14 April, 2021

Tandav Tenor

Christianity and Shaivism meet in Ilayaraja, and yet...

G. Sivaperumal
Tandav Tenor
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Manickavasagar is a name most non-Tamils may mispronounce. Oratorio isn't familiar terrain. Hungarian conductor Lazlo Kovacs is not someone we know. Yet, Ilayaraja, the little master from Murugesan Street, T. Nagar, Chennai, brings all this together and weaves magic. To ears attuned to listening to Manickavasagar's Thiruvasagam sung by Oduvars (Shaivite temple singers) in traditional panns (precursors to ragas), Ilayaraja's attempt could amount to blasphemy. To upholders of "tradition", this fresh engagement with the ninth-century bhakti saint's ecstatic outpourings—involving the 90-piece Budapest Symphony Orchestra, 60 East European voices with a choir of 25 children, a choir of 60 Indian voices, 40 Indian musicians and 10 voices from New York—may seem an odd mixture. As P. Unnikrishnan, classical/playback singer who lent his voice to Thiruvasagam puts it, "Only Ilayaraja could have done it."

However, Ilayaraja's choice of form doesn't seem inappropriate given that George Uglow Pope, who translated the text into English in 1900, was a Catholic...
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