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Tracing the musical heritage of Tiruchi

Music historian V. Sriram along with Carnatic Singer Ashwath Narayanan at the CII Tiruchi Annual Day celebration on Saturday.
Industry leaders and music aficionados were treated to an endearing narrative on the Carnatic musical heritage of the Tiruchi region by historian V. Sriram and young vocalist Ashwath Narayanan in the city on Saturday afternoon.

The nearly two-hour session, ‘Carnatic tales of Tiruchi,’ forming part of the annual meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Tiruchi Zone, kept the audience spellbound as Mr. Sriram took them on a journey explaining how Carnatic music flourished along the Cauvery river banks right from the period of the Nayanmars and Azhwars to the present day musicians, music aficionados and sabhas.

As Mr.Sriram elaborated on some of the compositions on the temples and musicians of the region, Mr. Ashwath Narayanan rendered some of the songs on a rich timbre with effortless ease, without any accompaniment. Mr. Sriram traced the musical history of the region with some of the songs sung by Nayanmars and Azhwars on temples in and around Tiruchi, including Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, Sri Jambukeswarar Akilandeswari Temple, Thiruvanaikovil, and the Rockfort Thayumanaswamy Temple. “There is a wealth of information in the songs,” he observed. Mr.Sriram went on to dwell on some of the songs of Purandaradasa and Arunachala Kavi, including the latter’s famous song, “En palli kondeerayya,’ on Lord Ranganatha before turning his attention to the Music Trinity’s songs on Thiruvanaikovil, Rockfort and Srirangam temples.

Recalling the musical history of the region in later years, Mr.Srirangam observed: “The Alathur Brothers were the performing stars of their age and placed Tiruchi on the musical map. Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar was the uncrowned monarch of Carnatic music world and at the age of 74 climbed up the Rockfort to render a concert at the Hundred Pillar Mandapam.” The famous partnership between Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar’s and mridangam maestro Palghat Mani Iyer was struck at the house of Ratnachalam Iyer at Rettaimal Street in Tiruchi, Mr.Sriram observed throwing in several interesting anecdotes and titbits on music history. He also recalled how the Rasika Ranjana Sabha, the Marungapuri festival and the Sadguru Samajam had fostered the musical heritage. F.G. Natesa Iyer, one of the founders of R.R.Sabha, had an eye for talent and he was the one who identified and brought to the fore K.B.Sundarambal, who hailed from Kodumudi near Karur.

Famous musicians such as Musiri Subramania Iyer, Lalgudi Jayaraman, M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, Sheikh Chinnamoulana, A.K.C. Natarajan, Tiruchi Sankaran, Tiruchi Thayumanavar, among others, have kept the great musical tradition of Tiruchi alive, he said. He explained how Mr. Natarajan overcame opposition to his decision to play the clarinet, a Western instrument. “Once he was stopped from playing at the Thyagaraja aradhana only to be invited in later to perform at the Samadhi of the saint at Tiruvaiyaru,” he said. Mr. Sriram also commended the role of All India Radio, Tiruchi, in fostering the music tradition and musicians of the region.

Mr.Ashwath Narayanan brought the curtains down on the session with a rendering of Muthuswami Dikshitar's ‘Sri Rangapura Vihara’ on Lord Ranganatha.

A.S. Ananthakrishnan, chairman, CII, Tiruchi Zone, and B.V. Ramanan, former chairman, spoke.


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