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A masterly performance


IT IS rarely that a music concert appeals to all sections of listeners with diverse tastes. What appeals to the knowledgeable often goes over the head of lay listeners. But Nithyasree Mahadevan's concert achieved this rare feat. The knowledgeable and the lay listeners, the young and the old were all kept spellbound for more than two and a half hours by the captivating performance of Nithyasree. There was virtually a consensus of opinion that this was one of the best concerts heard in the city in recent times. The fact is that the performance far exceeded the expectations of seasoned listeners. It was certainly a masterly performance. Youngsters and novices too found the concert enthralling and lively since there was not a single dull moment from start to finish.

Of course, old timers were looking forward to a class performance since Nithyasree is the torchbearer of two glittering legacies in Carnatic music- that of Gana Saraswathi D. K Pattammal and mridangam maestro Palghat Mani Iyer. Her father I. Sivakumar, who accompanied her on the mridangam, is the son of Pattammal. Her mother and first guru Lalitha Sivakumar is the daughter of Palghat Mani Iyer and a disciple of Pattammal. Thus Nithyasree's talent is the confluence of two illustrious streams of heritage.

Recipient of many awards and titles, Nithyasree is looked upon as one of the promising Carnatic vocalists of the new generation. Gifted with a resonant voice that can negotiate octavial manoeuvrings with effortless ease, she won the best concert award from the prestigious Madras Music Academy for six years. An `A' grade Akashvani artiste, she has presented concerts in a lot of foreign countries including, U.S.A., U.K., Australia and many European countries. Her first public concert was in 1987 at the age of 14.

Nithyasree was accompanied on the violin by M. A Krishnaswamy, the rising star of the Parur violin family. Her father Sivakumar provided the rhythmic support on the mridangam. Udupi Sreedhar played the ghatam.

The concert began with a varnam in Sahana transmitting an ambience of tranquillity. The central piece of the concert was Tyagaraja's `Dorakuna... ' in Bilahari, a favourite piece of late Dr. S. Ramanathan. Nithyasree was at her best in exploring the enchanting ranges of Bilahari in alapana and swara vinyasa. It was certainly one of the best presentations of Bilahari in recent times. Deekshitar's `Ramanatham bhajeham... ' in Panthuvarali and Swati Tirunal's `Gopalaka pahimam... ' in Revagupthi were other main pieces that brought out her calibre.

There were also some attractive bits like `Ennalum intha bhagyam... ' in Mukhari, `Narayana Hari Narayana... ' (ragamalika), `Saramaina... ' in Behag and `Janani janani... ' in Sivaranjini. Nithysree's concert is bound to remain fresh in the minds of music lovers in Kochi for many years.

M.K.BALAGOPAL

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