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Jamming at a jugalbandi

A Carnatic vocalist and an artist will come together this evening to raise funds for an institution teaching and propagating Western classical music - a perfect example of art having no barriers.


A painting from Francis's collection.

MUSIC AND art lovers of Bangalore can look forward to a satisfying evening with the coming together of two upcoming practitioners in the field of Carnatic music and contemporary Indian art. The two will perform a jugalbandi at the Alliance Francaise on Thursday to raise funds for the new building of the Bangalore School of Music.

It is heart-warming to see a Carnatic vocalist and a painter specialising in Indian themes jamming together to raise funds for an institution teaching and propagating Western classical music - a perfect example of art having no barriers.

The artistes also come from diverse backgrounds. One has a royal lineage and is a direct descendent of the great king and composer Swati Tirunal, as well as and the painter Raja Ravi Varma. The other is a devout Catholic and an officer in the Customs Department.


Francis Arthony Kodankandath.

Both have made a mark in their chosen fields.

The singer who is making his concert debut here is Aswathi Tirunal Rama Varma, scion of the erstwhile Travancore royal family.

Unusually, this modest young man feels that his lineage comes in the way being regarded as a serious musician and strives to overcome the burden of his pedigree.

Born in 1968, he started learning music in 1982 from Prof. Vechoor Hariharasubramania Iyer, a senior disciple of Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, who taught him till his death in 1994. Later, Rama Varma studied the Saraswathi veena under Trivandrum R.Venkataraman for five years and later under Sangeeta Kalanidhi Prof. K.S. Narayanaswamy. At present he is learning from Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna and is among his foremost disciples.

Though this will be Rama Varma's first public concert in Bangalore, he has performed elsewhere in India as well as in USA, UK, France, Germany, Kuwait, Dubai and The Netherlands


Aswathi Tirunal Rama Varma.

The man who will be inspired to paint to Rama Varma's music is Francis Anthony Kodankandath. Hailing from Trissur in Kerala, he is self-taught and, among others, has won the Kerala Lalita Kala Academy Award. The July 2001 edition of Reader's Digest put one of his works on its cover. Some of his paintings are on permanent display in art galleries in US and Europe as well as the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai. He has had shows in Japan, Italy, France, UK, US and in the Gulf.

A popular artist in his home state, his works are in private collections as well as with corporate houses, film stars, hotels and airports. He has donated a number of his paintings for charitable purposes. For him too, Bangalore is a first.

The jugalbandi aims to capture both the muses where the artist captures the mood of the music. Francis is a veteran at such jugalbandis and has had such aesthetic interactions with other performers, including actress-dancer Shobhana and ghazal king Mehdi Hasan.

SATISH KAMATH

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