Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Concert by Yesudas

I attended an EXCELLENT concert by the great K J Yesudas yesterday at the Fort High School in Chamarajpet, as part of the ongoing Ramanavami Celebrations.

Most of you know of Yesudas from his playback singing in movies.

Listen to a couple of Hindi songs

Ka Karoon Sajani


In fact, he is an outstanding classical Carnatic musician. The concert was electrifying. No fuss; a charismatic and highly energetic person. Perfect selection, not a single note out of place and a charming simplicity that endeared him to all.

A couple of Classical Pieces



I was thrilled by the subdued high-quality accompaniment - Mridangam and Violin. Unlike the average modern Hindustani recital where the accompanists battle for coverage, Carnatic concerts still seem to have restrained accompanists.

He started with a famous Nava Raaga Mallika composition by Patnam Subramania Iyer (of which I have a recording of when I had played at a concert when a boy, accompanying my Guru; a sudden thrilling memory). He sang Kanakangi - a very difficult Raaga - a composition by Thyagaraja. Others that I made notes of: Purandaradasa and Thyagaraja compositions etc etc. One more nostalgic piece was Yenta Velu Kundu Raghava, which my Great Grandmother taught me.

Yesudas was a student of the late great Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar.

There are a few stories about him being denied entry to the Guruvayoor Temple because of his religion and also that his own Christian community sub-sect wasn't pleased with him for singing "Hindu" compositions. Nevertheless, he has today established himself as a five-star classical singer.

The mixing of musical genius in South India is worth mentioning.

Thyagaraja was a Telugu Brahmin from the present Andhra Pradesh. He settled in Tamil Nadu in an area ruled by Maratha Kings. The Tamil community today are truly torchbearers in singing his Telugu compositions. Purandaradasa's works in Kannada are also part of this Carnatic tradition adopted by all hues of musicians.

For that matter, Kumar Gandharva, so famous in Hindustani music, was from a Malayali family that had migrated to North Karnataka (please correct me if this is an incorrect hazy recollection)

Kerala has contributed a great deal to Indian traditions, without question. One recalls the great Swati Tirunal, Maharaja of Travancore, who made a name for himself as a composer and musician. The Palghat Brahmin community has many musicians.

And otherwise, Sanksrit scholars abound in Kerala. The priests at the Pashupati Nath Temple in Nepal are traditionally from the Namboodiris of Kerala. And so is the case at the Badrinath Temple - I could be wrong. Just some trivia.

Anyway, hat tips to Jesudas. What a guy! A great and memorable evening!


drsundeep said...

Hi there!
Nice post. But I would like to make one correction. To the best of my knowledge, Pt.Kumar Gandharwa belonged to Lingayat sub sect of Hindus and was a resident of Belgaum district in North Karnataka. His real name is Shivpurtappa Komkalimath.
Without doubt, K.J.Yeudas is a great singer. Unfortunately he could'nt make it big in Bollywood. But bollywood's loss is clasical music's gain!

Hari said...

I am not sure whether Kumar Gandharva-ji had any Kerala links!

Yesudas is a great singer and has a voice like honey. His film songs are unparalled.. there is this song called "adisaya rAgam" from the tamil movie Apoorva Raagangal (1975) which is timeless piece.

But, there are certain instances where as a classical singer, he has been quite filmy, so to say!

He perhaps didn't make it big in hollywod due to his thick accent.

Krishnan said...

Hi sir,
I don't know much about Carnatic music but I am a great fan of K J Yesudas. There is a lot of arguments and disagreement about the ability of Yesudas' classical singing. But when I read your blog about his concert I thought it would be appropriate to mention about a community in orkut where the members are giving a lot of abuse to Mr. Yesudas about his classical knowledge.
If you don't mind, please visit this community and react as I have know knowledge of music to fight with them. the link as follows:
thank you very much.