29 April 2013

Bombay Jayashri at the Sydney Opera House

Concert list and review

Bombay Jayashri - vocal
HN Bhaskar - violin
VV Ramanamurthy - mrudangam
Giridhar Udupa - ghatam
Chitra Poornima Sathish & Keertana Vaidyanathan - tambura

Presented by Bhoomija Trust (Bangalore, India)
at The Sydney Opera House , Concert Hall
Sydney, Australia
28 April 2013
5pm to 7.20pm

calamu (varnam) - valaji - Adi - lAlgudi jayarAman (O)
SyAma sundarAnga - dhanyAsi - rUpaka - tyAgarAja (O,S)
mAmava mInAkshi - varALi - miSra cApu - muttusvAmi dIkshitar (A, N, S)
enta muddO enta sogasO - bindumAlini - Adi - tyAgarAja
O rangaSAyI - kAmbhOji - Adi - tyAgarAja (A, N, S T)
kaNDEn kaNDEn - bhAgeSri - Adi tisram - arunAcala kavi (O)
sarvam bhramamayam - darbAri kAnaDa – Adi – sadASiva bhamendra
dhIm tana dhIm (tillaNa) - bEhAg - Adi tisram - lAlgudi jayarAman
nInAmarUpamulaku nitya jaya mangaLam - saurAshTram - Adi – tyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

This was the first Carnatic vocal concert held at the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. There have been instrumental concerts in the concert hall and vocal music presented at the smaller venues but in terms of a traditional vocal concert at the concert hall, this was a first and it was Carnatic music at its finest.

In the same week where the Carnatic world lost perhaps its brightest star, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman, we had his most prominent vocal disciple performing at this world famous venue. Bombay Jayashri didn’t not give any speeches during the concert but rather let her music speak.

Jayashri commenced with her guru’s varnam in valaji and moved on to Thyagaraja’s kriti in dhanyasi. The pre-main piece was a touching varali followed by Dikshitar’s masterpiece describing the ruby studded Goddess Minakshi of Madurai. The Opera House concert hall created a very special ambience with her beautiful voice resonating throughout the large dome of the auditorium.

A filler (and Lalgudi favourite) was the sprightly enta muddo which led onto the majestic kambhoii alapana. The alapana was just exquisite. Sangati after sangati poured out like a torrent and as I closed my eyes I could hear the violin of Lalgudi Jayaraman in Jayashri’s voice. There could be no greater tribute to the guru than this. Almost twenty minutes of pure bliss. It was a kambhoji that will stay in my mind forever.

What followed was Thyagaraja’s ode to Lord Ranganatha. This was the same kriti that MSS presented at the famous United Nations concert but this time it was the modern nightingale at the prestigious venue down under. The neraval came not at the familiar place but at the last two lines: ‘mutyāla sarulayuramunu kāna vacciti tyāgarāja hṛd-bhūṣaṇa’. Jayashri’s neraval was like the pearl ornaments described by Thyagaraja in the line. After the neraval, Jayashri sang kalapana swarams for the pallavi line. Her koraippu traversed the raga resting at all the swarams of the arohana before finally resting at the higher Sa. There was not too much, not too little. Gamakam, briga, neraval, swaram – it was all just the right proportions and it was awesome. The piece concluded with a crisp tani avaratanam which included a beautiful misra nadai passage.

The concert concluded with a few lighter pieces rendered very sweetly. First was the beautiful trademark piece of Jayashri (kAndEn kAnden) in bhagesri. Next came the reflective, sarvam bhramamayam, which tells that everything we have is just the illusion created by God and finally came guru Lalgudi’s most famous tillana in behag.

The accompanists were very supportive. Bhaskar played very sweet alapanas in varali and kambhoji and his tone blended in well with the vocalist. He often played in the lower octaves, which created lovely overtones. Ramanamurthy and Giridhar provided unobtrusive support, lifting the music appropriately.

Overall this was such a satisfying concert. There were no speeches, no banners or advertising. It was just fine Carnatic music presented in a pristine venue with utmost dignity and class. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was perfect.