The week long dance and carnatic vocal concerts organised by Trinity Arts Festival of India concluded on a high note with flute maestro Shashank giving a high voltage concert ably accompanied by Akkarai Subbalakshmi with dexterous violin.
His concerts highlight was his RTP exploring the depths of Panthuvarali raga.
Instrumental performances do at times engage audiences in guessing games on the compositions being performed, even if they identify the raga. There was no cause for suspense here, as the artist informed about the kriti he was to play. When he mentioned Panthuvarali raga, the knowledged rasikas, closed their eyes and awaited the melliflous devine notes to flow. And Shasank and Akkarai were able to present this in a majestic manner indeed!
In a piece written by Chrulata Mani titled A Raga’s Journey — Poignant Pantuvarali that appeared in The Hindu, she notes that ‘the song that won Vani Jayaram several accolades was ‘Yezhu Swarangalukkul’ from “Apoorva Ragangal” in the music of M.S. Viswanathan. This ragamalika piece begins majestically in Pantuvarali and the highlight of this song is the akara traversal from lower Gandhara to the upper octave Gandhara seamlessly….
And the same mood was present in the flute concert presented by flautist Shasank and violinist Akkarai.
The raga has the name
Sadari Pann in ancient Tamil Music. It may be noted here that when Lord Siva came in the guise of a wood cutter to save the reputation of the musician Banabhadra, HE sang the Sadari Pann. It can be also noted that when Saint Tyagaraja visited Kovur, he sang the opening song in praise of the deity Lord Sundareswara “Sambho Mahadeva”, in Raga Pantuvarali or Sadari Pann.
Pantuvarali is close to the hearts of several composers and it seemed to mesmerise audience whenever it is played by the kutchery performers.
When it was performed by flute it did add melody, and it was like hearing a gandarva isai.
Shashank concluded the concert with garland of partiotic compositions including Vande Mataram after Korai Ondrum Illai…
Shashank, born in the Kaveri belt that has produced many Carnatic musicians like Thyagaraja, displayed talents as a boy. His father Subramanyam, an amateur flautist, gave him his first lessons. As a six- year-old, Shashank surprised his music teacher in school by playing the ‘Kaanada raga varnam’ on his father’s flute. Knowing this T.R. Mahalingam (Mali) advised him to learn vocal music first, which he did later. His flautist debut surprisingly was in Adelaide, Australia in 1990 when he was eleven year old. He performed in his 12th year at Madras Music Academy and began giving concerts all over the world. He is creative while conforming to vocal traditions of high quality.
Incidentally the Akkarai sisters gave the first concert on the vocal section of this edition of trinity Arts festival and fittingly Akkarai was also on stage for the concluding concert this time.