SICA mid-year highlights

Dear Members,

Thank you so much for the exceptional support you have given to SICA thus far!! We cannot thank you enough for your generosity and your willingness to come to the events that have been planned to date.

On April 7, 2017, we had a full house at the vocal concert by Sri O. S. Thiagarajan, accompanied by Sri Mysore Srikant on violin and Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao on mridangam. The hall had at least 170 people and we were so pleased at the enthusiasm and verve exhibited by the audience. There is little doubt that the artists were equally inspired by the audience! They performed spectacularly and vocal, violin and mridangam vied with one another to deliver a program that left us mesmerized. From the selection of the items performed to the improvisation that accompanied the items, the concert was a delight from beginning to end. Sri OST announced that he will be performing a unique event at Tiruvayyaru in the fall of 2017, where they will audio and video record the performance of 600 compositions of Sri Thyagaraja performed by over 100 musical artists!! He mentioned that he was accepting donations and a number of our amazingly generous attendees promptly donated funds on the spot. However, a number of people did not get all the details and still wanted to donate to this cause. If you are interested, please email SICA and we will find a way to get your funds to support this amazing and historic event!

A tremendous thanks to Centrepointe Theatre staff, specially Scottie and his crew and the ushers!!

The OST concert was followed by the continuation of Thyagaraja Aradhana on April 29, 2017. We started the incredible day by featuring three of our local youth, Sabthavi Baskaran, Priya Srinivasan and Aparna Ramnath who presented vocal mini-concerts accompanied by Mithuran Manoharan on violin and our visiting artist, Sri B. Sivaraman on mridangam. All three did a wonderful job, presenting alaapana, keerthana, niraval and swaram to compositions in mukhari, hamsadhwani and dhanyasi respectively. Our visiting vocalists, Sri K. N. Shashikiran and Sri P. Ganesan, gave very encouraging and thoughtful feedback to our young vocal artists and it was much appreciated by everyone.

As the food was being organized, we were regaled by Dr. V. S. Ramachandran, who spoke very eloquently about the human aspect of Sri Thyagaraja. Using many of his compositions, Dr. Ramachandran explained how Thyagaraja, despite being such a saintly composer, had his own failings. His ability to recognize and rectify his own failings is what made him a great human in addition to a great saint and composer.

The morning program was followed by a delicious meal cooked by many generous SICA members. The fun started after everyone was well satisfied and had full tummies!

Sri Shashikiran led the Raga repertoire activity. Three categories of ragas were prepared, namely Introductory, Popular and Challenging. Participants were quickly divided into teams of two and one team member was invited to draw a raga from one of the categories. Points increased with difficulty level. Sri Shashikiran was then shown the raga and directed the participant to either present a line of a kriti, or a few lines of alaapana or swara to help the participant’s partner determine what raga had been chosen! If one team could not respond, the competition was opened to other teams, and even the audience. Once the raga was identified, bonus points were awarded for either singing other songs in the same raga, or performing niraval or swaram in the raga. Our members did a wonderful job of selecting and presenting ragas and everyone who attended had a great time!

This event was followed by a quick round of Carnatic anthakshari. Sri Shashikiran invited Bala mami to present the first song and then went team by team to present the next piece when he asked the first performer to stop. The audience quickly got involved and everyone was disappointed when we saw that time had simply FLOWN out the window and we had to stop!

A small break was taken and the artists quickly prepared for the main event, the vocal concert by Sri K. N. Shashikiran and Sri P. Ganesan, the Carnatica brothers, accompanied by Mithuran Manoharan on violin and Sri B. Sivaraman on mridangam. Carnatica brothers were very generous with their amazing talent and accepted many requests by the audience. They also amazed the audience by singing a few of the ragas from Raga Repertoire that no one had guessed, including a scintillating display of alaapana and swaras in these ragas. They presented a selection of very rare Thyagaraja kritis in ragas that have not been heard for some time. Then they invited our youth accompaniments, Amaresh Parameswaran and Sundar Vengadeswaran, to come on stage to accompany them. They rendered the rare composition Tulasi bilva in the raga Kedaragoula with alapana and swara, and then allowed Amaresh and Sundar to play an extensive taniyavarthanam. They were exceptionally encouraging of the boys and gave them much important feedback after the program. They then presented a brilliant ragam tanam pallavi in jaganmohini set to the first line of Shobhillu saptaswara. Sri P. Ganesan performed an exceptional ragamalika tanam to ragas requested by the audience. The pallavi was presented in a novel manner, where the trikaalam was combined in a sequence other than slow, normal, thisram and fast speed. Instead, the thrikaalam and thisram were expertly woven to arrive at samam with perfection! Then the pallavi moved to ragamalika swaras that ended with different pallavi lyrics, all focused on Sangeeta and nadopasana. Mithuran accompanied the entire program very well, given that he was learning many of the ragas on the spot! Sri B. Sivaraman provided a subtle and leading accompaniment that was so apt it clearly demonstrated his deep knowledge of the compositions. His tani was brief but exceptional.

The artists were given a small break to allow the stage to be redesigned for the last part of the program, Nritya Cacheri. During this time, prizes for the competitions were awarded!

It was our honour to have 3 of the five judges for the Theory competition present during the awards. Dr. K. Ramachandran, Dr. S. Raman and Dr. R. Nanduri were able to present awards to the students. We deeply missed the presence of Sri Balasubramaniam and Dr. V. S. Ramachandran.

For the Theory competition, prizes were awarded as follows:

Senior: First prize: Sayohn Ahilan
Second prize: none

Junior: First prize: Divya Dushyanthan
Second prize: Abinaya Sriranganathan

Honorable mention was made to the brilliant drawings submitted by Branavan Jagatheeswaran and Devesh Dushyanthan.

For the practical competition, prizes were awarded as follows:

Senior: First prize: Tie between Sabthavi Bhaskaran and Sayohn Ahilan
Second prize: Shared by Aparna Ramnath and Thulasi Jothiravi

Junior: First prize: Nikhila Parameswaran
Second prize: Maathumai Jegatheeswaran

Honorable mention was made to Aswen Sriranganathan, Priya Srinivasan, Kayatri Kapilan, Mathura Nanthaseelan, Sharusha Ganeshvaran, Nanthana Radhakrishnan and Divya Dushyanthan.

All participants received certificates, a prize and chocolates. A wonderful set of group photographs was taken and will be posted on the website.

We were fortunate to have Sri Vishwa Nath Goel from the High Commission of India present. He spoke highly of our artists and was extremely happy that he was able to attend the program. He reiterated the desire of the High Commission of India to remain involved in SICA events. He was extremely happy to distribute chocolates to all the audience members, starting with our youth!

The entire audience then settled in to enjoy the Nritya Cacheri, featuring our visiting artists and our very own Smt Aishwarya Vijaykumar. It was an event beyond compare! The compositions were sung with manodharmam, including niraval and swara, and the dancer interpreted beautifully. The selection of songs was beautiful, including but not limited to Sadinchine, Enna tavam cheithanai, Sivaranjani tillana by Maharajapuram Santhanam and a beautiful and rare mangalam by Purandara Dasar.

The entire audience floated out of the room after a very long day feeling as though they could be sustained for the next month by the incredibly high level of energy of the performers. While it was a long day, it was an AMAZING day!! It was also the FIRST OF IT’S KIND EVENT IN CANADA!!

Many thanks need to be made….and in advance, I wish to apologize if I miss ANYONE!!

Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all our visiting artists, Sri O. S. Thiagarajan, Sri Mysore Srikant, Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao, Sri K. N. Shashikiran, Sri P. Ganesan, Sri Mithuran Manoharan and Sri B. Sivaraman, as well as Smt. Aishwarya Vijaykumar.

Carnatica Brothers and Sri Mithuran and Sri Sivaraman deserve a particularly warm thanks for having passed the ENTIRE day with our SICA members, after having given a wonderful workshop the evening before!!

Our humble thanks to Sri Shashikiran and Sri Ganesan for being the judges for the practical competition and to Dr. V. S. Ramachandran, Dr. S. Raman, Dr. K. Ramachandran, Dr. R. Nanduri and Mr. Balasubramaniam for having taken the time to judge our theory competition entrants. They provided such positive and encouraging feedback, every one of the judges!!

A great thanks to Dr. Nanduri for providing appropriate and invaluable gifts of musical theory to the competition winners and entrants.

A huge thanks to Dr. V. S. Ramachandran, Dr. K. Ramachandran, Mr. Balasubramaniam and Dr. Krishnan for donating money for the prizes for our youth.

A sincere thanks to Mrs. Malini Suthakar, Mrs. Vithuvanu Sukumaran and Mrs. Brintha Baskaran, as well as Mr. Ramnath Kameswaran and Mr. Rajesh Ramaratnam for taking the time to come early to set the stage and decorate it so beautifully on April 29!!

A HUGE thanks to Mr. Sandeep Hemmady for the amazing sound job! It was long and in spite of everything, he was so gentle and helpful.

Our GRATEFUL thanks to Mr. Sivaruban of SMILES Photography for the incredible photos he takes and for having spent the day taking beautiful photos. The photo album may be found here:

A heartfelt thanks to Bobbie, the custodian at the school for so kindly staying late and being so helpful and accommodating for the whole program!!

Deepest thanks to Geeta Vengadeswaran, Hari Parameswaran, Amaresh Parameswaran, Sundar Vengadeswaran, Sayohn Ahilan, Mr. Ahilan and Srivatsan Vijaykumar for their work carrying things in and out, loading and unloading cars, running around, and in general, keeping things running smoothly.

Our stomachs thank Mythili Kalyanasundaram and all the amazing members who provided food for the program…it was delicious and there was plenty!! Thanks to Yasotha Ahilan for setting up and organizing the food, snacks and tea!!

Thank you to Baktha Rajagopal and Vishali Ramanath for providing coffee to the people doing set up and to the artists.

There are SO many other people who have helped in so many ways and to each and every one of you, I offer our deepest thanks on behalf of SICA!!

Last, but certainly not least, a TREMENDOUS thanks to every member who came for the programs, who donated money, who brought in new members, who supported the youth of our community, who encouraged the artists, who participated and who make SICA what it is….we couldn’t do it without you!!

We look forward to seeing you at our next event!!

Warmest regards,

Your SICA executive committee