veda befitting the occasion.
Sisters Shobha Shekhar and Jayashree Ramchandran are talented soloists in their own right, but together the duo sparkled, igniting the auditorium with their rendition of such gems as Swati Tirunal’s Shankara Sri giri, the abhang Bhakta jana vatsale, and a thiruppugazh in Tamil.
Tihai, Melbourne’s own trio Sabyasachi Battacharya on the sarod, Nicholas Buff on the sax and Girish Makhwana on the tabla, presented the raga Rageshri.
They began slowly, gradually worked to a crescendo, filling the hall with the strangely pleasing sounds of the wind, string and percussion.
The evening was a testimony to the depth and variety of talent in the Indian community in Melbourne. That they could front such a high quality program at such short notice is commendable.
It is shaping up to be the ‘thinking person’s entertainment’ event in the community.

Raghuveer and Narayan Rangan

Rangan brothers classical Indian music.Indian Link
The Melbourne Brothers performed for Yuva Sangeet, an organisation that has been set up by and for the young and budding Carnatic artistes of Melbourne, on 9 August at the Mount Street Neighbourhood House.
The duo’s performance that evening was impressive: from the varnam in Vasantha to the Riti Gowla composition to their Begada magnum opus: they sang in unison, their voices so melodious, and their rendition of compositions so divine that they swept the audience off their feet.
Such talent comes around only rarely, and together with a handful of other such talented Carnatic musicians of Melbourne, they are the cream of the crop.
The packed hall was a testament to the reputation that the Melbourne Brothers have already earned in the short time they have been performing Indian classical music together.
Sanjay Ramaswamy on the violin and Lojen Wijayamanoharan on the mrudangam accompanied the brothers, and played like veteran performers, so flawless and professional were they.

The mrudangam arangetram of Pawan Gopinath

Pawan Gopinath Indian classical music.Indian Link
A student of Sridhar Chari, Pawan Gopinath’s mrudangam arangetram was held at the Doncaster Secondary College on 16 August.
Eminent vocalist Malladi Ravikumar and violinist Embar Kannan had come from India for the occasion, so it was guaranteed to be a splendid event.
Pawan was not intimidated accompanying such polished and top musicians, and gave a stellar performance.
Over the years, when observing him playing for various school concerts, he always struck one as a cut above the rest; he had been a part of the Laya Vidya School’s “Shadows” percussion group, and a vocalist and flautist to boot.
His wide musical skills certainly stood him in good stead at his arangetram, as he could anticipate the music of, and complement Malladi Ravikumar and Embar Kannan well.
Pawan gave the kriti in Thodi the full monty – including a full ‘tani’, a solo exposition of his expertise on the mrudangam.
He displayed superb ‘fingering’ technique in the ragam-tanam-pallavi section, showcasing his ability to handle a complex tala pattern.

The Iyer Brothers

Iyer brothers Indian classical music.Indian Link
The Iyer Brothers performed at a fund raiser for the East-West Foundation at the Doncaster Secondary College on 23 August.
The East-West Overseas Aid Foundation is an organisation set up in 1992 to help disadvantaged sections of the community in India.
The Iyer Brothers, who are already well known among the cognoscenti in the musical community, played some popular Carnatic compositions and ragas such as Sri, Khamas, Kedaragowla, Keeravani, Yemen Kalyani etone compositic, with one composition in the rare raga Kumudakriya.
On mrudangam and ghatam were artistes from India, Chidambaram S Balashankar and Adambakkam K Shankar respectively. Their “tani” was riveting: it is not often that one gets to hear ghatam in Australia, and their percussion duet was quite sensational.

Chitra Sudarshan
Chitra Sudarshan
Chitra Sudarshan is an academic and a public servant.

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