The venue was uncommon, the programme unique and the audience well-informed.
PHOTO: R. RAVINDRAN
PLAYING WITH GUSTO:The team headed by Guru Karaikkudi Mani.
Accountant General's Office Recreation Club, AGORC had organised a concert - an ensemble of drums, strings and woodwind that presented half a dozen numbers combining desi and videshi genre. The occasion was the celebration of 150 years of the Institution of Comptroller and Auditor General of India in Chennai.
Guru Karaikkudi Mani led the troupe from the middle, in the literal sense. He was in the pleasurable company of Balasai (flute), U.P. Raju (mandolin), Raghavendra Rao (violin), Suresh (ghatam and jalra) and Madhusudhan (drum-kit).
The programme began with a Kedaram piece titled, ‘Springs,' composed by Balasai. One will remember that this has become the signature music for DD Podhigai's ‘Kannanin Aaramudhu.'
Australian Jazz supremo and tenor and soprano saxophone player Sandy Evans's compositions, ‘Sacred Cow's Tail' and ‘The Emerald Green Scene' were adapted. They had a striking resemblance to our folk music.
Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavathar's unique piece in Niroshta - ‘Raja Raja Radhithe,' - was included with set-up music by Balasai. The ineffable melody of the flute was at its blowing-best in the hands (read lips) of Balasai, who juggled the flutes -- the miniature, the bansuri and the metallic button-beauty of the western kind -- with remarkable musical sense.
Making a mark
Karaikkudi Mani's own composition, ‘Vasantha Pravaham' (1986) that came next saw a mix of Bahudhari and Ranjani, and was followed by a thani avarthanam, where Mani made a mark. So did Suresh and Madhusudhan. The concert concluded with ‘Raghupathi Raaghava Raja Ram.' Raju and Raghavendra Rao touched many a chord with their gentle caressing phrases at every interlude.
Karaikkudi Mani praised AGORC for its efforts. Audit and Accounts work could make the employees weary and concerts should be a welcome change, he felt. He wanted all Government offices to adopt the idea.
It was a memorable experience for the audience. ; blissful they were in their appreciation and enjoyment. Some members maintained the beats from start to finish. The nodding of their heads at sangatis, sanchara highlights and laya arudhis spoke of their quality as informed rasikas. “The hall was occupied to its full capacity and this afternoon their lunch recess was spent most usefully” – a listener remarked. Not a soul would have disagreed!
Long, quiet presence
A GORC – Accountant General's Office Recreation Club, a self-contained outfit which was begun way back in 1930 to promote arts and encourage sports activities, celebrated its golden jubilee in 1980. The premises has a library and a simple concert hall adjacent to it.
Illustrious performers have used this less known dais to enthral audiences – Madurai Somu, MLV, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, Dr. N. Ramani, Sirkazhi Govindarajan, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan, Maharajapuram Santhanam, MSG, Bombay Sisters, Sudha Ragunathan, Nithyasri Mahadevan and so on.
A face to face session with M.S.Viswanathan has been held here, and SPB has sung for the club. One of the members recalled how they collected one rupee as entry fee for these concerts! Believe it or not, Maharajapuram Santhanam sang for Rs. 425!
The ‘original' ‘Major Chandrakanth,' directed by K. Balachandar (an ex-employee of this office) was first staged here. This drama fetched the title ‘Major' for Sundararajan. Competitions are conducted among the employees under various categories, in order to recognise and award talents. The employees get to listen to a concert every month, which is held during the lunch hour.
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