Carnatic Veena-Violin Instrumental Concert

Carnatic Veena-Violin Instrumental Concert

By Ramana Balachandran and Kamalakiran Vinjamuri

Saturday, September 16, 2023 | 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Fugett Middle School Auditorium

500 Ellis Lane
West Chester, PA 19380

About This Event

Sruti Youth group interview of the veena prodigy Ramana Balachandran

SRUTI is pleased to present a Grand Carnatic Veena and Violin Instrumental Concert featuring Ramana Balachandran (Veena) and Kamalakiran Vinjamuri (Violin), accompanied by Patri Satish Kumar (Mridangam), and Sowmiya Narayanan (Ghatam).

Ramana Balachandran (Veena)

Ramana Balachandran (website) is a Veena player in the Carnatic tradition. Considered a prodigious talent, he was directly awarded an A grade by All India Radio.He brings on the veena, considered a tough instrument, exceptional phrasal clarity that exposes microtonal and curvy nuances that characterize a deeper interpretation of raga-centric music; he discovers deeper structures of traditional and contemporary ragas as he interprets them spontaneously. Ragas are interpreted in a variety of different moods & structures, as he explores them in alapana and swaraprasthara. He has also discovered a number of playing techniques that help him stretch the boundaries of clarity and precision; his renditions that involve heightened repose while retaining phrasal richness are looked forward to by keen music lovers.

Kamalakiran Vinjamuri (Violin)

Kamalakiran Vinjamuri started his journey with the violin from his grand-father, Sri. Parthasarathy Iyengar. He subsequently had training from Smt. Malladi Vijayalakshmi. His father Sri.Subhash Vinjamuri, started teaching him the violin at the age of 7. He has been under the tutelage of Sangeethakalanidhi A. Kanyakumari since 2006.

Kamalakiran has won several accolades and has accompanied several leading artists of both past and present generations. Kamalakiran has also widely worked in collaborations with musicians of different genres. As a soloist, he has performed across Asia, the US, and Europe.

Patri Satish Kumar (Mridangam)

Patri Satish Kumar (website) was born into a family of musicians. He was initiated into the art of percussion by his mother Padmavathy, a renowned violinist and had his debut at the tender age of 7. A fine performer, composer and with a deep interest to innovate and explore the art form, his specialization is his precise fingering technique and the fine balance of sounds between the treble and base heads of the Mridangam.

Satish Kumar has been a regular feature in prestigious venues and festivals across India and around the world . An “A-Top” ranking artiste of the All India Radio, Satish Kumar continues his journey in the world of percussion.

Sowmiya Narayanan (Ghatam)

Sowmiya Narayanan is a disciple of Mridangam Maestro Trichy Sri Harikumar and Ghatam Sri Krishnaswami. Sowmiya is a board of trustee of Sankara Nethralaya and conducted more than 650 plus online concerts. With this online concert series he has coordinated and received donations of more than $ 1.5 million in the last 2.5 years supporting 15,000 free cataract eye surgeries to poor indigent patients of Sankara Nethralaya.

Concert Review

Veena Violin Duet Concert

Concert by Ramana Balachandran (Veena) & Kamalakiran Vinjamuri (Violin)

With Patri Satishkumar (Mridangam) Sowmiya Narayanan (Ghatam)

By Tyagarajan Suresh

The SRUTI audience were just soaked in the nectar of Carnatic Music flowing abundantly with the talent of two youngsters on their strings, on the evening of 16-SEP-2023 at West Chester, PA. The accompanists, Satishkumar and Sowmiya Narayanan, adeptly matched the brilliance of the main duo artists.

The concert began with Sri Balamuralikrishna’s bright Sri Sakala GaNAdhipa in Arabhi. One was intrigued by the way one tAla string was tuned to the Rishabham (Ri) of the rAgA scale. A brief rAgA essay blending into a ThAnam mode and beginning with the Pallavi was a notable, refreshing experience.

The duo then unfurled Sobillu in JaganmOhini in its full vigor. RAgA essay alternating between the two prodigies was such an audio-visual treat. Ramana’s rendition was punctuated by seemingly effortless glides and deep, authentic gamakAs. The kriti itself took off at a fast tempo with impressive patterns throughout the verses. The kalpanA swaras were also briskly articulated with interesting exchanges between Ramana and Kamalakiran. This phase was one of the several examples of the synergy between the two main performers. The percussionists provided matching fireworks from the stage at every deserving juncture. Those junctures were countless and hitting home with every rasikA in the audience.

The artists then took the audience into inta soukhyamani. The sculpting of soul melting Kapi was exquisite. Here again the synergy was overflowing from the stage and filling up the entire auditorium. With the Veenai, one could notice that one tAla string was tuned to the Rishabham (Ri) of the rAgA scale. They began the kriti with the anupallavi ‘dAnta sItAkAnta..’ and beautifully cycled back to the pallavi. They presented slow, medium, high, ultra-high-speed rAgA and swara phrases (it truly lived up to the standard of the caraNam lyrics “SwararAgasudhA Rasa”) all distilled to gourmet perfection with utmost precision.

The main piece was a pallavi composed by Sri. Kamalakiran. “Sri chakrarAja simhAsaneswari sri lalilthAmbike Amma” in Adi tAlam (with shifted start of cycle) containing ragas chenchuruti, punnAgavarALi, nAdanAmakriyA; was built on the kriti “SrichakrarAja”’s rAgA landscape. The tAnam flourish was remarkable, flowing from both the sets of strings. The stunned audience paused till the very end of the various sections for their well-deserved applause offering. The Pallavi consisted of yeduppu 5 syllables and aridhi 10 syllables. We also enjoyed a harmonious blend of vocal singing by both the youngters. As part of the swaras for the pallavi, we enjoyed generous sprinkling of YamunA KalyaNi, Sindhu Bhairavi and PahAdi. The climax was aesthetically built up by both the players with an intricate weave of all the rAgAs and a medley of rhythm patterns.

The Indo-American duo then took up the effervescent DwijAvanti TillAnA of Sri Balamuralikrishna to start putting the finishing touches to the landmark concert in SRUTI’s journey. One must say that the duo never ceased to amaze the avid Carnatic Music connoisseur. One came out of the concert with an out-of-the-world anointment of pure, essential, adequate dose of artistry galore.

As with all great events, this one also had to wind down. The concert concluded with a MangaLam and a long well-deserved standing ovation.

Tyagarajan Suresh (‘Suresh’) is a music lover, an active SRUTI participant and a VaiNikA in the Philly area.