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Saturday Night Fever with TM Krishna

Submitted by on April 18, 2011 – 2:32 pm2 Comments

Being a Saturday engulfed with dark clouds and rain showing its moods from light to very pouring downpours, it certainly was not just another weekend day. One would typically term this day in New Jersey a dull gloomy day. But this was not so for the 400+ indian classical music lovers.

Thanks to CMANA, an organization set up in 1976, to cater to Indian Music lovers needs, to bring in popular carnatic music artists from India.

CMANA celebrated its 35th year in existence with a 2 day festival of music. So defying dark clouds, pouring rain, music enthusiasts came in big numbers to enjoy a day of music that lasted the whole day. The atmosphere was nothing less than jubilant.

Two performances that went to packed audience was Neyveli Santhanam and T M Krishna. The crowd enjoyed Neyveli’s lecture demo, which had more resemblance of a concert then a lec demo. He is undoubtedly a very versatile musician, immersed deep into tradition. The Bhava he brings out in his music is non comparable with most other musicians.

What fueled the packed auditorium was really to listen to T M Krishna’s vocal performance. If one could forgive the overall slow tempo of his entire concert, it was an evening well where he performed well.

I for one enjoyed it a lot. Having been to his performances many times in the past, this one was pleasantly different. Substituting his typical high energy fast paced concerts of the past, I saw a more subtle slower tempo-ed concert bringing the nuances of the ragams. A big change for sure relative to what was expected by the audience.

However, it was a sellout concert and in many ways very enjoyable.

This certainly brings up a question, what really makes a great concert? I would really contribute top performances in Classical Indian Music to 3 factors;

1. Great skilled accompanists accompanying the main artists truly make a great difference

2. Lead Vocalists who share and converse in harmony and occasionally challenged the accompanists heightens the intensity of the concert

3. A well thought out selection of songs and ragams that are carefully selected to bring out his/her best,which should comprise of a mix of known and popular songs and thrown in between a selection of uncommon songs and ragams.

All this could be seen on display at the last evening TM Krishna’s concert. With some very accomplished, accompanists in RK Sriram Kumar on the Voilin and Arun Prakash on Mrindangam, there was intense and beautiful conversations between the performers, with TM Krishna in his usual form occasionally challenging them.

 Choice, speed and tempo of the compositions were varying (though most were predominantly slower), giving us a huge variety of improvisations that I personally enjoyed.

He intertwined, Common familiar raags like Kapi, Sahana etc with more rarely sung melodious ragams, like the soulful ragam Udayaravichandrika and ragam Phalamanjari, which was rendered through the composition of Thyagaraja’s Sanatana Parama Pavana kirthi.

I think it will do good for upcoming youngsters to see how TM Krishna pulls his crowds. I think it is important to go beyond just competency in music, and be able to enagage with the audience and the accompanists.

Overall the spring 2011 looks a great start with so many coming festivals. In fact I have another interesting one coming which I will blog about – The Sangeet Prabhat 2011.


  • Uma says:

    Well, you are lucky to hear TM Krishna , because he opted to be out of the racy circuit last season and performed very selectively.

    i dont know if your success formula to a good concert is so simple. I have many a time seen good accompanists become more of a ego issue than a healthy challenge! then its like the clash of the titans. again most in the audience go away very satisfied , all excited and high on witnessing this fiery dialogue. taking the majority then would you call that a good concert?

    Given the kind of bell=ringing clockwork precision that one sees during the music season where each singer has to make the best of the allotted minutes!!he is given, planning the concert then becomes top priority. But while all , musicians and audiences are running from venue to venue does creativity get sacrificed?

    I know i dont have the answers, but i know i love the music , which in whatever format fills me with intense happiness.

  • Dileep says:

    Uma, thanks for your comments.
    Well, one good fortune we have here in the US is the unhurried concerts. We in most cases have individual concerts and this allows artists to perform at ease, and listeners to enjoy at will a good traditional concert, unhurried and elaborated.
    In fact, we once heard a concert here by Sudha Raghunathan which spanned over 4 hrs.

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