Venue: Sivagami Petachi Auditorium, Luz Church Road, Mylapore, Chennai
Date: 23rd Nov 2006
Occasion: Star Vijay’s Aashirwad Sangeeta Sangamam 2006
Flute: Sri S. Shashank
Violin: Sri Mysore Srikanth
Mridangam: Sri Parupalli S. Phalgun
Tambura: Smt. Shirisha Shashank
List of songs (partial):
1) jalajAksha (varnam) – hamsadwani – Adi – manmbuchAvaDi venkaTasubbaiyer (A)
2) Ananda naTamADuvAr – pUrvikalyANi – rUpakam – nIlakanTa sivan (AS)
3) nagumOmu – AbhEri – Adi – thyAgarAja (AST)
4) bArO krishnayyA – rAgamAlikA – Adi – kanakadAsa
Sri Shashank took about 15 minutes before the concert began to make sure that the sound system was set to its best performance levels. He then started his concert with a beautiful outline of the raga hamsadhwani. This was followed by the varnam jalajAksha where he played the pallavi, anupallavi, mukthayi swaram, charanam and the chitta swarams in the normal and double speeds. The raga alapana of pUrvikalyANI that followed this was quite elaborate and done in parts by Sri Shashank and Sri Srikanth. Sri Srikanth’s essay of the raga was very melodious. Raga AbhEri was also elaborated nicely. I had to leave after bArO krishnayyA. I think Sri Shashank would have played one more composition after this as he was signalling for the same to the organizers.
While Sri Shashank played the flute at a very low pitch (I think it was 1″), the mridangam’s pitch was exactly one octave higher which resulted in metallic, tabla-like sounds emanating from it. Sri Phalgun played very well. He was, for example, able to exactly “play” the varnam on his mridangam in both the normal and the double speeds. His taniavartanam was short and sweet and the korvai he played to end it was very well framed so as to lead to the start of the portion of the song where taniavartanam had been given to him.
Two key takeaways for artists from the concert:
1) Sri Shashank took considerable time to get the sound system set right. He made sure that the accompanists also did a mic-test. He even asked the audience for feedback on the audio. Although some people around me were visibly annoyed due to the delayed start, this made sure that the listening experience was much better once the concert started. Many artists today start singing/playing once everyone is ready with his/her instruments only to realize immediately that all is not well.
2) Sri Shashank communicated well with the audience (in terms of telling what he is going to play or what he played etc or talking about the concert/ concert format itself before he started playing). This is something very few Carnatic artistes do. I feel that good communication with the audience is especially required in instrumental concerts and in concerts where not-so-well-known compositions are played.