Bengaluru’s Fort High School Grounds to Witness a Musical Fiesta Honoring 100 Karnataka Musicians


As the city of Bengaluru braces for the grandeur of melody and heritage, the Chamarajpete Sree Ramaseva Mandali Ramanavami Celebrations Trust is immersed in a profound joy. The occasion? The centennial homage to their founder, SV Narayana Swamy Rao. The trust is set to honour 100 distinguished musicians from Karnataka in a 32-day music festival stretching from April 9 to May 10. An extraordinary festivity awaits at the Fort High School grounds, where a 40,000 square foot pandal, expressly constructed for this event, will house 64 evening concerts. Mornings are reserved for spiritual discourses, including a notable series by Satyatma Tirtharu between April 29 and May 3.

“For my son Abhijith and me, the pandal premises becomes our home till mid-May,” shares SN Varadaraj, a vocalist and mechanical engineer who also carries a deep-seated passion for music. He has been pivotal in upholding the Mandali’s Ramothsava since his father’s passing in 2000. This year’s Ramanavami celebrations coincide with the 50th anniversary of the renaming of Mysore State as Karnataka. “The spirit of Karnataka Sambrama must echo on our platform,” Varadaraj added, emphasizing the festival’s focus on Kannada heritage through Dasa Sahitya.

Although the Mandali leans towards fostering local talent, they ensure a balanced representation of musicians from across the nation. Over the years, the stage has welcomed legends such as TN Rajarathinam Pillai, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Kadri Gopalnath, KJ Yesudas, MS Subbulakshmi, ML Vasanthakumari, L Subramaniam, M Balamuralikrishna, and Begum Parveen Sultana. “This legacy endures,” affirms Varadaraj, hinting at the Mandali’s continuing allure to artists of all regions.

SV Narayana Swamy Rao, fondly SVN, conceived this mission in his teens after collecting ₹20 for a Holi event in 1939 and finding himself with a surplus of ₹10. Determined to contribute to the arts during Ramanavami, he laid the foundation of the Mandali the same year, beginning with a few days of music on the Chamarajpet 3rd Main Road footpath. Within a decade, the modest endeavor had blossomed, hosting performances by dynamic young talents like violinist T Chowdiah, the Alathur Brothers, and Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar.

The Fort High School Grounds have hosted the event since 1967, seeing the Mysore Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar and statesman C Rajagopalachari grace the inaugural ceremonies. To celebrate SVN’s indelible contribution, a book titled ‘Tanu Ninnadu’ is set for release, detailing his commitment to secularism and the unifying power of music. SVN’s efforts to welcome new audiences and encourage fresh talent, enabling artistes like Vani Jayaram to anchor their performances in classical music, remain a guiding principle for the Mandali.

This Ramanavami season brings trailblazing performances by Bengaluru’s rising stars, including Sivasri Skandaprasad, Harish Sivaramakrishnan of the Carnatic progressive rock band Agam, and three-time Grammy-winning composer Ricky Kej. The festival boasts 13 duo concerts with pairs like Bangalore S Shankar and his son Ramani Shankar, the melodic jugalbandis of Sandeep Narayan with Jayateerth Mevundi, and the enticing combination of HK Venkatram with Shehnai Ashwani Shankar.

Among the accolades to be bestowed, the Ramagana Kalacharya award will recognise mridangist Bangalore V Praveen, a disciple of Palghat Mani Iyer and the progeny of the venerable percussionist ML Veerabhadraiah. The award celebrates those who have forged a unique stylistic legacy. Additionally, the Lalgudi siblings, GJR Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi, will be honoured with the SVN Rao Global Music Award, for their international endeavours which include collaborations like Violin Wise with American violin maker James Wimmer.

The Nadaswara recital by Mysore Vijay Surya on April 9 will inaugurate this year’s series, shortly succeeded by a concert by the Trichur Brothers. Ticket bookings and detailed program schedules are available at www.ramanavami.org, inviting connoisseurs and enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the ocean of music and celebration at Bengaluru’s Ramanavami concerts.

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