Grand Carnatic Vocal Concert

Grand Carnatic Vocal Concert

By Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Saturday, November 5, 2022 | 4:30 PM

East High School

450 Ellis Ln,
West Chester, PA 19380

About This Event

A Grand Carnatic Vocal Concert by Sanjay Subrahmanyan, accompanied by S. Varadarajan on the Violin and Neyveli Venkatesh on the Mridangam.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan (Vocalist)

Sangeetha Kalanidhi Sanjay  is a prominent contemporary musician in the field of classical Carnatic music. His musical journey began at the age of seven when he started to train in vocal as well as violin under violin maestro Shri. V. Lakshminarayana. He later learnt from his grand aunt Smt. Rukmini Rajagopalan for about eight years. His performance skills sharpened under the late Calcutta Shri. K.S. Krishnamurthy. This experience helped Sanjay in innovating the fine blending of traditional and modern styles of Carnatic music. He continues to train under Nadaswaram vidwan Semponarkoil SRD Vaidhyanathan. The singer in him has been influenced by the great Carnatic exponent Shri. G.N. Balasubramaniam. His style shows characteristics of yesteryear maestros like Madurai Shri.Mani Iyer and Shri.M.D.Ramanathan. Critics have acclaimed that Sanjay’s music is sparkling and imaginative with his greatest asset being the characteristic “azhutham”. He is a well-travelled musician and recipient of a string of prestigious awards, the latest being the “Sangeetha Kalanidhi” by the Madras Music Academy. A Carnatic musician of great caliber, Sanjay is also a rank holding Chartered/Cost Accountant as well. He was the subject of a documentary film made by Prasanna Ramaswamy in year 2006. He is a fine teacher and role model to many of his successful students like Sandeep Narayanan, Prasanna Venkatraman – to name a few, for 15 years.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Varadarajan Santhanam (S. Varadarajan)

Another violin legend-in-the-making, Varadarajan initially learnt violin under Kanchi Janardhanam. He later learnt from the multi-faceted genius T.V. Gopalakrishnan. At a very young age Varadarajan has accompanied many leading artists of Carnatic music and has established himself as a front ranking musician. His style of play is characterized by excellent control over the instrument with brilliant repartees that inspire the main artiste. He has been conferred with several titles and awards and has, for more than 20 years, given solo concerts and traveled the world on several concert tours as an accompanying artist.

Varadarajan Santhanam

Venkatesh Balaraman (Neyveli Venkatesh – Mridangam (percussion))

Venkatesh’s training in Mridangam started at the age of seven under his father Sri. A.S. Balaraman.. His first stage performance was at the age of ten. He underwent advanced training in Mridangam under Sri.P.P. Venkatesan and Sri Ramanathapuram M.N. Kandaswamy Pillai.

Neyveli B.Venkatesh has accompanied all frontline musicians in most of the major sabhas, Music Festivals held in Madras, throughout India and Abroad. He was an artiste and staff member of the Cultural Department of Neyveli Lignite Corporation (Government of India Enterprise). He is an “A” grade Artiste in All India Radio in Mridangam and has set a record of playing the Mridangam for 28 hours continuously at Neyveli in 1986.

Venkatesh Balaraman

Concert Review

Soundaryam – Sanjay Subrahmanyam Concert Review

By P. Sivakumar

The hallmark of a great Carnatic musician is the ability to explore the unexplored through free spirit (Soundaryam), while keeping the audience captivated and engaged. Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s concert for Sruti was an example of all that and more, as it provided a fitting finale to a fantastic 2022 season. The bright, sunny and a surprising 70° fall day was an early indication of an exciting evening in store. Accompanied by a team for the ages, S.Varadarajan on Violin and Neyveli Venkatesh on the Mridangam, Sanjay transported the listeners to a musical paradise, presenting carefully chosen pieces spanning languages, composers and deities. 

The concert started with Poochi SrinivasA IyengAr’s aTa thAla kAnadA varNam, Nera Nammithi, which was rendered in two speeds. The cardinal rule of singing each line twice was maintained so faithfully – a lesson to the young practitioners in the audience.  Next was “sAmagItapriyan” a composition of rAmalinga AdigaLAr in Gowlai set to Adi thAlam. A beautiful AlApana in Arabhi aptly shadowed by Varadarajan on the violin was followed by Thyagaraja’s masterpiece, O rAjeevAksha. Swarams were rendered in second speed at the Pallavi line bringing out the Veera rasA of the rAgam, the stand-out component of the song being the Mishra arithi executed by Venkatesh. Sanjay then launched into a fantastic elaboration of rAga Sriranjani. The krithi chosen was Deekshithar’s “Parvatha rAjakumAri”. Neraval at the second line of the anupallavi, “sarvAni shambhumOhini” in madhyama kAlam provided for a delightful exchange between the vocalist and the violinst and the brisk swarAs at the Pallavi line with some wonderful mathematical calculations to the 3-mAthra eduppu was thoroughly enjoyable. The filler was a sedate “Indu Shruthi”, a PurandaradAsa krithi in the rAga, Kosalam (aptly chosen for Sruti?) – the 71st mElakartha. This krithi was apparently tuned by Sanjay himself. 

The main piece for the evening was a refreshing and scintillating kEdaragowla. Sanjay seamlessly traversed through the low and high octaves with an equally befitting response from Varadarajan on the violin. ArunAchala Kavi’s rAmanAtakam piece “Andha rAma Soundaryam” was rendered with great emotion and the caraNam line virtually brought Sri rAmA before us. The swarams were subtle and sharp.  Neyveli Venkatesh presented a classy thani Avarthanam demonstrating the wonderful thoppi sollus in his inimitable style. The trikAla kOrvai was cleverly designed and executed with one round of 63 aksharAs at slow chathusram, two rounds of 42 aksharAs in thisram and three rounds of 31.5 aksharAs in fast chathusram resulting in a grand total of 241.5 and leading into the 1.5 staggered eduppu (post hoc analyses after replaying the kOrvai multiple times in my mind!). For those interested in the details, here is how it went:

PUrvangam (X3)

Thath dhith thaka jonu dhin thath dheem

           dhith thaka jonu dhin thath dheem

                     thaka jonu dhin thath dheem

UttarAngam (X3)

Tha thOm  thathikitathomTha thOm Tha thOm thathikitathom thathikitathom

Tha thOm Tha thOm Tha thOm  thathikitathom thathikitathom thathikitathom

UttarAngam for Thisram changed the 8-mAthrA “tha thOm thathikitathom” to 7-mAthrA “thaka thathikitathom” with a 3-mAthra karvai in between

UttarAngam for fast Chathusram changed to “thadheenginathom” with a 6-mAthra kArvai inbetween

After a short and sweet Saraswathi ManOhari with SwAti thirunAL’s “mAmava jagadeeswarA”, there was a brief off-script “karpooram nArumO” in khamAs sung in response to audience request. Sanjay then rendered a lovely RTP “nAdanai dhinam ninai manamE brindAvana sAranga ranga” in BrindAvana sArangA (eduppu 4 mAthraAs after samam in Adi thAlam), which I came to know later was composed by my own guru, Vidwan Guruvayur Dorai sir. RAgamAlika swarams were rendered in chArukesi, udhaya ravichandrikA (with the tantalizing SSGNSPNSS and PMGM proyOgam, the tamil audience were taken down memory lane reminiscing some famous  tamil film numbers!) and dEsh. The ending in dEsh provided a segue for “thunbam nErgayil”, presented soulfully in response to another of the audience requests. The thukkadA portion of the concert featured pApanAsam Sivan’s “thEril ErinAn” in kalyAni, andPurandaradAsA’s “kandEnA” in DurgA. A short virutham “Vizhikku thunai” was followed by a touching exposition of “vA vA vEl murugA”, a composition of mAyuram ViswanAtha sAstri in Sindhu Bhairavi. A thillAnA in Anandabhairavi by swAti thirunAl rounded off a brilliant and fulfilling concert. Sanjay and the team never cease to amaze me – every concert raises the bar and sets a record, only to be smashed by the next one. It was 3+ hours of pure bliss and Sruti delivered big time yet again. Way to go!

Dr.Sivakumar is an avid Carnatic music fan and a mridangam player/teacher in the Philadelphia area.