Five-day “Nishagandhi Monsoon Ragas” Music Fest to begin on July 20

Eminent classical musicians Padma Shri Parassala B Ponnammal and Padma Bhushan Dr. T V. Gopalakrishnan have been selected for the inaugural  Nishagandhi Sangeetha Puraskaram, instituted by  Kerala Tourism to honour artists who have made outstanding contributions to music.

Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Cooperation and Devaswom, who announced this, said  the honour carries Rs 1.5 lakh, citation and memento.

Nishagandhi Monsoon Ragaas, the five-day music festival organized by the Kerala Tourism Department, will be inaugurated by Governor of Kerala  Justice (Rtd) P. Sathasivam on   July 20, at 6.15 PM at Kanakakunnu Palace.

Minister for Tourism, Co-operation and Devaswom Kadakampally Surendran will preside over the function. The inaugural session of the festival  will be attended by Dr Shashi Tharoor MP, V.K Prasanth, Mayor Thiruvananthapuram, Rani George, Tourism Secretary, P. Bala Kiran, Tourism Director, Palayam Rajan, Councillor, Thiruvananthapuram Corporation and  V.K  Madhu; President District Panchayat.

Recipient of Padma Shri Parassala B. Ponnammal, 95, has an eventful  musical career, starting   as a budding singer with  All India Radio in 1940. She also has the distinction of being the first female student of Swathi Thirunal Music Academy here. She also stood out as the first woman singer to perform during the Navarathri Music Festival of the famed Sree Padamanabhaswamy Temple.

Besides being a leading Carnatic vocalist, Ponnammal has also left a deep impression as a music scholar and teacher associated with leading institutions. Her academic career started as a teacher at the Government Cotton Hill High School and later became the first female member of the faculty at the Swati Tirunal Music College. She later served as the Principal of RLV Fine Arts College, Thrippunithara.  An ardent classicist, the honours received by Ponnammal include Guruvayurappan Chembai Puraskaram, Sangeetha Nataka Akademy award and Swathi Sangeetha Puraskaram. 

Padma Bhushan Dr T V Gopalakrishnan, 87, has an illustrious musical career spanning over several decades.  A versatile artist, he excelled both as a vocalist, mrudangam player and violinist, and accompanied leading singers at a young age. He is equally proficient in the Hindustani tradition and is a revered authority on various musical streams.

Popularly known as TVG, Thrippunithura Viswanathan Gopalakrishnan started taking lesson in music at the age of four and had the rare fortune of being part of a concert by Carnatic legend Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar as a nine-year-old.

He has conducted hundreds of concerts in the country and abroad since 1949, and boasts of large fan following and disciples, cutting across boundaries.

The honour will be presented to the top-notch classical musicians by Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan at the valedictory ceremony of Nishagandhi Mansoon Ragas Music Festival on July 24, at 6 pm at Kanakakunnu Palace.

The selection was made by a committee consisting of the following eminent personalities: Sreekumaran Thampi (Poet & Lyricist), K Jayakumar (Retd. Chief Secretary & Lyricist), Mathew T Itty (Music Director), S Saundara Rajan( Professor, Sri Swati Thirunal Govt. College of Music, Thiruvananthapuram),  Rani George (Secretary-Tourism) and P Bala Kiran (Director-Tourism).

The five-day music festival will bring a rare treat of classical and ethnic musical traditions of the sub- continent, featuring both vocalists and instrumentalists of various streams. The festival will commence with Bamboo Symphony by Unnikrishna Pakkanar followed by a concert by Chitravina  N Ravikiran. The venue will reverberate in the following days with performances of leading singers like Ghazal Maestro Jaswinder Singh.

The artists to feature at the festival are violinist Krishnaa Ajith and the Carnatic Vocalist  Vidushi S. Sowmya on July 22nd; Carnatic Vocalist Anantha Sai A.S and Grammy Award Winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Mohana veena) and Samrat Pandit Salil Bhatt (Satwik Veena) in a duet on July 23rd. Contemporary Flute Fusion by Rajesh Cherthala and a Classical Fusion Band performance by “Shiva-The Musical Thunder”, lead by Usthad Rafiq Khan (Sitar)on July 24th will mark the end of this year’s Nishagandhi Monsoon Ragaas  Music Festival.

The Tourism Minister also added “along with the Monsoon Ragas, Champions Boat League (CBL) organised by the Tourism Department from August 10 to November 1 is  expected to boost  foot fall of foreign tourists  this year.”

Apart from promoting art and culture by organizing events like Nishagandhi music festival, Kerala Tourism has also made bold initiatives in women empowerment through its Responsible Tourism Mission, earning international attention and recognition.

An ethnic restaurant at Kumarakom launched as a women empowerment initiative under the RT Mission fetched the Gold Award of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) for 2019. Kerala Tourism’s website and marketing campaign also received PATA Gold awards.

By Manoj

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