Dr Charulatha Mani - concert by CMANA in NJ - May 11, 2024

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Sankar Narayanan
Posts: 39
Joined: 23 Apr 2011, 00:35

Dr Charulatha Mani - concert by CMANA in NJ - May 11, 2024

Post by Sankar Narayanan »

CMANA concluded its Spring 2024 concert season in style, via a vocal concert by Dr Charulatha Mani around a theme that had broader appeal to CM rasikas as well as Carnatic-curious rasikas sitting on the fence between Carnatic and Contemporary/Cinema music.
The concert duration was nearly 4 hours (including a 30-mins interactive Q&A session). Pakkavadhyam support was provided by B. Ananthakrishnan on violin, and Sriram Natarajan on mridangam (Sriram also occasionally employed a few other percussion instruments including kanjira and bongos, for special effects).

Vid Charulatha showcased her talents as a Carnatic musician by singing iconic kritis with manodharma elements, while also sharing her wealth of knowledge on Carnatic music’s influence on other genres.

Songs/Items list below. As the reader will see, while most items had a kriti-focus, some had a raga-focus.

1. sri neelotpala nAyikE – reetigowLai – MD ; raga sketch; N & S at pallavi line
2. rAmanAtham bhajEham – pantuvarALi – MD ; S @ anupallavi line.
3. brOchEvA – kamAs / misra kamAs
4. Multiple songs in chakravAham
5. upachAramu – bhairavi – T ; Elaborate R; N, S @ kapata nAtaka soothradhAri ; thani
6. RTP in simhendra madhyamam ; Adi 2-kalai ; Lalgudi Jayaraman ; “vA guhA murugA shaNmugA”
7. A brief foray into dwajAvanti, etc.
8. OmkAra nAdAnusandhAnam (film song by audience request) – shankarAbharaNam ;
9. Interactive Q&A session
10. Multiple songs in sivaranjani / misra sivaranjani
11. MangaLam

Charulatha gave a good start with reetigowLai, first explaining the raga structure including specific jAru and kampitha gamakas. After a brief AlApanA, she took MD’s ‘sri neelotpala nAyikE’ and did niraval and swarams at the pallavi line. She rounded up ritigowLai with a few cinema songs including ‘chinnak kannan azhaikkirAn’ sung by Dr. Balamuralikrishna. (side note: later during the Q&A session there was a brief discussion on reetigowLai vs nAree reetigowLai and MD’s asampoorNa mELa nomenclature).

Next was pantuvarALi. Here also, she explained the raga lakshnam before taking up MD’s iconic ‘rAmanAtham bhajEham’. Vioin B Ananthakrishnan presented a good return to her AlApanA including hints of a famous film song that may come up later! Charulatha did kalpanaswarm on the anupallavi line. She traversed easily between lower and higher octaves and showed a touch of Hindustani in a few places. She rounded up pantuvarALi with a few film songs including ‘Ezhu swarangaLukkuL etthani rAgam’. (ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களுக்குள் எத்தனை ராகம்) which the violinist had hinted upon earlier 😊

A brief explanation of kamAs and misra kamAs was followed by thiagaraja’s ‘brOchEvA evarurA’. She highlighted the sringAra and motherly-love rasas, and sang the tamizh film song ‘uyir neeyE’ (உயிர் நீயே) as an advance tribute to Mothers’ Day. She also briefly demonstrated papanAsam sivan’s ‘iDadu padam thookki Adum’ (இடது பதம் தூக்கி ஆடும்) as another example of a chaste kamAs kriti.

After a brief foray into chakravAham (the HM equivalent being Ahir Bhairav as she pointed out), Charulatha went to the main.

Charulatha chose bhairavi for the main, and explained (and demonstrated) the structure & grammar of Bhairav and its allied ragas – mukhAri, huseni, and mAnji. An elaborate AlApanA and a fitting reply on the violin was followed Thyagaraja’s weighty kriti – ‘upachAramu’. She nicely maintained the unhurried kalapramanam that goes with the pleading mood of Thyagaraja. Elaborate niraval and swarams were done at the caraNam line – ‘kapaTa nATaka sUtra dhArivai’. Ananthakrishnan’s returns were apt and enjoyable. Sriram finished with a nice thani.

The next was an RTP in simhendra madhyamam. The pallavi line was “vA guhA murugA shaNmugA || unaDu pAdamE thuNai” composed by Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman. Just as in the previous bhairavi main, she explained the allied ragas of simhendra madhyamam – keeravANi & shaNmugapriyA. A pleasing alapana and a smooth thanam were followed by the pallavi where she did neraval, trikalam, etc. Then followed an enjoyable medley of swara-prasaras in hindOLam, hamsanAdam, kAnadA with good embellishment from Ananthakrishnan. Sriram round this piece up with a min-thani. One of the film songs she quoted and briefly sang at the end (after the RTP) was MLV-fame ‘yellaam inbamayam’ (எல்லாம் இன்பமயம்).

Based on audience requests, she had a variety show-and-tell – a brief touch on dwijAvanti, film song ‘OmkAra nAdAnusandhAnam’ from the movie ShankarAbharaNam, etc.

There was a moderated and well participated Q&A session. A key aspect in the session was her singing a snippet of an Italian AriyA with a Carnatic touch!

The final item before mangaLam was sivaranjani / misra-sivaranjani. Charulatha touched on multiple songs in Carnatic, tamizh films, hindi films, etc. An interesting tidbit she shared was that the yester-year AIR and DD start-up violin tune is in sivaranjani / misra-sivaranjani and is the creation of an English musician / government official!

In all, it was a different experience to each one in the audience; those rooted in CM got a taste of its sibling genres; and those rooted in cinema music got an appreciation of the origins of many cinema songs. Charulatha sung or touched on 50-60 cross-genre songs, showing her scholarship and repertoire.

As I walked away, I was reflecting on Rudyard Kipling’s ballad where he starts with “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet” and then aptly follows with “But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

thanjavooran
Posts: 2994
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 04:44

Re: Dr Charulatha Mani - concert by CMANA in NJ - May 11, 2024

Post by thanjavooran »

At first, many thanks for the detailed technical review. A very good selection of pieces with Neyar Viruppam. Should be a great and strange experience for Rasikas. No doubt Charulatha with her extensive knowledge and pleasing voice will keep the audience fully engaged. Please continue to share your views in future too.
With wishes,
Thanjavooran
15 05 2024

rajeshnat
Posts: 9941
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 08:04

Re: Dr Charulatha Mani - concert by CMANA in NJ - May 11, 2024

Post by rajeshnat »

Sankar Narayanan wrote: 15 May 2024, 21:25 As I walked away, I was reflecting on Rudyard Kipling’s ballad where he starts with “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet” and then aptly follows with “But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
I never knew the second quote at all . superb review from you and kudos to CMana for giving close to 4 hours.

Charulatha Mani i have heard once in NGS Mini where she sang an exclusive papanasam sivan compositions , as i walked out the song list got drenched and hence i did not review, that was part of season (1 of 4 reviews that i did not write ) . Her voice bit resembles the strong husky assertive aruna sairam . I am assuming she is settled in Australia or did she relocate to USA . There was a series of writeups about a decade back in The Hindu titled some thing like raga journey that she penned which was well written and also some isai payanam . If my memory is right her primary guru is sandhyavadanam sreenivasa rao.

Many years back i attended once KJY he sang a series of songs that review is here. Yesudas sang a rare sooryakantham as main but his best in the whole concert is the pramadhavanam vendum the malayalam film song in the end. Once BMK sang pantuvarali/poorvikalyani and hemavati/vachaspathi , he was ambiguity at its best.

All said having a main in bhairavi following RTP in simmhendramadhyamam is a great combo . May be she could have dedicated instead of ellam inbamayam MLV she could have also said about late uma ramanan aananda ragam . All these concerts are welcome to bring in new faces of rasikas, kudos to Charulatha Mani for performing and more importantly CMana giving time , time is the essence . Above all Sankar narayanan review

rajeshnat
Posts: 9941
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 08:04

Re: Dr Charulatha Mani - concert by CMANA in NJ - May 11, 2024

Post by rajeshnat »

sankar narayanan
What is the crowd in CMana ?
Is this a free or a ticketed concert ?

WIth so much of stuff available in youtube , i am just curious if you could answer both

arasi
Posts: 16800
Joined: 22 Jun 2006, 09:30

Re: Dr Charulatha Mani - concert by CMANA in NJ - May 11, 2024

Post by arasi »

sankar narayanan,
Thank you for the detailed review. I have watched her here and there on the web. Such a talented, expressive and energetic artiste she seems to be! I suppose for those who like music, but are sort of hesitant about approaching CM (having listened and having liked some classical songs), she builds a bridge to walk it, take a peek and make them feel comfortable to come and experience a classical concert, even may be start learning CM! The same happens with classical music in the west. Suddenly, you hear a friend telling you about how her son was drawn into classical music, perhaps favoring a particular musician, going to his concerts, and then growing up to be a regular concert-goer!

Exposure is the thing. Keeping all windows open for them, they eventually get to appreciate classical music.

Sankar Narayanan
Posts: 39
Joined: 23 Apr 2011, 00:35

Re: Dr Charulatha Mani - concert by CMANA in NJ - May 11, 2024

Post by Sankar Narayanan »

@thanjavooran sir, thanks for your kind words. As you aptly put, It was indeed a "great and strange experience for Rasikas", just by judging the audience mix. There were many die-hard CM aficionados and also many who were light music singers/fans.

Sri @rajeshnat, thanks for the compliments and for the many great points from you. A few responses:
You said - "Her voice bit resembles the strong husky assertive aruna sairam" - agreed!
I understood from her that she splits her time between Australia (where she earned her doctorate from) and India. She also travels regularly to Europe and US.
Charulatha did sing more than one of late Uma Ramanan's songs and did a dedication of sorts - my miss, apologies. Matter of fact, I could not keep up with all the many songs flowing from Charulatha, some just as snippets !!

This was a ticketed concert by CMANA. The crowd was about 120. As I mentioned above, I saw many 'Carnatic-curious' folks as well in the audience. A few said they wanted to see/hear her in person. One other reason was the added Q&A session where folks sent questions ahead, and also asked them on the floor. I think keeping some 'interaction' may have been a draw!

@arasi mam, thank you for your appreciation and for sharing your points of view. I fully concur - this is a novel format which can facilitate 'on the fence' folks to cross over to our side :-) . As you rightly say, such bridges are needed, especially for the next generations.

Reading and writing in this forum is a great experience. Will post another review shortly & look fwd to your comments.

rajeshnat
Posts: 9941
Joined: 03 Feb 2010, 08:04

Re: Dr Charulatha Mani - concert by CMANA in NJ - May 11, 2024

Post by rajeshnat »

Sankar Narayanan wrote: 20 May 2024, 10:37 . As you rightly say, such bridges are needed, especially for the next generations.

Reading and writing in this forum is a great experience. Will post another review shortly & look fwd to your comments.
In chennai in the last 2 months i am seeing way too much of excessive bridges that cannibalizes pure quality concerts . Almost all quality musicians get tagged with speeches or collaboration with few of them who are known to research and speak . As such the stand alone quality cm concert any where from 2 hours to 2 .5 hours is coming down. But USA is doing ok you give lot of time upto 4 hours .

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