Kalaa Utsavam 2020’s theme of the Tree of Life invites audiences to find comfort in a series of live carnatic music and classical dance performances by Singapore's Indian arts community.
Over a period of 10 days, from November 20-29, 2020 the Indian Festival of Arts enthralled audiences with a series of on-ground and online performances.
Many of the musical performances are available to audiences online till December 20.
Chitra Poornima Sathish
Chitra Poornima Sathish is a Carnatic vocalist who has presented solo and collaborative classical concerts on various platforms, while extending her love for music into other spheres such as dance, theatre and teaching.
Her performance, entitled ‘Ananda ~ Happiness’ presents the Carnatic music repertoire imbued with the spirit of jubilation.
Poornima began learning the vocal form at the Temple of Fine Arts Singapore, from teachers Rajalaskhmi Sekar and later Gowri Gokul. She then went on to further her learning of the art form with Bombay Jayashri in India.
She continues to deepen her musical journey through practice and performance, as well as teaching at the Temple of Fine Arts. She is also currently pursuing her Masters in Music Education at the National Institute of Education, Singapore.
Sripriya is a disciple of Padma Bhushan Madurai Sri TN Seshagopalan and Smt Gayathri Venkataraghavan. She is a graded artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan.
Sripriya has been a regular performer at the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society’s annual festival of music since 2008 and is one of their external examiners for carnatic vocal and instrumental music.
She has performed widely in Singapore and Chennai and has more than 12 years of teaching experience.
On the violin is Sughosh Pavan, who hails from a musical family and was under the tutelage of Gurus Sri B Raghuram, Sri BU Ganesh Prasad, and Smt Charulatha Ramanujam. He is also an All India Radio graded artist, accompanying artists across various prestigious sabhas and temples in Singapore and Bangalore.
On the mridangam is Sathish Sista, who had his initial tutelage under Sri Sudarshany Chary and later from Sri Dandamudi Rammohan Rao. He won the gold medal twice in All India Mridangam competitions, and participated in the Vaadya Jhankar organised by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, performing before Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Bombay V Anand
Bombay V Anand is one of the senior disciples of violin vidushi Sangitha Kalanidhi Kum A. Kanyakumari. He has accompanied several senior and up-and-coming artists and has performed extensively in many sabhas and organisations around the world.
Anand has been extremely active in the cultural scene in Singapore. Along with his wife Vaishnavi Anand, he co-founded CHETHAS – Center for Wholistic Enrichment through Arts, which aims to share art holistically with people of all age groups. A keen collaborator and a thinker, Anand has worked extensively in reaching out to fellow artists to present some unique concepts in the quest to establish and promote classical instrumental music.
On the mridangam is Subramaniam Radhakrishnan, who hails from Bombay and had his formative training under Shri KV Narayanaswamy. After his initial training in Bombay, he came under the tutelage of Vidwan Shri Kaaraikudi R. Mani, and continues to be an ardent disciple and a staunch follower of his BaaNi. In Singapore, he was guided by vidwan Shri TR Sundaresan. Subramaniam has performed at various prestigious music venues in Singapore, and is a B-High graded artist of the All India Radio, Chennai.
On the ghatam is Mahesh Parameswaran. Currently based in Singapore, Mahesh Parameswaran is a versatile Indian classical percussionist who is a disciple of Bombay Shri KB Ganesh and Shri TR Sundaresan. He holds a B-High grade from All India Radio in mridangam and ghatam performance, and is a freelance artist as well as member of several ensembles and fusion groups.
Ramkumar Vasudevan performed classical songs based on melodic ragas interspersed with fast film numbers.
A founding member of Society of Youth for Artistic Music Appreciation (SYAMA), Ramkumar commenced veena training at age 17, under the tutelage of Smt Kamala Viswanathan. He later learnt from Smt Jayalakshmi Subramaniam, and is currently learning from Vidwan R Parthasarathy (Veena Paccha).
Holding a veena diploma, he has performed at various venues in Singapore and India such as Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore Arts Museum, Esplanade’s Kalaa Utsavam and various venues at the prestigious Chennai Music Festival. He is the winner of the National Indian Music Competition organised by the National Arts Council of Singapore in 2000 (Ensemble) and 2002 (Solo veena and Ensemble categories).
Ramkumar has conceptualised and presented various shows such as Different Strokes, A Carnatic Musical, Sant Mela, Devadasi and the Saint, Taj Mahal, and BUS (Bhakti utsav of Sangeet). He is the holder of the record for largest veena ensemble with 35 veenas in the Singapore Guinness Book of Records'.
The Band Walle
Singapore’s favourite contemporary Bollywood cover band specialising in Hindi pop and Punjabi folk music, The Band Walle performed at Kalaa Utsavam 2020 on November 28.
An eclectic mix of like-minded musicians and friends they brought their unique sounds to the table, exuding an energy difficult to resist as they entertained the audience at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre.
This Veena-Venu-Violin Trio emerged out of the yearning to reignite their passions and a need for catharsis from the upheaval that 2020 brought.
This performance is a culmination of many weekend jam sessions (all whilst adhering to safe distancing measures of course), but the performance itself sends a message to all who have drifted away from something they’ve loved doing: there is no time like the present to pick it up again.
Although the duties and commitments of life carried them away, this family of musicians have found themselves back together, after many years, to share the stage once more.
On the violin is Thilagam SelvaRaju, on the venu is Rajandra Vadivale, on the veena is Nirmala Rajandra and on the mridangam is S Devarajan.
Rooted in classical Carnatic and Hindustani music, the diverse repertoire of local fusion group, TaalMenz, borrows widely from diverse influences – folk, Latin jazz, soul, the blues, Sufi qawwalis, Indian film music and devotional bhajans. The result is a contemporary fusion of soulful, captivating music.
For Kalaa Utsavam 2020, TaalMenz performed with guest artists – flautist Andy Chia from SA the collective, and Nilesh on keyboards – on November 28, where they presented popular Tamil and Hindi songs with original arrangements and brand new compositions in Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Odia (from Odisha) and Urdu.
TaalMenz is a group of Singaporean musicians trained in Indian classical, Western and blues music. Together, they present a sound that is a fusion of their diverse roots. TaalMenz has performed at festivals and concerts in Singapore and overseas for over a decade. The group’s particular journey with Esplanade began with 2007’s Kalaa Utsavam, flourished with its 2016 Fusion Beats Mentorship programme, and has now culminated in this 2020 concert.