Women instrumental ensemble is a rare phenomenon in Indian classical music. A team of women musicians led by violin artiste Avasarala Kanyakumari along with Vani Manjunath (flute), U Nagamani (mandolin), Anuthama Murali (violin), Ramya Ramesh(ghatam), Bhagyalakshmi Krishna(morsing), Ashwini Srinivasan (mridangam) and Retnasree Iyer (tabla) performed at Ravindra Bharati on Saturday. The artistes played a beautiful Tyagaraja Pancharatna Kriti Endaro Mahanubhavulu Andariki Vandanamulu, followed by many popular compositions and got an equal reciprocation from the scholarly audience in the form of a standing ovation at the end of the concert.
Kanyakumari is a very seasoned artiste and the flow of music through her fast moving fingers and movements of the bow on violin created mellifluous music. She proved her mettle and command while playing Raga Malika (mix of different ragas) moving from one composition to another with ease.
Retnasree Iyer who hails from Kerala but has learnt tabla from 2006 to 2009 in Warangal, says “I got interested in tabla when I heard folk songs in Kerala accompanied by the instrument. The younger generation must learn art forms out of their own interest. Do not take up arts to make your family or friends happy. Nowadays, the younger generation does a little bit and posts it on the social media expecting miracles.”
Mridangam artiste Ashwini says “As a child, I would listen to my mother singing and play rhythms on any box available to me. This resulted in my automatic training on a percussion instrument and I took to mridangam. I wish many girls take up percussion instruments and would guide them. Even though I have been invited for many programs, I still feel that many musicians prefer to have male accompanists on mridangam.”