The picture shows an Indian male classical singer performing at a concert
Vidwan S. Saketharaman performing at an April 4th SIFA concert (image courtesy/ Facebook)

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SIFA continues Carnatic music celebrations

On April 2nd, vocalist Saketharaman, violinist H. K. Venkataram and Mridangist Patri Satish Kumar came together to offer music enthusiasts delectable fare.

A week after the Lalgudi siblings’ scintillating performance, their father Lalgudi Jayaraman’s musical legacy continued to thrill the Bay Area audience through disciple Vidwan S. Saketharaman’s fine voice at the SIFA spring concerts. Saketharaman was accompanied by Vidwan Sri. H.K.Venkataram on violin and Vidwan Sri. Patri Satish Kumar on mridangam, as the three artists came together for an absorbing recital.

A classical Carnatic tradition

The vocalist started with a fine rendition of a varnam set to Nalinakanthi ragam, followed by Maamavasadaa Janani, composed by Swati Tirunal, the ruler of 19th century Travancore, known for his extensive contribution to classical music.

Saketharaman’s next song “Aparaadhamulanniyu”, was a highlight of the concert. He began with a beautiful alapana of the Lathangi ragam, and then proceeded to recite a beautiful shloka in reverence of Lord Venkatesha that started as “Vadinen vadi varunthinen…” That refers to the wavering mind that wanders before settling on uttering the Lord’s name. The song was infused with devotional elements, punctuated by Saketharaman’s repeated utterance of the Lord of Seven Hills towards the end.

The picture shows Indian classical musicians at a concert
Vidwan S. Saketharaman performing with Vidwan Sri. Patri Satish Kumar on mridangam at an April 4th SIFA concert (image courtesy/ Facebook)

A mix of emotions

The concert had a delightful mix of emotions, as the trio performed “Kamalamba Samraksha”, a Muthuswami Dikshitar creation set to Ananda bhairavi ragam. The audience appreciated its detailed exploration of notes. 

Like the Lalgudi concert, the great poet Subramania Bharathi found a moment with the artists singing and playing his popular “Ethanai koti inbam vaithai,” which thanks the Almighty for his creations – the Earth and its elements.

There was also homage to Purandara Dasa, through a rendition of his devotional song in Kannada — “Govinda Ninna Namave Chanda.”

The picture shows two Indian classical musicians performing
Vidwan S. Saketharaman performing with Vidwan SH.K.Venkataram on violin at an April 4th SIFA concert (image courtesy/ Facebook)

Expert transitions

Saketharaman showed his expertise in Graha Bhedam (shifting a note in one ragam to another note in a different ragam in the same alapana) through “Koluva maragadha”, where he started with a lovely alapana in Todi ragam. Then he transitioned into Kurinji ragam, returning to Todi, before moving to the Mohana Kalyani ragam. This song then headed into a beautiful Tani avaratanam by Patri Suresh Kumar, who earned the praise of the organizers as the wielder of the “singing Mridangam”. 

A personal favorite from the concert was a Ragamalika that described the entire story of Ramayana in just a few lines — from Rama keeping his father’s promise with adventurous trip to Lanka with the vaanar sena.

Highlights of a Carnatic music interlude

Another highlight that afternoon was the twin pallavi where Saketharaman teased the audience, swaying between Nalinakanti ragam and Bindu Malini ragam. In what felt like a concert within a concert, he took the audience in a ragam hunt from Mukhari ragam to Sindhu Bhairavi ragam to Sivaranjani ragam. Violinist H K Venkataram was exceptional in his support during this exploratory segment. 

The artists wrapped up the concert with another Kannada song “Akka Kelavva” and “Aiye Mettak Kadinam”, a Tamil song set to Punnagavarali ragam. It had a verse translating to “isn’t it getting late”, as if Saketharaman himself was asking the audience that question.

There is nothing more fun than a bunch of artists coming together on stage, and having a blast as they take music lovers on an adventurous classical music journey. 

Anuj Chakrapani loves music and cinema among all art forms. He believes their beauty lies in their interpretation, and that the parts is more than the sum. Anuj lives in the SF Bay Area and works for a...