The following review was written by Shri VK Arunkumar, Board of Director, CFAA
Sri Ajit Namboothiri, a trained musician, researcher and musicologist, is a familiar presence on television as producer, anchor and creator of music-based shows such as Sruthilayam, Lasyam and Raga Ratnam on Amrita TV, visited Denver, CO, the week of May 28, 2012. Ajay Menon, President of the Colorado Fine Arts Association (CFAA) was instrumental in bringing this artiste to conduct teaching sessions/workshops for music students as well as to present a 2-hour concert/lec-dem on Maharaja Sri Swathi Tirunal, his life and contribution to music and also highlight on other composers from Kerala on Saturday June 2, 2012.
The concert/lec-dem commenced with a short video clip from Sri Ajit's 'Sangeetha Satsangam' program being held at the historical location of Thanjavur Amma Veedu. More details can be found from the article in The Hindu at http://www.thehindu.com/arts/
The video clip was from their presentation of Nangayarkootthu, a dying art form in Kerala. Sri Ajit is very interested to preserve these traditions and document them for future generations.
The concert part commenced with Sri Ajit pointing out important aspects of the life of Sri Swathi Thirunal - how he was 'Garbha Sreemaan' (King even while in his Mother's womb), how he patronized all art forms, his fluency in many languages, contributions to the repertoire of Carnatic Music, composing bhajans in Hindustani ragas thereby introducting this compositional form to South India, etc. He also pointed out that many older compositions have probably lost their original tune and maybe even the raga to modern re-tuning efforts. He specifically mentioned the contributions of Harikesanallur Sri Muthiah Bhagavathar, 'RajyaSeva Nirathaha' 'Sangita Kalanidhi' Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasier, 'Sangita Kalanidhi' Sri G.N.Balasubramaniam in bringing these compositions to the concert platform. Special mention of re-tuning 'Bhavayaami Raghuraamam' by Sri Semmangudi was mentioned with the purpose that musicians do not cut out the many charanams since this portrays the full story of Srimad Ramayanam.
Ajit presented the kritis, Maamava Sada Janani (Kanada), Paripahi maam (Mohanam), excerpts from kritis like Devi Pavane (Saveri) while mentioning Navaratri Kritis, Visweseara Darshan Kara (Sindhu Bhairavi) while mentioning bhajans, and so on. He also presented a kriti in Poorva Kambhoji, a raga lost in time, in its existing form. He jovially mentioned not to ask for the lakshana of the raga - this is probably one of the few older tunes that is still in vogue today.
Ajit also pointed out that there were many other Kerala composers like Irayamman Thampi, who had contributed immensely to Carnatic Music. There were many Kathakali padams, employing various rare talams, etc. which are being documented by his and many others's efforts so that they dont get lost to the future generations. This is truly a culture to preserve and propogate with the help of music lovers and connoisseurs.
There were presentations by a group of kids from Highlands Ranch, CO, singing Vande Meenakshi, solo singing of Shyamale Meenakshi and also senior students singing Paripahi maam, Maa Ramanan and Mamava Sada Janani. All of them had learnt these compositions from Sri Ajit during his stay in the area.
By popular request, Sri Ajit concluded his demonstration with the famous Purandara dasar kriti 'Chandra chooda' in Darbari Kanada (a divine favorite of his Guru Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan) and the famous Sri Swathi Thirunal padam 'Poonthen Nermozhi' in Ananda Bhairavi.
Sri Ajit was accompanied by Smt. Priya Hariharan on the violin, Sri. Prashanth Kallur on the flute and Dr. Venkat Subramaniam on the mridangam.