SIFAS students excel in Academy Day Presentation, Upasana The 68th SIFAS Academy day titled Upasana was a wonderful coming together of the entire SIFAS community – students, Gurus, alumni, members and parents. The programme was held at the Republic Polytechnic Cultural Centre on September 9, 2017. A much more tightly-knit programme than in previous years, the celebratory annual event was scaled down to two well-presented parts, showcasing the musical and dance talents of the SIFAS students, and the composing and choreographing talents of the SIFAS Gurus. A well laid out exhibition of the visual art works of SIFAS students complemented the performances. The music and dance performances were conceived as three movements – a North Indian section, a South Indian section, and then a coming together in a well-conceived finale as a “Jugalbandi” of sorts. Carnatic musicians and Kathak dancers performed items based on Lord Shiva, while Hindustani musicians and Bharatanatyam dancers performed items devoted to Goddess Shakti, with the climactic fusion items celebrating their unison “Shiva Shakti.” The Carnatic singers sang an innovative piece put together by Gurus Ravindran and Janaki Sadagopan, that included sections from various kritis on Shiva in ragas Bowli, Hamsadhwani, Kamas, Purvi Kalyani and Sriranjani, accompanied by veena, violin, flute, keyboard and percussion students. Hindustani singers sang the praise of the Goddess in ragas Bhairavi and Mishra Kirwani ending with a Pandit Ravi Shankar tarana in Kirwani, accompanied by sitar and tabla students under the guidance of Gurus Sonali Sinha Biswas and Mihir Kundu. The finale was a Tillana set appropriately in the rarely sung raga Shivashakti composed by the late G N Balasubramaniam. Well-conceived and well executed, the music students of SIFAS did their Gurus proud and the performances drew spontaneous applause from the overflowing audience. The Kathak students, performed a vigorous piece, choreographed by Guru Mulla Afsar Khan, based on the Panchakshara stotram, composed by Adi Shankara. The Bharatanatyam dancers complemented this with an interesting item based on the Dr Balamuralikrishna Varnam “Amma Anandadayini” in praise of the Goddess, choreographed by the Bharatanatyam Gurus. Some of the dancers of both styles then combined in a joyous Jugalbandi celebrating the divine couple Shiva and Shakti. They were accompanied by the galaxy of SIFAS gurus, who magnified the impact of the performances with their forceful and masterly musical support. Shankar Rajan, the Principal of SIFAS reported on the recently concluded exams which were taken by a record number of students. The fifth year Certificate and eighth year Diploma winners were felicitated, as were students who won prizes in the recent National Arts Council Indian Classical Music competition. The Guest-of-Honour, R Dhinakaran (Former Nominated MP and associated with many Indian organisations) presided over the function, and also honoured Kala Ratna award recipient, Smt. Lalitha Vaidyanathan, noted musician, composer, orchestra conductor (of the Singapore Indian Orchestra and Choir of the People’s Association) and former Principal of SIFAS. Mrs Lalitha gave an emotional speech recalling her association with SIFAS and acknowledging the great honour signified by the conferment of this title. SIFAS Management Committee office bearers, P Selvadurai, Dr S Kasinathan and Anuja Venkatesh gave away the certificates and awards to students. Masters of ceremony, SIFAS alumni Janaki Nair and Sai Vigneshwar kept the programme together with their lively presentation and banter. - By Amarapriya
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