Follow us on
join us facebook
A face-to-face learning session with R.K. Srikantan for Boston kids
BOSTON, May 7: If one is either a lover or a student of music, Boston was the place to be this past week. Sangeetha Kalanidhi R.K. Srikantan spent the past week-end in Boston, teaching 15 children in the age group of 10 to 17 the Navarathri kritis composed by Swathi Thirunal Maharaja. He did this in a week-long teaching workshop, spending three hours each day with the children.

Last Sunday, at the end of the work shop, the children performed these songs in front of an audience that consisted of delightful parents and relatives of the students and other music lovers. "The children, born and being raised in the U.S., so far away from India, are amazing. They have learnt all these songs with total commitment and enthusiasm and their pronunciation is second to none," said the proud teacher.

On Saturday last, Srikantan, with the vocal support of his son R.S. Ramakanth, gave a three-and-a-half hour concert at the Chinmaya Centre in Andover, Massachussetts. This concert was organized by the Chinmaya Mission Boston with the co-operation of the New England Kannada Koota. The audience exceeded the capacity of the concert hall, and many of them sat on the carpeted floor.

Srikantan started the concert with the traditional rendition of the famous Nattai Kurinji varnam. The concert simply took off with his beautiful alapana in Atana and followed by the Thyagaraja kriti ``Ela nee dhaya radhu.,'' set to Adi talam. He then moved on to a more elaborate alapana of Sriranjani, which he shared with his son. The chosen song for the evening was Marubaga with swarams in mel kalam. It was followed by a quick `Sarasa sama dhana.'' in Kapinarayani. The next song was Thyagaraja's "Durmargachara" in the ragam Ranjani set to Rupaka talam. The maestro started the alapana in the lower octave and stayed there for a while, weaving beautiful swara patterns and then slowly building up to the upper octave. Kalpana swaram, with interesting mathematical calculations, was done in mel kalam at Paluku Koti by both the father and the son. The 17-year-old violinist Suhas Rao, born and brought up in the U.S., who accompanied the vocalist, answered every one of their challenges. After a very soothing alapana, the song "Rama Ika Nannu" by Patnam Subramanya Iyer in Sahana was presented. Once again, Suhas Rao shined here with his brilliant alapana.
The main raga for the evening was Todi. After a very elaborate alapana by the singers as well as the violinist, Thyagaraja's kriti "Kadana variki" was performed with neraval and swaram with koraippu at Arthambu. At the end of the song, the mridangam artiste Pravin Sitaram (a local artist based in Boston) and the khanjira artiste Ganesh Ramanarayanan (another local artiste from the upstate New York area) gave a masterful and appropriate thani. After this, RKS sang a few Dasa Padams in the ragas Kamas, Behag, Suddha Saveri and Nadanamakriya, much to the delight of the audience who stayed through the entire concert including during thani. "Enjoyable and knowledgeable audience" was how the Sangeetha Kalanidhi described the audience after the concert.

Watching Srikantan perform was not only an amazing but also an inspiring experience. The clarity in his pronunciation, the way he separated the words, the sruthi suddham (adherence to the pitch) and more than anything, how he was able to sing for two-and-a- half hours before taking a little sip of water were all an education in concert etiquette to the younger generation.