I was on a rather long vacation from December 26th to Jan 5th. I decided to stay back at Karkala for one more week and work from here in order to attend Alva’s Virasat 2009, a cultural festival held at the nearby town of Moodubidre from Jan 7th to Jan 12th.
An annual affair, I have been hearing about Virasat from my college days. I have attended a few of the earlier programs, but never got around to see a full concert. So technically, this was my first concert at Moodubidre.
This year, the ‘Alva’s Virasat Award’ was awarded to the famous flute artiste Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. The ceremonial procession, which I have heard to be very colourful was supposed to start at 5:45 PM. I reached the concert auditorium just five minutes late, only to miss it :(. Mr. Alva is known to be very particular about punctuality, a trait which was observed throughout the day’s program.
Virasat 2009 was inaugurated by Smt. Sudha Murthy, who gave a fabulous speech in Kannada. The inauguration ceremony was presided by Smt. Sandhya Pai, editor of the Weekly Taranga Magazine. After the inauguration, Pt. Chaurasia was felicitated in the true tulunadu style. There was “Chande-Maddale“, the traditional Aarathi, and the memento was the “Yaksha-kirita“, which also happens to be the icon of Virasat.
The concert for the day was a jugalbandi between Violin and Sarod accompanied with Tabla, Mridangam and Ghatam. The performers were Dr. Mysore Manjunath and Mysore Nagaraj on vioin, Pt. Tejendra N Majumdar on Sarod, Vidwan Tiruvar Bhaktavatsalam on Mrudangam, Pt. Shubankar Banerjee on the Tabla.
They started the concert with a jugalbandi piece in Vachaspati Ragam set to Aditala. This was followed by a jugalbandi playing Thyagaraja’s famous Nagumomu Ganaleni in Raga Abheri (Carnatic)/Raga Bhimpalasi (Hindustani). Here one of the Manjunath brothers was accompanied by the Ghatam, the other by the Mrudangam. The sarod was accompanied by the Tabla. After quite a few sawaal-jawaabs, it was truly amazing to hear all the instruments come together for the crescendo.
The next composition which they performed in the Jugalbandi fashion was Thyagaraja’s Samaja vara gamana in Raga Hindolam(Carnatic)/Raga Malkauns(Hindustani). The jugalbandhi which began from the Aalap continued till all the instruments confluenced to the first stanza of Thyagaraja’s Composition. After the customary Pallavi, Anupallavi, there was a jugalbandi between the percussion instruments alone. This was really interesting, with the performers challenging the other with respect to his instrument as well as his capability to play it. Towards the end, the violins and the Sarod joined together to play the Pallavi of the composition.
Next they played Bhagyada Laxmi Baramma in Raga Madhyamaavati set to Aditala. After playing one round of Pallavi and Anu Pallavi, the performers increased the tempo for the second round of Pallavi thereby having a jugalbandi in the dhrut laya.
They ended the concert playing Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram.
The audience were spellbound for a span of two-and-a-half hours. I had heard a lot about Mysore Manjunath and Mysore Nagaraj from my mother, who used to follow the Carnatic music scene a few years ago. Truly, they lived up to my expectations.
One must commend Mr.Mohan Alva for keeping the spirit of Sangeetha Nritya kacheri alive in the coastal belt of Karnataka through this cultural festival. To organize an event of this scale every year, and that too single handedly, requires a lot of effort, patience and enthusiasm. I hope it continues for many more years to come.