The thematic concerts paying tribute to the five elements in aid of the Red Cross Victorian Bush Fire Appeal must have caught the attention of Melbourne rasikas. Shobha Sekhar and her School programs have always been crowd pullers but this program takes the cake. The over capacity crowds did not even get up to go the canteen between items. The stunning brochure with messages from the Premier of Victoria Sen John Brumby, Sri N Murali, Managing Director of Hindu Group of newspapers and President of the Music Academy, Chennai, and a very inspiring message from Shobha set the mood as the audience entered the Hall.
‘The event sets benchmarks in every possible way’ says a music enthusiast. ‘I have heard School programs but this is the best ever, in terms of the standard of the students-their grasp of the fundamentals of the classical idiom, their excellent coordination, the ragams, viruttams, Neravals, Tanams, kalpana swarams and theermanams vowed the audience’ The perfect enunciation, the introductions with the power point projections (enticing pictures to educate the audience about the meaning and story line)-were added bonuses to a meticulously planned and flawlessly executed program.
The senior program started with a music ensemble comprising about 70 vocal and veena students, with an invocation. This was followed by ata tala varnam, Ghana ragams by a group of three below ten- ‘Twinkle little stars of Kalakruthi’. The Chintayamam- a composition by Muthuswamy Dikshithar depicting the element Earth, manifest in Lord Shiva- Earth Lingam with preludes depicting the other five elements on Veena, moved on to an ODE OF SEASONS ( the elements fire (SUN), wind and water determine weather conditions on Earth). The post Interval – Ashtalakshmi item -(eight Lakshmis -bringing peace and prosperity), was woven together on a tapestry of high classicism. One guest from Sydney said ‘The Ashtalakshmis brought tears to my eyes’. One critic said ‘Shobha’s program excelled and set such high benchmarks. I am wondering if she can better it next year!” 26 April at Kel Watson Theatre, Forest Hill College, Melbourne.