Gayathri Venkataraghavan

From the blog

Tour IAACM 2016

Dear Friends and Rasikas,

I am very happy to be touring the US of A and Canada again and sing for the wonderful audience here under the banner of the Indo American Academy of Classical Music. Vidwan Mysore Sri Srikanth and Vidwan Neyveli Sri Skanada Subramanian will present the concerts with me in this concert tour.

This being the birth centenary year of the personification of all of our most treasured memory of Carnatic music, MS amma, it was only befitting that we dedicate this tour to her musical legacy.

We will present a few of her most well known pieces in every concert and hope that we adequately pay homage to the wonderful person and musician that she was.

As a student of music, there have been great musicians who have left a lasting impression in my life. Carnatic music makes me feel like a small child standing at a sea shore, staring at the endless ocean with awe. These musicians have entered my life like the waves that crash the shore and reach your feet. Before you appreciate the water that calms your foot in the blistering sand, the wave has left you to join the ocean again. They keep returning to my memory, much like the waves keep returning to the little girl by the shore, but they leave before the mind appreciates their magnificence to meet their creator, giving me fleeting joy at having experienced them and a deep ache at watching them leave, only to experience them again in a periodic rhythm that moves with the beat of the universe.

These musicians created an interest and ignited a passion to listen more, to learn continuously and to practise ceaselessly , which perhaps is the secret of being a Indian Classical music exponent.

Amongst the masters , Bharath Ratna M.S.Subbulakshmi has created a great impact which travels beyond words, on rasikas, students of music and performers.

M.S. Subbulakshmi

Her innate sense of aesthetics added a glow to her already magnificient voice.Her Sruthi sense and the perfect alignment of her voice to the notes she sang and the long karvais, the beautiful Jarus coupled with the way she used her voice for amazing brigas and lightning sancharas all require many years of listening to understand. To practice and perfect them would require many lifetimes.

Her Bhakthi(Devotion) to the great composers is evident from the great reverence she showed to each of their compositions . She worked on bringing out their intent in each composition she sang to the extent that one felt that this is how the composer would have wanted the composition to be sung.

Whether it was Subbaraya Satri’s Janani Ninnuvina or Thaygaraja Swami’s Nidhichala Sukama or Rama Bhaja or even a Guru Nanak Bhajan, one can feel the presence of the composer and the Bhava in each line that she rendered.

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 1982The hours of rehearsal spent on each of these compositions is evident from the ease with which she presents the piece.

However, only when we try to learn the same composition do we realise the thought and technique that has gone behind each sangathi and it will send you on a quest to attain perfection.

That is the reason many artists can remind you of the the great MSS, but never sing like her.

Her repertoire is astonishing and the fact that she has covered more than a hundred composers’ songs in her life time is testimony to a labour of love.

The care and detail that went into the concert planning, to please every rasika(listener) while keeping the classical content intact is another lesson to be learnt by every performer from MS amma’s concert lists.

Perhaps the greatest thing to be absorbed from MS amma’s concerts is the ‘’Alavu’’ (measure) that she adopted. It came naturally to her to stop when everyone wanted more because she innately knew when the music had attained its crescendo.

Apart from all these wonderful qualities as a musician, she was an epitome of karunyam (Compassion) and we all know how she gave away almost everything she earned for different causes. She also showed us how one could place family values above everything else and still achieve dizzing heights in their career. The same woman who stunned the collective audience of the United Nations assembly with her music noticed some weary villagers who had walked a long way to come for her concert and sang well past the concert duration for their pleasure.

1998 - Bharat RatnaShe never let her success affect her beautiful personality and remained the humble and affectionate MS amma to all those who had the good fortune to interact with her.

She is the greatest teacher for any student who is willing to emulate all these sterling qualities. The whole fraternity of willing music students are her students . Every child who starts to learn music is blessed – “Nalla katundu MS amma madiri Paadanum” (learn well and sing like the great MS amma)

It is an honour and blessing to sing a few of the compositions that she immortalised.

We will be performing in centers across the US of A and Canada over the next few months. Hope to see you there!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

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Gayathri Venkataraghavan