Monday, June 1, 2020

Social Distancing....!

Asian Koel couple

Sunday, January 5, 2020

December Music season: Fulfilling Evenings At Kalakshetra!

Koothambalam (auditorium)....Old one! (Image source)

The renovated Kooththambalam!

This clip is an elaborate one.  This group, Keremane artists are very famous, I was told. I saw this Yakshagana programme after a very very long time.  When I was a school going kid, I used to watch this program at Kodavooru, my village near was a whole night program.  I used to copy their dance movements like turning the palms upward downward and walking around the stage in circular movements. Swirling around on two knees...which is not easy! You can see all these things in the above video.  The story we watched was 'Kaarthaveeraarjuna Kalaga' by Keremane group.  The yakshagaana stories are mostly from mythology, but in normal coloquial Kannada/tulu languages. Sit on sand in an open maidan and watch from 8/9 pm till 6 am the next day! I am posting this link just to show how women characters are shown in this play.  All are men in women's dress: Women don't participate in Yakshagaana.

I went to the carnatic music  concert of Smt.Ranjani and Smt. Gayatri, the next day.  Pure classical music.  3 hours' non-stop music.  I think they are the best in this season.  The concert hall was too crowded.  Everybody was clapping often whenever a good piece of rendition was there.  They are very good.  We heard raagam taanam pallavi elaborately, which is very rare to be heard in the short duration concerts, here.  Thank god, this was 3 hours' concert and not 2 hour concert, 6 to 9 pm.  Got this in 'you tube', though this is not the one we heard there.

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From their wiki:

Ranjani and Gayatri started their musical journey as violinists even before they reached their teens, performing in leading sabhas (music organizations) all over the country and abroad. Besides playing the violin duet, they have also performed along with musicians such as Smt.D.K.Pattammal, Sri M Balamurali Krishna, T.Vishwanathan.

Marathi Abhang!

This one is in raag Chandrakauns+Madhukauns...when I visited 'you tube' for their songs, I came across this beautiful song! The sisters seem to be very good in Hindustani raagaas too! Don't miss it. It is here!

One more song by Ranjani Gayatri sisters in raaga Yaman Kalyani. The rendition is very good. It is here!

An interesting anecdote about the sisters' unique sarees.  Many sisters wear sarees in same colour combination and sometimes similar jewellery too.  These sisters chose sarees like one will wear a pink saree with green border, the other one wear green saree with pink border (same design!).  You can see this in the links in 'you tube':) They don't seem to wear flashy sarees too, which is very nice! Hear their view here!

We heard Pt.Sanjeev Abhyankar's concert the next day.  He is Pt.Jasraj's student.  The raagas we heard at Kalakshetra were very good.  We could notice Pt.Jasraj's touch everywhere in his singing.  Effortless beautiful singing. Hear one song here:

Sanjeev Abhyankar, Hindustani music concert!
We were not supposed to take pictures or videos at the concert.  This was taken before the concert started.  I just wanted to post a picture of the stage arrangement at Kalakshetra.  Simple and beautiful.  It is not air-conditioned but the auditorium was cool with natural breeze throughout.  Neem leaves' smoke was distributed via a bamboo basket taken all over the auditorium; as a result, mosquito bites were not felt even though the doors were kept open.

(We had gone on a tour of Kalakshetra last year or so, and I wrote about it...have a look! Read more about this place here!)

I noticed one more thing in this music season: Normally, before concluding the concert, with mangalam, the artists sing light melodies like bhajans (Kabirdas, Purandara dasa etc.). Nowadays, Marathi abhangs are becoming famous. Most of them sing abhangs which are melodious to the ears. South Indians are opening up for all types of music let alone Carnatic music, nowadays, which is a good sign. You can read my earlier posts about my visit to the concerts here!

Did you go to any concert? If so, pl. mention in the comment section!

Going to Zakir Hussain(tabla) and Niladri's (sitar) concert next week at the Music Academi! Happy times!


Friday, April 19, 2019

One Of The Most Beautiful Churches/Cathedrals, We Had Visited Last Year - Notre Dame De Paris (Our Lady Of Paris)

Coming back to write after a long break.  But the news about the spiral tower of Notre Dame burning, is compelling me to write...last year's Europe tour changed my views about many things.

We had the opportunity to visit many cathedrals in Rome, Venice, Paris etc. this time.

This cathedral, Notre Dame, was built around 1260 AD by Bishop Maurice de Sully.  Read more about this place here.

Very interesting information was that the great Napoleon Bonaparte's coronation took place here on 2nd Dec. 1804.  You can see a painting of the coronation here.

Now, to some photographs I had taken there, at the Notre Dame cathedral.

I took this snap as soon as we reached this place.  Huge building!
Photographed from a different angle. The two towers are sixty-nine meters high and were the tallest structures in Paris until the completion of the Eiffel Tower in 1889.
The interior...the chapel was stunning!
Many beautiful sculptures were there on the left and right sides, depicting the stories from Christianity
The feeling inside the cathedral was overwhelming. Though we are used to praying in our Hindu temples, which are full of good architecture, mostly in stone, this place gave this feeling, well, maybe because it was an ancient building.  Peacefulness was there. The whole area was beautiful with lot of woodwork.  This is the reason I felt sad when I read about the major fire which happened just a few days back. Thank god, since it was under restoration now, many good sculptures and other artifacts were already shifted to other places.  I remember gaping at the spire but thought I won't be able to take a good picture of that, so, I don't have my photograph of the 90 meter tall spire which collapsed in the fire.  They say the renovation work is also a reason for the fire.  Might be electrical short circuit in some lift/elevator.

Anyway, read that the spire built by a 30 year old architect (The spire and the statues trace their roots to the mid-19th century work of a bold visionary who, at the age of 30, was commissioned to restore the cathedral and replace an old spire after years of neglect.) Got this information from the Washington post which also has got some videos of the fire (link). Feel very sad. 

This picture shows the real beauty, elegance of the spire before the fire: 

Picture courtesy:

The famous instrument, pipe organ is also saved, it seems.  I could not go up and see it closely since they played the instrument at a particular time.

The organ pipes at Notre Dame Cathedral
This link has got some good videos played with this organ.
About this organ: 

One of the earliest organs at Notre-Dame, built in 1403 by Friedrich Schambantz, was replaced between 1730 and 1738 by Francois Thierry. During the restoration of the cathedral by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, Aristide Cavaille-Coll built a new organ, using pipe work from the former instruments. The organ was dedicated in 1868.

Many artifacts were saved before the fire spread to other parts of the cathedral. Because of the ongoing renovation, the copper statues that were normally on the now collapsed spire had been removed from the building a week prior.

Well, funds are pouring from all over the world to renovate the monument to its earlier glory.  Hope for the best!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Soulful, Melodious Evening At The Music Academy, Chennai!

On 31st January, '18, we had attended a concert at the Music Academy.  The famous Ustaad Zakir Hussain played the tabla and another famous artiste Rahul Sharma played the unique instrument, Santoor.  We had attended Zakir Hussain's concerts 3-4 times earlier and are great fans of him as a person and as a tabla player.  His talent speaks everything here, in this small clip:

Ustaad Zakir Hussain is the son of the very very famous tabla player, Alla Rakha who used to play with Pt.Ravishankar (Sitar) in those days.  He learnt to play the instrument from a very young age and got a Ph.D. degree from the University of Washington too.  We, Chennai audience, love to attend his concerts.  He is a very soft-natured person with great sense of humour.  He always engages the crowd with some funny antics in the tabla or body language too.  People  never get bored in his concerts! Read about the awards these artists had in the highlighted wiki link pl. 

Rahul Sharma...we had attended his father's concert (Pt.Shivkumar Sharma, the famous Santoor player) once, some 4-5 years back along with Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia (Flute).  This concert in Chennai was the first one for Rahul Sharma, it seems.  He played raag Bageshri first and then the famous Kashmiri raag Pahaadi.

This unique instrument, Santoor (the original name is Shatha thantri veena ... veena with 100 strings). Pt.Shivkumar Sharma explains here:

In Ancient Scriptures of India there is mention of Shata tantri Veena which is known today as “Santoor”. This instrument got its present name Santoor with the Persian language influence in our Country. There are Hundred Strings in Santoor. It is a hollow box on top of which there are 25 bridges. Each bridge used to have 4 strings resting on it. To play this instrument, two wooden mallets are used. This instrument had been in use in the Valley of Kashmir for many centuries, in a typical type of Music known as “Sufiana Mausiqi” which means a music connected with Sufi philosophy.

The Journey of Santoor changed in early 1950’s when Pt. Umadutt Sharma, Father of Shivkumar Sharma, who was a very versatile Musician, a performing Vocalist, and Dilruba player but equally well versed in playing Tabla & Harmonium, saw this Instrument in Kashmir and thought of introducing Indian Classical Music on Santoor. He had an intensive training of Music under Pt. Bade Ramdasji a legendary Vocalist of Benaras Gharana. In early 50’s Pt. Umadutt Sharma was Music incharge of Radio Srinagar for a few years. During that period he did an extensive research on Santoor and started teaching his Son, Shivkumar Sharma the intricacies of Santoor.

Pt.Shivkumar Sharma has passed on his family's talent to his son Rahul Sharma. 

The father was a tabla player too and the son is a singer too like his grand father! Multi-talented family! The son is mostly into fusion music nowadays.  World music. He showed the taste of fusion music for some 10-15 mts. at the concert.

Pt.Shivkumar Sharma and Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia had created some good music for Hindi films in the name of Shiv-Hari.  Rahul Sharma played some traces of those songs in this concert.  The songs in 'Silsila' are memorable.  Their favourite raaga was Pahaadi!

I searched for a good link of Rahul Sharma.  Only audio links were available, well, mostly.  This link is interesting.  Father and son with the Kanjeera player, Selva Ganesh (Ghatam player Vikku Vinayakram's son!).  Interesting!

I hear 'Sangeet Saritha', a classical music programme via radio in the morning (I should say the programme involves interviews VIPs in different fields of mostly music).  I had been hearing this for the past 30-40 years! Many music directors, Classical singers discuss about their music/musical journey for 15 mts. a day, for 13 to sometimes 20 episodes.  7.30 to 7.45 am every morning.  I jotted down some points when Pt.Shivkumar Sharma spoke and did a post on it.  You can read it here!

Stress reliever....hear this!

Hope to attend more and more concerts in the years to come and write about them here!


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Walk, Movie....Wire Walking Between The Famous Twin Towers...My Heart Was Coming Out....Tension...


Dhadak heart was banging inside me is long time since I felt so afraid while watching a movie! This movie, 'The Walk (2015)' is based on a true story and I love movies based on true stories! The story is about how an ordinary 24 year old Frenchman Petit, who was a juggler/street performer, walks across the Twin Towers (World Trade Centre)in New York on 7th Aug.1974.  He walked on a steel wire tied illegally overnight from the top of one tower to the top of the other tower, holding a 25 kg pole which weighed 25 kgs. This, he did without taking any safely measures.  He was particular about it.  He refused to do so when his mentor, Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) suggested it. His friends also were very ordinary people from different walks of life.  He was there, walking on the wire at sunrise for 43 mts. kneeling down, bending and looking at his admirers, walking to and fro to escape from the police on top of the is real thrill watching him and he had a smile on his face all the time.  It was his dream come true, but for us who are watching the remake of the scene, it was fear and admiration for the man.   Watch the trailer first.  More than half of the movie is about how these normal people plan and the rest is how his dream comes true.  I seemed to breath properly/normally, after it was over.  I didn't know anything about the movie, didn't know the end too and I have vertigo too:). So, it was a real 'dhadak dhadak' movie for me!

Read more after watching the movie in Prime (Amazon). 

You can imagine after watching just the trailer, how scary it was to walk on a steel cable wire in mid-air.

Joseph Gordon Lewitt who has acted as Philippe Petit is an American and had to learn colloquial French.  He learnt some wire walking from Petit himself.  Wiki says:

"Gordon-Levitt, who had no formal high-wire experience, trained directly with Petit. By the end of the eighth day, he was able to walk on the wire by himself, and continued to practice while shooting. Along with a stunt double,  the actor shot the climactic wire-walking scenes on a sound stage; it had reconstructions of the top two stories of the tower and a wire approximately twelve feet off the ground, which was connected out across a green abyss and was anchored on a pole. To learn more about what it was like, Gordon-Levitt also walked the distance between the World Trade Center memorial's two pools, which are located where the Twin Towers stood before the September 11 attacks. He visited the original observatory once before, in 2001, during his first summer in New York City. "It was touristy but I wanted to go do it. I remember it distinctly. It felt more like being in the sky than being on a tall building."

Petit made random friends who came into his life one by one which is shown nicely in the movie.  They went on top of the Word Trade Center often as workers, visitors etc. to learn the ropes.  I liked the way they showed how this idea sparked in his mind of wire walking between the Towers which are 450 ft. above the ground.   It was scary to watch the morning fog blinding the wire when he was walking.  The 3D picturization is superb.  The director, Robert Zemerickis has done a superb job.  Until I watched the movie, I didn't know that tall structures sway slightly during strong winds.  Joints in between the should watch the movie to know what I am talking about! It is superb!

This is the great man, who walked in the air, Philippe Petit
(Pic.courtesy: Wikipedia)

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