Saitejas Chandrashekar , Harmonica @ Seshadripuram Rama Seva Samithi 26 Apr 2014

27 Apr

Harmonica : Saitejas Chandrashekar

Violin : J K Sridhar

Mrudangam : C Cheluvaraju

Ghatam : Sukanya Ramgopal

Song list:

01. valachi vAchi ( varNam) – navarAgamAlika – Patnam Subramanya Iyer

02.  vAtApi gaNapatim – hamsadhwani – Dikshitar ( O,N,S )

neraval & swara @ ‘praNava swarUpa vakratuNDam’

03.  enta muddO enta sogasO – bindumAlini – Thyagaraja ( O )

04.  tatvameruga taramA – garuDa dhwani – Thyagaraja

05.  akhilANDESwari rakshamAm – dwijAvanti – Dikshitar  ( A,S )

06.  raghuvamSa sudhAmbudhi – kadana kutUhalam – Patnam Subramanya Iyer ( O )

07.  nannu viDachi – rItigauLa – Thyagaraja ( A,N,S,T )

08.  jagadhOdhAraNa – kApi – Purandara Dasa ( O )

09.  tandanAna Ahi tandanAna (brahmam okkaTE) – bauLi ? – Annamacharya

10. pibarE rAmarasam – Ahir bhairav ? – Sadashiva Brahmendra

11. abhang ( goD tujhE rUp ) – mAru behAg – Thukaram

12. kAyOu Sri gauri – Sankarabharanam scale – Basappa Sasthri

13.  Western Notes – Muthaiah Bhagavathar

14.  Wedding Bells – ? – Chittibabu

15. harivarAsanam – Ayyapa Bhajan

16. bhAgyAda lakshmi bAramma – madhyamavati – Purandara Dasa

Of late, there had been a lot of discussion on the adaptability of certain instruments in carnatic music. TM Krishna in an article came out strongly against such practice. There had been many such reactions in the music circuits and among followers. The often chewed ‘gamaka’ richness of Indian Music is one of the strong points against these attempts. Western music instruments often designed to the scalar music is not accepted as appropriate for Indian Music. However, there had been many practitioners- more in private and far less in the performing area – attempting to wed these two aspects. Kadri Gopalnath, with his saxaphone seems to have cut a niche for himself, and with all credit to him as he seems to be the only one who stood out amongst the rest. Palladam Venkataramana Rao with Harmonium, recently a young prodigy Satyanarayana with Key Board, Anil Srinivasan’s various attmepts with Piano and not forgetting  Anayampatti Sri Ganesan on Jalatarangam are few who continue to grow the influence in their respective fields, despite the purists reservations. All of them seems to have found a way to work around the respective limitations of their instruments, develop the concept and musical knowledge that they possess through their chosen medium.

Sri Saitejas Chandrashekar is one such talent, who over last few years trying to develop a unique style in adapting this small wind instrument into the Carnatic Music arena. Harmonica or mouth organ as we commonly know, has its own limitations and I thought, will have larger challenge than the others mentioned above for its smaller size. It was amazing to see and listen to him overcoming these limitations with aplomb and delivering a wonderful concert at the Seshadripuram Rama Seva Samithi. I had been lucky to listen to his few earlier attempts, but this was for the first time, I attended a full length concert of Saitejas. In short, I am super impressed, and it helped me shed all my prejudice if at all I carried in my subconscious mind.

One goes to these concerts to typically appreciate the skill aspect of the musician in handling these instruments, like the admiration on has towards a mahout who managed the largest animal on the planet. The musical or the ‘manodharma’ aspect of his performance is often forgotten over the hype and awe around the technical handling and skills. What was interesting to note was that Saitejas ( being a vocalist) had immense musical talent, which come forth in his playing. The outstanding hamsadhwani he played yesterday was testimony to his knowledge and practice. A quick varnam was more setting the pace and place of the artists on stage. They coherence soon came into place with the hamsadhwani. To me, that was the ‘piece de force’ of the evening. An equally brilliant bindu malini and garudadhwani set the evening up for some grand music. Dwijavanti was the first long alapana. That probably was not as classy as the rest of the songs he played. Something was amiss, and the typical feel of dwijavanti wasnt there. The swara that added was much better. He quickly recovered with a cracking kadana kutuhalam. The early phrases of his short raga sketch was immensely enjoyable, which I guess could be a USP of the instrument. The kriti recaptured the attention of the audience, with some electrifying accompaniment support. So much was the hype, that the percussionist went berserk ( well, not really out of control) during this song.

Main reetigaula alapana was very good, so was the return. Nannu Vidachi was a good surprise. He played the kriti very well, I thought there was a short neraval, and some elaborate kalpana swaras eloquently executed. The percussion duo played out a spirited tani avartanam. Two senior vidwans were in all support and encouragement to the main artist. Violin provided adequate support and played good dwijavanti and reetigaula alapana. Violin accompaniment, I think is key to the success of harmonica concert. He or she should be able compliment the main artist, filling up for the limitations by improvising the overall effect. It require a lot of coordination between harmonica and violin players and an experienced pair could do greater impact to the concert.

Post main, he continue to showcase his prowess with a chain of songs, few expected a few surprises. Jagadodharana in kapi stood out, the abhang and pibare rama rasam was very good. Few ‘plain note’ kritis ‘kayou sri gowri’ and the HMB notes popularised by Mani Iyer were noted for their execution. Harivarasanam probably was an attempt to sing the popular song before concluding with bhagyada lakshmi baramma.

On my part, I was super impressed and was a revelation to me. I am well aware of the limitations of the medium. Notwithstanding the skills that he exhibited, I am largely happy with his musical aspect of his playing, which was impressive to me. The audience seemed to have liked it too. The large crowd that gathered around the stage post concert was testimony to a grand concert he had which visibly moved people. I wish he get more stages to perform and he continue to increase his repertoire and lead a new generation of artists.


Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Concert songlist


Tags: , ,

6 responses to “Saitejas Chandrashekar , Harmonica @ Seshadripuram Rama Seva Samithi 26 Apr 2014

  1. srikantu Thatha

    May 2, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Theju,my heartiest congrats,best wishes and blessings…..I want to see more such laurels….

  2. Jayan

    April 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks Balaji, well put.


  3. balajirmv

    April 30, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Congratulations on a very good post. I was there for the main part of the concert listing to the kritis presented. I thought that the only un-orthodox (Non-traditional) part in the concert was the instrument being played though I won’t dare to call the same further, after listening to one of the most scintillating performance by Sri.Saitejas Chandrashekar. Everything about the kutcheri was “shastriya” and guided by the “closed” sampradaya what Mr. Ramesh is referring to in his post. Few sancharams and nades were unique to the instrument and I feel that the playing of this instrument has been carried to an all new dimension and heights by the Maestro. Heartfelt appreciation for the “sadhana” which is almost like a penance when you are dealing with an all new instrument for the genre of music, adapting the same to the Carnatic Classical Music.Dynamism is the sign of active life and the experiments like this within the framework of tradition is giving the much required elixir to the world of Carnatic Music.

  4. Jayan

    April 27, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks Ramesh,

    KSSR : That was Madhava Prasad, right ? I wanted to attend, but was held up at office.

  5. KSSR

    April 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I was told that there was even a better experiment- without voice – without instrument !! Yes. It was a whistling concert. It was held by Rama Seva Mandali, Koramangala’s Rama navami series. People who attended were very appreciative.

  6. Ramesh

    April 27, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Excellent post. Kudos to you for attending this over the Abishek Raghuram concert at Fort High School. Its great to see an experienced rasika such as yourself encourage somebody performing with an unusual instrument and writing such a positive review. Carnatic music tends to be more “closed” than other genres of music and innovations are slow to catch on. Delighted to hear that a large crowd had turned up and that it was so appreciative. Bravo for both the open mind and for this excellent review.

    I had toyed with idea of going, even listened to him on YouTube to check him out, but chickened out of going. Now I am kicking myself.


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