Concert Report - R Suryaprakash at Rasikalaya - London, June 27th

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Ajit Ramachandran
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#1 Concert Report - R Suryaprakash at Rasikalaya - London, June 27th

Post by Ajit Ramachandran »

Shri R. SURYAPRAKASH: LIVE AT RASIKALAYA (27 JUNE 2015)
Vocal: Shri R. Suryaprakash
Violin: Shri Balu Raguraman
Mridangam: Shri RN Prakash
Venue: The Church of the Ascension, The Avenue, Preston Road, Wembley, Middlesex - HA9 9QL.
Time: 6pm to 10.15pm


It was Rasikalaya’s good fortune to host vidwan Shri R Suryaprakash just over a week ago (June 27th). Due to other commitments my concert report is late so please accept my apologies. Regular readers here are likely aware of this concert from an earlier thread my fellow committee member Rishi Sharma had posted here.

Our concert was at a new venue for us located further away from central London, and there was a heat wave - we therefore had some trepidation. We also had to commence the concert 30 minutes late due to traffic. Our organisation has also been struggling financially due to low audience numbers in the past 3 years leading to some low morale for us as rasikas and committee members.

The truly sublime music we enjoyed at this concert proved a turning point in our determination to come back stronger as a platform for sampradaya sangeetham. On to the concert report:

Starting energetically and enthusiastically with Mysore Vasudevachar’s varnam in Mandari, Shri R Suryaprakash truly enthralled us with his careful song selection and impeccable presentation. In this, fellow artistes – London’s very own Gurus - Shri Balu Raguraman on the violin and Shri RN Prakash were astounding in their anticipation, support, and enhancement of the concert. What a team!

While Mandari was a fantastic start, Shri Suryaprakash briskly transited to the Dikshithar piece in the weighty Begada, rendered with a brief sketch of Begada and brisk swaras. This first raga transition grounded the concert and gave us a taste of later things to come. I took the brief pause to introduce the artistes in less than 2 minutes and call out for more monetary and marketing support from the rasikas present.

Having paid due obeisance to Dikshithar, Shri Suryaprakash turned to Saint Thyagaraja next with the evergreen Evarani in a brisk Devamrithavarshini. The next piece proved to be the first of the 3 very elaborate pieces we enjoyed that evening. I had never before heard so thoroughly enjoyed Needu Charana Pankajamula in a sowkhyam-filled kalyani. Not one ounce of this glorious ragam went untasted as we all savoured the rich and myriad hues of both raga outlines in vocal and violin but also in the impressive Pallavi Gopala Iyer composition. It seemed to command enough gravitas to be a Syama Sastri piece till we learned otherwise. Shri RN Prakash’s ‘arudi’ at several finishing points in this song and anticipative support during some tricky kalpana swaras in particular merit appreciation.

More surprises followed for Shri Suryaprakash had a full bag of them! The next piece was a welcome light-hearted break – an Oothukadu piece in Huseni. What flourish, what laughter and enjoyment in the rendering – first with a brief raga outline from both the vocalist and Shri Balu Raguraman followed by the composition – which brought us much cheer. A humorous reference to our sabha name Rasikalaya also went down well with the audience who cheered and applauded.

The next song was another revelation – the now rarely heard Narayagowlai which had most of us guessing, and the song was the rare Thyaraja composition Kaddale Vaadu Gade. We were also treated to a sprightly round of swaras in this ragam. A brisk transition to 20th century Gowda Malhar in the popular Sarasamukhi was the perfect transition followed by swaras.

The wait for Syama Sastri was fulfilled next with Mayamma in Ahiri. Here too Shri Suryaprakash surprised and delighted us with an innovative neraval at Parameshwari Sundareswaruni Rani, letting us savour each word and phrase so we understood the full meaning. Shri Balu’s replies to each round of neraval was just superb.

A surprising brisk run through ka va va in Varali, which I thoroughly enjoyed, particularly the kalpana swaras oscillating between different points in the composition. With this composition Shri Suryaprakash ensured Rasikalaya concerts continue to feature pride of place for at least one vivadi ragam in each of our concerts!

We thought were approaching halfway point at this juncture and we were indeed mistaken! We sat back to enjoy an elaborate and delightful Kambhoji from Shri Suryaprakash and Shri Balu Raguraman. As we were eagerly wondering which composition would find favour, Shri Suryaprakash teased us gently singing an “O” (O Rangasayee?) to then continue into the immortal Sri Subramanyaya Namaste. It appeared our resident Guruguhadasa had found special favour that evening! Elaborate neraval at Vasavadi Deva and a pattern of swarams bouncing between Vasavadi Deva, Bhusuradi and Sakala Deva thrilled us. Shri RN Prakash was just superb in the way he supported the landing of each swara pattern from vocal and violin.

At this juncture it is worth mentioning that we had devoted special budget to a quality sound technician and audio system for this concert just as we had with our equally phenomenal Chitravina Ganesh concert in 2014. Again, that too was a thinly attended affair but will forever be etched in our collective memory as one of the best we have hosted to date. The quality of the audio just took the enjoyment of both that concert and Shri Suryaprakash’s concert to a whole new level!

Mindful that we were now at 2.5 hours into the concert, Sri RN Prakash kept his fantastic tani avarthanam short. We assumed for want of time we may not have our trademark request – RTP for the evening but here again Shri Suryaprakash surprised and delighted us. Just as we sat back from Kambhoji he launched into the hauntingly characteristic notes of Sumanesaranjani! Brilliant! When his alapanai had concluded, Shri Balu Raguraman complemented the vocal alapanai so beautifully even Sri Suryaprakash applauded. This was a pleasing trait of the main artiste throughout the concert appreciating both his accompanists in good measure and creating a comfortable dynamic on stage for the performing team.

When Shri Suryaprakash took up the ragam again, we didn’t get a tanam instead we got Hamsanandi and then Chandrakauns! He confessed to us later that the latter ragams were extempore additions. While extremely pleasing, it also demonstrated his immense vidwat particularly transiting from Chandrakauns back to Sumanesa Ranjani with no slip whatsoever. The swarakshara pallavi which had raga mudra in it was a delight and still echoes in my ear.

After a comfortably leisurely pallavi and swara round, we got what truly was Suryaprakash’s gift to us – a fantastic ragamalika composition that spanned 18 ragas with interesting lyrics that called out humorously the virtues of each ragam and played with the name of a famous composition in that ragam. The song included his ankita mudra in the phrase ‘prakasha suryakanta’. True delight and applause-worthy! It got a standing ovation from the audience.

What came next was a rasikas.org composition! One by arasi (Smt. Rajee Krishnan) in Shuddha dhanyasi. We enjoyed this composition.

A compelling viruththam in Revati and Jonpuri was followed by the MMI school trademark Eppo Varuvaro. A brisk Tilang composition of Purandaradasa and mangalam brought the 4 hour 15 minute concert to a fitting finale!

Throughout the concert, the rapport amongst the artistes, the song choices, the clarity of each rendition and transition of tempo and ragam just gave us immense delight. The concert has re-ignited Rasikalaya’s passion and commitment to staying live as an organization and committed to sampradaya sangeetham. With all your blessings and support, we will launch a fundraising campaign, apply for grants, and continue to do what we believe is best for the cause to ensure this incomparable traditional art form prospers!

The Rasikalaya Team

Notes: Thanks to Rishi Sharma for consolidating the song list below and feedback from Jayaram on some points.

1. Vanajakshi Ninnekori (Varnam) - Mandari - Adi - Mysore Vasudevachar
2. Vallabha Nayakasya - Begada - Rupakam - Muthuswamy Dikshitar (Ragam outline, Swaram @ Vallabha)
3. Artistes' Introduction
4. Evarani - Devamrithavarshini - Deshadi - Thyagaraja
5. Needu Charana Pankajamula - Kalyani - Adi - Pallavi Gopala Iyer (Ragam, Niraval and Swaram @ O jagat janani)
6. Aadum Varaikkum Aadattum - Huseni - Rupakam - Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyer (Ragam)
7. Kaddale Vadu Gade - Narayanagowla - Adi - Thyagaraja (Ragam sketch, Swaram @ Kaddale)
8. Sarasamukhi - Gowda Malhar - Khandachapu - Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar (Swaram @ Sarasamukhi)
9. Mayamma - Ahiri - Adi - Syama Sastri (Ragam, Started at Anupallavi "Nyayama Meenakshamma", Niraval @ Parameshwari sundareshwaruni rani)
10. Ka Va Va - Varali - Adi - Papanasam Sivan (Swarams alternating between Ka va va and Pazhani malai uraiyum muruga)
11. Shri Subramanyaya Namaste - Kambhoji - Rupakam (2 Kalai) - Muthuswamy Dikshitar (Ragam, Niraval @ Vasavadi Deva, Swarams alternating amongst Bhusuradi, Vasavadi and Sakala Deva) - Tani Avartanam
12. RTP - Sumanesa Ranjani, Hamsanandi, Chandrakauns - Khanda Triputa (2 Kalai) Pallavi ("Manini Nigamaagama Sancharini Sumanesa Ranjani")
13. Devargal Arul Seyda Ragangale - Ragamalika - Adi - R. Suryaprakash (Hamsanadam, Nattai, Kalyani, Bhairavi, Ranjani, Simhendra Madhyamam, Thodi, Durbar, Sama, Dhanyasi, Bilahari, Kharaharapriya, Vasantha, Rasikapriya, Shankarabharanam, Shanmukhapriya, Saranga, Atana, Saramathi, Abhogi, Abheri, Kambhoji, Varali, Purna Shadjam, Kapi, Arabhi, Sindhubhairavi, Mohanam, Suryakantham, Madhyamavati and Hamsanadam)
14. Vande Thunai - Shuddha Dhanyasi - Rupakam - Arasi (Rajee Krishnan)
15. Pettra thai thanai maga marandalum (Viruttham) - Tiruvarutpa - Vallalar - Revati and Jonpuri followed by Eppo Varuvaro - Jonpuri - Adi - Gopalakrishna Bharathi
16. Rama Rama - Tilang - Adi - Purandaradasa
17. Mangalam (Pavamana) followed by Vazhiya sentamil in Madhyamavathi
18. Vote of Thanks

rajeshnat
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#2 Re: Concert Report - R Suryaprakash at Rasikalaya - London, June 27th

Post by rajeshnat »

Ajit Ramachandran wrote: Time: 6pm to 10.15pm
Our organisation has also been struggling financially due to low audience numbers in the past 3 years leading to some low morale for us as rasikas and committee members.
...
The truly sublime music we enjoyed at this concert proved a turning point in our determination to come back stronger as a platform for sampradaya sangeetham. On to the concert report:
Rasikalaya team
Best wishes for your motivation. Every review in the past and this one too is a testimony of how artists get motivated to sing in rasikalya. Best wishes for you ajit, jayaram, rishi and many more to keep going. I forgot what Rishi used to write before -he used to say cm is his life's ruling passion or something - O gosh i forgot that exact lines. :) :)

I am just curious the concert is for 4 hours and 15 minutes ,how long was tani ajit. I have been always treated by where he usually gives atleast 25% more than any other musician - like no long violin return, no still pauses here and there,his vocal quotient is always high. To sing subramanyaya namaste, rtp and even that long ragamaliga of his and then a viruththam - it indeed requires an extra ordinary vocal stamina.

rajeshnat
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#3 Re: Concert Report - R Suryaprakash at Rasikalaya - London, June 27th

Post by rajeshnat »

Ajit Ramachandran wrote: The wait for Syama Sastri was fulfilled next with Mayamma in Ahiri. Here too Shri Suryaprakash surprised and delighted us with an innovative neraval at Parameshwari Sundareswaruni Rani, letting us savour each word and phrase so we understood the full meaning. ....

When Shri Suryaprakash took up the ragam again, we didn’t get a tanam instead we got Hamsanandi and then Chandrakauns! He confessed to us later that the latter ragams were extempore additions.

9. Mayamma - Ahiri - Adi - Syama Sastri (Ragam, Started at Anupallavi "Nyayama Meenakshamma", Niraval @ Parameshwari sundareshwaruni rani)
...
12. RTP - Sumanesa Ranjani, Hamsanandi, Chandrakauns - Khanda Triputa (2 Kalai) Pallavi ("Manini Nigamaagama Sancharini Sumanesa Ranjani")
# To the best of my knowledge Tanjore S kalyanaraman has sung once a neraval for Ahiri krithi. Apart from He singing this must be one rare occurence for this age of musicians- perhaps the second time that is happening(some one can correct me if I am wrong).

# Lot of rare ragas suryaprakash is taking up as pallavi(sumanesa ranjani, suryashri, miyan malhar ) He is giving sumanesa ranjani a nattairkurinji anthastu and as years roll by suryaprakash is surely leaving a rich RTP legacy. Was taanam and swaras there in all three ragas ajit- just curious there that too considering high voltage and emote in ragas like hamsanandi and chandrakowns that followed sumanesaranjani ? . Usually suryaprakash does not outsource much to fellow accompanist ,the vocal quotient is maximum and even gaps between and within songs is very very minimal. Your 4 hour 15 min must have been a nearly 5 hour 15 mins concert.

# This must be a lovely concert - it had everything. Spread of composers from trinity to latest contemporary composer, spread of languages , a rare narayana gowlai krithi that Chitoor subramania pillai and madurai somu used to sing , a very rare neraval in ahiri, Rtp, ragamaliga composition , kalyani submain and kambHodi marathon krithi sri subramanyaya , air sucking fast swaras song like ka va WOW, and many more that i left mentioning.

#Thank you ajit. Do you have a website to sell this as cd's, if yes let us know. These duracell battery concerts are worth to keep it for life.

Ajit Ramachandran
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#4 Re: Concert Report - R Suryaprakash at Rasikalaya - London, June 27th

Post by Ajit Ramachandran »

Rajeshnat

Thanks so much for your kind words! Yes under the Rasikalaya collective influence music is indeed a passion one that we make far too little time for under life's other pressures.

Regarding your earlier query - yes Tani was crisp - I can't remember how long it was - probably 15 or 20 minutes, maximum? Shri Suryaprakash was in great form and his voice held up well through to the end. Our collective prayers that long may this continue!

Good to note the anecdote about the TSK rendition of Ahiri neraval. Yes, we too wish for the legacy to be as rich - and yes, the taanam and swaras were sung in all 3 ragas. He allowed adequate time for both accompanists.

Yes we were blessed that this concert had so many special elements. Indeed a revival for me personally. We are yet to formally start thinking about approaching artistes about publishing their music - Shri Suryaprakash however has published some live concert recordings on a website - unfortunately I forgot to pick up a flyer for myself - they were all gone in no time! Loved your duracell reference as also the ka va Wow!

Thanks again,
Ajit

Rishi Sharma
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Joined: 21 Apr 2009, 15:05

#5 Re: Concert Report - R Suryaprakash at Rasikalaya - London, June 27th

Post by Rishi Sharma »

Dear Rajesh

Thanks for your wishes. Music was, is and will be our life's "ruling passion". As I mentioned in the vote of thanks on the day, Rasikalaya organises music for the sake and cause of music with no ulterior motive.

Just to answer a few of your queries:
1) Tani was a crisp 8mins. Vocal alapana was 18mins with violin return for 7mins for Shri Subramanyaya Namaste. Total kriti with niraval and swaraprastara without the tani was approx 40mins. The main kriti was 75 mins in total.

2) Both Balu Raguraman and RN Prakash were given ample time throughout the concert. The synergy amongst all three vidwans were amazing and Suryaprakash really appreciated both vidwans openly on stage and mentioned this again in his quick vote of thanks. He actually said that he is prepared to sing for 5 hours at Rasikalaya with such brilliant vidwans, a top-quality sound engineer (Mr Ravi) and for the rasikas.

3) Yes, Kalyanaraman has actually sung "Mayamma" as a main piece with, if I remember correctly, Shri Parur MS Anantharaman and Shri Yella Venkateswara Rao.

4) During the Narayanagowlai ragam sketch, I originally honed in on Kedaragowlai but there was something different about this ragam. After he completed the swaraprastara, he mentioned that Veenai Kuppaiyer was known as "Narayanagowlai" Kuppaiyer and Narayanagowlai was more in vogue than Kedaragowlai in the past..

5) Ka Va Va was Ka Va Wow indeed.. it was a real firecracker with nadai variations on "Pazhani malai uraiyum muruga"..

Actually, I have a confession to make. I am notorious for making requests of artistes. However, I made a promise to myself that I will not ask any requests of Shri Suryaprakash as that will hinder his manodharmam. I had the responsibility of picking up Suryaprakash from the hosts' venue to the concert hall. On the way back, we were listening Amarar Shri Ramanathapuram Krishnan's Begada from his famous 1960 Academy concert which commences with the Nayaki varnam and features a sublime "Abhimanam ennadu" as the main piece. I think that was the inspiration to sing "Vallabha Nayakasya"... That was an unintentional request from me!!

Music is life's ruling passion...

Rishi

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