Akruti, a cultural organisation founded by Sudhakar organised a significant event to celebrate M. S. Subbulakshmi’s 100th birth anniversary. On the occasion noted mridangam vidwan Yella Venkateswara Rao was honoured with ‘The Subbulakshmi Award’. The event held at Ravindra Bharati had two signifying segments recalling contribution of MS to the field of music. While thefirst segment featured a few compositions of Annamacharya that MS sang, Padma Shri awardee Yella Venkateswara Rao’s mridangam solo that followed was the moment of the hour.
The other significant second part was speeches made by guests of honour led by Sirikonda Madhusudhanachari, K.V. Ramana, P.V. K. Prasad, Y. Ravishankar and director K. Vishwanath.
The evening was opened with the rendition of Annamacharya kirtanas by Swati, Bhavana, and Chakravartula Srinivasacharya. The songs they rendered were Bhavayami Gopalabalam, Nigama Nigamalochana in Hindolam and Deva Devam Bhaje also in Hindolam. Srinivasacharya’s emotive rendition of ‘Narayanate Namo Namo’ closed that part of presentation.
It was the mridangam solo by Yella Venkatesara Rao that stole the evening’s limelight. It was a curious mix of support of Abhishek on ghatam and Ragi Pavan Kumar on keyboard. The entire evening was dominated by Yella’s mridangam solo more because of his display of mastery on the art. He first gave some booming magical sound as if emanating from his mridangam, keeping mikes almost touching the left and right skins of mridangam. The raga he chose was Keeravani for the subsidiary instrument keyboard to play. He simply proved once again that he’s the wizard of this instrument and the speed he displayed with which his fingers landed on the left and right sides of the instrument was amazing. For every phase he received applause at its conclusion. Though it was tani avartanam that mridangam artistes generally display towards the end of a concert, he added novelty and thrill changing the structures of syllables in his beat. He literally took the audience by surprise. After the tani part, he played a folk tune in Hindustani raag Pahadi. In the tani part the role played by Pawan Kumar on keyboard and Abhishek on ghatam gave what we call sumptuous look. The entire event was something different from the usual but very engaging indeed, while paying tributes to the memory of Subbalakshmi.