Where : Arohana School of Music, USA
City of Middleton decrees Melharmony Day
The OVK-Bach festival organized by Arohana School of Music In Middleton, WI was a first-of-its-kind event that brought two all-time-great composers from two different parts of the world – Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi (1700-65) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) on the same platform. It therefore provided a significant number of Indians as well as non-Indian listeners a highly enriching experience for nearly 12 hours.
It started off with the traditional Saptaratna renditions led by Shri. Chitravina N Ravikiran, Kum. Akkarai Subhalakshmi, Nandini Sridhar, Vanitha Suresh, Namratha Rajagopal, and other local singers in the Midwest region,accompanied by Smt. Vijaya Desikan on the violin, Shri. Sriram Natarajan on the Mrdangam, Shri. Balaji Chandran on the Ghatam, and Arthi Nadhan on the Veena. From Nattai to Madhyamavati, the inspired brilliance and eloquence of Venkata Kavi was beautifully brought out by the ensemble. Shri Ravikiran provided a crisp and informative introduction at the beginning of every Saptaratna.
This was followed by individual/group/featured vocal performances by students of teachers from Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin. This was kickstarted by a brisk rendition of Raghukulottama Rama (Nagaswaravali - Mishra Jampa) by Kum. Akkarai Subhalakshmi. The rest of the session included rare and popular OVK compositions such as Arulalan tiramellam (Shankarabharanam), Vallari Samane (Malavi), Swagatam Krshna (Mohanam), Senapate (Gowla) and Vande valmiki kokilam (Athana). The morning session concluded with the recitation competition of OVK's Sanskit shlokas. The post noon session featured individual/group dance Bharathanatyam performances by dancers from the Midwest region of USA.
The next session was dedicated to J.S.Bach, whose compositions were interpreted on Cello/Piano/Saxophone/Violin by students of Eric Miller, Kristine Bengtson, Pete Ross, Lucinda Marvin and Audrey Frykenberg. It was interesting to listen to the Sicillenne & Allegro from Flute Sonata #2 rearranged for the Saxophone. Other pieces played were Toccata in D minor, Invention #14, Musette and Minuet, Minuet #2. The featured performer in the Western session was Eric Miller who played a very soulful Suite 1 on the Cello.
The evening program started on a unique note with the Middleton High School Orchestra's rendition of Brandenburg Concerto #3 and A World View - which was Ravikiran's Melharmonic re-creation of Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi's Udajagopa sundara in Umabharanam. Ravikiran's similar arrangement of Venkata Kavi's Swagatam Krishna (Mohanam) was competently interpreted by the Yahara String Quartette, who also played Air on the G String of Bach.
This was followed by a historic Proclamation by the City of Middleton that the 3rd Saturday of every November henceforth be celebrated as Melharmony Day , a unique distinction conferred on Chitravina N Ravikiran. The carefully worded proclamation also made special references to pioneering melodic composers like Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi, Tyagaraja & Dikshitar as well as architects of harmony such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. It acknowledged the contribution of Ravikiran in bringing melody and harmony together via Melharmony, an innovative way to bring people of diverse cultures together.
This was followed by an enthralling discussion about OVK and Bach and their respective contributions to melody and harmony by Trevor Stephenson (Madison Bach Musicians) and Ravikiran. The rendition of the Well tempered Clavier on the harpsichord by Trevor was an aural treat.
The last part of the festival was a vocal performance by Chitravina N Ravikiran who chooses to showcase his skills on the voice only on very rare occasions. The concert consisted of Gurupadaravinda (Abhogi), Padmavati Ramanam (Poorvi Kalyani) and a lilting Eppadittan en ullam (Nilambari). While Neela lohita ramani (Balahamsa) showcased Venkata Kavi's incredible mastery over talas like the 17-unit Khanda Dhruvam, the central piece Lola gopa bala in Bhairavi testified to the composer's original approach in this grand raga.
The OVK-Bach festival was viewed live in many parts of the world, thanks to iCarnatic.com.
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