Classical Music Festival 1999

(on Swathi Thirunal Compositions)

16th Feb - 18th Feb 1999

Dear Art Lovers,

A three-day festival of classical Karnatic Music is being held in Mumbai during mid-February this year. The festival organised by Keli will be exclusively devoted to compositions of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal and is aimed at projecting the variety, richness and vitality of Swathi Thirunal’s contributions to Classical Indian Music.

Maharaja Swathi Thirunal (1813 - 1847) was a ruler of the State of Travancore and a contemporary of the famous Karnatic Music Trinity. He was a versatile prodigy who compressed in a short life of thirty four years stupendous achievements in innumerable channels of activity. A munificent patron of art and literature, the young Maharaja who ascended the throne at the age of sixteen, was himself a poet, philosopher, playwright, musician, composer and connoisseur of visual arts. As a composer, he covered the widest range in patterns of composition - Geetam, Tanam, Varnam, Chowkam, Chowka Varnam, Sabdam, Swaraj ati, Jatiswaram, Padam, Tillana, Javali, Ragamalika and Hindustani songs. He has composed almost in all Indian languages. For sheer variety in languages and patterns Swathi Thirunal has no equal. All his works are in the nature of atmanivedanam (Self-dedication) at the feet of Lord Padmanabha. The theory and practice of Karnatic Music found their fulfilment in his unfolding.

As a ruler of a state and due to the high responsibilities he had to shoulder, he could not think of disciples to propagate his compositions. Consequently his kritis remained dorment of several decades. During the early part of this centuary the Royal family of Travancore toiled hard to perpetuate the memory of Swathi Thirunal and in 1939 the Swathi Thirunal Academy of Music was established in Thiruvanandapuram, under the leadership of Dr. Muthiah Bhagavatar.

This three-day festival will be dedicated to the memory of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal by none other than Sangeeta Kalanidhi Padmavibhushan Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer the 91 year old doyen of Karnatic Music. Joining the Swathi Thirunal Academy as its Principal if in 1942, he served in this prestigious post for over 23 years. During this period, he made substantial contributions towards discovering rare compositions of the Maharaja notating publishing and popularising them among lovers of music. He incorporated these Kritis in his concert repertoire, taught them to students of the Academy and created an awareness about the quality of these works among music lovers of South India. The popularity enjoyed by the Swathi Thirunal Kritis today is largely due to the efforts of Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

As a humble token of appreciation of his invaluable contribution to India’s National legacy in the arts in general and to Karnatic Music especially Swathi Thirunal Music in particular, Keli would like to felicitate Dr. Srinivasa Iyer with a Veerashrunghala (a traditional golden bracelet of appreciation) during this festival. The celebrated Hindustani Vocalist, Smt. Kishori Amonkar who needs no introduction to lovers of Indian Music will be presenting the Veerashrunghala on behalf of the art lovers of the City. We believe that the participation of these two-veteran musician in this festival will signify a happy symbolic confluence of the two main streams of Indian Classical Music.

Keli is a Mumbai based organisation dedicated to bringing art lovers in contact with traditional and classical art forms. ln the past it has handled some very exclusive projects such as the Kathakali Festival of Kottayam Stories in 1997, the Classical Womens Theatre Festival in 1998. Keli has received support in its endeavours from art lovers, corporate houses, media and other organisations that appreciate both the intensity of these projects as well as the art forms.

We are especially thankful to Lawkim for their support in this year as well as in the past. It is the patronage of this kind that helps to promote art and culture of our country.

The three-day festival will be spread over three venues viz. Y. B. Chavan Centre-Nariman Point, Karnataka Sangha-Matunga and Model English School-Dombivli(E) and will feature outstanding exponents of Karnatic Music who have specialised in the music of Swathi Thirunal.

All music lovers are cordially invited to participate in the festival and savour a unique musical experience.

Thanking you,

K. Subhaschandran, Project Co- ordinator
Ramachandran, Secretary, Keli

Day 1

Friday, 16 February 1999
at Y.B.Chawan Center, Nariman Point, 6.45 pm sharp

Opening Ceremony

Welcome Speech: Sanjana Kapoor

Dedication: Dedicating the festival towards the memory of Sri Swathi Thirunal by Sangeetha Kalanidhi Padmavibhushan Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

Felicitation: Presenting Veerasrunghala (a traditional golden bracelet of appreciation) to admavibhushan Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer by Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar.

Guests of Honour: Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar

Classical Concert (Vocal)

by Pala C.K.Ramachandran & Group

Pala C.K.Ramachandran is a gradute of the Swathi Thirunal College of Music, Trivandrum. He is a senior disciple of Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, studying music in the traditional Gurukula system for over 10 years at the Guru’s residence. A much-sought-after vocalist of the Karnatic tradition today, he is a graded artiste of All India Radio and is the recipient of several awards and honours. He has performed widely all over India and in several countries abroad. Ramachandran’s concert will feature Swathi Thirunal Kritis in the typical tradition evolved and popularised by Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

Day 2

Saturday, 17 February 1999
At Karnataka Sangh Hall, Matunga 6.45 pm

Classical Concert (Vocal)

by Sri T.K.Govinda Rao & Group

Born into a musical family of Kerala T. K. Govinda Rao received training under the late Sangeetha Kalanidhi Musiri Subramania Iyer for over 15 years in the typical Gurukula system. One of the leading musicians of Karnatic tradition today, he has been acclaimed as an outstanding vocalist, a versatile scholar and a devoted teacher. He is the author of several books on music including three comprehensive volumes on the compositions of Thyagaraja, Dikshithar and Shyama Sastry. Govinda Rao will present Swathi Thirunal compositions in the style propogated by his Guru, Musiri Subramania Iyer with its emphasis on Bhava-laden rendering of Kritis.

Day 3

Sunday, 18 February 1999,
at At Model English High School, Dombivilli. 6.45 pm

Classical Concert (Vocal)

by Sri. Aswathi Thirunal Ramavarma & Group

A scion of the royal family of Travancore and a direct descendent of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal. Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma is an acclaimed vocalist and Vainika of the younger generation. He received training from such eminent teachers as Vechur Hariharasubramania Iyer, R. Venkatraman and K. S. Narayanaswami." Presently he is under the tutelage of the Well-known musician, M. Balamuralikrishna. A graded artiste of All India Radio, he has performed extensively in India and abroad.

Accompanying Artists:

K.Shivakumar - Violin (Well-known Mumbai based Violinist and teacher)
Erode A. Gururajan - Mridangam (Senior Mridangam exponant and disciple of late Palani M. Subramania Pillai)

Our Sincere Thanks to:

Ganasaraswathi Kishori Amonkar, Laukim Ltd., Vijay Crishna, X.K.Marker, Prithvi Theatre, Kalakaumudi, Keraleeya Samajam, Dombivilli, Kohinoor Printers, Celluloid & After and all artists