Sowmya Srinivasan’s Delightful Veena Arangetram

By Shriram Murthy 


On June 26th, 2016, Sowmya Srinivasan, a student of Latha Sekaran, had her veena Arangetram recital at the latqa-sekaranS.V.Temple auditorium in the presence of music connoisseurs, friends and families. Sowmya has been learning Veena from Latha Sekaran (picture on the left)) for the last six years. Her grandmother Smt. Rajalakshmi Gopalan, who plays and teaches veena in Chennai is Sowmya’s inspiration.  Sowmya has also performed at the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana under the guidance of Guru Neyveli Santhanagopalan.]

Senior percussion artistes, veterans Ravi Balasubramanian on the ghatam and Sriram Ramanan on the mrdangam accompanied Sowmya  providing enthusiastic and encouraging support to the young veena player, which further enlivened her first solo recital.

The Arangetram started with the Navaragamalika Varnam, followed by Muthuswami Dikshithar’s Shri Saraswati Namostute.  In the next piece in raga Panthuvarali, Swati Tirunal’s Sarasaksha paripalaya maam, Sowmya delightfully brought out the Bhakti bhava (mood of devotion).

veena-arangetramThe main piece of the evening was Tyagaraja’s popular work Chakkani raja, in the raga Karaharapriya, a sampoorna raga, the 22nd Melakarta raga, with all seven notes in both the arohanam and avarohanam.  The challenging phrases with swaraprasthanams were very beautifully rendered with able variations. The tani avartanam by the veteran percussionists was quite arresting. Sowmya then rendered a Tiruppugazh verse of the 16th century ascetic Arunagirinaadar followed by Swamy Dayananda’s Bho Sambho, a popular number performed by numerous artists.  It was mesmerizing to listen to this piece on the veena.

Next, Sowmya rendered a tillana and the famous Western-sounding notes without any lyrics, inspired by Irish/Scottish melodies, popularized by Madurai Mani Iyer in the mid-20th century. Sowmya wrapped her evening recital with a Hari Bhajan in Tilang and a traditional Mangalam.

It is rare among youngsters growing up in America or even in India to learn to play on the veena and reach a level of giving solo recital. So, Sowmya’s dedication towards this pursuit is noteworthy.  Sowmya, her guru Latha Sekaran and her parents would be pleased that all their collective efforts paid off well.  We wish Sowmya well to reach greater heights in her musical journey in the years to come.   ♣

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