Karaikudi Mani’s Nandikeswara Utsav brings Shruti and Laya together

With a focus on bringing music and rhythm together on a single platform, Mridangam maestro Karaikudi Mani celebrates the Nandikeswara festival at various places. At this year’s Winter Music Festival, organized by the Shrutilaya Kendra, he brought together renowned artistes to perform compositions embellished with voices in intricate rhythmic patterns. A team of singers, violinists and percussionists presented a set of four compositions by Karaikudi Mani grouped as ‘Chatur Ratnam’.

‘Sri Maha ganapthiravatu mam’ (Gowla, Misra Chapu, Muthuswami Dikshitar), a composition on Ganesha with beautifully embedded rhythmic syllables was the first of the four gems. ‘Sogasuga mridanga talamu’ (Sriranjani, Rupaka, Tyagaraja) that extols the soothing laya of the mridangam, ‘Nandisham vande sada’ (Rishabapriya, Rupaka, Balamuralikrishna) in praise of Nandhikeswara, who is said to have played the mridangam during Shiva’s primordial tandava , and ‘Pahi rama duta’ (Shadvidhamargini, Tyagaraja, Rupaka), a kriti on Anjaneya, were the other songs.

Guru Mani’s distinctive clarity and intelligent strokes on the mridangam could be felt when he played to these compositions. Thrissur Narendran and R Ramesh gave commendable support.

This was followed by grand singing of songs by each musician with enthralling chittaswaras. Senior singer OS Thiagarajan performed Guru Surjanand’s ‘Samagan Priyakaram’ at Keeravani. Shertalai KN Ranganatha Sharma sang Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar’s composition ‘Saranam Vijayasaraswathi Mai’ in raga Vijayasaraswathi. Senior mridangam maestro Mannargudi Easwaran joined Guru Karaikudi Mani to play this composition.

Shreyas Narayanan’s ‘Ninne Bhajan’ (Nattai, Adi, Tyagaraja) and ‘Guni Janadinuta’ (Gurjari, Adi, Dikshitar) were pleasant and melodious. Another beautiful rendition was ‘Vanchatonuna’ (Karnaranjani, Teesra Adi, Muthiah Bhagavathar) by the Mambalam Sisters, Vijayalakshmi and Chitra.

Violinist V.V. Srinivasa Rao, Madurai Balasubramaniam, Durai Swaminathan and V. Deepika took turns to coordinate with the singers.

Varalakshmi Anandkumar sings the Papanasam Sivan composition ‘Kapali’ in Mohanam by Papanasam Sivan, its interesting patterns flowing effortlessly.

Vidya Kalyanaraman presented the Ranjani raga composition, ‘Dattatreya Trimurti Rupa’ composed by Ganapati Satchidananda Swami in a grand manner. Padmavati Saranathan composed Muthaiyya Bhagavatara in the rare raga Pasupathipriya, ‘Saravanabhava’, with sharp chittaswaras set in a blissful nadai. Vidya presented it well.

Shyam Sundar, Sai Shiva and Chandrashekhar Sharma (Ghatam) showcased their proficiency with the musicians.

The Nandikeshwara festival concluded with Swati Tirunal’s ‘Bhujaga Sayano’ in Yadukul Kamboji.