Sudha Raghunathan Live

Sudha R 002Live concerts are a rare treat in my life as there aren’t many Carnatic musicians who venture into Switzerland. Though I spend quite a few months in Melbourne each year, the timing has never been right for the big concerts held by CMC here. This trip has been better timed; I was happy to attend Sudha Raghunathan’s concert on Sunday but am rather sad to be missing Bombay Jayashri who comes in May.

On Sunday evening, at 7pm, I walked into the nearly full concert hall with keen anticipation. These occasions are a happy mix of culture, socialising and people watching. A young lady I met confessed to having not much interest in the music; she just wanted to check out who was wearing what! I was myself curious about Sudha Raghunathan’s sari, her collection being quite famous. She looked very nice in a golden yellow sari, I am happy to report!

She was accompanied this evening by B.V.Raghavendra Rao on the violin and Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan on the Mridangam. The concert was a solid 3.5+ hours with no intermission. Her selections were :

  • Innam En Manam in Charukesi, composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman.
  • Pranamamyaham Gowri Sutam in Gowla, composed by Mysore Vasudevachar.
  • Govinda Rajena Rakshitoham in Mecha Bauli, composed by Muthuswami Dikshithar.
  • Endraikku Shiva Krupai in Mukhari, composed by Neelakantha Sivan.
  • Bantureeti in Hamsanaadam, composed by Tyagaraja.
  • Mani Noopura Dhari in Neelambari, composed by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer.
  • Chesidanella in Todi, composed by Tyagaraja
  • Guruvayur Appane Appan in Ritigowla, composed by Ambujam Krishna.
  • RTP  in 5 ragas, pallavi : raghunAyakA (Hamsadhwani)  raghunandanA (Sahana) raghuvara (Pantuvarali)  ramAbhirAma (Darbar) nI samAna evaru rAmA (Kharaharapriya) raghunAykA
  • Bare Panduranga in Mand, an Abhang by Sant Tukaram.
  • Ayiram Ayiram Gopirgalodu in Charukesi, composed by Nila Ramamurthi.
  • Innudaya Barade in Kalyana Vasantam, composed by Purandaradasa.
  • Thillana in Behag, composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman.

My sister and brother-in-law did not like the concert at all. I don’t feel as negative but still, it didn’t leave me enthralled. Having limited technical knowledge, I can only judge a concert on how it makes me feel, how absorbed I get in the music and how it lingers in my mind.  Evidently, that depends as much on my mood as on the artist so it is all very subjective.

That said, I was disturbed by the choice of kritis and ragas. Bantureeti for example, I would have preferred 2 down or 3 down; after a peaceful Mukhari, I found the cheerful briskness of Hamsanaadam very disturbing. Neelambari that early in the concert felt equally disturbing – I prefer it in the post RTP spot, unless it is a varnam of course. Todi as the heavy piece was executed with ease and expertise; the post RTP choices were also good.

As to the RTP, though it is normally my favourite item in a concert, I did not take to it. RTPs are a vehicle for the artists to display their technical skills and this RTP definitely allowed them to show their vidvat. However, given my lack of knowledge, all I wish for is to drown myself in music. The 5-raga RTP actually never allowed me to get into the mood of any raga. The pallavi itself was clever, a mix of title-phrases from different Tyagaraja compositions, each sung in the raga of the source kriti. But I did not enjoy the mix. In fact, Hamsadhwani did not suit me this late in the concert at all. It all goes to show that I am a traditionalist, which rather surprises me!

I recorded some of the music in my handheld camera; there was no announcement to the contrary. Without a tripod to help, I am sad to say that the the results are too shaken to show you. The audio is not great either, there were children crying, people whispering etc. Still, its not too bad and if you wish, you can enjoy a listen below.

Pranamamyaham Gowri Sutam -10:18

Endraikku Shiva Krupai -9:38

RTP -46:51

Innudaya Barade -6:39

Thillana -4:15


Filed under Carnatic Music, Sudha Raghunathan

11 responses to “Sudha Raghunathan Live

  1. Hey Suja – you’ve been back! I still have some DVDs for you and I think I have lost your email address. Let me know if you’re going to be around for a little while? I only dabble in the ‘pop’ end of the Indian music scene here. Went to see Shankr Ehsaan Loy llast month (they were excellent), and will be seeing Sonu Nigam on 8 April.

  2. Hi Temple, good to hear from you 🙂 I am sorry to have missed Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, they are normally very entertaining. Am hesitating over Sonu.. Oh yes, thank you very much for making those DVDs for me. I wonder whether we can meet? Have you already seen Kahani? if not I am intending to see it this week in the city…would love to see you and Heather if you are free. If not Kahani, is there any other nice film which you are planning on seeing? Lets do something together – my email address is

  3. shoote

    Suja, i have very little knowledge of carnatic music. Hence i can’t comment on your write up. i know very few raagas that i can identify. I am a very late entrent in listening to carnatic music. However Bantrutee is my fav kriti. Listening to music is surely depend on moods. Some times i listen only to kishore and nothing else. Somdays i listen only to A.M.Raja. (he is also my fav singer). Some days i listen only to Beatles. Beatles still enthrall me.

    • I think there are many ways to enjoy music – one can have little knowledge and just enjoy music in passing, one can be an interested listener with a bit of knowledge but no technical expertise or one can have professional level expertise and enjoy the music almost intellectually. There can be no snobbery or ranking here – all are listeners of equal value; when a musician sings, he or she must address each of these groups of listeners. My neighbour in the concert said that she wished it was all bhajans and abhangs, that the other music was too ‘heavy’. I was secretly shocked, for it was the solid Todi or 45 min long RTP that I enjoyed best – but she was as important an audience member to the musician as I was. Tastes differ. Still, Carnatic Music is old and traditional, it has technical vigour and depth; a certain level of understanding enhances one’s enjoyement. I work actively on increasing my understanding and hope one day to enjoy the different aspects of the music even more than I do now.
      As to Kishore, I adore him. Beatles I have heard often enough and enjoy at a superficial level. A.M.Raja – I know nothing of!!

  4. indigoite

    Nice to go to a concert. There is something special about listening live – especially in a hall with good acoustics. Its way above listening to recorded music.

    Probably the choice of pieces did much to dampen the listening experience. I wouldn’t have enjoyed this selection too.

    By the way – what do you mean “you have less technical knowledge”. In my book – you are en expert and anybody who claims gretare expertise is verturning into esoteric but useless pedantic stuff !!

    Oh you are “Swiss”. Thought you were exclusively a “Sheila” !!

    • You are right Ramesh, indeed it is wonderful to go to a concert. It was rather negative of me to criticize the selection without thinking what a blessing it is to listen to such good music !!
      I do not consider myself technically knowledgeable at all – I have zero tala-gyanam and my understanding of ragas is very superficial, just enough to barely appreciate their nuances. I do research before I write posts and in that process teach myself some background info as well. What I do have through listening for years and years is an undefinable skill of zoning in on what’s good music.
      As to whether I am a sheila – 🙂 100% Tamil Iyengar by birth, with a very North Indian outlook by growing up in Delhi, being able to pass for a Bengali with my fluency after having been married to one for 30 years, with many Western ideas thanks to living out of India for 29 years, Australian by Nationality, at ease in USA thanks to having lived there as well, and Swiss by residency. I am not sure whether there is a name for my kind of a person 🙂

  5. Filmbuff

    I am not aware of Sudha Raghunathan’s concert in Sydney. Usually visiting artists tend to perform in both Mel and Syd. I have attended all concerts of Sudha in Syd so far. Have also met her personally during the concerts. I enjoyed her earlier concerts in the 90s and a few in recent years. Some times she does not come across as a humble person at all. She was wearing a dazzling designer wear saree at her last year Swaralaya concert in Sydney.

    If you tend to visit Australia in June, then you can perhaps attend the annual 3 day Swaralaya Carnatic festival during the Queen’s birthday long weekend – this year it is 9 to 11 June

    • Oh, did she not perform in Sydney? I assumed she would! I thought she was also going to New Zealand. I have not met Sudha Raghunathan but have heard a lot about Saris 🙂 She keeps herself looking good and as a fellow middle-aged woman, I admire her very much for it!! The swaralaya concert sounds interesting but I shall probably back only later in the year. I will make a note of it for future years, thank you. Sonu Nigam is performing her on the 8th, I am tempted…

  6. Filmbuff

    Sorry forgot to add that the swarlaya concert usually takes place in Syd

  7. Filmbuff

    SEL concert in Syd was really enjoyable. Sonu Nigam is performing in Syd on 6 April

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