Sunday, 12 March 2006

Triveni Sangamam: The confluence of musical streams

By Syed Akbar

Hyderabadis were treated to a rare musical feat, on the eve of the World Music Day, by Mrudangam maestro Yella Venkateswara Rao and his team of 100 artistes. The concept was also rare and never presented before in the country.
Venkateswara Rao, who has become synonymous with Mrudangam with his unique style blended with the classical tradition, musically captured the origin of the Holy Ganges and its tributaries the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati and took the audience through the civilisations enroute till they merge into what is known as Triveni Sangamam or the confluence of the three holy rivers.
The symphony, aptly named Triveni Sangamam, was organised by Chaitanya Art Theatres. It was unique in that Venkateswara Rao and his team narrated the entire episode lasting 90 minutes without depending on lyrics. It was all pure music and Venkateswara Rao ensured that the concert was enlivening and interesting.
He and his team used a variety of ragas and musical instruments to create a spiritual aura for the audience as they took them on an experience of a never-ending journey of the three holy rivers that formed part of the Indian civilisation for ages and continues even now. They made the audience the feel of the rivers, the splashing of the waters under the influence of gentle winds, the dangerous curves they take as they flow through the ridges and the valleys and the greenery they create all along their routes. In short, Venkateswara Rao created an altogether different world of music of his own and transported the audience into it for an equally different feeling.
"I have chosen the Triveni Sangamam theme because we cannot separate our rivers from our civilisation. Ganga, the most sacred river, chisels through the Himalayas and meanders through the plains exhibiting various moods, colours and attitudes while blessing millions of lives on her journey to the ocean. Even in art, Ganga is visualised as a beautiful maiden, carrying an overflowing pot in her hand. The vessel conveys the idea of abundant life and fertility, which nourishes and sustains the universe. Just as the confluence of Yamuna and Saraswati with Ganga forms the Triveni Sangamam, this union of voice, instruments and dance has created a musical symphony," Venkateswara Rao points out.
The maestro had carefully chosen three different patterns (tribhinna) of Gaana, Laya and Nritya to showcase the magic that the Ganga weaves in a ragamalika of three ragas entwined with traditional dance forms.
Venkateswara Rao has already carved out a niche for himself in the world of percussion and the Triveni Sangamam has simply added another feather to the cap of this distinguished musician.
The symphony comprised of various musical instruments like ghatam, violin, tabla, nadaswaram, dhol, mrudangam, bhasuri, saxophone and veena among others. And managing as many as 50 instruments is really a Herculean task. And Venkateswara Rao has proved once again that he is maestro par excellence.

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