Dr. K.J Yesudas – the name that resonates with divinity and enchantment. Rightly so, he left the 3000+ gathering totally spell bound with his divine renditions at the 80th Sree Ramanavami Celebrations and International Music Festival 2018 by Sree Ramaseva Mandali-B’lore at Fort High School Grounds on 8th April 2018. The noted vocalist and playback singer, winner of multiple prestigious state awards and 7 National awards, is known to be a part of this concert every year for the last 45 years.
The 78-year-old ‘Gana Gandharvan’ showed no signs of his age as he performed in front of people who had no qualms in taking up any little space they could find just so they could listen to his velvet-clad voice. Yesudas has a unique style of connecting to his audience – He shares his knowledge on music and his life, and seamlessly blends that into his performance. He reminisced about starting to learn music at the age of 5 only because of his father’s compulsion, yet how this was the best thing to have happened to him and how thankful he is to his father. He also expressed how he was still learning to master over the intricacies and nuances of the Bhairavi raaga even after so many years. He also enlightened the congregation with more knowledge on the 22 sruthis and the sapta swaras.
The Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awardee also treated the music loving gathering to classical music, bhakti kritis and bhajans like “Bala Kanagamaya”, “Kanana Vaasa Kaliyuga varada”, and “Krishna Krupa sagaram”. While his rendition of “Ra Ra Devadi Deva Ra” and “Odi baarayya” could help the audience visualize the arrival of the Divine, his pleasant “Ninna nodi dhanyanaadenu”, “Kotta bhagyave saako Sri Krishna”, and “Dayamado Ranga dayamado” elevated the feeling of gratefulness to the Divine. His “Seethamma mayamma” induced a peaceful lull amongst people, and the jugalbandi between the instrumentalists S.R. Mahadeva Sarma at the violin, T. Bakthavathsalam at mridangam and T. Radhakrishnan at the ghatam earned a loud applause from all gathered. Pursuant to a request from the audience, the ‘Dasettan’ concluded the concert with his evergreen “Harivarasanam”, with the people singing along.
Interacting with the mesmerised audience, he encouraged them to observe and learn from everyone, for each one is a GURU in their own way. He said, “Don’t go for bookish learning. Practice and practice more. Concentrate on every single song.”
“I am honoured and happy to be performing at the Sree Ramaseva Mandali every year. Where else can I get to perform before such a learned audience. It is only with Sree Ramaseva Mandali that I have the patience to perform for 3 hours”. He added.
Interacting with Music 360 online music channel, the Executive Officer and the 3rd generation administrator of Sree Ramaseva Mandali Sri Abhijith Varadaraj S said, “It has been an enriching journey of 80 years for Sree Rama Seva Mandali, the “Temple of Music”. The legacy of the Mandali has passed on from the founder Lt. Shivarapatna Vasudev Rao Narayanaswamy Rao (SVN Rao) to my father Shri S.N. Varadaraj, and we are humbled and honoured to be carrying on the tradition of celebrating classical music. This global music festival is being broadcasted in 130 countries with more than 300 artists participating in the event and is witnessed by more than 5 lakh people.”
Known for technology and philanthropy, the Chairperson of Infosys Foundation, Smt. Sudha Murthy is also an ardent lover and supporter of classical music as well as the Chief Patron of Sree Ramaseva Mandali. Talking to Music 360 online music channel, she said, “Music is universe, Music doesn’t have any language. Music, Dance, and Art are the 3 daughters of Goddess Saraswathi. When I hear ragas like “Miya Malhar and Megha Malhar”, I feel the shower of rain as a gentle spray in my heart and soul. Music is my sure shot way to gain effortless happiness.”
Everyone had a peace filled smile etched on their faces as they left the venue after the concert, only eager to come back to it again next year.