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Thread: Musicians,events,anecdotes and tid-bits

  1. #21
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    veerabhadraih hiremath( hindusthani vocalist)

    _Pandit Veerabhadraiah Hiremath gave a delectable Hindusthai vocal recital at the Swathi Sangeetha Archana last week. Born and brought in a rural village of Yaragal in Bijapur, he was sent to the music school of Pt. Putraj Gawaii known for the gurukula system. He was not rich enough even to send his son to the music school. The kind villagers gathered money and fulfilled his father’s dream. Of course they had staunch faith in young Veerabhadraiah’s rich voice that one day he would bring glory and fame to the village.

    “We are basically farmers. My father plays harmonium very well to the accompaniment of bhajans. He wanted me to become a trained musician which he could not. I spent 10 years in the school and imbibed the Gwaliar Gharana of Hindusthani Music with all its nuances. It was a different experience. We pupils have to partake in pooja for two hours. It was in fact a musical offering to Lord Siva. The music lesson will be for four hours a day besides this. The master plays all musical instruments so are the students. I can play harmonium sarangi and flute. I even teach flute and recently sent one of my disciples to Pt. Hariprasad Chourasya for advance training. The coaching at the school is free .ALL the 800 pupils are provided with food and accommodation” said Veerabhadraiah.

    This musician is struggling to establish Hindusthani system of music in Mysore where carnatic music has more takers and is dominant. Now organizations are inviting us to stage Hindusthani music. Now I am learning under Padmabhushan Pt. Indhudhara Nirodi of Agra gaharana. He is the disciple of Ratanjanakar who notated the Hindusthani compositions of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal. That was how I came to know of Swati Tirunal’s beautiful works. For the last few months I have been practicing the songs” revealed the artiste. He began the concert with Sankar sree giri nath prabhu kae in Gouri. He was accompanied on Harmonium Mallikarjun Sunshi also a disciple of Pt. Putraj Gawaii, and on tabala Bhimshankar Bidanur.
    Veerbhadraiah’s gifted mellifluous voice, rich in tradition and saturated with bhava made the concert a worthy one.


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  3. #22
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    t v sankanarayanan( vocalist)

    Advocate. T V Sankaranarayanan, a gold medalist from the Bar council enrolled his name and started practicing as a junior. A fortnight passed. His uncle called him aside and asked: Tell me when did you last sing? I know very well that you have not even hummed a bit. That is unpardonable. You better focus on classical music.”

    Now he is Padmabhushan, Sangeetha kalanidhi T V Sankaranarayanan, the much sought vocalist today. He was in the city to perform at the Durga Devi Temple near Sreekanteswaram.

    For the connoisseurs of music hearing TVS (as he is widely known), is like reliving the ages of Madurai Mani Iyer. TVS’ style is so close to that of his uncle cum mentor Madurai Mani Iyer that music lovers expect the Mani Iyer’s numbers from him.

    Endowed with rich and vibrant voice, he keeps alive the glory of the family tradition. His grand father Madurai Ramaswami Iyer was a musicologist. His grand uncle Madurai Pushpavanam Iyer was a legend in his time. He was the contemporary of Puchchi Sreenivasan. In fact they ruled the roost then.

    “Those were fine days. I had the fortune to learn music from my uncle Madurai Mani Iyer. My mother Gomathi, sister and disciple of Mani Iyer taught me the basics of music. My father Vembu Iyer, had been giving vocal support to Mani Iyer for long. From the age of 15, I started accompanying my uncle. After my graduation in Commerce and then Law Degrees I was called to the bar only to discontinue after a fortnight. Finance minister Chidambaram was my classmate for Law” said T V S.
    His maiden concert was held in 1968. “I was accompanied by great masters like T N Krishnan, Vellore Ramabhadran and Alangudi Ramachandran. Since then till today I am busy. I am a strict follower of Mani Iyer bani. Mani Iyer was a great creator. His improvisation, exposition of the raga, swara sancharam in the sarva laghu patterns were his brand. One never knows what comes next. Mani Iyer is known for his sahitya suddhi and bhava sangeetam. I could more or less establish his style” explained T V S.

    A voracious reader, T V S favorite authors include Oscar Wilde, Shaw, Arthur Conan Doyle, P G Woodhouse, etc.

    T V S has composed a few vruthams brimming with philosophical thoughts. He is a touring performer. He has conducted more than 15 trips to the USA and Canada and several trips to Australia, the Gulf countries, Singapore, Malayasia, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka. His wife Vijayalekshmi is also a musician and restricts herself to AIR and T V. “She gave up public performance for my sake. Our children Sankaramahadevan and Amrita are also in this line. Faith in God, and devotion to my gurus, and hard work made me what I am today” he said.
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  4. #23
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    thiruvaroor bhaktavalsalam( mrudangisit)

    Cauvery belt is a fertile region not only for agricultural crops but also for musician notes. Every sand grain seems to enthrall to the saptaswaras. The most revered saintly composers we call them The Trinities were born Thiruvarur on the banks of cauvery. The little unpretentious village has always teemed with eminent singers and instrumentalists-including the Bhaktavalsalam. This maestro is in the city to perform at the Navarathri Mandapam.
    Connoisseurs of music cherish his solo performance every time. His expounding of the tala through various stages of introduction, exposition, and conclusion is fascinating. Listening to him is indeed an artistic and rhythmic experience by itself.

    For the past 35 years he has been accompanying leading performers and all seasoned artistes prefer Bhaktavalsalam’s support.
    “It is indeed a blessing for born into a family of musicians in Thiruvarur” said Bhaktavalsalam who started stage performance at the age of nine by accompanying his mother T R Anandavalli. “It was my mother who initiated into music. My uncle T Krishnamurthi was a popular mridangist, I had a passion for it since my childhood. When great musicians visited Thiruvarur, I rush to meet them and nurtured the ambition of becoming a musician of caliber one day. Today I am happy and contented” he said.

    He has accompanied the doyens and the legends like Bhim Sen Joshi, Pt. Jasraj, Hariprasad Chaurasya, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, and T N Rajam when they performed jugalbandis with carnatic musicians like Dr. Balamurali Krishna and T N Krishanan. “With Zakkir Hussien I have staged several shows. Rhythm ecstasy an album C D with Anido Chatterjee was well received. My Talavadya concert with Vikku Vinayakaram on Ghatom and Dr. T K Murthi the mrudangist on Konnakkol-vocal percussion at Kolkatta was a memorable show” he added.

    Music lovers in Madurai have formed Bhaktavalsalam Fans Association. “Unbelievable! They have installed even huge cut outs” Bhaktavalsalam reminisced with awe.

    This musician of impeccable lineage and incredible skills has plenty of disciples. He provides stipend to the talented students who are economically weak.
    “I have an ambition. I would like to stage a fusion show with all leading percussionists. However, the satisfaction and I enjoy while playing for a carnatic music concert is beyond description” he said. (373 words)

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  5. #24
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    prince rama varma( vocalist cum vainika)

    Though the Travancore royal family had no dearth for musicians he is the first public performer. He is a Carnatic vocalist, veena artist and a teacher at the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music. He listens to all types of music, Hindustani, Western and is a great fan of MDRamanathan, Kishore Kumar and Jacques Brel. Meet Prince Aswati Tirunal Rama Varma. “I was initiated into music by Vechur Hariharasubramany Iyer, a disciple of Semmangudi. Since his demise in 1994 I am training under Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr Balamuralikrishna. In between I also started learning veena under R Venkitaraman and then under the doyen of Carnatic music, vidwan K S Narayaswamy,” said Rama Varma a descendant of Maharaja Swati Thirunal, the great composer and Raja Ravi Varma, the pioneer artist, the world has ever seen.

    “When Amma Maharani was alive, the Kowdiar Palace was frequented by renowned musicians. She herself was a great vayanika. I had the innumerable opportunities to listen to great stalwarts performing at the Palace,” says Rama Varma about the growing years with his grandmother. Born to Pooyam Thirunal Parvati Bayi and Chembrol Raja Raja Varma the inherent talent was nurtured and received appropriate supplements from this exposure to music by the great names. It was T V Gopalakrishnan who gave the courage to break free from the fetters in 1990.

    Clarity in raga, purity in shruti, stability in gamaka, propriety in bhava and correctness in diction are the hallmarks of his rendition. He effortlessly brings out the underlyng emotion through gentle touches. His versatility in singing has made him popular in the music circle.

    Regarding improvisation he said, it is music created on the spot, on the spur of the moment. Indian music is always creative and never a reproduction of what is written or played. The artist can adorn it with gorgeous jewels and there is no limit in which you can embellish it. This is what makes the concert a success and satisfying.
    Varma never forgets to appreciate the accompanists when they excelled, giving sufficient opportunities and wisely extracts the best from them.

    Having traversed the globe many times, he said, “I am open to all varieties of music and never bound to one particular school or thought of music. He has mesmerized audiences both in the country and abroad and performed in all prestigious venues including the Queen Elizabeth Hall where his maiden CD was released.Under his initiative two concerts honouring two living legends of music Manna Dey and Dr Balamuralakrishna were held in Thiruvananthapuram last November.

    A further example of his dynamism is the decision to invite women musicians to perform at the Navratri Mandapam, thus bringing to an end, the three hundred year old custom that barred women from performing at the mandapam and also as part of the audience. This scion of the Travancore royal family is proud about the concert at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, before the President APJ Abdul Kalam.


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  6. #25
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    meeta pandit hindusthani( vocalist)

    If you have seen the much acclaimed film KHAMOSHPANI, YOU WOULD REMEMBER the trained voice of Meet Pandit in the back drop of the movie. She is in the sixth unbroken lineage of musicians of the legendary Pandit family of the Gwalior Gharana. Excerpts from the interview:

    Acknowledged as the scion of the Gwalior Gharana, Meeta is acclaimed to be one of the most promising young musicians of today. Deep rooted in the traditional eight fold style, of singing (ASHTANG GAYAKI) SHE EXCELS IN THE exposition elaboration and interpretation of the intricate patterns, of ragas of the khayal style, with all variations, modulations, and split second precisions. Her melodious and robust voice coupled with intricate handling of ragas has won her admires -young and old alike.

    The first musician in the family meeta is pursuing the research on the rare styles like Tapp-khayal, Tapp-tarana, and Taap –tumri, which are almost extinct.
    “Gwalior gharan is like the gangotri. The cultural splendor of Gwalior under the great patron of Maan sing was just amazing. It attained the pinnacle of glory during the reign of Akbar. Mia Tan Sen, a native of Behet, near Gwalior is known for his drupad. We have a galaxy of musicians from this school” she said.

    She was groomed by her grand father Padmabhshan PT. Krishna Rao and then father Lakshaman Pandit. She had her debut performance at the age of nine. ”In fact it was a trio concert. My brothers THUSHAR AND Athul accompanied me,” said Meeta. The responsibility of upholding the exalted standards of the Gwalior Gahrana suddenly fell on her shoulder aftwer the tragic demise of her brother Thushar Pandit. It was untimely and a sever blow to us. He was doing the research on the contributions of the Pandits of this gharana to HINDUSTANI MUSIC. I COMPLETED THE WORK AND WAS AWARDED THE DOCTORATE.
    Meeta’s voice is unique. It is really meeta(sweet). It has tremendous power and range tempered with astound sweetness, stretching over an amazingly wide range of three octaves. The rendering of the breathtaking traditional Tappa is one of the thrilling items in her concert.
    “It is the most taxing form of singing” she said. Meeta is equally adept in Tarana, Ashtapadi, and Bhajan. She has composed a few bhajans. Rendition of Ashtapadi by Meeta and her father set to music by the Pir Baksh family is mind boggling. He two albums “foot steps” and “Tansen” were released by Music Today.

    Meeta Pandit-Linking a tradition with today is a film on her by PSBT. Her innate talent and dedication to music have been recognized right from an early age. She has bagged a number of awards and accolades including the Golden voice of India (1989).
    She has performed all over the world
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  7. #26
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    trissur ramachandran( vocalist)

    Padmavibhushan Thrissur Ramachandran needs no introduction. He will be enthralling the audience at the Navarathri Mandapam on 29th of this month. For him singing at the Navarathri Mandapam is a great honor as his mentor the legendary G N Balasubramanium had rendered here many times.

    In an interview Ramachandran wax eloquent about GNB, his role in molding him, and the encouragements he received from great masters.

    Born to former Chief Justice Vaidyanatha Iyer, and Kamalambal, in 1940, little Raman was initiated into music by his mother. Varkala Subramania Bhagavathar and Tripunithura Krishna Iyer, were his other masters. Then it was the turn of the doyen of Carnatic music GNB.
    “GNB is the first graduate among musicians. I too was a bright student. When I got admission to MBBS I was in a dilemma. I boldly opted for music. I consider myself lucky to have a guru like GNB. He was the Principal of Swati Tirunal Music Academy and I stayed with him.”
    “He insisted the clarity of the sahitya and diction. He advised me to sing effortlessly, without much body movements and gestures. Those are termed according to GNB as gayakadoshas.”
    GNB predicted a bright future for Ramachandran. After his demise Ramachandran was trained by Sangeetha kalaninidhi Dr. M L Vasanthakumari, the primary disciple of G N B.
    Ramachnadran’s style of rendition is so close to GNB, that it creates nostalgic memories in the minds of old timers. “I owe much to the late Chalakudi N S Narayanaswami and Mavelikkara krishanan kutti Nair. In my early years of performance they gave adequate encouragement.”

    Pt.Krishnanand of Kirana Gharana trained Ramachandran in Hindustani Music. “I really appreciate the training process. When I met Bhimsen Joshi he said that he would practice for 18 hours a day. That is how they become legends in their lifetime. There is no short cut in music. Only practice and more practice will enable one to achieve something in this field. Musicians must be a good listener also. Listening is also a part of learning” that was a valid piece of advice for the aspiring ones.
    Ramachandran has sung in all major sabhas in India. He has performed in UK, USA, Australia, Sri Lanka, France, Bahrain, and Jakarta. His wife charumati is a renowned vocalist. Their daughter Subhasree is upcoming musician.

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  8. #27
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    visalakshi nithyanand( vocalist)

    Her family had strong connections with music. Her father Thiruvananthapuram R S Mani, a popular musician of yester generation laid the strong foundation. She had the fortune to learn under the doyens Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer R. Venkitaraman and T K Govinda Rao. Meet Visalakshi Nityanand, a vocalist based at Chennai. She was here in the city to perform at the Chembai Music festival.

    “I did my MA Music and these days I am concentrating only on performance. I have to devote more time for practice and so my husband resigned the job to support me. I attend plenty of concerts and each one is a lesson. A performer should be a good listener also” she said.

    “My learning under Semmangudi mama is an experience. His rendition of ragas and flow of swaras, spinning coils within coils was awe some. It was the essence of carnatic music. He insisted that students of music should learn Deekshithar compositions. He taught me 25 compositions of Deekshitahr. R .Venkitaraman was a task master. He has reprimanded me many times and never prepared for a compromise. It was highly analytical. Both of them taught me plenty of compositions” she added.

    She is tirelessly building up a massive repertoire from many sources. “I had to go to many sources. The concerts of great masters help me to improve. Each of them has their on qualities. But I never follow them blindly as reproducing them is neither easy nor right. I have to design my own style, based on their tradition. Regarding improvisation, initially I by-hearted the ones of great masters to gain frame and direction. Then it came naturally.”
    Visalakshi has made it a point to render Ragam Taanam and Pallavi, _which is rarely heard these days. Today many try to make the concert appeal to the largest number of listeners. That is why they cut down on raga and concentrate on swara, often overloading small kritis with fireworks which destroy the form.

    Visalakshi has performed in all major sabhas in Chennai, and Hydearbad. “As I am brought up in Chennai I don’t find any difficulty in finding a space for me. But all my north Indian tours were for the south Indian audience.” She agrees.
    For a performer Kerala is an ideal place. “I was invited for a concert at Thottuva in Kollam district. When I reached the place I was surprised to see the nature audience. They never seem to have any taste in music. I regretted, but had to perform. There were only 50 peoples. When it commenced, people gathered quickly and the seats were full till the end. They applauded rarely” she remembered.



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  9. #28
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    thiruvizha jayasankar( nadaswaram artiste)


    He belongs to the traditional family of musicians and served AIR as the program announcer for three decades. After retirement he found time to focus on his yet another passion that is painting- adding more color to his music. Meet Thiruvizha Jayasankar, the popular Nagaswaram artiste. Chembai Sangeetholsavam begins today with his concert, at the Chembai Trust Sreevaraham.

    In an interview, he talks about his carrier, why there are fewer takers for this instrument, and his love for painting. “My father Raghava Panicker, grand father Sanakra Panicker were professional nagawaram vidwans. I chose this profession against my fathers wish. He was well aware of the living conditions of a musician.”

    “But, I was initiated into music by my grand father. Our house always reverberated with musical notes. It only supplemented my love for music. I initially learnt vocal music systematically. At the age of ten I opted for Nagaswaram. In those days Ambalapuzha brothers, my father and grand father were the popular nagaswaram artistes. At the age of 14 I accompanied my father as a tala artiste. Madhavan Pillai a great connoisseur of art and music asked me to perform the next day. My father initially resisted this move as he was not satisfied with my performance. “He is not fit yet” was my father’s reaction. Pillai insisted and that was my debut concert and it was well received. I was presented a gold ring” said Jayasankar.
    “I won the first prize in the All India Radio National Contest. Dr. Rajendra Prasad presented the Award. Then I joined RLV Academy for Ganabhushanam, Chittoor College Palakkad for BA degree in music, and the Swati Tirunal Academy of music for ganapraveena,” he said.
    “With enough back ground in music, what made you to apply for the post of announcer in AIR?” asked G P S Nair, in the interview. I quoted my father,” said Jayasankar.
    He believes that his service in AIR made him what he is today. “The opportunities to meet great musicians, to listen to their performances, chances for hearing old gems, etc influenced me and nurtured my taste” said Jayasankar with gratitude.
    “Nagaswaram is an asura vadhya. It is very loud. Even then, initially I opted for violin and mrudangam as the accompanying instrument. It had a major draw back. I had to restrain a lot. Being a loud instrument it never matched with violin and mrudnagam. I could not bring the best in me. Then I opted for thavil which offered me more freedom,” said Jayasankar. But today he is accompanied on the mrudangam by Dr. G.Babu, on the Violin by Mahadeva Sarma, and on the Ghatom by Uduppi Sreedhar.
    Why there are fewer takers for this instrument?
    “It requires more effort and perseverance. Learning process is really tough. Hence only a few pursue.”

    “After retirement, I concentrated on painting, my second love. In my teens I was in a dilemma. My mind was bubbling with music and colors. My father advised, music and art require hard work. You cannot achieve both simultaneously. Music demands rigorous practice. Painting demands much patience. Both are time consuming. Hence opt and concentrate on one. After retirement I restarted painting.”

    His works are different. They are the portrayal of the raags as experienced by him.

    “Initially I chose seven ragas namely Bhoopalam, Mohanam, Amritavarshini, Anadabhairavi, Sankarabharanam, Abheri and Neelambari. I essayed them in acrylic. It was well received” said Jayasankar.

    Jayasankar was conferred the title of Kalaimamani, Isai Perarinjar, Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academi Award & Fellowship, and the Guruvayoor Puraskaram.


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  10. #29
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    chalamela varnam of swati tirunal(composition)

    Next to Tanjore, Travancore is regarded as the centre of South Indian music. This state has a hoary tradition and culture and hence an important seat of music and dance.
    Thanks to Maharaja Swati Tirunal. In this essay, let us analyze the Varnams of this monarch musician.

    What are Varnams? You all know that they are scholarly compositions, which reflect the talents of the composer. It is tough to compose one and that is the reason we have more kritis than Varnams.
    Why?
    In a Varnam every aspect of the ragam has to e presented in a balanced manner. The normal & usual phrases admissible in the ragam are to be portrayed in all their bright colors along with the sancharams and viseshaprayogams. Thus, Varnam gives a true picture of a ragam. But ragamalika are exceptions and that is its limitation.

    Chalamela (Sankarabharanam ata talam) is one of the brilliant Varnams of the Maharaja. Illustrious musicians had begun their concert with this Varnam. It has a balanced purvanga and an uttaranga. The former with pallavi 2 aaaavartas, anu pallavi 2 avartas, and mukhtayi swaras 2 avartas and the latter, with charanas one avarta, the ettugada swara with 1, 2, 3 of the length of one avarta each and the last ettugada swara of 2 avarta.
    The dhatu is distributed over the three octaves. The pallavi starts with the visesha sanchara SNP. In the Varnam Sarajinabha (KAMBHODHI), SIMILAR COMMENCEMENT IS NOITCED. The anupallvi starts with the Madhya sthayi shadja. The commencing notes of the pallavi and the anupallavi are thus an octave apart. The mukhtayi swaram is characterized by n|dn|pdn|mpdn|gmpdn|rgmpdn|srgmpdn|.

    The charanas starts with the swarakshara and the sahitya itself, is worthy of attention. The first ettugada swara contains long notes. The second is couched in the tana riti. THE panchama nyasa is powerfully emphasized upon in the third ettugada makes us oblivious to the fact that the composer has adroitly introduced the phrse s n d p in the manthra sthayi. This is rare in the lower octave of Sankarabharana the phrases met with being either-s n d n s or s n s d n s or s n s d n p D n s. The phrase s n d p is avoided as it suggests Navaroj.
    Last ettugada opens with an ascending glide. The phrase D N R occurring herein is also a usual phrase in Sankarabharanam. Also the phrase N R G M D. HOWEVER, the melodic entity of Sankarabharana is maintained. The length of the paada in the compositions is 2 avartas. The pallavi and the charans admit of 3 sangatis. The trisruti dha and the chatursruti dha occur at relevant places. The chalamela is indeed a gem. This dignified composition is the splendid testimony to the genius of Swati Tirunal.
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  11. #30
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    t v gopalakrishnan( vocalist cum mrudangist)

    Will you play mrudangam for me?” asked the legendary Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar to the eight old boy. The boy replied, “Only if I can follow you.” “Any body can understand my music” the maestro replied. The child’s father took it casually but Chembai was serious. The lad accompanied the musician, who was much impressed. The boy-pursued music, could accompany his master for four decades. Many awards and accolades reached him, the latest being the Swati Puaraskaram. Meet, Tripunithura Viswanathan Gopalakrishanan popularly known as TVG the renowned vocalist cum mrudangam artiste.

    “My father and fore fathers were court musicians. My uncle Narayanaswamy was an excellent percussionist. I was brought up in an atmosphere saturated with pure classical music. My parents would say that I started singing before I could talk. That could be an exaggeration. Coimbatore Raghava Iyer, Mahavaidyanatha Iyer, Chakkrathanam Subba Iyer and Palakkad Anantharama Bhagavathar were my teachers. The long association with Chembai molded into a perfect musician. I am his premier disciple,” said TVG.
    “After graduation, I joined AG’s office. Nevertheless, I continued learning music. Besides, mrudangam I learnt violin, and veena. The connoisseurs of music soon accepted me and I resigned my job,” he said.
    TVG is the first musician to perform both Hindustani and Carnatic music. He introduced Carnatic Jazz, harnessing western instruments. His duets with and jugalbandis with Ustad Allah Rakka, Pt. Ravisankar, Pierre Favre, George Harrisons of Beatles fame John Handy took the music world by storm.

    You have been performing both the systems of music since 1969. Who initiated you into the Hindustani music and What is the secret of success?

    Pandit Krishananth of Kirana Gharana taught me Hindustani music. He was a close associate of my father. They often share their knowledge in their respective systems of music. Thus, at a very early stage I could learn both the systems of music. Absolute discipline and concentration are required to perform both.
    You have introduced many numbers of young artistes. How do you feel?
    In a musician’s carrier, the role of the teacher is very critical. I have received enough encouragement and blessing from my tutors and I am passing the same to my pupils. My disciples include Ilayaraja, A R Rehman, Bupindre Singh, Sivamani, Kadari Gopalanath, Rajkumar Bharathi, Siegfried Kutterer,
    Andre Fertier, Carole Grey, Herbert Lang, and the list is endless. The more I teach, the more I improve. In my debut jazz performance, I was accompanied by A R Rehman, Kadari, and Sivamani.

    TVG is actively involved in the resurrection of old musical forms and in preserving archival music. He established Academy of Indian music and Arts, in 1986 to identify child prodigies. He designs veena, mrudangam and thampura with advanced technologies and inputs from other nations.



    “I diligently follow the tenets of Nadayoga, and want to pursue music until my last breath,” he said. Perhaps this is what keeps him energetic, enterprising, and capable of enthralling the listeners, all over the world over six decades. (495 words)

    _________________
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