There are quite a few Carnatic singers whose music I love to listen to. But if there is one Carnatic singer who has inspired me the most and has never ceased to amaze me with his vidwath, it is Sri T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS)
I had not been able to attend most of his concerts this season but had the good fortune of listening to him at least five times in the last one month. TNS seemed to be in brilliant form in all these concerts. The first opportunity, which was also probably the most memorable, was his performance in a marriage concert. The environment there was far from conducive. Almost everyone assembled there was talking non-stop and there was a lot of noise which didn’t show any signs of abating till the end. Yet, TNS gave one of the most outstanding performances I have heard by anyone in the recent times – one that will stay in my mind for a long time to come. The brindAvana sAranga and hamsanAdam he sang that day will remain etched in my memory forever.
Another very good concert was the one he gave for Hamsanadam (Music School) at MFAC last Sunday. The neraval and kalpanA swaram he sang that day for heccarikagA rArA (yadukulakAmbOji) in kanDa Ekam and the behAg RTP in kanDa cApu were just phenomenal. The pantuvarALi and kalyANi he sang at Sri Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple, Adyar just a few days back were just too good. It’s been a long time since I heard someone sing such a brilliant pantuvarALi.
TNS backed all this up with a splendid performance today at Sri Vedanta Desikar Devasthanam in Mylapore. There are so many things about the concert worth mentioning. The hour long subhapantuvarALi was top class. So was the brilliant bahudAri alapana. Some of the calculations used in the kalpanA swarams for “shrI satyanArAyaNam” were so beautiful and effective. The extensive swaram patterns and kOrvais that were put in kanDa gati showcased how adept he is mathematically. Not long back, while speaking at a function organized to pay homage to the khanjira maestro Sri G. Harishankar, TNS had held the audience spell bound not only with his speech but also with his konnakkOl !!!
TNS’ humorous side also kept surfacing in these concerts. When violin vidwan Sri M. Chandrasekaran told him at MFAC that he was feeling very hot and asked if there were any bright lights focused on the stage, TNS immediately requested the organizers to dim the lights thus: “Konjam light light-aagave irukkatume!” While singing the anupallavi of “alaippAyudE kaNNA” almost near the stipulated end time of today’s concert, TNS looked at his wrist watch and sang “nEramAvadariyAmalE miga vinOdamAna muralIdharA en manam” 🙂 . While singing the caraNam of the same song, he had a few words to say to the team that was shooting the video of the concert with bright lights directed towards the stage: “teLinda nilavu paTTappagal pOl eriyudE un dikkai nOkki enniru puruvam neriyudE” 🙂
Finally, a couple of points from today’s concert to illustrate how TNS intelligently sings the lyrics: While singing Sri Kulasekara Azhwar’s pAsuram “ceDiyAy valvinaigaL tIrkkum tirumAlE” from Perumal Tirumozhi as viruttam in the rAgam hamsAnandi, TNS sang the word aDiyArum in the lower octave and vAnavarum in the upper octave, as though illustrating their respective positions in this world. The word paDiyAy was sung repetitively and progressively using the notes “s-s-s”, “r-r-r”, “g-g-g” & “m-m-m” as though illustrating the steps (paDi)!!
There are so many more things that can be written about this multi-faceted genius. But I would stop here for now and end this post by praying God to bless TNS with a long life filled with many more years of such distinguished service to the world of music.