One of the stronger aspects of Darbar’s curation focuses on Indian instruments that are authentic and have come a long way through history. The saraswati veena bears an unquestionable stamp of authenticity, its origins and evolution dating back from 1700 BCE. It is solid, about 5 feet long and notoriously bulky weighing about 8 to 9 kilograms. Its recorded history of exponents comprises a long list and is a strongly male-dominated one.
But Kumaresh has expelled many notions about this domain over the past three decades of her career and established beyond doubt that she is a front-runner. In this Director’s Cut concert, our Artistic Director Sandeep Virdee puts the spotlight on the veena and its exponent. She is the perfect exemplar of a pioneer in terms of her ground-breaking work and musical excellence.
“It is essential that major music festivals give prominence to the veena and not just the popular instruments like the flute or the sitar. Also, there are very few women instrumentalists like Kumaresh who can be considered a maestro in their field,” says Virdee.
Kumaresh’s veena is gently electrified and produces an uncompromised tone best suited for large concert halls that require amplification. Her approach to a raga is sublime, adhering to gayaki (vocal music style), is tradition-bound and yet pregnant with the spry of a contemporary artist.
Kumaresh is also well-grounded with sound knowledge alongside skills. She holds a doctoral degree in the ‘Styles and Playing Techniques of the Saraswati Veena’ and is one of the busiest performers around. She plays long phrases on her veena, churning out all seven notes with a single pluck of one string, sustaining notes with fluidity and assurance.
In this uncut presentation, she performs Raag Kamavardhini in Adi Tala, Ananda Bhairavi in a 7-beat cycle and Raag Basant in a 6-beat cycle. Her hallmark is the ragam-tanam-pallavi in Raag Shanmukhapriya in Triputa Tala which is followed by a sprightly composition in Behag - Kavadi Chindu, composed by her violinist husband Kumaresh and his brother Ganesh Rajagopalan.
This concert was recorded at the Darbar Festival in 2013. Kumaresh has performed three times at the Darbar Festival – once as a soloist and collaborator, another time as part of an experimental project and again as a soloist at the Darbar BBC Proms in 2017.
Kumaresh has been provided an uninhibited and crisp accompaniment by Patri Satish Kumar on the mridangam and UK-based RN Prakash on the ghatam. Their impassioned rhythmic dialogues and interplay resulted in joyous moments of exchange blending with the textures and tones of the veena.
-Jayanthi Kumaresh (Saraswati veena)
-Patri Satish Kumar (mridangam)
-RN Prakash (ghatam)
-Mithila Sarma (tanpura)
Raag Kamavardhini, Ananda Bhairavi, Basanta, Shanmukhapriya and Behag