Monday, July 14, 2008
Sudha Raghunathan sizzles again in Bay Area
SIFA is Bay Area's leading organization that promotes South Indian classical music, both vocal and instrumental music and also classical dance Bharathnatyam. Thanks to the SIFA committee and volunteers who manage to bring great artists from India every year during the summer season to perform for the huge desi population.
Sudha Ragunathan, one of the leading singers of Carnatic music, performed at the India Communicy Center auditorium in Milpitas last evening. The concert scheduled to start at 4:00, began at 4:30 and the crowd that thronged the entrance to the hall with the packed parking lot was an indicator of Sudha's popularity in the Bay Area. It has become a tradition to have Sudha sing in the Bay Area every year. She started off with a Jalajakshi varnam that proceeded with an invocation to Lord Ganesha. A unique feature in Sudha's concerts are that she provides a brief introduction on the song that she is about to render in her meliflous English. She also took the opportunity to welcome the Bay Area audience. I wouldn't want to forget to mention the fact that Sudha's jewellery and traditional pattu sarees add more beauty to the concert. I've always loved the accessories that she wears and found that her website has a tab dedicated to her wardrobe collection of sarees, must check out-
She sang and she sang alapanai after alapanai with the clock ticking away and it was almost 7:30 (she had sung for 3 hours). Meanwhile, requests for favorite renditions from the audience started coming to the stage and with her pleasing smile, Sudha said that she would either sing Ragam Tanam Pallavi (RTP) or change the course of the concert with the audience requests. While, the RTP calls were heard louder than the others, she proceeded to dedicate a 45 minute to prove her skill and musical prowess.
While, I have a strong preference to hear more kritis and thukdas sung in the latter half of a good kutcheri, I guess it was hard for me to sit through the elaborate RTP, while I kept thinking how many beautiful thukdas she could have sung. After RTP, she moved on to Marukelara, Kanda Naal Mudhal, Vishamakara Kannan, Brahmam Okate (that had the audience clapping their hands), Chinnan Chiru Kileye Kanamma etc. I loved the tamil songs, expecially the new ones that she sang with so much spirit.
I had to leave towards the end of the concert during the Vote of Thanks, since didn't want to get caught in the crowds trying to pull out of the parking lot after the concert. But, even then, it lasted for 4 hours. I don't think that kutcheris in Chennai are sung this long, but, given that this is a once in a year opportunity, Sudha truly sang for her fans.
On the drive back home, memories of concerts that I used to go with my dad in Krishna Gana Sabha and Vani Manal during my school and college years came back and how I wish I could spare the time or turn the clock to relive those days again.