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Pattammal touch evokes nostalgia

TWO SALIENT features highlighted the vocal concert of Geetha Rajasekhar held at the Bhavan's auditorium at Kochi under the auspices of Rasikapriya - patient and detailed delineation of ragas and modulation of voice to suit the multiple ranges of each raga. Manodharma element was paid due attention in alapana, niraval and swaraprasthara.

Veteran vocalist D.K. Pattammal, who enthralled listeners more than half a century ago, is her main guru. Pattammal, now in her eighties, has no daughters and treats Geetha as her own daughter. Probably it is this special relationship that goes beyond the guru-shishya framework that gave a Pattammal touch to the concert which evoked nostalgic memories.

Geetha had her early music lessons in Delhi, where her father was employed. It was after they settled in Chennai, near D.K Pattammal's house, that the new music relationship blossomed. The two families were close to each other from the days of Geetha's grandfather, who was a close friend of Pattammal's husband.

Geetha Rajasekhar also has a Kerala connection. She studied for a year at the Arya Central School at Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram. In her early days, she had no idea that she would take up music as a career. She was fascinated by the recitals of Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Palaghat K.V. Narayanaswamy, Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer , D.K. Pattammal and M.S. Subbulakshmi.

It was music lessons with maternal care that prompted her to pay full attention to music. Geetha has rendered concerts all over India and in most of the major foreign countries. She has sung along with D.K. Pattammal at many places in Tamil Nadu.

She has a special relationship with Canada. A Canadian girl is among her students. Now she has been invited by some organisations in Canada to teach Carnatic music to Canadian students.

During her concerts in Tamil Nadu, she makes it a point to sing many songs popularised by D.K. Pattammal like "Eppadi Padinaro" in Karnataka Devagandhari. Karahara Priya and Madhyamavati are among her favourite ragas.

Geetha has no fascination for Hindustani music as such though she has a special liking for Parveen Sultana's concerts. She enjoys many Hindustani ragas like Darbari Kanada. But she is cool to the concept of jugalbandi performances.She feels sad that the temples in Tamil Nadu do not provide the younger generation an opportunity to listen to great musical concerts. She formed the Ragalaya Trust in September 2000 along with mridangam maestro Tiruvaroor Bhaktavatsalam to evoke soothing raga notes in ancient temples. It was launched at the Maha Saraswathi Amman Kovil at Koothanur. Apart from organising concerts, the trust plans to conduct workshops for children and to offer research scholarships. On another front, the trust has chosen 25 schools to organise music awareness programmes with the co-operation of Rotary Club. Geetha believes that such programmes are needed to meet the threat of dwindling interest in classical music.

At the concert, she was accompanied on the violin by V.V. Sreenivasa Rao. Neyveli Skanda Subramaniam on the mridangam and A.S. Krishnan on the moorsing.

After `Chalamela... ', a varnam in Nattakurinji and a bit in Natta, Panthuvarali was chosen for elaborate `alapana' and the `krithi' was `Sarasaksha paripalaya... ' by Swati Thirunal. Proper attention was paid to alapana, niraval and swaraprasthara. The audience fully enjoyed the piece as well as the beautiful rendering of ` Sree Lakshmi Varaham... ' (Abhogi) and `Thaye Tripurasundari... ' in Sudhdha Saveri . The main krithi was Tyagaraja's `Kalikiyunde... ' in her favourite raga Keeravani which kept the audience spellbound. This was followed by a few ragamalikas including `Manikya Veenam Upalayandi... '

The accompanying artistes, especially violinist Sreenivasa Rao, rose to the occasion and gave her able support. Probably, Geetha regards every concert as a sort of `gurudakshina' to D.K.Pattammal who cannot move around because of health problems.

M.K.BALAGOPAL

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