Swati Sangeethotsavam 2019 - Days 9 & 10

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#1 Swati Sangeethotsavam 2019 - Days 9 & 10

Post by makham » 14 Jan 2019, 18:34

Fellow forumites remain abstract entities with pseudonyms. It was a good experience to meet two forumites – “bhasi”, young, enthusiastic newcomer and CRama, not-so-young energetic veteran on Day 9 of Swati Utsavam.

Tamarakkad Govindan Namboodiri (TGN) sang on Day 9 of the festival in the devoted company of Idappally Ajitkumar, Chertala Krishnakumar, Vazhappally Krishnakumar and Tirunakkara Rateesh. TGN was described as a saint – not interested in worldly pursuits such as wealth and fame but content to offer endless nadopasana in his puja room. The saintliness was evident in his concert where the manodharma music was used only as a catalyst to enhance the bhavam impregnated in the kalpita part. His energy levels at his age (?) will put to shame anyone half his age. And no papers or notes or iPads.

TGN started with the kAnadA piece Mamava sadA jananee, continued with Seve Sreekantham - yes, Seve (Mohanakalyani), Kanakamaya (Huseni) and GopAlaka pAhimAm before the first main Hindolam. He rendered Padmanabha pAhi, NO, this is not the usually heard popular Padmnabha pAhi. This is another composition starting with the same words. The originally documented version is in Arabhi , don’t know who retuned it in Hindolam. Padmanabha pAhi Padma vilochana parama purusha sowre…..

After sAmodam (Ramapriya) TGN offered sAmA as the second main item. It was humbling to hear him elaborate a relatively minor raga for 15 minutes without repeating the phrases. Smara hari pAdaravindham followed. I left offering pranams to TGN.

The concluding Day 10 belonged to Sanjay, Varadarajan, Neyveli Venkatesh, and Perukavu Sudheer. During the intro studded with superlatives, Rama Varma also managed to push in a subtle marketing bit for people to buy a book on him brought out by his admirers. During this concert Varadarajan did not have to face swinging bouncers or googlies. It was medium pace wicket-to-wicket gentle bowling. The mAyAmAlavagowla varnam Sarasijanabha murAre was gentle followed by a sedate bhAvayAmi nandakumAram (Sri). SahAnA was offered as part of the “starters” (no problem with the word “starters” unlike “fillers”) the kriti being Jaya jaya raghurAma. Sanjay does homework for every appearance at this venue and these two items must have been the result of homework 2019.

The familiar part comprised ParipAlaya saraseeruha in Pantuvarali and Vande sadA padmanAbham. The main item stumped listeners who were expecting a begadA or todi or nAttakurinji. It turned out to be Gowrimanohari. While my neighbors in the audience (husband and wife) were wondering whether it was keervAni or kharaharapriya I did not venture to pronounce judgment against both. sArasa sama mridu pada was the kriti - not often heard.

During Days 9 and 10 the organizers conducted an experiment by putting off all electric lights for 10-15 minutes leaving only the oil lamps. The attempt was to re-create the ambience as existing in the days of Swati Tirunal. On the first day the experiment was marred by hundreds of flashes from cameras/phones. After an appeal was made, the experiment succeeded as only a couple of spoilsports clicked with bright flashes. Days 9 and 10 were chosen for the experience because both artistes do not use notes / papers.

Visitors to Swati sangeethotsavam 2020 will have an opportunity to witness Murajapam and Lakshadeepam at the Padmanabhaswamy temple. During Murajapam, vedas and Vishnu sahasranama are chanted for 56 days and on the concluding day the temple is adorned with one lakh oil lamps. The event is held once in six years and is scheduled for 14 Jan 2020.
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#2 Re: Swati Sangeethotsavam 2019 - Days 9 & 10

Post by bhasi » 14 Jan 2019, 23:31

Thank you @makham for the review of Day 9. Adding my observations to Day 9:

Day 9 - Tamarakkad Govindan Namboodiri (continued)

Tamarakkad Govindan Namboodiri has a very frail-looking frame, from which emanates a gorgeous, deep and resonant voice. When he speaks, to announce the kriti or some such, his words are measured and courteous. I must confess that when he began singing, I was reminded for an instant of Ustad Naseer-ud-din Sami's appearance on Coke Studio Season 4 (back when Rohail Hyatt still helmed it).

Apparently he gives very few concerts a year, if any - as confirmed to me by @CRama. I am amazed as to how one can perform so well onstage without adequately exposing oneself to audiences on a regular basis. I guess that says a lot about his musical genius.

If I may add a very unusual observation: The way his hands express the music while singing is interesting as it is different from the usual expressiveness I've been used to seeing. Govindan Namboodiri points a lot using his index finger, and swishes a knifehand. I may be imagining things, or worse, projecting, but a bit of all that reminds me of the Namboodiris' style of Veda chanting using hasta mudras - which he may be familiar with. (Check it out on Youtube, it's fascinating!)

Mridangam was by Cherthala Krishnakumar. This guy packed fireworks in both his playing as well as onstage histrionics. Ghatam was by Vazhappalli Krishnakumar. The name he shares with the mridangam guy prompted a "today we have Krishnadwayam for percussion" quip from Shri Varma in the intro. He was barely audible throughout but redeemed himself in the thani. Morsing was by Tirunakkara Retish. Unlike Govindaprasad (whose morsing I've heard a few times) this guy adds a lot of twang-type sounds to his playing, like the traditional morsing sounds we're all familiar with. He was also quite in the background mostly, but joined enthusiastically in the thani. Violin was by Edappally Ajith, a familiar face to Swathi goers - he is really good!

The lights-out experiment was quite something. It would have been perfect if only the overzealous audience members could figure out how to take photos of something without turning on the flashes on their phones. Glad to learn that this was fixed on Day 10.

After the main piece in Sama (Namboodiri pronounced it as either Shaama or Shyaama while announcing it), he further sang Panimathi Mukhi Baale in Ahiri and the Bhujagasayino mangalam. That Sama was amazing; I haven't come across Sama being dealt with as a main piece on any of my Youtube binges, so this was special for me.

I left the concert a happy man, having seen a very reclusive and soft-spoken maestro deliver a power-packed performance.
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