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Dynamic display of virtuosity


The music and dance concerts held during the Isha fest held at Velliangiri Hills, Coimbatore, brought out the diverse styles of the artists.

Photos: S. Siva Saravanan

Unique ensemble:(Clockwise from top left): Ustad Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan; Padma Talwalker; Thang Ta of Manipur; Charishnu dance recital; Kathakali, Mohinyattom and Bharatanatyam performed at the Yaksha 2010 festival, Coimbatore.

Expertise and sensitiveness made Ustad Ali Ahmed Hussain Khan's shehnai recital, at the Isha fest at the Velliangiri hills, Coimbatore, unique. Lurking behind the sheer craftsmanship in the exposition of the ragas, Anand Kalyan and Mishra Piloo, was his sensitivity to their subtleties and nuances. He delineated the ragas elaborately revealing his mastery over the Hindustani gamaka flavour and a dynamic display of musicality mesmerising the listeners for two hours.

Spritual ambience

Jaipur gharana veteran Pt. Rajsekhar Mansur's (with the vocal support of Chandrika Kamath) Hindustani vocal recital on the following day found the artist in full form, his voice flowing in a steady stream in perfect alignment to the tanpura. His opening number, an evening melody in raag Sri, depicting a seeker in search of his guru on finding whom he realises both the guru and God within himself, set the tone for the spiritual ambience of the Isha Yoga centre.

The succeeding numbers in praise of Lord Siva in raags Kalyani and Jinjoti were marked by rhythm and lyrical phrases sans flamboyance. The concluding piece, ‘Dhyanaranga, Gnanaranga and Vignanaranga' in Lajwanti was a poignant rendition. Vishwanath Thakur was the tabla accompanist.

Lively music session

Partho Sarothy's play on the sarod and the redoubtable skill of Shubendra Rao on the sitar to the accompaniment of Anindo Chatterjee and his son, Anuprada Chatterjee on the tabla feted the listeners with a rasa-filled experience. The duo's initial play of Puriya Dhanshree, the raag sung at dusk with a sense of pathos and a sense of elation to welcome the night after an extended alaap followed by jod and jhala set the tone for a lively music session.

A disciple of the formidable Pt. Ravishankar, Partho and Shubendra Rao brought out the many shades and nuances in the alap, jod and jhala. Their presentation of the composition in Khamaj was soulful.

Their imaginative improvisations in varying rhythmic patterns in the instruments touched the hearts of the aficionados.

The concluding number preceded by an alap and jod in Sindhbhairav was a classic presentation.

The father-son duo on the tabla gave enjoyable support to the instrumentalists. It was a veritable symphony in serenity.

Padma Talwalker's bhajans in her deep and resonant voice caused a meditative spell among listeners.

Padma's mellifluous voice haunted the rasikas for a long time justifying the fact that melodies listened to are sweet but those unheard are sweeter still.

Bold attempt

Leela Samson's Charishnu dance recital, an amalgam of the classical, folk and martial art dance forms with an ensemble of drums of the South was a bold attempt to depict the cultural unity of Bharat.

The dancers in aesthetically dressed costumes displayed the strength and beauty of their distinctive styles of dance sending the audience into raptures. Their quicksilver movements on the entire stage with elegance and grace in varying ways were symbolic expressions of the cultural unity of India in the midst of diversity.

Conceived by Leela Samson, the individual dance styles were choreographed by Sadanam Balakrishnan (Kathakali and Mohiniyattom), Aditi Mangaldas (Kathak), Priti Patel (Manipuri), Inocha Singh (Thang Ta), Aruna Mohanti (Odissi) and Leela Samson (Bharatanatyam).

The percussion wing of Umamahesh Vinayakram enhanced the dignity of the dance recital with a vibrant play of the drums.

With finesse

A wholesome package of Carnatic and devotional songs rendered by Sudha Ragunathan commencing with ‘Sree Vighnarajam Bhaje' in Gambhiranaattai followed by ‘Idathu Padham' (Khamas), ‘Akhilandeswari' (Dwijavanti), ‘Unnaiallal,' ‘Bho Shambo' and special songs in Tamil on Isha Center and the newly consecrated Linga Bhairavi with finesse whetted the aural appetite of the listeners.

Ramadas (violin), Vaidyanathan (mridangam), Sundarakumar (ganjira) and Raman (morsing) were the accompanists.

Pt. Vishnu Mohan Bhatt with his Mohanveena (an improvised version of sitar, sarod and veena) played oscillating arrays of notes in perfect alignment to sruti in his extended alap of Maarun Behaag for a devotional composition, a Rajasthani folk song, ‘Kesariya Aavo' and ‘Meeting by the River' (that won a Grammy) received wide acclaim.

Pt.Ramkumar Misra was the tabla accompanist.

* * *

Sivaratri celebrations

Thousands of devotees were part of the 16 {+t} {+h} year Mahasivaratri, a night long festival, which was organised by the Isha foundation at Dhyanalingam at the foothills of Velliangiri, Coimbatore, on February 12, in the presence of Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev.

Preceding the function was the Panchabhuta aradhana performed by the founder of the spiritual centre.

Spiritual exercise

The entire spiritual exercise began with a live performance by Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia of Bansuri fame. Percussionist (drums) Sivamani with the native Isha ensemble, Sounds of Isha added jazz to the celebrations.

At the stroke of midnight the vast gathering of devotees was initiated into the sacred mahamantra meditation ‘Om Namasivaya.'

The added attraction to the annual event was the consecration of the Lingabhairavi adjacent to the Dhyanalingam. Colourful stalls were put up displaying handicrafts, arts and clothes from all over the country.

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