December Season

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The tradition of December Season

At the onset of tamil month of margazhi starts the art festivities in Chennai, formerly and still for many (by choice) known as Madras - the world capital of carnatic music. It the time when doyens and amateurs of carnatic music, classical dance etc., display their skill and compete for a chance to stage at one of the reputed sabah's. Although it is never a competetion between the artists, since each one has their own style. This has since come to become a means to earn a reputation with the rasikas (fan's) and fellow musicians.

History says that this practice spawned in and around the early 1900's during the British Raj in India. Many of the well-to-do (and the filthily rich as well) Indians were patrons of music and other fine arts. Winter was the season when people stuck to their homes attending the scores of bhajans and festivities during the tamil month of margazhi. With the British busy with their Christmas celebrations, it was all the more a convenient time. Thus began the practice of organizing art festivals and programs during this period.

And all this practice still hold until this day. Only difference being, that these days sabah's organize the programs competing with one another to host the best artists and encouraging young talent as much. Added to the tradition harikatha's, conferences and lecture demos, discussion amongst musicians are also being organized.

The music season has grown into an event to socialize, meeting fellow rasikas and taking a break from the diurnal monotone. Consequently, canteen's are opened for rasika's to savour during and between concerts. The best catering services in the city bustle with activity. Many caterers, even do this at subsidized rates as a service to the community (business minds at work ;)). With most people running around for kutcheries after their day's work, this is of great utility for rasikas freeing them from having to return home late and preparing dinner. Besides, this is the season when the rich flaunt at their best and expensive ethnic wear, jewellery and take pride in spending :))).

In and around the year end, almost every sabah will be operating in full swing and one can see upto ~40 concerts in schedule for a day. Over nearly 700 music concerts8-| and god knows how many dance and drama in a span of just 30 days, rasika's can never catch enough. And trust me, many office goers are quite strict at not being available during kutchery hours including me :P.

For the folks who are retired or at home and dilettantes as well, its a season to run around to catch ones favourite artists. Old folks usually spend much of the day at sabah's, usually with a season pass. The festive spirit among music enthusiasts is at it peak during this season. What was originally only known as the Madras Music Season has now come to be known as December Season as well.

For me, these kutcheries not only give me a good exposure to live music, but also makes a great motivation. Watching mavens like Lalgudi G.Jayaraman, G.J.R Krishnan, Viyajalakshmi, Ganesh & Kumaresh, A.Kanyakumari, M.Chandrasekharan, Embar Kannan, H.N.Baskar and such experts of the violin perform on stage makes me want to learn & play the violin much better than what I do :).

December Season 2006-2007

You can download the December Season 2006-2007 planner here - DecemberSeason2006Planner.xls.

Dec 5 2006

Artist :S.Sowmya
Genre: Carnatic Vocal
Sabha: Brahma Gana Sabah @ Sivagami Petachi Auditorium
Song List: (out of 11 she sang)

Dec 6 2006

Artist :Bombay Jayashree
Genre: Carnatic Vocal
Sabha: Karthik Fine Arts @ Narada Gana Sabha Main Hall
Song List: (out of 9 that she sang)

Dec 7 2006

Artist : Priya Sisters
Genre: Carnatic Vocal
Sabha: Nungambakkan Cultural Academy @ Rama Rao Kala Mantap Auditorium (Habbibullah Rd)
Song List: (all of them courtesy Mr.Anand who sat next to me)

Dec 9 2006

Troupe: heArtbeat
Genre: Carnatic Instrumental / Vocal
Sabha:Mudhra @ Infosys Hall, Ramakrishna Mission Matric Hr. Sec. School (Buzullah Rd)
Artists :

  • Mridangam : Poongulam Subramaniam
  • Ghatam : S.Karthick
  • Mandolin : U.P.Raju
  • Flute : Palakkad Sriram (keyboard and vocal too)
  • Tabla / Morsing : N.Sundar
  • Rhythm Pad : Bangalore Arun Kumar

Song List:

  • mallAri (Raagam: ghambeera naaTTai)
  • varNam - "yAnai mugam" (Raagam: hamsadwani, Composer: Ghatam S.Karthick & Embar Kannan)
  • sri guru rAya (Raagam: bhujaangini)
  • layathin perumai bhuvalayam ariyumo (Raagam: karaharapriya)
  • ecstasy (Raagam: sallabham / soorya)
  • kavadi chindu
  • Medley

This time around, Embar Kannan was missing in the troupe :(. Which meant we missed one composition which is predominantly played on the violin like their - Seven Butter in vanaspathi, Penta Magic in raagam karnaranjani. But nevertheless three songs left me with goose bumps - the varNam, ecstasy and the one based in karaharapriya. The rhythm pad kind of overshadowed the percussion instruments which I hated X-(. I would have enjoyed it had the volume been toned down. And Palakkad Sriram playing keyboard using his laptop made it sound so electronic and lost its carnatic touch :(. It was like a constant harmoniam sound in the background making the pieces more light music kind than carnatic.

The flute was a good addition although it didn't have much role to play but for some effects. Palakkad Sriram's singing was a good attempt, but IMHO he should stick to scales he CAN sing. The rhythm pad also crisp and such doesn't fit well along with our traditional percussion instruments. The usual majesty of the mridangam was missing. The ghatam was hardly heard. It was just too many things out there and too many disparate sounds. Bit too jazzy!

The fact that most of the songs are composed / compiled by the troupe members is a big plus, but some variety would add a lot to the program. Almost every program of theirs seems to host about 4/5 of the above. But nevertheless a definitely gripping entertainer, even for light listeners.

Dec 10 2006

Artist :T.M.Krishna
Genre: Carnatic Vocal
Sabha:Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha @ Vani Mahal (G.N.Chetty Rd)
Song List:

Dec 12 2006

Artist : U.P.Raju & Nagamani
Genre: Carnatic Instrumental (Mandolin Duet)
Sabha:Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha @ Vani Mahal (G.N.Chetty Rd)
Song List:

For this concerts "All Rasika's were welcome" , which equates to a free kutchery. It happened in the mini-hall at Vani Mahal following a vocal by an amateur artists. A small hall was just perfect for mandolin. I had missed this duo in action during the rAma navami utsavam during April so this time I made sure I caught them. The program was fantastic, thought disappointingly short. It was just for over an hour and a half. But the mandolin duet was just so irresistible. thuLasI dhala was my favourite piece of them all given to how magnificently it was rendered. All of the pieces were well received and very enjoyable.

The couple (in life too) are not amongst the crowd pullers as yet, but am sure they would be in the years to come. So if you want to attend a hazzle free treat for your ears, don't miss them.

Dec 16 2006

Artist : Lalgudi G.J.R.Krishnan & Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi
Genre: Carnatic Instrumental (Violin Duet)
Sabha: Sri Krishna Gana Sabha
Song List:

Dec 19 2006

Artist : Ganesh & Kumaresh
Genre: Carnatic Instrumental (Violin Duet)
Sabha:Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha @ Vidhya Bharathi Mylapore
Song List:

  • varNam (Raagam: mOhanam) - Kumaresh playing with swara bedham lower octave chatur-shruthi deivatham in place of shadjamam.
  • slokam (saptaswara dhyanam) - sung by Ganesh
  • shObhillu saptaswara (Raagam: jagan mOhini)
  • sangitha jnaanamu (Raagam: dhanyaasi)
  • raaga pravaagam in bEgaDa followed by hindOlam
  • thudhi seidhidu maname (Raagam: bhairavi??)
  • banTu reeti kOlu (Raagam: hamsanaadam)
  • RTP (beginning in raagam kApi)
  • medley
  • thillana (Raagam: sindhu bhairavi, Composer: Ganesh & Kumaresh)

Dec 20 2006

Artist : Sudha Raghunathan
Genre: Carnatic Vocal
Sabha:Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha @ Vidhya Bharathi Mylapore
Song List:

Dec 21 2006

Artist : Kadri Gopalnath
Genre: Carnatic Instrumental (Saxophone)
Sabha: Sri Rama Baktha Jana Sabha @ PSBB KK Nagar
Song List: (no help this time :( so I only noted down those that I already know)

Dec 22 2006

Artist : Kanyakumari & Embar Kannan
Genre: Carnatic Instrumental Violin Duet)
Sabha:Mudhra @ Infosys Hall, Ramakrishna Mission Matric Hr. Sec. School (Buzullah Rd)
Song List: