Bhamini and Vaishnavee’s Delighful Karnatic Arangetram

By P Sundararaman, Allison Park, PA


All children are natural musicians. Obsession to music is what makes them talented. Right training and rigorous practice can make them performers, if they so desire. Bhamini and Vaishnavee, teenage daughters of Hema and V Sundararaman, gave an impressive debut vocal Karnatic duo recital at the SV Temple auditorium on Sunday, July 8, 2018. Rasikas, discerning and common alike, enjoyed the concert, encouraging them with well-deserved applause.

Their Guru — Tirumala Penugonda Chakrapani and Seethalakshmi Madhavan — have given them a firm foundation in fundamentals of Karnatic music, further kindling their desire for creative music. “Creative” music, by implication, cannot be “taught.” Guru can only illustrate how to approach it. The student should assimilate these guidelines and practice creative singing with raga embellishment, neraval, kalpanasvaram, with the Guru and then by themselves, till they become confident that the rules and restrictions are not violated. Creative music cannot be memorized and reproduced, it is improvised on the spot.

Bhamini and Vaishnavi began their concert with an invocatory sloka followed by a well rendered rare varnam in Kharaharapriya composed by musicologist Pinakapani. The fifteen krtis of various composers presented by the sisters, were all set to different talas and ragas. The kritis were sung with chittai (proper diction and precision); a proof of their rigorous practice. They delineated raga and svaraprastara for several kritis.

Parvati Ninnu in the raga Kalgada, Muruga in Saveri, Ekkadi Narakamu in Nitimati (a rarely heard raga) were noteworthy. The well-presented center piece Kaddanu Variki in raga Todi with detailed alapana and neraval and the sisters singing complimentary one-avartana svaram were enjoyable. Their 3-hour concert with no break remarkably maintained a steady tempo throughout.

The young, talented accompanying artists — Sarang Mulukutla on the violin and Ganesh Sankaranarayanan on the Mrdangam — supported the young singers very well. Anjali Bandi on the tanpura provided the critical shruti accompaniment. These five young artists jointly made the Arangetram to a near-professional performance.

I have listened to Bhamini and Vaishnavee from their childhood. Their passion for Karnatic music — instilled by their grandmother— should help them widen their horizon by learning and listening.   ♠


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