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Sanjay Subrahmanyan
presented by Vani Fine Arts and The Bhavan
at Bhavan Centre, West Kensington, London 12 March 2011

A distinguished Carnatic (South Indian) singer of the younger generation, Sanjay Subrahmanyan showed remarkable skill in embrodering chosen tunes with extraordinary stamina, which gradually built up to well deserved storms of adulation.

There was no programme book supplied, as usual with Indian classical music events; nothing but introductory assurances that each of the players has a distiguished C V, the sort of thing that we are inclined to take with a pinch of salt when those given by Western musicians are over-inclusive... It was impossible to take in even the names of the supporting artists; their photos above come from a flyer for a further concert the group will be giving in Croydon on 20 March.

Moreover the music was performed without any prologues to the many items, some of which involved percussion, and most of the singing was shadowed by the young violinist who also contributed some extended and moving solos.

The audience consists predominantly Indian Londoners with their families who treat the Bhavan as a cultural club, dressing up for the occasion (the vegetarian refreshments supplied are delicious and amazingly inexpensive); we few Westerners are made to feel welcome. Are they cogniscenti, able to recognise the various ragas and tals and their origins, or is their appreciation more general than that ?

Help is available from Sivasakthi Sivanesan's Voyages.

Many of the issues which concern Musical Pointers are traversed at SOUTH INDIAN MUSIC CONCERT at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan last year. Last night's was not one to flog again my perennial desire to hear the Indian voices and instruments natural, "unplugged" (as was the case when the legendary pioneers of yesteryear - Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Sultan Khan etc - first came to London) because the Bhavan is a large venue and it was well filled.

Although the music last night was, as usual, amplified, I was fortunate to have a near front seat, from where there was a high proportion of direct sound from the musicians themselves and the sound level was acceptable.

Nevertheless, Sanjay Subrahmanyan's voice sounds mellower on one of his CDs on sale at the concert [Padmanabla Digital Work Station CDW188D].

For the time being, one has to go along with received opinions, such as Although I sympathise with your 'no amplification' campaign, I am afraid it would take a long time to persuade the musicians here and in India about this!!! [Bhavan's Administrative Director]

Peter Grahame Woolf

See Sanjay Subrahmanyan on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4_PBH4uNjY etc.