Why there’s never a dull moment in T.M. Krishna’s concert?

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Carnatic singer TM Krishna performing at ‘Sangamam’ by Shibulal Family Philanthropic Initiatives (SFPI), at St John’s Auditorium, in Bengaluru. , Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The invitation read,Join us for an enchanting evening with world-renowned Carnatic classical artist TM Krishna, an event celebrating and embracing the heritage and creativity of Indian art and culture.’
Any concert by Krishna is always captivating. It is provocative, disturbing, awakening. There is never a dull moment. It is a feast for art purists, a delight for the avant-garde, and full of surprises for devout believers who are pantheistic in their approach. But religious fanatics are incensed by his disrespect for sacred beliefs and feel offended. The old man, who is a true connoisseur of classical music, reluctantly praises her, even though she is unorthodox. Modern youth who are attracted to classical music, and students of arts like them. He has a huge fan base – he is talented, charismatic and daring. His music and his ideas have evolved and been shaped by eclectic interests and thorough research. He has written books on classical music, the art and artisans of classical musical instruments and their loving devotion to their age-old art and their isolation and neglect. He is a prolific writer and a fearless activist on contemporary issues.

His music and his acting performances always leave you amazed. He is a modernist rooted in tradition. An unbeliever who mesmerises you by singing devotional songs at temple festivals. An innovator and disruptor who challenges and challenges and questions the undercurrents of our cultural and social places and its stereotypes and traditions and its politics in the field of art, which is often exclusive and discriminatory.

They may not have won universal acclaim, but they have sparked a vibrant debate and enriched art by celebrating various art forms drawn from all the languages ​​and regions of India and across the ocean.

As provided by the organisers, the theme of the concert was probably a confluence of various music and dance forms of India. But Krishna interpreted it in a different way. In his brief opening remarks, he said that he chose works and songs ranging from ancient to medieval and modern that reflect the rich diversity of our land, but he also chose them for his vision of the meaning and context of his texts Is. We are grappling with contemporary events and issues.

He began the concert with Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s famous composition in Tamil, Vilamba Kala or slow tempo, in contrast to the traditional practice of starting with a varnam, which is a mixture of song and musical notes (swaras) presented in several tempos. . A traditional opening item that sets the tone and mood of a concert and is a warmup for the performer to get the pitch and rhythm right before easing themselves into the main part of the concert. This could possibly be the first sign of an unease among conservatives not to tread the beaten path. But if one can stop analyzing and judging and sink into the moment without thinking and listening to Krishna sing, one reaches the oceanic bliss that only the music of the maestro can provide. Krishna’s mastery and presentation of Kritis, Ragas, Alap, Tanam, Pallavi, Kalpanaswara, Niraval is refreshing and casts a spell on the audience. After presenting a bouquet of the four ragas (ragamalika) with the tanam, Krishna sings the orders of Emperor Ashoka, which were chosen from several rock-cut edicts at Buddhist sites over 2,500 years ago. After extensive research, Krishna, in collaboration with historians, linguists and the Ashoka University, prepared a concise text in the lost language Prakrit leaving behind the enigmatic hieroglyphs and released it publicly a few months ago. This is an ongoing project. The central message of the inscriptions is harmony, peace and the path of dharma or justice. Ashoka, who was a ferocious warrior in his early reign, and became a pacifist in later years, asks in an edict given by Krishna – “Ashoka conquered Kalinga through war. But did Ashoka win the hearts of the people of Kalinga?” Conquered?” Other notable renditions of Krishna included Tyagaraja’s composition and Papanasam Sivan’s popular Sanskrit song ‘Janakipate’, two verses by two famous Veera Shaivite reformers, Jedara Dasimaya and Laddeya Somanna. Dasimaya’s eponymous poem, written over 1,000 years ago, is the epitome of his She was way ahead of her times. She wrote on many ills of the society, including denial of equality and exclusion of transgenders. Here is the translation of Krishna’s song: “If someone has chest and hair, they call her a woman / If one has a mustache and beard, they call him a man / The soul that hovers in the middle is neither male nor female.” He quoted a rare shloka of the great saint-reformer Narayana Guru in Malayalam, Also sang ‘Anukambadasakam’.Strange verses in its import that ask who is the Supreme, is it Rama, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Shankara or the Prophet? In the end, he also sang Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite hymn ‘Abide with Me’ to pay homage to the soldiers and martyrs who died in the war. He concluded with the poignant Meera Bhajan. The high point of the concert was when Krishna sang ‘Krishna Kanhaiya’, an Urdu song on Lord Krishna with melodious tunes by famous Pakistani poet Hafiz Jalandhari, one of whose poems is also the national anthem of Pakistan. Krishna said that he took the help of eminent Hindustani singer Shubha Mudgal to set it to music. The lyrics of this poem are remarkably evocative of the multi-glorious personality of Krishna, ending – ‘Oh my darkness, the light of India, wrap me in your robe.’ There was a standing ovation when Krishna concluded the two-and-a-half-hour concert. Shakespeare’s immortal lines came to mind: ‘If music be love’s food, play it.’