Ganeshu – The tambura which wouldn’t strum anymore

             Till before the advent of the electronic boxes, the tambura was the only way to keep sruthi at a concert. Though there were disciples who would sit and strum this drone, there were dedicated tambura vidwans who would be present and be part of the music team.
           These vidwans were musically trained and well versed in the nuances. Senior tambura vidwans would even be commanding on stage, once upon a time.
          The tambura is today an endangered species on concert stage. The senior vidwans are happy with just a disciple holding on to a tambura on stage. The need for a tambura vidwan is much reduced.
           Ganeshu was the senior most tambura vidwan one knew. How did one get introduced, what was his background, why was one able to get his confidence that he would speak freely and share his thoughts. One does not remember such things, neither bothered to ponder and find answers. After all, one did/does know many performing artists personally.
            This frail old man was a class of his kind. Ever friendly and smiling. Always knew what he was talking. He would be professional on stage, when the performance was on. However when he is away from stage, he was a different person. With people he was comfortable with, he would be frank with his thoughts and opinions. They were objective and plain. His musical knowledge would be apparent in his analysis of music.
            People who would hear him may generally think he was not clear. That he was just making some noise. For those who knew him, that was not the case.
            Ganeshu was one man who could call a spade right on stage. A man who would openly say his thoughts even to artists.
          Age and health made performances difficult. That did not spoil his spirit. He lived by himself and had his own share of life-worries. Afterall, who had/has a problem free life. That never stops you from enjoying life. That was Ganeshu.
           After every concert he played or heard, he would go to atleast one of the artists and say “Naalaikku unga aathukku saapida vandhudaren. Oru vetha kulambu, thogayal porum. Appalam suttu pottudu.” However, there is no verifiable instance when he actually had shown up for lunch the next day.
The article on Thambura Ganesan written by R.Bharathwaj. He can be contacted at

Jyotsna Vivek Concert on 20-12-2018

Jyotsna Vivek with A.G.Venkatasubramanian & Arjun Ganesh.

Jyotsna Vivek gave an extremely beautiful concert today. She started the concert with a brisk Siddhi Vinayakam in Shanmukhapriya.  Jyotsna and Venkatasubramanian weaved Sarvalagu swarams at Prasiddha gananayakam beautifully. Arjun Ganesh also gave a brilliant support. Himachala thanaya, a composition of Syama Sastri came as if bubbling with the joy of anandabhairavi. The Malayamarutham she sang today was indeed as refreshing as a zephyr from the mountains. Danyudevvado was the kriti. Vara maddala thaladi tambura veena vadyamula.. neraval was exquisite. Madyamakala swarams  suited the neraval line beautifully. Gangeya vasanadhara, Swati Tirunal Composition was sung leisurely bringing out the essence of Hamir Kalyani. Her Thodi sketch and A.G.Venkatasubramanian’s made us wonder what is the kriti to come.. A tamil composition of Papanasam Sivan, ‘Thanigai valar’ was presented with a few rounds of Sarvalaghu Kalpanaswarms at Thanigai Valar excellently. Padavini in Salakabhairavi was rendered brisk. Arjun Ganesh’s playing attracted our attention often in such familiar kritis. Playing for the songs, highlighting the flow of the kriti has become his forte. The main ragam was Begada. Both Jyotsna and AGV both brought out the essence of Begada. Lokavana chathura, a rarely heard song these days she sang very well. Her Paadam sounded very good. I loved her neraval line – Avani..adbhutamagu  nee padame gathi.. This kriti was followed by a short and sweet Thaniavarthanam by Arjun Ganesh. With  Sapashyat Kausalya in Jhonpuri the concert came to an end.

Jyotsna Vivek Concert Parivadini Video

Thamarakkadu Govindan Nambudiri – A Feather in Naada Inbam’s Cap

Thamarakkadu Govindan Nambudiri with S.Varadarajan, Trichur Narendran and Udupi Sridhar on 18-12-2018

Govindan Nambudhiri’s concert for Naada Inbam was a sample of the other dimension of Carnatic music. A dimension where  nothing else mattered except the purity of music. . For the duration of the concert he held the audience spell bound by the sheer magnetism of his music. The Mother and  Father of music, Sruthi and Laya were there at every moment. At some moments there was such unison between Nambhudiris voice and the tambura that the two seemed but one harmonic melody. His voice flowed like liquid, something like pouring honey out of a jar, and who cared that his voice did not have the ‘sweet and honeyed’ texture that is so prevalent today. Each sangathi welded with the other seamlessly. Out of his repertoire, the Muthuswami Dikshitar piece ‘Gurumurthe’ shone like a gem and the swara sequence found Nambudiri in his element. His abundant manodharma came forth with swara sequence after sequence, each one more delightful than the other. One wondered why no one else had thought of such sequences before! Equally delightful was Varadarajan’s replies on the violin: he followed the vocalists patterns but always had a personal touch that kept the audience in a fit of anticipation at every moment.
The first major raga was a real googly: Ahiri! And how elaborate it was! How many artistes, one wondered have explored this raga in such depth. And depth it certainly was, for Govindan Nambudithiri effortlessly skimmed the scale from the lower panchamam to the highest notes, gliding here, holding a note there.  Many of the sancharas were breathtaking and showed just how much sadhana this gentleman, tucked away in Kerala has put in. Even rendering a piece effectively in Ahiri is a tough proposition, and singing an elaborate alapana would make any connoisseur sit up. Varadarajan too gave exquisite sancharas.Beside his great talent, Varadarajan has the inherent quality of gnanam and some of his little touches showed just how sensitive a musician he is. His alapana was rewarded with resounding applause and perhaps the delighted vocalist outdid the audience in his appreciation. His applause, accomapanied by a genuinely delighted beam that warmed the hearts of everyone.The piece was the heavy weight Sri Kamalamba Jayathi. the vocalist sprang another surprise by rendering swaras for this piece, another rarely heard delight. with due respect for the raga bhava, he restricted himself to the first speed. After a brisk Ramapriya piece of Swati Thirunal (Samodam), the vocalist embarked on a Mukhari. The raga really seemed tailor-made for him with his ability to deliver the smooth glides that this raga full of pathos calls for. Such was his understanding of the true qualities of music that he knew when to give the plain notes, when to give dainty touches and when not to. The effect was remarkable.
The piece Emanine was rendered with utmost bhava, as was the whole concert. One wonders why and how such a fabulous musician remains in relative obscurity. The audience was evidently a classy one, that demanded heavy duty music rather than frivolous acrobatics. The musician was able to take the audience along the path of sedate serene dignified music, exactly how the classical music idiom is meant to be.
Besides Varadarajan, the top ranking percussion duo of Trichur Narendran and Udupi Sridhar did everything to prove themselves ideal partners in this musical feast. Their accompaniment was sheer mastery, not just over layam, but over the art of accomapanying a master artiste…
A concert to remember for life.
By Varalakshmi Anandkumar
(Varalakshmi AnandKumar

Amritha Murali – Concert on 17-12-2018

Amritha Murali, with R. K. Shriramkumar, Melakaveri Balaji, Dr. S. Karthick.


Concert Video

The Song List:

  1. Namo namo – Nattai. (Annamacharya)
  2. Etula brotuvo – Chakravakam
  3. Ksheenamai – Mukhari
  4. Shringaradi Navarasangi – Davalanga
  5. Parakela – Kedaragaula (Syama Sastri)
  6. Shankarabharanam Ragam, Thanam with Mridangam & Ghatam, Devi Jagajjanani, Thani avarthanam
  7. Smara varam – Behag (Sadasiva Brahmendral)
  8. Bhagavatam 1st and Last Shlokam – Kapi, Kamas, Hamsanandi, Neelambari -Manickam katti – Ragamalika. (Periyazhwar Pasuram)
  9. Shlokam – Sindubhairavi – Apara karuna sidhum (R.K.Shriramkumar’s composition)
  10. Mangalam

Amritha’s voice has a crystal clear sound which brings out the lyrics with clarity. And the melody has full Sruthi alignment. Especially when she presented “Sringaradi Navarasangi” in Davalanga ragam as requested by Karthick, with perfect Sruthi and rhythm alignment the vivadi ragam kriti sounded so haunting . Then she went on to present Parakela in kedaragaula of Syama Sastri in a brisk madyama kaalam with wonderful rhythm support. She sang with great empathy some of the masterpieces of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Ksheenamai in Mukhari an all time favorite of SSI and Amritha brought his memory very much by her excellent presentation. Another priceless gem of Swati Tirunal, Devi Jagajjanani, Navarathri kriti, was presented in the Traditional style of Navarathri Mantapam. The listeners were awed when she developed an amazing Thanam with the accompanists after the leisurely Ragam. Melakkaveri Balaji and S. Karthick added a grand flourish to the Thanam and the kriti and their Thaniavarthanam was a development of the neraval swarams in …and culminating in a grand finish with the joyous claps of the audience. The post Thani  pieces brought out the genius of R.K.Shriramkumar. Till then he was only an extraordinary Violinist who could highlight and bring out the melody of the music in perfect glory. The beautiful Periyalvar pasuram which Amritha sang was beautifully tuned by R.K.Shriramkumar, I got to know. Amritha sang another lovely song “Apara karuna sindhum” in Sindhubhairavi and she announced that its a composition on our Kapaleeshwarar of Mylapore composed by Shriramkumar. God bless him! He contributes so much to Music in his typical self effacing, simple nature. On the whole the concert was a great delightful experience.

Injikkudi E.M.Subramanian Nadaswaram on 12.12.2018

Injikkudi Subramanian – Nadaswaram, with B.U.Ganesh Prasad,        Neyveli Skanda Subramanian, Madippakkam Murali .

Sri Shivakumar who attended the concert has written a beautiful review of the concert in Dhinamalar Newspaper. I have put a photo of that wonderful review in this page and honestly I can’t express better than that.

Parivadini Concert Video

The song list of the Concert:

  1. Anandamrithakarshini – Amrithavarshini
  2. Neebhakti bhagyasudha – Jayamanohari
  3. Evvare Ramaiya – Gangeyabhooshani
  4. Nenarunchi nanu – Malavi
  5. Kalyana Rama – Hamsanadam
  6. Nanda nandana – Bhajan
  7. Thirupugazh – Sindubhairavi

Ameya Karthigeyan Concert on 12.12.2018

Ameya Karthigeyan with Haritha Narayanan and S. Kavichelvan

The youngster Ameya Karthigeyan gave a very good concert with Haritha Narayanan and S.Kavichelvan. She has a lovely voice, though she has to work on her range of voice and karvai, one gets an impression that she is here to work hard and be a Musician with good vidwat. Haritha Narayanan supported the concert well. She belongs to a Musical family. She is the daughter of Sri.Neyveli Narayanan. So it is no wonder she has a poise on the stage and performs really well. Kavichelvan played brilliantly and supported Ameya very well. From his posture to playing we are reminded of Manoj Siva so much

that it is no surprise that he is a disciple of Sri.Manoj Siva!

Ameya Karthigeyan’s Concert Video

The song list of the concert:

  1. Sri Raja Mathangi – Suddha Dhanyasi Varnam
  2. Maha Ganapathe – Natanarayani
  3. Ramabhirama – Darbar
  4. Sahana – Ivasudha
  5. Poorvikalyani – Satileni
  6. Varanarada – Vijayasri
  7. Kambhoji – O Rangasayi
  8. Thoomani madathu – Hamirkalyani

Smt.Aruna Ranganathan’s Concert on 10th Dec,2018.

Aruna Ranganathan with Samyuktha Ranganathan(Vocal Support), Pakkala Ramdas, Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar, Nerkunam Shankar.

Aruna Ranganathan, is a fine artist who is deeply committed to a very classical style of music. The Karnataka Kapi she sang that day with the kriti Anyayamu seyakura Rama sounded very exotic to me, very unusual to hear in the concert platform yet so traditional. The accompanists supported her wonderfully as it needs a lot of sensitivity to support a very traditional style of music.

Aruna Ranganathan Concert Video

Song list of the Concert:

  1. Inta kopamelara – Dasa ghanaragamalika Varnam by Veenai Kuppaiyar
  2. Manasa Sri Ramachandruni – Isa manohari(Thyagaraja)
  3. Anyayamu seyakura Rama – Karnataka Kapi
  4. Garuda gamana samayamide – Naagaswaravali (Patnam)
  5. Varali – Mamava Meenakshi
  6. Yagnadulu – Jayamanohari
  7. Shankarabharanam – Shankaracharyam
  8. Mosamaya – Ahiri Padam
  9. Thiruvotriyur – Atana Tamil Padam
  10. Mariyada teliyakane – Javali, Surutti
  11. Uruvai Aruvai – Mangalam