Anvesha – A Quest to Harmonize Cultures

S. Surya Prakash
Monday, May 25, 2015

An Enthralling musical evening by Malini and Marius

If classical music is all about serene and sublime, then serene and sublime is what the audience felt; if professionalism is all about punctuality and discipline, then punctuality and discipline is what the audience got to witness; if collaboration is all about understanding and cooperation, then understanding and cooperation is what the audience perceived.

All the above traits and much more subtle feelings the audience felt , witnessed and perceived when the musical program titled ANVESHA – the Quest, was presented with dedication, devotion and discipline. The evening of 20th May’15 at the Amricani Cultural Centre was a collaboration of titans – Malini the exponent of Carnatic Music and Marius Rusanu, the talented music teacher from Romania. Both are based in Kuwait.

The auditorium often reverberated with thunderous applause from the audience as the musical evening progressed. It is trade mark of Malini, founder and art director of Raag N Rhythm that all her programs begin sharp on time and end on time; so too was this time when the program began at 7:00PM on dot with welcoming address by Mr. Sabah Al-RAIS, from the committee of DAI, who spared no words in showering accolades on Malini which she well deserved. The program began with three students of Raag N Rhythm introducing the artists of the evening that included apart from Malini and her daughter/student Raaghavi for Carnatic Vocals and Marius on Clarinet & keyboard, Shri Blamurali on violin and Shree Raghuram Hari on Mrudangam, Smt Jyotsna on Tanpura.

The program opened with rendition of Vande Matarm by Malini ably accompanied by Marius on Clarinet. It was heartwarming to watch Marius play the Clarinet with utmost sensitivity as the song was rendered by Malini with equal sensitivity. The piece was based on raag Desh. The audience was truly mesmerized at the rendition that made hair stand up for one and all.

The second musical piece, a traditional Varnam from the CARNATIC Genre was based on raag Sunadavinodini which had a pentatonic scale that could accommodate the keyboard musical tones into the classical raaga.

The thrid was truly a fusion of Carnatic music and western music. At the beginning of this part of the program, Raaghavi gave a brief workshop the merger of the two types of music, `THE AMALGAMATION HERE WAS BETWEEN RAGAM BAHUDARI AND AN ENGLISH NUMBER’ Nine more students of Raag N Rhythm joined in. The English song was “ HEAL THE WORLD Make It a better place ”It was lead by Pratyusha, Neha and Kruthika, The well-disciplined students rose to occasion by singing in coordination without any slips which goes to prove how well their guru Malini has trained them.

The fourth piece was purely based on Carnatic music. The kriti Parama Pavana in raag PURVI kalyani… was very pleasing to the ears. The accompaniment by artists on violin and mrudangam were par excellent ad they often received ovation from audience in midst of the rendition. Raagavi was at her best and at the young age showed maturity matching with that of her mother and guru Malini’s.

The fifth piece was an improvisation in raaga Brindavani which had a pentatonic scale too and Marius was at ease as he accompanied the singers both on the clarinet and the keyboards All the musicians participated in this rendition and towards the end of the of the song a crescendo was reached much to the delight of the audience.

The penultimate piece was thillana, the usual piece sung at the end of every Classical program. Here all the students and all musicians including Marius on Clarinet participated.

The final piece was sung by all students of Raag N Rhythm. The rendition was a song, “Edelweiss..” from the musical extravaganza of a movie, “The Sound of Music” and was based on raga shankarabharanam… Many of the 50+ year olds among the audience were seen shaking their heads sideways in rhythm with the music and reliving their childhood days at which time this musical saga was released.

The students were Aswath, ,Aniruddh, Himaja, Nikita, Navya, Prashanthi, Pratyusha, Raghavesh, Meghna Sanket Nanditha, Sheani & Vaishnavi,

The clock ticked away, but the audience was transported into timeless regime with soothing renditions. The quest for collaborating two types of music has begun and since music is a fathomless ocean the quest for the collaboration will also be timeless, meaning it shall continue on forever and ever, propagating peace, love and brotherhood in the world.

Salutations to Malini and Marius for having come together on a single stage and mesmerizing the audience to no end in their Anvesha. The heartfelt standing ovation they received from audience – both young and old; from across nations; the elite and others; simply showcased the highest level of caliber with which Malini and Marius along with other artists performed.

IIK took the opportunity to interview the two world-class musicians, Mr. Marius (M) and Mrs. Malini Vishwanath (MV), who made the evening a memorable one for all the attendees.
Mr. Marius is a music teacher in Kuwait since 2006, for the past 9 years. Mrs. Malini is Kuwait based Carnatic music exponent and founder of Raag N Rhythm doing yeomen service to both the music she loves and to the society.

IIK: Mr. Marius, how did you hit it up with clarinet?
M: I started with piano but my first clarinet teacher convinced my parents to try this new, mysterious instrument. It was love at first sight (with wink in his eye)

IIK: We hear you are a versatile musician. So how do you scissor out your time to keep high-level proficiency in all the instruments you know and balance your family life as well?
M: There was a time, during my high school and university years, when I used to spend consistent time practicing. Nova days, mostly I dedicate myself to my students; therefore concerts like this are great stimulus to reconnect with the instrument. Regarding balancing music and personal life, I am 36 years old, I have a mother and a sister living in Romania and I am happily single (with a broad smile). Music and my personal life are not two separated entities. They blend and complete each other so there is no reason to try balancing them. Overall, yes, I like to believe I have a balanced life. At least trying my best.

IIK: Your experience playing and Indian based classical piece.
M: Challenging but interesting. The Romanian Ambassador in Kuwait (a remarkable arts lover and a good friend) with his fascination about India was one of the people who sparked my curiosity about the Indian culture. Also a girlfriend of mine is a "India lover", constantly begging me to take her on a trip there (with a mischievous smile on his face). So when Mr. Harvey Pincis from Dar al Athar asked me to help with the concert I immediately accepted this challenge and I'm glad I did so. (Always happy to learn and explore new musical adventures

IIK: Thank you Mr. Marius for your wonderful interaction with us. We welcome you and your friends to stay in India and enjoy our hospitality.
M: Thank you very much and now I hand over you to Malini. (Waving us good bye)

IIK: Mrs. Malini you have been supporting our ventures on various fronts since years. Thank you from our hearts for your support in spite of your busy schedule.
M: It is my pleasure to do my part for the sake of society. I have always wanted to reach out to the larger audience with a thought to keep the Indian flag keep flying high.

IIK: You have always ventured to push the frontiers of Carnatic music into other forms of music making it fusion type. How and where did you get this idea from?
M: I have always felt, we should practice what we preach. We talk of amity and peace, and then why not set an example through music, where music does the job of bridging cultures, transcending geographies and bringing people together. A musician has the responsibility of bringing a change in society; perhaps I would not have realized it had I worked as an engineer. Musical association, as a Performer, Organizer, Musicologist and reaching out to especially abled children has brought in me and my work a new dimension, responsibility and purpose.

IIK: How difficult is it to blend any two types of music?
M: Carnatic music has about 34,000 raagaas, which have an answer to any melody across any musical form in the world, e.g Chinese music has more of the Carnatic Raga Mohanam, while Japanese Zen meditation uses more of the Carnatic pentatonic scale, Revathi, while the Arab Makam is close to Carnatic raga Vakulabharanam and also Mayamalavagowla sometimes. This ,I felt was an answer to bringing musical genres together. Talking of our event today, I would not like to name our event a fusion, but a better word would be `A collaboration between musical genres’ and in our event it is the coming together of `Carnatic Classical and Western Music.

IIK: Coming to Marius how did you get in touch with him?
M: Actually, I was to perform with an Egyptian composer, who was here on an assignment from Cairo, but had to leave Kuwait, so I got introduced to Mr. Marius by Mr. Harvey Pincis of Dar al thar al islamiyyah. Working with Mr. Marius was thrilling, given the fact that he was very forthcoming in adapting to newer Carnatic ragas and Compositions. He is a very sincere and dedicated musician.

IIK: Do you think collaboration between musical genres will be seen as most sought after type?
M: I cannot say, if it would be popular, since it has to be handled keeping the classicism and traditionalism of Carnatic music intact. But certainly we would hope to work in future on bringing Carnatic music closer to Western Classical works like Mozart, Beethoven.

IIK: Do we get to hear the finesses of some of the raagas in Carnatic Music on these instruments?
M: Instruments like clarinet and keyboards adapt to bringing the finesse of our ragas, well. Only, here one should take care to pick up such ragas from our repertoire comprising of 34,000 ragas(janya ragas) and 72 main scales,as I mentioned earlier,we can pick up ragas like pentatonic, ragas, Amrutavarshini, Brindavani, even major scale, Shankarabharanam, to mention some,which can make the collaboration very interesting.

IIK: We are proud of you Mrs. Malini for undertaking such exciting projects of collaborating between musical genres with a focus on Indian classical music. We wish you all the best for all your future programs.
M: I wish to also thank IIK for its endeavors in promoting unity among Indian community living here in Kuwait and giving us musicians’ larger audience through such well-meaning interactions.

Surya S. Prakash is an engineer by profession and a passionate public speaker. He voluntarily guides both children and adults in the art of public speaking. He is a motivational public speaker and has been invited by many alumni associations in Kuwait to deliver motivational speeches on Stress Management, Work Ethics. He is presently mentoring English public speaking clubs for children. He is also an editor for some public portals.
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