‘Carnatic music can innovate, expand, grow’

Jaithirth Rao in The Indian Express:

“My aunt once told me that Telugu was the only “sweet” language that could help extract the rasas of our music. She was dead wrong. Aruna Sairam, among others, has gone back to astonishing mediaeval Tamil compositions from Thevaram to Divya Prabandham.

“She has rediscovered Uttukaadu Venkata Subba Iyer and his wonderful Tamil compositions. She has come out with a CD appropriately called Kshetra Chennapuri. The beauty of this CD is that it covers tributes to not just the well-known Parthasarathi and Kapaaleeshwarar temples but also to that little gem in the heart of “town”, Kandakottam, where the nineteenth-century immortal Ramalinga Adigalaar lived.

“She has included Tiruneermalai, a temple of pre-Pallava times on the outskirts where the Aalwaars described Krishna in enchanting Tamil as “Neer-vannan”—he who has the colour of water—referring to Krishna’s blue hues. And when one listens to Aruna singing the lesser-known Kannada composition of SripaadarajaKaveri Ranga‘, even an atheist will turn a believer.

“The inclusion in concerts of unusual raaga maalikas and the erstwhile humble tillaanas from the repertoire of dance confirms the capacity of our music forms to innovate, expand and grow. Many thought that when Aruna started singing Marathi abhangs praising Vitthala (set to Carnatic raagas) there would be a pushback. Guess what, that’s the number the audiences love most; they keep asking for repeats.”

Read the full article here: From Madras to Chennai