Captivating recitals by Sivasri Skandaprasad and Tanya Saxena

August 15, 2016

Sivasri Skandaprasad, a senior disciple of Roja Kannan, gave a captivating recital at the Music Academy's Spirit of Youth Festival on 3rd August 2016. Sivasri commenced the recital with an alarippu in traditional pattern followed by jathiswaram by Tanjore Quartet in raga Hemavati set to misrachapu talam choreographed by Roja Kannan's guru Adyar K Lakshman and right at the commencement, Sivasri impressed the audience.

The central piece was the varnam in ragam Sankarabaranam by Tanjore Quartet Ponniah Pillai "Manavi chei kona rada" where the virahotkanditha nayika pleads with her Lord Brihadeeswara at Tanjore - "Vinara Sri Tanja-purini velayo ma Brihadheesa" (Will you not listen, beautiful Lord of my heart, to my loving prayers? My love for you never ceases to increase as you can see). Sivasri's sanchari of sending messages to her lord through cloud, moon and deer, were gracefully portrayed by her. She further tells him, "Neenu neranaminanura nika muka madi loru" (Please listen, you in the sacred town of Tanjore dwell, my beautiful Lord Brihadeeswarar. Upon you alone, endlessly, from many births, I keep all my thoughts and every single day, believe me, you are in my heart) and further "Nee neratanamu nee doratanamu..... (Swami) Aporuna madi bramasi virahamano sagaramulo mukunchi teno chunnati" (For your beauty and your regal elegance, you can be compared only to yourself, my Lord. Now my mind is wandering in madness, deep into the ocean of desire) and the virahotkanditha nayika confesses that her condition is pitiful. Sivasri impressed with her delightful abhinaya. She was at her best in her abhinaya for "Pantamelara nato" where the heroine says to her lord, "In anger, now, you turn your face away from me. Tell me, why are you doing this to me?" She convincingly brought out the pent-up love while she danced for "Pancha sharudu vidu vanchi sharankunagu minchina velalo vanchana lediki" (the five flowers of Cupid's bow have pierced my heart and my suffering is deepening. How can this leave you so indifferent?) Finally in "Dara di pati yeni dora doralu..." she concludes - In the entire universe you are the king of all the kings; with magnanimity, you bestow fulfillment. You, remover of all obstacles, please show some compassion to me. See how my love is deep. Please now come and take me with you - The adavus were skillfully choreographed by Guru Adyar K Lakshman and Sivasri executed the jathis with immaculate precision, interspersed with araimandi and delectable thattu mettus. She drew repeated applause from the audience.

The post varnam session saw Sivasri emoting soulfully for "Mugudochi" in ragam Sahana where the parakiya proudha nayika tells her beloved Krishna that the time has come for her to leave for her in-laws' house and be with her wedded husband and she parts with Krishna with great despair and requests him not to forget her. Next was Ambujam Krishna's krithi on Azhagar, "Azhaga Azhaga" where the devotee says that she will walk up the hills and the lord dwelling in Thirumaliruncholai has to bestow his grace on her. This bhakthi laden piece was ably handled by Sivasri. The fitting finale was the thillana by violin maestro Lalgudi G Jayaraman in Behag in tisra nadai.

K Hari Prasad, one of the most sought after artistes on vocal, Ishwar Ramakrishnan on violin and skillful Nellai D. Kannan on the percussion, lifted the recital to sublime heights. Guru Roja Kannan ably wielded the cymbals. It was an ecstatic experience to watch this artist and given more opportunities, Sivasri Skandaprasad will further be able to prove her mettle.

Tanya Saxena, a senior disciple of Dr. Saroja Vaidyanathan and Rama Vaidyanathan, gave a very mature recital at the Music Academy in the Spirit of Youth Festival on 7th August 2016. Tanya commenced her recital with Madhurashtakam Shlokam by Vallabhacharya, "Adharam Madhuram Vadanam Madhuram" immortalized by M.S. Subbulakshmi, describing the sweetness of Lord Krishna. The abhinaya for this piece interspersed with vibrant jathis gave a good start to the recital.

Tanya then took up the varnam in the ragam Riti Gowla by Tanjore Quartet's Vadivelu in Tamil, "Sami unnaiye naan migavum nambinene" on Vishnu where the virahotkanditha nayika tells her lord that she has reposed her full confidence in him and he is responsible for her very existence. She is full of love for him and the time has come for him to reciprocate her love. The heroine says, "Jaalam seyyalaagaado inda velayil" and "Kamanai indra sri Kamalanabha deva" meaning that it is not proper for him to indulge in lighthearted play with her the one who has given birth to Kamadeva, the god of love. She further laments that Manmatha's arrows are piercing her body and she is tormented by longing. Tanya brought out the spirit of the varnam in its entirety in a very mature and graceful manner and the jathis and adavus choreographed by Rama Vaidyanathan were brilliantly executed by her.

Tanya then took up in khanditha nayika bhava the piece "Yennadaina vintina" in the raga Murali composed by Balamuralikrishna where the heroine says, "Krishna, you are the height of drama and you change your colour like a chameleon depending on who is before you and now I cannot differentiate between right and wrong because of your drama." She also asks him whether he has been in the company of the maid who has curly hair like that of a snake or the maid with the fish like eyes or yet another girl who has a gait like a swan and tells him that he cannot get from her the comforts he enjoyed with those maids.

"Om Namo Narayana" in raga Karnaranjini on Guruvayurappan was about how the lord bestows his grace on the devotee who enjoys welfare and without his name there is no other way to salvation. The abhinaya for this piece naturally was replete with bhakti bhava and Tanya lived up to the spirit of the kriti. Tanya concluded the recital with a lilting thillana in the raga Varamu which included a short shloka on the Devi and it was really a fitting finale.

Sudha Raguraman on vocal, Sumod Sreedharan on percussion and Rajat Prasanna on the flute enriched the recital by their brilliant support. Himanshu Srivastava wielded the cymbals very effectively. Tanya showed maturity, poise and grace throughout the recital and she will be an artist to remember and watch out for in the years to come.