Shruti Laya burst on to the musical scene in New York with a grand inaugural Concert by Sri. T.M.Krishna, ably accompanied by Sri R.K.Shriram Kumar on the violin and Sri V.Arun Prakash on the Mridangam. This program on 22nd May 2008 at the Kalyana Mandapam in the Hindu Temple, New York, was a grand success both for the amazing quality of the music, and for the large turn out of an appreciative audience on a Thursday evening!
The program began with an invocation to Lord Mahavallabha Ganapathi and Medha Suktam by Sri. Prakash Bhat. Smt. Sharada Chityala welcomed the audience, and Sri. Sreenadh Jonnavithula followed up with a brief introduction of Shruti Laya and its objectives. Sri T.M.Krishna expressed his happiness at the formation of Shruti Laya, and wished the new organization great success.
T.M .Krishna started the concert with Sree Gananaatham Bhajare, the Easamanohari kriti of Muthuswamy Dikshitar. This is probably one of the favorite songs of beginners of Carnatic music and many of the youngsters present there must have been happy to listen to their own first song. This was followed by the exquisitely beautiful Eevasudha in Sahana. The sarvalaghu swarams pouring out like a pravaham added to the beauty of the exposition. Next came a rarely heard krithi, Narasimha Aagaccha in Mohanam by Muthuswamy Dikshitar. This was followed by Shri Kamalambika, the Kamalamba navavarana kriti in Punnagavarali. The raga was elaborated in sedate and stately manner and the kriti itself came out in all its glory dripping with bhakti and bhava. Sri T.M.Krishna followed this with another rarely heard krithi, Shaarade Veena in Devagandhari, by Papanasam Sivan.
The main piece for the evening was the kriti Pankaja Lochana in Kalyani. The exposition was full of energy, and it was a treat to listen to, especially the lengthy scintillating swaraprastara by both T.M.Krishna and Sri.R.K.Shriram Kumar on the violin. Everyone in the audience was listening raptly, either keeping talam or just swaying to the music. The tani avarthanam by Sri. V.Arun Prakash was a fitting finale to this musical masterpiece.
After the main piece Krishna took up some light and delicate pieces. Vagaladi, a javali in Behag was rendered with some neraval and kalpanaswaram .. which was unusual but full of beauty. This was followed by a virutham - a nandaanar song Vazhi maraikkude- which had the musician gliding through several ragas - Nadanamakriya, Mukhari, Varali, Begada - in a seamless succession and crowning it off with Todi, which thoroughly brought out the emotional impact of the piece. This was followed by another delicate yet bhakti laden kriti Sharadhe Karunanidhe in Hamir Kalyani, which had some of the audience in tears of joy.
Shruti Laya invited senior rasikas from the audience to present plaques of appreciation to the musicians who had brought everyone so much joy for the last three hours. On behalf of the Directors Smt. Sumati Sumangali presented the plaque to Sri. T.M. Krishna, Sri. T.S Balan Nathan, a veteran organizer of Carnatic Music in NY presented a plaque to Sri.R.K Shriramkumar, and Sri. Balachandran, a respected mridangam artiste and teacher, presented a plaque to Sri. V. Arun Prakash. Smt. Meena Mani, a senior music teacher and connoisseur was invited to give a musical appreciation and a vote of thanks.
The concert concluded with the message of Sadasiva Brahmendra - Pibare Raama Rasam sung in Yamuna Kalyani, and a beautiful Mangalam in Yadukula Kambhoji.
It was a wonderful concert, and time flew by without anyone noticing it. The capacity audience, who came in from near and far on a weekday evening and stayed till the end without stirring from their seats, testified to the power of the artist and the music.
It is only fitting that we acknowledge the hard work and contribution of the volunteers for making this event run so smoothly. Youngsters Sanjay Jonnavithula and Saipriya Iyer took charge of ticket sales at the front desk. Sri. Subu Garikapati and Sri. Ashok Chintakunta helped set up the audio equipment. Abhinav Chintakunta took the photographs. Mrs. Meena Mani authored the musical review portion of this article.
Shruti Laya is proud to have started launched the Sabha on this high note, and thanks You, the Rasikas in our community, for your help and support. With your continued patronage, we look forward to having many more such performances for years to come.