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Scintillating Classical Jugalbandi at HTA


(Top) Artists (left to right) Santosh chandru on the mridangam. VK raman on the flute, Nanda Kishore Muley on the Santur and Anjaneya Sastry on the tabla. (Bottom) Part of the audience.

Dr. Seshu Sarma and her team of classical music lovers organized a musical extravaganza, Jugalbandi last Saturday, at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Riverdale. The musical show had artists V.K. Raman on the flute, Nanda Kishore Muley on the Santur, Santosh Chandru on the mridangam and Anjaneya Sastry on the tabla.

The show started with a scintillating performance by Nanda Kishore Muley, who, with his Santur began introducing the Hindustani style. Nand Kishore started in Raag Madhuvanti with Alaap followed by Jod, Jhala and finishing in about 45 minutes with a Drut in Teen Taal. He enthralled the audience with a skillful exhibition of both the bold and the delicate side of his instrument Santoor. In the beginning, when the organizers switched off lights in the auditorium, Nanda Kishore Muley requested organizers to switch on lights, as he wanted to see the faces of audience. Then he gave the audience a brief course on his instrument and talked about how he is dedicated to make this instrument as popular as the Sitar. He said that the word 'Santoor' actually came from Persia but the instrument has existed in India since the Vedic period. It has been known with names like Katyayan Veena and later Shatatantri Veena. In the recent centuries, it somehow went into hibernation in the Kashmir valley until the maestro Shiv Kumar Sharma brought it back to the mainstream limelight. 

Then it was time to travel south with V. K. Raman with his bamboo flutes and Santosh Chandru and his Mridangam. Raman started with a rendition of Raaga Hamsadhwani in Aditalam and unmistakably established his mastery over his 3 different sized flutes. The next trip was into a totally uncharted territory for most of the audience. He picked a very unusual Raaga Shruti Ranjani which is a Vivadi Raaga and especially rare in the North. What makes this Raaga uniquely haunting and extremely difficult to handle is the usage of two Dhaivats - Shuddha as well as Komal. Raman had picked a composition by the great Thyagaraja and it was a challenging assignment but Raman came out with flying colors. He ended this trip with a short Tillana 'Swati Kirana' in Raaga Dhanashree (similar to Bhimpalasi of North). 

The event was named "Jugalbandi" which normally means two musicians playing two different instruments in tandem. Not just that, it is also expected that there is a dialogue, there is a harmony and there are playful exchanges of artistry - almost with a competitive spirit. This concert had all of this but it had one thing more. Hindustani and Carnatic music systems which although not exactly poles apart but certainly carefully keeping each other at arms length were coaxed into coming together under one roof. And full credit to the musicians for not just making these two strangers see eye to eye but actually making the fully packed audience in the temple auditorium forget which one is which. It was simply amazing.

The stage was now set perfectly for both these accomplished artists to come together and bring along their styles for a climactic finish. And they certainly did it with a flourish. They played a very beautiful Pallavi called Ishwari Maheshwari Kirawani composed in Raaga - obviously - Kirawani! This was the ultimate culmination of a memorable afternoon in which the two visiting artists lived up to the expectations with able support of Atlanta's own Tabla and Mridangam players. 

Earlier, Narendra Reddy welcomed the gathering and introduced the artists of the evening. Dr. Aruna Prasad Kancherla, president of the temple while felicitating the artists expressed his joy over the excellent concert and commended Dr. Seshu Sarma for bringing such a wonderful program to the temple.

Srinivas Bhadriraju, MD, Pulmonary, allergy, sleep disorder and critical care specialist in Emory university school of medicine appreciated Dr. Seshu Sarma for her love to music and said she and her husband Dr. Ravi Sarma are keeping our culture and tradition alive though far away from our country and said they deserve all admiration. He said that they are not individuals and they have now become an institution. They both engaged in fullfiling the needs of community by introducing various innovative programs. Taking a chance to introduce his research work Dr. Srinivas told audience there is a lot of interest now on the cardiovascular health of Indians and he is exploring the potential link between Sleep health and cardiovascular health. He informed that he is conducting a survey on Sleep and Heart in Asian Indians and distributed a questionnaire. He believes that the information gained will have a positive impact on the Indian Community's health.

CAMAGA ( and ICMS ( sponsored this unique concert to the classical music lovers of Atlanta. 

Dr. Seshu Sarma is very excited about the success of the concert and thanked everybody involved in the event. 


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