Narada Gana Sabha's managers did a quick job of the opening session of their festival launch on December 14 evening in Alwarpet.
Swami Omkarananda gave the key awards to mridangam guru Karaikudi R. Mani, vocalist Neela Ramgopal and nadaswaram senior Vyasarpadi Kothandaraman.
The tastefully designed backdrop had a kolam design as strong borders and it was eye-catching.
If Cleveland V V Sundaram took time to felicitate the awardees, Karaikudi Mani, who keeps a low profile took time to share his recent life experiences - of the place of 'layam' and the mridangam, of a temple in Kerala for his muse and his own effort to let percussion in Carnatic music be in its own league.
"There was a time when people rushed in to listen to Palghat Mani Iyer. Later, people took a coffee break during the 'tani'. That is when I chose to give 'layam' its own place and organised concerts that focussed on the mridangam, " Mani said.
He then donated the cash award of Rs 1 lakh to two charities - one that is run by the guest swamiji of the event, which cares for kidney patients and the other to the sabha to institute an endowment award to the best mridangam artiste.
" I enjoy giving than receiving," Mani said.
Then followed a concert with Nirmala Rajasekar on veena and Aridwaramangalam A K Palanivel on tavil with other artistes - Kadri Gopalnath was to perform as he has always done on day one of the NGS fest - but he is nursing an injury, we are told.