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Guru comes as rasika for Bombay Jayashri
She came from Bombay. And, she has become a star in Chennai. Vocalist Bombay Jayashri has indeed traversed a long way. Carnatic music world should thank guru Balamani for presenting it with Jayashri. The sabha was overflowing when Jayashri presented her concert for Mylapore Fine Arts during December 2007. Among the audience was her first guru Balamani. Surely, Jayashri enlivened the concert with some really good numbers in Sahana, Kedaram, Hindolam and the like. The icing of the cake was when she presented a double-raga pallavi during RTP (ragam, thanam and pallavai) phase. By singing the pallavi in ragams Soorya Kantham and Chandra Joythi, she won the hearts of the fans and, perhaps, the admiration of her guru, too.

Enticing the rasikas
Prime slot concerts, no doubt, are attracting capacity audience at various sabhas in Chennai. Tickets for these concerts are a sell-out. More often than not, these prime slots are assigned to popular artistes. Ipso facto, some senior artistes of considerable stature are pushed to slack time slots, either in the morning or during the mid-afternoon. These time slots don’t attract audience due to a number of factors. At times, the attendance is very thin. Well, the organizers have to come out with innovative scheduling to make the entire day’s proceedings an enticing affair for fans.

Arabi Lover
Raga Arabi had a great lover in Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Some time in 1951, flautist Mali was holding the rasikas riveted to their chairs at a Navarathri concert in Ramakrishna Home in the now Chennai. Mali was at his best, recalled L.Sundaram, one of the foremost disciples of Mali. The veteran flautist was playing a kriti in Raga Kalayani.

All of a sudden, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer trooped into the hall. Mali spotted him as he was entering the hall. An excited Mali suddenly stopped Kalyani and started playing the kriti `Nada Sudha Rasa’ in Raga Arabi. The genius vocalist later went away nodding his head in appreciation. According to Mr.Sundaram, this incident not only brought out the Pitama’s love for Arabi Raga but also underscored the immense respect he had elicited from artistes of all sorts.

A S(t)age View On Carnatic concert
Times have changed. Carnatic music stage too, it looks. There were days when one saw the main artiste and just a couple of accompanists on the stage. Today, a mini audience is seen on the stage. The metamorphosis has started happening during Rajaji’s (C. Rajagopalachari) time itself, if one were to go by Gopalakrishna Gandhi, the Governor of West Bengal. Once in the 1960s, morsing and kanjira artistes were added to accompanists’ list of the music party of late M.S. Subbulakshmi. The list already had `Fiddle’ Sundaresa Iyer, `Ghatam’ Kothandarama Iyer and `Mridangam’ T.K Murthy. Seeing the enlarged group leaving the Kalki Gardens in Chennai, Rajaji, said to Sadasivam (husband of MS), "yen Sadasivam, audience iyum kooda aissindu porela?’’ (What Sadasivam, are you taking the audience also along with you). What Rajaji would have said today seeing the instrumentation that goes with concerts? Rajaji would, perhaps, have said, ``oru industrial exhibition amaikka porel pole irukke,’’ (it looks as though you are going to set up an industrial exhibition), quipped Gandhi.

A Gandhi Take On Change
With a trip down memory lane, West Bengal Governor Gopalakrishna Gandhi puts the change in perspective. Forty years ago, Lalgudi gave a concert at Tanjavur. That was the first time Gandhi had gone to Lalgudi Jayaraman’s violin concert. It was held at a large hall, called as Rajah’s Choultry. The audience was seated on the floor. The acoustics were rather poor, but the appreciation of rasikas was rich. The wind was hot but the atmosphere pleasant. Children wailed but no cell phones interrupted the concert with potted melodies. For Gandhi, Lalgudi Jayaraman looked the same as he appeared at the award presentation function on March 9, 2008 except that he had then a head of jet black hair. Lalgudi Jayaraman, according to Gandhi, enjoyed each and every moment of his concert as much as did the audience. The whole thing would not have cost the organizers more than Rs.5000. In contrast, today’s concerts are held in great comfort for the artiste and the listener. There is fuss in the air. There is fuss about the sound systems and about the lighting effects. Artistes and their accompanists often spend their time in adjusting the amplification and betraying short tempers! Today, technology is not to the aid of music, as music to the aid of technology. Well, the debate may go on.

Rajaji On Lalgudi Music
The world today sees India as a sure destination for sourcing quality products. Long before this, this Carnatic musician had done India proud by taking quality stuff out of the country. When violinist Lalgudi G. Jayaraman was leaving for the Edinburgh Festival in 1965, a felicitation function was organized for him. Participating at the function, Rajaji said, "mudhal muriayaa kalappadam illatha sarakku veli nattukku pohirathu (for the first time, an unadulterated stuff is going to a foreign country)’’. This was narrated by Gopalakrishna Gandhi, Governor of West Bengal, at a function organized in Chennai to confer the Lifetime Achievement Award on Lalgudi G. Jayaraman on March 9, 2008.

Tailpiece: Gandhi narrated this anecdote quoting Shankar Venkatraman, who is incidentally doing a book on the Lalgudi lineage.
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