Balamurali: Man, Genius or God?

Every year, Bangalore hosts a month long music festival in April and May. It's done during the Ramanavami festival and held at Fort High School in Chamarajpet.

The grand finale this year, something I wouldn't have missed for the world, was the performance by Dr. Balamurali Krishna. For those unaware of this doyen of musicians, he is one who coughs and it sounds melodious.

The invocation Sakalaka Pari Purna in Aarabhi pretty much set the stage for the rest of the evening. A beautiful rendition of Raghuveera Ranadheera in Huseni followed. His exposition of Kamvardhini through Ramave Bhakti Yentho was to die for. Next was the evergreen Nanu Paalimpa (Mohana) and his control and variations were stupendous to hear.

Not satisfied with others' composition, the good doctor has 2000+ compositions to his name. He gave us a rare insight into Thanarupi (Melakartha Raaga #6) with his very own Sree Ramam Bhajeham and the devotion with which he sang was sure to bring the gods down from heaven to listen.

He then moved on to another Thygaraja's composition Sri Ramya Chithalanka in Jayamanohari. A short and sweet self composition in Sarasaangi Hanuma Anuma O Manama was then presented and the unique aspect of this song is that, the syllable 'ma' coincides every time with the swara 'Ma'. Amazing! True Genius!!

Timeless and soulful, Pibare Raama Rasam in Ahir Bhairavi was delivered so well that it brought tears to my eyes. Not to disappoint the Karnataka audience, we got to hear Alli Nodalu Raama (Kamas) which is a Purandara Daasa song.

The penultimate song was one composed by his grandfather Raama Raama Ena Raadha and though very small, was extremely melodious. No wonder! If his grand-dad composed this, it's obvious where the talent came from.

A Thyagaraja thillana in Behaag rounded off the best musical night of my life!

At 77, Dr. Balamuralikrishna has the depth, range, creativity and melody that I have not seen in any other singer, ever. An undoubted genius, he plays the violin, the veena, mridangam and the viola with equal competence. It was a privilege to listen to his singing in person and I fervently hope that I get to attend his concerts as many times and in as many places as possible.
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