Sahrdaya’s arts camp in the hills
The morning of 9th October was an exciting day for a group of dancers and dance students. As participants of the Sahrdaya Performing Arts Camp 2014 we arrived in Mettupalayam to proceed to Riverside Public School in Kotagiri, where the camp was to be held over the next four days. As we all got off the train there were many close friends, known faces and new friends to make among the 32 of us.
The drive up from Mettupalayam to Kotagiri along the winding roads of the Nilgiris, the mist, the gentle rays of the sun and the vast expanse of tea estates seemed to set the serene tone for the next four days.
From the orientation on arrival to the return train journey, it was four full days of learning to dance and studying different aspects of dance, music related to dance, exploring poetry and watching masters of the arts perform and speak to us. The days seemed to fly past us, with every moment a rich learning experience.
Every morning began with a walk. The cold weather made it very hard, but we somehow managed to pull on our sweaters and get out! We would barely have time to come back and change into our dance sarees before walking to the Riverside School campus for the day’s sessions. A sumptuous, hot breakfast would be waiting for us at the dining hall.
We started the morning session on most days at 8.30 with a practical class with Sheejith Krishna. Over the four days we learnt a tillana in Behag, a composition of Papanasam Sivan choreographed by Sheejith. These classes were very interesting. The challenge of learning the tillana within four days made the sessions very intense and required us to be attentive and observe very keenly. In the process, we learnt many principles relating to technique, and how to apply them to dance. We learnt to control the attami and let it flow with the layam, and to move from one mandala to another with no postures in between. We learnt about beauty and observed the process of choreographing.
There was a guest session everyday by Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar, music classes with Jyothishmathi Sheejith, poetry classes with Akhila Ramnarayan, padam sessions with Manjari and nattuvangam and layam sessions with Sheejith Krishna.
Guru Chandrasekhar taught us a keertanam he had choreographed. He told us how important it is to move our bodies in accordance with each sangati. Another important lesson was on the modulation between subtlety and sharpness required to enhance the dance. He got us to feel how subtlety could not be achieved without firmness in the body.
In keeping with the inter-connected approach of the camp, we learnt the kriti that he taught us, in Jyothishmathi’s music classes. During these sessions we were able to see how every musical nuance in the song had a connection to the adavus and the abhinaya.
The poetry sessions initially seemed like a non-dance activity. Little did we realise that understanding poetry is an integral part of learning dance. Over the four days we took the poem A River, by A.K. Ramanujan. Under the guidance of Akhila Ramnarayan, we understood the different interpretations of the poem. The fascinating part of the poetry sessions was to see how modern poetry, classical works and dance can merge. The conversations that emerged from these sessions were truly enriching.
Manjari taught us the padam Tamarasaksha in Yadukulakhamboji. She got us to focus on internalizing the emotions in the padam, understanding the character to be portrayed and then trying to express the emotions. This was a challenge for me personally. I understood that in doing a padam, you must understand the role you are playing, the background to the padam and also to whom you are addressing your feelings. In many ways we realised how poetry and dance seamlessly go together in such majestic compositions.
Sheejith Krishna made us understand that the art of nattuvangam is not about following the adavus on stage. He showed us the beauty in reciting the jatis and konnakol, using the instrument and in creating the jatis.
Apart from these daily sessions we had guest lectures and demonstrations. We had two lectures by Prof. Ashish Khokar on choreography and documenting Indian dance. There was a lecture demonstration on the interconnectedness of dance and music by Anjana Anand and Jyothishmathi. It was very useful and apt for us young students and dancers. Through the demonstration they shared with us historical information relating to both Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam. The presentation mainly focused on three topics – the intertwined histories of music and dance, information about musician dancers and dancer musicians, and musical compositions composed or adapte for dance. Demonstrations and explanations made the topics very accessible. This made us all see the value of learning both and understanding that music and dance have to come together for a programme to be beautiful.
The other lecture demonstration was on Kathakali by Dr. Ettumanoor Kannan. For me this was one of the highlights of the camp. I have watched many Kathakali performances but never really known the different aspects of this art form. The presentation gave us insights into the mudras used, the way pieces are choreographed, the synchronisation between music and dance and the various facial movements, among other things.
In every way, the core members of Sahrdaya Foundation — the director, Sheejith, Jyothishmathi, Manjari, Anjana, Akhila and Prem Keerth — gave us a complete experience in the arts. Whether it was the teachers sharing their inputs in every session or referring to things we learnt in previous sessions or the programmes in the evening, the camp highlighted the connections between the various disciplines.
This camp would not have been possible without the generous hospitality of the staff and students of the Riverside Public School. At every meal time we felt pampered by the staff who very caringly served us delicious food. The whole atmosphere in the school seemed very conducive for a serious art camp. We heard strains of children practising music from different corners and it was amazing to see the students and staff participate in the sessions with the same seriousness as the camp delegates.
When I look back at the four days, I am filled with happy memories of learning, friendships and experiences I will treasure. I am a student of dance who has just decided to pursue dance full time. The camp showed me that in the company of serious dancers and students, there is much unconscious assimilation with regard to style, body posture, ways of warming up, and execution of adavus.
The camp was a great opportunity for me to listen to senior artists and teachers on various subjects. It taught me that when discipline and attention come together, learning takes place. Above all, being in the presence of senior artists was a huge source of inspiration and validation for a student who has embarked on this journey.
I certainly miss the late night practice sessions, conversations over our tea and of course all the fun we had. We can never have enough of such an experience and I am already looking forward to next year’s camp.
(A student of music and dance)
First edition of Girnar festival in Junagadh
For the first time the Girnar festival of classical dance and music was organized this year at the Town Hall in Junagadh, Gujarat by Patel Cultural Foundation, Mumbai. The five-day festival of classical dance, vocal and instrumental music was a fine platform for artists from different parts of the country.
While some performances were excellent, some only partially pleased. On the whole, it was interesting to watch young performers and mature artists participating, for which the credit goes to M.K. Patel of the cultural foundation. Artists who came forward to participate in this maiden venture were Bhimanna Jadhav, Namrata Gupta, Grishma Lele, Nirali Kartik, Rajendra Solanki, Mrinal Upadhyay, Satyender Solanki, Sujata Nair, Rahuldev Mondal, Mayur Vaidya, Monica Shah, Janhavi Behra, Bijal Haria, Shuchismita and Debopriya Chatterjee, Nitin Shirale, Uddhav Rao Appegoankar, Gulzar Husain, Debasish Pattnaik, Prachi Saathi, Salma Ghosh, Leena Malakar. Hridev Ray, Satish Krishnaamurthy, Anuratn Rai, Revathi S. Vipul Trivedi and Rajendra Chaturvedi.
After Bhimanna Jadhav played the sundari, an instrument similar to the shehnai, the audience were treated to Odissi by young talented Namrata Gupta who performed a Hamsadhwani pallavi, followed by Vaishnava janato, choreographed by Namrata’s mentor Daksha Mashruwala. The other Odissi dancer at Girnar was Janhavi whose abhinaya was impressive. Kuchipudi dancer Bijal Haria from Ahmedabad, a talented disciple of Smita Shastri, left a lasting impression with her vivacious performance. Her rendering of the Mandooka Sabdam and the Tarangam won her applause. Mohini Attam was presented by Sujatha.
Many male dancers were featured at the festival – Debasish Pattanaik, Nitin Shirale, Rahuldev Mondal, Mayur Vaidya and Rajendra Chaturvedi. Debasish’s performance stood out for its fine combination of grace and vigour. Rahuldev and his students rendered a lively performance, marked by clarity of movements, and inclusion of akasa charis and karanas to depict the dance of Lord Siva. Nitin, Mayur and Rajendra are competent Kathak dancers with a distinct style.
Music concerts were also part of the fare. Gulzar Husain’s violin and Satyendra Solanki’s santoor concerts were brilliant, winning them applause. Vipul Trivedi’s vocal recital was commendable for his control over the gayaki and raga vistaar of Bagesree. Vocalist Nirali Kartik is blessed with a remarkable voice, and Salma Ghosh’s dhrupad recital was noteworthy for the distinct clarity of raga delineation. Satish Krishnamurthy and troupe won rare praise from the audience for their excellent percussion presentation. On the whole, it was a good mix of entertainment and talent at the first edition of the Girnar festival. Enthused by the success of the event, the organisers are planning to host the second festival early next year.
A devout offering
Known for picturesque descriptions steeped in devotion and sparkling jatis, Oothukadu Venkatakavi’s compositions have rarely failed to draw admiration. Be it the scholarly Swagatam Krishna, the romantic Alai payude, or the argumentative Maadu meikkum kanne, Venkatakavi expressed his devotion to Lord Krishna in various forms, but the fact remains that we have been listening to the same few kritis again and again without taking the trouble to look for more.
Hoping to bring to light more kritis of Venkatakavi, Nadha Yagnam School of Fine Arts, Coimbatore, recently organised Oothukadu Venkatakavi’s jayanti at Vidya Bharathi Hall, Saradalayam. In spite of continual rain, the programme, featuring vocal, instrumental and dance performances based on Venkatakavi’s kritis, drew a good response. Teachers Vijeya Jeya, Radha Satyanarayana and others had put in extra effort to learn and teach new kritis to their students — Bhajaswa SreeTripura Sundari (Nadanamakriya), Yoga Yogeswari (Anandabhairavi), Veekshitoham (Kedaragaula - Anjaneya Pancharatnam), Sankari Sree (Madhyamavati), Arulaalan (Sankarabharanam), Agama Rajagopala (Kedaram), Raghu Kulottama (Nagaswaravali), Pacchai ilantalir meni (Sama).
The senior and junior students of Nadha Yagnam also sang many kritis.
Well-known dance schools of Coimbatore — Bharathalayam Bharathanatyappalli, Aradhana School of Dance, Sree Natya Niketan, Jainrutha Dance School, Sri Sankara Natyalaya, Sri Karthikeya Natyappalli and Sri Thyagaraja Nritya Kala Mandir — participated enthusiastically, showcasing popular as well as rare kritis of Venkatakavi. Jayanthi Ramachandra of Sree Charan Academy of Fine Arts choreographed and presented Madhava hridi kelini in Kalyani.
Violinists Palakkad Sivarama Krishnan, Sriranjani Ramkumar, S. Anand and Rajendran, flautist C.N. Thyagaraju and percussionists Vadasithur Ramachandran, Pozhakkudi G.R. Naveen, Srikanth, Palakkad R. Venkatesh, Manikantan, Ramkumar, Chennanur Kuppuraj and Muruganandam supported many vocalists and instrumentalists.
The festival started with a nagaswaram recital by Pazhani M. Sakthivel. Vanitha Mohan, Managing Trustee, Siruthuli, presided over the inaugural function. Senior vidwan K. Sivaramakrishnan presided over the three-day festival. On the final day, senior vidwans Kadayanallur Narayanan (mridangam), Chinnari Balu (flute), Pazhani Sakthivel (nagaswaram), K. Sivaramakrishnan (vocal), S.R. Krishnamurthy (vocal) and Vasantha Aravindan (Bharatanatyam) were honoured (see photo).
C.B. Neelakandan, director Nadha Yagnam School of Fine Arts, coordinated the three-day festival.
(A freelance music and dance critic)
Classical music returns to Assam
In an otherwise vibrant cultural scenario, Hindustani classical music has visibly (and audibly) gone into decline in Assam. This is a great pity, for at one time this was a flourishing art form in these valleys, and many recollect the All Assam Music Conferences with nostalgia and pride. There was a time when there were three consecutive allnight performances, but now you are hard pressed to find even a single evening’s show of the genre in the city. This is all the more surprising because other categories of the performing arts – even traditional music and dance – flourish here. There are of course, several reasons for this, of which the insurgency related unrest is but one. Who, in this troubled region would risk organising an evening’s programme, when a chance bomb blast or bandh call could result in cancelling the programme at the last moment?
It was therefore a welcome development when the North East Centre of the Sangeet Natak Akademi organised Surangan – a festival of music, on 11th and 12th October at the SNA NEC Hall. The six artists featured in the festival are all well known, and committed to keeping the flame alive in this strife torn land.
After the formal inauguration by renowned artist Prabhat Sarma, violinist Bidyut Misra opened the programme with four compositions in raga Bilakshana. The two percussionists who accompanied him on the tabla, Sudip Sarkar and Tirthendu Bhattacharjee, added energy to the concert. His was a mature, balanced performance, showing mastery over his medium. Jayaprakash Medhi’s vocal recital with Pankaj Sarma (harmonium) and Nitul Krishna Goswami (tabla) was followed by a sitar concert by Nabin Rajkonwor. His Keeravani reflected the trademark sweetness of his guru Monilal Nag’s playing. He concluded with a dhun, ably accompanied on the tabla by Subrata Chakravarty.
The second evening began with a mellifluous exposition of raga Bhoopali by flautist Deepak Sarma. His comprehensive and nuanced demonstration of the pentatonic raga impressed the listeners, who frequently broke into spontaneous applause. He was ably accompanied on the tabla by Dhriti Gobinda Dutta. This was followed by a vocal recital by Jiten Basumatari, known for his beautiful renditions of bhajans. He has a full bodied voice honed to a mellowness that appeals to listeners. His tabla accompanist was Dibyajyoti Sangmai, who gave sensitive support, as did Bhupen Nath on the harmonium.
The festival concluded with a sarod concert by Tarun Kalita who played Jhinjhoti in Jhaptaal and Teentaal. Though marked by vigorous stroke play, the rendering was pleasingly melodious. After a few more compositions, he ended with Omor aponar dex, in which the audience joined in. He was ably accompanied on the tabla by Debashish Bhattacharya.
During the festival, it was encouraging to see the hall overflowing with connoisseurs of music and musicians. It was heartening also to note that the audience had a sizeable section of youngsters and children. This augurs well for Hindustani classical music in the region, and we hope the Sangeet Natak Akademi will organise such festivals from time to time.
Remembering G. Harishankar
The Kalaimamani G. Harishankar Admirers Circle has been has been paying homage to the khanjira maestro every year on 11 February. This year too the Circle observed his Remembrance Day at the Raga Sudha Hall in Chennai. Sangita Kalanidhi M. Chandrasekaran and mridanga vidwan Trichur C. Narendran were the chief guests. Senior gethuvadyam exponent Avudayarkoil H. Subramanyam was honoured on the occasion with a citation, a cash award of 10,000 rupees and a shawl. This was followed by a violin duet by M Chandrasekaran and G. Bharathi, with accompanists Trichur Narendran (mridangam), B Shree Sundarkumar (khanjira), and H. Subramanyam (gethuvadyam).
Melbourne celebrates Indian classical arts
Tucked away in the southern hemisphere 8800 km away from Chennai, it is hard to fathom that Indian classical music is performed, taught and practised here with as much passion and vigour as it is in India.
Melbourne’s Indians can boast of a cultural calendar that brims with events almost every weekend except in December, when the music lovers often travel to India to partake of the ‘season’ there.
FIMDV--the Federation of Music and Dance Schools in Victoria--an association of 23 music and dance schools in Melbourne, is the brainchild of its trustee founder Srinivasan Vasan who initiated the association while he was the president of the umbrella organisation FIAV or Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria.
Founded in 2010 under the stewardship of Murali Kumar as its president, the association brings in teachers from both the north Indian and south Indian classical genres. “While Bollywood is the only name that is widely recognised,” says Consul General of India Manika Jain, “it is heartening to listen to deep traditional classical Indian music and to see women draped in the alluring silk sarees.”
Mrs. Rama Rao takes over from Murali as the president and writes in the brochure specially produced for Lahari: “I am truly excited at the prospect of building on the great work that Murali Kumar and his team have done over the last three years. I am indeed very fortunate to have a truly fantastic all-female (no it’s not an oxymoron!) executive team – Shobha Sekhar, Jayshree Ramachandran (Vice Presidents) Uthra Vijayaraghavan (Secretary) and Ushanthini Sripathmanathan (Treasurer) to support me”.
Lahari opened with a prayer by Jayshree Ramachandran and Odissi dance numbers by Monica Singh. A jugalbandhi by vocalist Shobha Sekhar with Nicholas Buff (saxophone), Murali (violin), Sridhar Chari (mridangam) and Pandurang Thorvi (tabla) set the mood for music celebrating both Krishna Janmashtami (chanting the 16 names of Vishnu) and a specially composed ragam-tanampallavi in Charukesi raga with the lyrics, Vande mataram saundarya lahari as a tribute for India’s Independence Day.
Students of Ushanthini Sripathmanathan, in perfectly coordinated dance costumes, performed for the kriti Sivakamasundari (see photo). The next item was ‘A musical journey of India’ in which Rama Rao, Uthra Vijayaraghavan and Sundari Sarimpalli sang enchanting songs in ten different Indian languages, which also included a spirited Punjabi song and a sober Bengali one.
The Mayor of Dandenong Cr Jim Memeti commended the Indian community for being very culturally active and contributing to multicultural harmony in Victoria and Australia. He further said Melbourne has been voted “the most livable and friendliest city in the world”, thanks to the contribution by all the immigrant population. He said he would like to welcome more Indians to make Australia their home.
Tara Rajkumar (trustee), Murali Kumar and his wife Vandana, former treasurer Radhey Shyam Gupta – OAM recipient, were felicitated for their invaluable inputs and for raising the profile of FIMDV to wider audiences.
A stringed jugalbandi was presented by Iyer Brothers Ramnath and Gopinath Iyer (veena) and Sridhar Chari (mridangam) in the Carnatic style, and Radhey (sitar), Murali (violin) and Pandurang (tabla), who complemented them in the Hindustani idiom. They presented an invigorating Madhuvanti (Dharmavati) ragam-tanam-pallavi.
A student of Tara Rajkumar, Raina Peterson (Mohini Attam), Govind Pillai and Sindhu Keshavamurthy (Bharatanatyam) and Tapashi Mukherjee (Kathak) represented their distinctive styles.
Tihai3 is a very popular collaboration of Saby Bhattacharya (sarod), Nicholas Buff (saxophone) and Girish Makwana (tabla). The group played a bandish in raga Behag.
The dances provided a visually pleasing aspect to the musical segments, and kept the fairly young audience glued to the seats during the four-hour programme.
The positive feedback received from the audience for all their resident musician and dance teachers will surely pave the way for more innovative programme formatting in the years to come.
The festivities came to an end with the national anthems of India and Australia.
Virtuosity to the fore at the Kelubabu festival
The twentieth edition of the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra annual music and dance festival saw an eclectic mix of performances at the Rabindra Mandap in Bhubaneswar. It has been ten years since the great maestro passed away. The Kelucharan annual national award to distinguished personalities in the field of arts from Odisha were given to Guru Sudhakar Sahoo (dance), Niranjan Satapathy (theatre), Umesh Chandra Kar (music) and Prasant Nanda (cinema). Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik gave away the awards in a short and sweet ceremony. Each of the awardees received a purse of one lakh rupees and a handsome citation.
Flautist Shashank’s performance on the inaugural evening struck the right note with the audience. His rendering of Tyagaraja’s Manasuloni in Varamu, ragam-tanam-pallavi in Kalyani and Subramania Bharati’s Chinnanchiru kiliye accompanied by Sai Giridhar’s mridangam accompaniment was at its musical best. Giridhar is easily one of the most talented youngsters on the scene. On the second evening Sivamani had the hall in raptures with his drumming. From his regular drum kit, gongs and bells, tin sheets to even a VIP suitcase, he was a one-man band unto himself. With his smart mixing of various percussion instruments, you felt there was nothing about the technique of sound production that Sivamani does not know. The sound in everything around him attracts his ear and he reproduces it through his music. In comparison, Deepak Pandit’s violin solo was the only dull note in the festival. In aiming to display virtuosity, Deepak’s performance ended up lacking musicality and becoming an exercise in unwanted pyrotechnics. Niladri Kumar’s sitar recital began with an elaboration of Jhinjhoti raga. The obsession for speed and exhibiting virtuosity had the decibel levels flying through the roof, making the music intolerable.
Among the dances in the festival Vaibhav Arekar from Mumbai gave an exceptional performance. In his unique choreography of Dikshitar’s oft-done Ardhanareeswaram and the virtuosity with which he displayed the pathos of saint Nandanar craving to see the lord, Vaibhav’s depiction was an intense essay in male dance aesthetics. His exploration of the hasya rasa through two subhashitas was original and refreshing. Kalishwaran Pillai’s nattuvangam, Dakshinamurthy Pillai’s mridangam and Sushant Jadhav’s lighting elevated the performance further. On a milder note was Malaysia’s Ramli Ibrahim. While his body is no longer what it used to be, one could still see sparks of brilliance in his abhinaya to the ashtapadi Priye charuseele.
Daksha Mashruwala’s unique choreography The Saggy Baggy Elephant, provided a good source of entertainment for children. This is the kind of show a cultural movement like SPIC MACAY would love to take to countless schools. Prashant Shah from New York had the rasikas swinging to his tunes from the go. His sense of laya and precision demonstrated the perfection with which his guru Kumudini Lakhia has groomed him. Prashant could have also included abhinaya to a traditional thumri from the rich bank of his gharana.
The festival concluded with the dance-drama Kubja, scripted by renowned Sanskrit scholar Nityananda Mishra and choreographed by Ratikant Mohapatra. Excerpted from the Srimad Bhagavatam, the story of Krishna and the hunchback Kubja was narrated with excellent music and dance. Rajashree Praharaj as Krishna and Manusmita as Kubja were exemplary in their portrayal.
The festival seemed a shade duller, because some sponsors backed out at the last minute. But Ratikant Mohapatra had left no stone unturned to make it as grand as he could with limited resources.
(Is a writer, editor and culture critic)
ABHAI honours Vyjayanthimala Bali
The title of Natya Kalanidhi was conferred on Vyjayanthimala Bali during the annual day celebrations of the Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India (ABHAI), held on 3 August 2014 at the Sathguru Gnanananda Hall at Chennai. N. Gopalaswami, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India, presented the award and purse to the multifaceted artist who turned 80 in August this year. Adyar K. Rama Rao, veteran vocalist, nattuvangam artist and brother of Adyar Lakshman, was honoured with the Kala Seva Nidhi Lifetime Commitment Award.
The Gandharva Nipuna award, instituted in the name of Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher the late Usha Srinivasan by her husband, was presented to K. Rajasekharan, dance vocalist and nattuvangam artist who embellished the dance in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s.
The Narthaka Nipuna award instituted by the late Nirmala Ramachandran, Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher, to encourage male dancers was presented to Sathyanarayana Raju of Bengaluru.
Before the award ceremony there were short presentations by the prize winners in the junior and senior categories of the competitions conducted a few weeks earlier for ABHAI members, on Pasurams and Tiruppugazh. In her welcome address Chitra Visweswaran, President of ABHAI, outlined the holistic approach of ABHAI reflected in its activities. In his presidential address, Gopalaswami requested ABHAI to honour more veterans who had spent their entire life and resources in pursuing the art form. In her acceptance speech, Vyjayanthimala Bali recalled her long association with ABHAI from the time she was a Member of Parliament when she had championed the cause for railway concessions for troupes and upgradation of tambura artists. She said the Natya Kalanidhi award was special as it came from the classical dance fraternity.
The annual day celebrations concluded with five dance presentations choreographed by five Narthaka Nipuna awardees who had received the award in previous years. Each group presentation had students of more than one dance teacher, and had a different flavour typical of the choreographer. The five dancer-teachers Binesh Mahadevan, Vijay Madhavan, K. Shafeequddin, S. Shanmugasundaram and S. Shivakumar had specially choreographed the items for the ABHAI annual day.
(Is a dancer, musician, with a doctorate in Sanskrit)
Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan honoured in New Jersey
Mridanga vidwan Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan was honoured in July 2014 with the New Jersey Assembly proclamation for promoting Carnatic music abroad.
The citation said Vaidyanathan, born in a family of percussionists, began training at the age of six from his grandfather and uncle. With his inherent sense of rhythm, disciplined practice and urge to excel in the art of playing the mridangam, he was showcased in concerts even as a high school student. He underwent rigorous training with mridangam maestro Karaikudi Mani and with dedication and hard work became a much sought after percussionist for leading musicians in India and abroad.
Vaidyanathan has performed at such major venues as Lincoln Center in New York and Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Vibrations, the symphonic ensemble he launched performs multiple genres of music on a global level. He promotes music through his position as Faculty Member of SIFAS in Singapore and as a mentor of young musicians who established the Tiruvarur Talavadya Vidyalaya in Chennai, the official proclamation added.
Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan was honoured by Upendra Chivukula, deputy speaker of New Jersey State Assembly. Divya Yeluri, founder director of Nrithya Madhavi School of Dance, in New Jersey, and Venu Yeluri participated in the ceremony.
SRI SARASWATHY GANA NILAYAM Celebrating 75 years
The Saraswathy Gana Nilayam was founded in 1939 by K. Lalitha, a versatile artist, to impart training in Bharatanatyam, Carnatic vocal music and the veena to children belonging to middle class families in Chennai. For boys and girls living in and around Triplicane, it was a popular destination. Over the years, about 500 arangetrams have been conducted under the aegis of the Nilayam, which has sprouted branches in India and abroad.
The platinum jubilee of Sri Saraswathy Gana Nilayam was celebrated on 26 and 27 July 2014 in Chennai. Students and their students from India and abroad converged at the Sathguru Gnanananda Hall in Chennai to make it a memorable occasion. It was a grand celebration spearheaded by its veteran director Ranganayaki Jayaraman.
The celebration was formally inaugurated with Mathaji Vithamma lighting the traditional lamp. Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam presided over the function and P.S. Sachu, Member Secretary, Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Manram released the platinum jubilee souvenir. The guests of honour included Cleveland V.V. Sundaram, Mathioli Saraswathy Devi and veteran Bharatanatyam exponent and guru Saroja Vaidyanathan.
Seventy five students of Sri Saraswathy Gana Nilayam performed the invocation dance to mark the 75th anniversary. The twoday event was a coming together of family members Indumathy Ganesh, and Akshaya Ganesh from Nrithyolassa Dance Academy, U.S.A., and illustrious alumni like Revathy Menon (as emcee), Binesh Mahadevan (Director, Akshaya Arts), Padmini Krishnamurthy (Director, Sri Saraswathi Natyalaya, Muscat), and several other disciples – young and old, who participated in the celebrations.
It was a heartwarming gesture on the part of 77-year-old Saroja Vaidyanathan to come from Delhi and present a programme in honour of the founder-guru K. Lalitha, colleague Ranganayaki and her alma mater. A highlight of the two-day event was her dance presentation Parampara showcasing three generations – Saroja with daughter-in-law Rama Vaidyanathan and granddaughter Dakshina.
Saroja got a standing ovation from the audience for her portrayal of Dussassana while elaborating on the line Draupadi ki laaj raakhyo in Hari tuma haro.
Groups of students presented Kummi and Kolattam for which Sri Saraswathy Gana Nilayam is famous for. A number of dance-dramas were presented by Ranganayaki’s disciples who are now well known dance teachers in India and abroad. Some of the dance-dramas presented by students and alumni of Sri Saraswathy Gana Nilayam were Dhana Vaibhavam – a thematic presentation describing the lofty virtues of ‘daanam’ or charity, and Shakti Prabhavam. The finale was Valli Kalyanam in which senior disciples Binesh Mahadevan and Padmini Krishnamurthy played the lead roles of Lord Muruga and Valli, supported by the teaching staff of Sri Saraswathy Gana Nilayam.
Music Forum Awards
Two eminent writers on music, Deepak Raja and Lakshmi Devnath, were honoured on 17 January by the Music Forum, Mumbai. Sruti takes pride in the fact that both are its long-time associates who have been writing for the magazine for more than a decade.
Deepak Raja received the Dr. Ashok Ranade Memorial Award 2014, for his "valued and distinguished contribution to the field of Indian classical music" as a noted sitar player, musicologist, and author of books on Hindustani music.
Lakshmi Devnath has written books on art personalities, several articles on music and her pioneering effort is the pictorial series on Carnatic musicians which aims to reach out to the next generation. The Music Forum Media Award 2014 was presented to her for the promotion of Indian culture through media.
Shekhar Sen is new Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi
Shekhar Sen has been appointed Chairman of the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) for a term of five years. Fifty three-year old Sen (b. 16 February 1961) hails from a musical Bengali family settled in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. He is an accomplished singer, music composer, lyricist and actor.
He moved to Mumbai and started his career as a music composer. He subsequently started writing and composing devotional music. He has written, composed and rendered many bhajan albums. As a playwright, he has created and presented several mono-act musicals like Tulsi, Kabeer, Vivekanand, Sanmati, Saahab and Soordas. He has done considerable research on historical and literary themes and produced musicals like Dushyant ne Kaha tha, Madhya Yugeen Kavya, Pakistan ka Hindi Kavya, Meera se Mahadevi tak.
Sen has performed to wide acclaim in India and abroad. He has presented his musicals in the U.S.A., the U.K., Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Surinam, South Africa, UAE, Mauritius and Trinidad. His mono-acting musicals – Kabeer which he performed in the Lok Sabha in May 2005, Vivekanand at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in April 2013, and Soordas premiered at NCPA, Mumbai in June 2013, were well appreciated.
He served as expert committee member of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India for two years, and as member of the Central Board of Film Certification for four years. Sen has also dabbled in colours and his traditional yet modern paintings stand out for their vibrant flat tones.
Among the many honours conferred on him, are the Padma Shri from the Government of India (2015), the V. Shantaram Samman by the Maharashtra Rajya Hindi Sahitya Academy (2008) and the Safdar Hashmi Puraskar by the State Sangeet Natak Academy of Uttar Pradesh (2001).
For more information visit: http://www.shekharsen.com
A Workshop on the Mohamana Varnam
Paramparai Foundation will take a small group of dancers, teachers and students of dance to Tirupugalur, a village in Tiruvarur district. Over ten days in March/April they will explore the dance text, its choreography and especially the world from where this famous the padavarnam emerged.
Tiruvarur town, the Kamalalaya temple tank and huge chariot, the many shrines in the Tyagarajaswami temple, its daily and festival worship - form living sources for abhinaya. In performance, dancers evoke these images for the audience. To see and walk through such manodharma in real time and real space would provide an unique experience and inspiration.
This experiment, curated by Saskia Kersenboom, attempts to contextualise the traditional dance repertoire in today’s continuous past. It will draw on related works in poetry, painting, sculpture, music and dance that are seen today in urban venues as well as in temple ritual. Fieldwork will lead to six other Tyagaraja shrines in Tiruvarur district. They form part of local legends on the Tyagaraja cult. During the Pankuni Uttiram festival, Lord Tyagaraja dances his famous ’Ajapa Natanam’. That night he celebrates his reunion with goddess Kamalambika, offering darsan of his left foot: his ‘sakti pada’.
For more information visit: www.paramparai.eu/html/pdf/MOHAMANA.when.pdf or www.paramparai.euada.
A sammelan to savour
Move over, Chennai. Your place as a hub for an annual music extravaganza is likely to be usurped by Kolkata, where the ITC Sangeet Research Academy’s annual sammelan in December 2014 set benchmarks that other organisers could aim for.
First, the highlights of the sammelan (5th to 7th, December 2014) before I make my points about lessons that can be learned (by performers as well as organisers). All three days of the sammelan were all night sessions, beginning in the evening around 6 and going on till 7 AM or beyond. (On the last day, the sessions began even earlier, around 3 pm, in order to accommodate an extra session on dhrupad that was not originally in the schedule). The sizeable audience sat through it all, despite the wintry weather and the open air shamiana, every day, all night, till well past daybreak.
This SRA annual sammelan is anticipated by music aficionados and genuine rasikas, we are told, because of the quality fare that SRA promises, the selection of the performers not on the basis of their “crowd pulling” reputations but for their musical abilities, and the extra transport arrangements at the end of each session in the early hours, to cover multiple destinations, but more than anything else, the quality of the music.
This year’s sammelan focused on SRA’s younger generation of scholar-trainees, selected by a panel to receive scholarships for intensive training under leading gurus. These gurus--each with an enviable reputation as an eminent performer-teacher--are provided with bungalows on campus, with freedom to fashion their one-on-one teaching regimen to suit individual apprentices. The emphasis is on classicism, and the scholars who had a platform to showcase their guru’s training and their own talent, made full use of the opportunity to establish themselves as soon-to-be leading lights on the concert stage. In fact, some of them were so good that they could qualify for ustad status right away.
The opening item was a display of rhythmic competence by tabla scholars, of whom the youngest was five years old; most of the group of 13 (including one girl) were not yet ten. Instead of having the conventional lehra (melody repeated on a stringed instrument, to keep track of the tala cycles while the tabla improvises) guru Samar Saha used a tabla tarang by the kids themselves, providing a melodic reference cycle (using tablas tuned to different notes) while individual participants took off on improvised rhythmic variations. This was a novel experiment. Some of the tiny tot tabalchis were barely visible over the top of the tablas they were handling – but their talent was astounding . This was a tribute to the calibre of teaching as well as the rigorous process of choosing scholars with innate talent and unmistakable promise. Some of these kids will soon join the likes of Zakir Hussain as popular icons of percussion, I am sure.
The vocalist and instrumentalist scholars took over next and each one of them was an ustad-in-the-making. There was no playing to the gallery – every young scholar performed with the finesse, poise, and confidence of a veteran, showcasing the training of the gurus. Given one hour each, they did full credit to their apprenticeship and their own musical capabilities. Young vocalist Arshad Ali Khan, with his astounding, super fast taans, promises to be another Rashid Khan, today’s leading Hindustani vocalist with an international following (Rashid was himself inducted as a scholar at SRA at age 11, for gurukul apprenticeship under Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan of the Rampur gharana, the legendary “tarana samrat” who passed away in 1996 after 17 years as a guru at ITC-SRA. Rashid lived with the guru, and imbibed the finer points of the gharana before acquiring a reputation as the youngest ustad of all time)
The sarod and sarangi have very few exponents today among the younger generation (especially the sarangi, which is a difficult instrument) but young Mallar Rakshit and Abir Hossain (sarod) and Sarwar Hussain (sarangi) restored our faith in the future of these traditional instruments in the hands of Gen-Next.
Every one of the vocalist scholars, both girls and boys, sang with a ”khula awaz” (full throated, open voice) especially in the upper octave, which was a treat, testifying to the strict standards that the gurus insist on (no false voice, no short cuts). Anyone can teach the intricacies. Only a senior guru can insist on uncompromising standards in basics like voice production. Every vocalist scholar also stuck to “sureelapan” (sounding aesthetically melodious ) especially in holding the top shadja, while instrumentalists like Saket Sahu who played the violin, displayed a maturity and skill that marked them as front ranking artistes, despite their age. That was a testimony to their training under SRA’s gurus as well as the scholars’ innate musical talent. Even if I am only mentioning a few names, all of the participants were awesome; there was not a false note, not one recital that was below par, in all the three days of extended sessions.
Each day’s schedule included also a recital by a senior guru. The first day saw Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, one of today’s leading vocalists and one of the most popular gurus at SRA, treat the audience through the night, before signing off with the morning raga Bibhas (at 7 AM) and the popular thumri Jamuna ke teer in raga Bhairavi (by popular demand) while the last day had octogenarian Girija Devi perform with incredible verve and stamina, assisted by two of her understudy scholars. In over half a century of attending music conferences and sammelans, I have never seen one that had participants ranging from a gifted five year old to an 87 year old, both equally spell binding.
Uday Bhawalkar, a young guru at SRA, took the stage on the last day, to present a very impressive dhrupad in raga Adbhut Kalyan. He announced that this raga which eschews both the madhyama and the panchama, is known as Nirosh in the south but I could find neither Adbhut Kalyan nor Nirosh in any of the comprehensive lists of ragas that I have access to (including Ranga Ramanuja Iyengar’s compendium, Bhatkhande’s books, and the 500 raga listing published by Dr Lakshminarayan Garg of Hathras who brings out a comprehensive monthly magazine called Sangeet in Hindi).
Using just sa, ri , ga, dha and ni, (of Bilawal or Sankarabharanam scale) Bhawalkar spun out the item for a full hour, accompanied by a young pakhawaj artiste (again, another instrument that has very few practitioners, due to the decline of the dhrupad form itself). And he made it sound melodious too, not just a tight rope circus item despite the absence of both ma and pa. It was a musical feat. Notwithstanding the esoteric form and the rare raga, the audience heard him out with interest ,respect and appreciation.
How does one commend an audience too – for providing the right ambience for listening, without any show, or distraction ? There were no ‘page 3’ personalities, or VIPs, flaunting new shades of an exclusively woven sari, or diamonds, or gossip. At one point, when the stage was being reset for the next item, there was complete silence in the audience for several minutes. I have never seen anything like this before. The bane of many a performer today, is the distraction of an indifferent audience. A keen and receptive one draws out the best in a performer and lets him/her rise to greater heights. This is what a sammelan should be like, I caught myself saying. We all stayed awake through the night, for three consecutive days, for a veritable feast of good, unadulterated, high class music. Including the recitals by the youngsters, mostly teenagers, including t he daughter of Pandit Suresh Talwalkar of Mumbai who matched her distinguished father stroke for stroke on the tabla.
Entry to the sammelan sessions was free, and though the first two rows of seats in the audience were reserved for gurus and parents of scholars, I saw no “press enclosure”, unlike in other prestigious sammelans. SRA is an ITC entity, part of a corporate set-up, but where the music sammelan was concerned, there was no pandering to the press by the organisers or to the gallery by the performers, no advertisements, no hoardings, no banners, no flaunting of products (even ITC ‘s own brands like Ashirwad or Sunfeast). Just music, good classical music, and more music, from beginning to end, whether it was a teenage scholar performing, or a veteran guru.
Last year an Italian sitar player, Fulvio Koren, was at SRA for training, and this year there is a Japanese girl, Eri Yamaguchi, a south American (who sat onstage behind Girija Devi, helping with the tanpura) and a Pakistani girl Maham Suhail, from Lahore.
The sammelan has also established a collaboration with the Bangladesh Foundation, for cultural exchange . Perhaps SRA could become a hub for south Asian networking, a kind of cultural SAARC, since we share musical roots and heritage. Last year, ITC-SRA collaborated in holding a music festival in Dhaka where the audience was reportedly over 31,000 strong. Leading flutist Hari Prasad Chaurasia echoed my sentiments when he commented that he felt “jealous” of SRA’s scholars, since they “get everything”. Quite.
Along with music, the gurus also impart related cultural lifestyle ethics – there is much “touching of feet” (not just one’s own guru’s, but those of all the elders who teach at SRA) as a mark of respect for mentors. At the same time, once the disciple takes the stage, he/she is trained to perform with great self-assurance and aplomb (after paying the ritual obeisance to the guru). There is camaraderie, rather than jostling for primacy, among the scholars, who encourage and appreciate each other in a spirit that sidelines everything except musical scholarship. SRA’s initiative for training future generations of eminent musicians is a unique revival of the traditional gurukul, with disciples having access 24X7 to their mentors and gurus. The green and spacious campus ambience adds to the enriching atmosphere that scholars are fortunate to live and learn in. The team of gurus at SRA includes centenarian Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan who still turns up to attend sammelan sessions.
In addition, SRA ensures that there is minimal interference in the process of learning, with rules interpreted to suit each individual prodigy, backed by an administrative and executive team that ensures that the annual sammelan is something all connoisseurs eagerly look forward to.
Five voices for the future identified
TAG-Music Forum-Sruti Talent Hunt
To our great pleasure, the triad of Tag Centre, Karnatik Music Forum and Sruti succeeded in unearthing some promising vocalists at the end of our six-day long talent search in January 2015 at the TAG Centre. Out of the 18 voices shortlisted from among 70-odd applicants (by listening to their CDs), five were selected by a three-member jury of vidushis Seetha Narayanan, Vijayalakshmi Subramaniam and Jayalakshmi Sekhar.
The selection was based on the percentile method styled the BITS Pilani method by RT Chari – the founder of the TAG group – whose brainchild the whole programme ‘Five for the Future’ was. Impartiality was ensured by the complete absence of discussion among the judges as well as the organisers. The marksheets were, for instance, collected from the judges, who sat far apart, immediately after each 55-minute concert. Surprisingly, an audience poll showed very similar results.
The most delightful aspect of the results was the emergence of singers from outside Chennai as the top five voices. They were Anupam Shankar (Delhi), Harikrishnan (Ernakulam), Kruti Bhat (USA), Mahathi (Calicut), and Sivaganesh (Bengaluru).
The selected vocalists received cash awards of Rs. 5000 each and a promise that two of them would be featured in TAG’s Future Maestros series of concerts. The next eight participants will be automatically allowed to take part in next year’s Five for the Future.
SKGS Awards for Mangala Isai
The 'SKGS Diamond Jubilee Sangeetha Choodamani' title was conferred on nagaswara vidwan Seshampatti Sivalingam, and tavil vidwans Thiruvalaputhur T.A. Kaliyamurthy and Tanjavur T.R. Govindarajan, during the 27th Pongal Nagaswara Isai Vizha organised by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on 14 January 2015. Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, President SKGS, chief guest Justice M. Karpaga Vinayagam Y. Prabhu, Gen.Secretary, SKGS, musicologist B.M. Sundaram and R.Venkateswaran.Joint Secretary are in the picture.
Paintings of Musicians at Tiruvaiyaru
'Aanmalayam' -- an exhibition featuring musicians painted by artist Balaji has been curated near the Tyagaraja samadhi in Tiruvaiyaru to coincide with the Tyagaraja aradhana celebrations. Dr. Rama Kausalya, well known scholar, musician and arts administrator, inaugurated the exhibition on 6 January. Paintings of U. Shrinivas, M.S. Subbulakshmi, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Bombay Jayashri are part of the exhibits on show till 10 January -- the Pushya Bahula Panchami day.
Visakha Music Academy Awards - 2014
Visakha Music Academy, Visakhapatnam conferred the title Sangeeta Kala Saagara on senior Carnatic vocalist O.S. Thiagarajan.during it's 45th annual festival held recently in Visakhapatnam.. A number of awards were also presented to musicians and dancers -- The Dwaram Venkata Swamy Naidu Award to Gurivilli Appanna & Durga Rao; M.S. Subbulakshmi Award to Vishnubhatla Sisters Saraswathi & Krishnaveni; Nedunuri Krishnamurthy Award to Trichur Brothers; and Saraswathi Memorial Award to A.B. Bala Kondala Rao.
VEENA SESHANNA MEMORIAL AWARD
The Veena Seshanna Memorial Award 2014 was presented to Kadri Gopalanath (C-saxophone) and the Swara Murthy V. N. Rao Memorial Award to veteran Carnatic musician and teacher P.S. Narayanaswamy, on 15 November 2014, by the Swara Murthy V. N. Rao Memorial Trust, in Bangalore. Each award comprises a bust of Veena Seshanna and a purse of Rs. 50,000.
Hamsadhwani honours Sruti
Sruti was honoured with the R Ramachandran Excellence Award by Hamsadhwani, Chennai, on 1 January 2015, as part of the silver jubilee of the sabha, and Ramachandran's birth anniversary. V Ramnarayan, editor-in-chief received the award. The award was given away by Mr N Vittal, former Central Vigilance Commissioner, and Mr Mohan Parasaran, former Solicitor General presided over the occasion. Mr R Sundar, who welcomed the gathering, Sri RS Mani and Sri Gopalan, represented Hamsadhwani on the stage.
Shanmukhananda honours Sanjay
6 December 2014 marked another important milestone in the career of acclaimed musician, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, when the Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha conferred upon him the National Eminence Award. He is the youngest musician to receive this award. The award was handed over to him by the Governor of Maharashtra C. Vidyasagar Rao at an elaborate ceremony which included temple honours and felicitations from sister sabhas of Mumbai. The Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Shiromani awards were also given away the same evening to Ghatam vidwan Karthick, violinist V. Sanjeev and Hindustani vocalist Samrat Pandit. Incidentally, Sanjay Subrahmanyan was a recipient of the Sangeetha Shiromani award in 2002.
To provide a national framework for honouring veterans in the field of the performing arts, as well as emerging stars, the Sri Shanmukhananda National Eminence Award was set up in 2002, the Golden Jubilee year of the sabha. The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 1, 00,000, a citation, a lamp, a trophy and a shawl. Legends so far honoured with this award include Semmanagudi Srinivasa Iyer, Bhimsen Joshi, Vempati Chinna Satyam, Hariprasad Chaurasiya, Shivkumar Sharma, Padma Subrahmaniam, Girija Devi, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, R. K. Srikantan, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Vyjayantimala Bali, Birju Maharaj, M. Balamuralikrishna and Pandit Jasraj.
The Sangeetha Shiromani Award is conferred upon emerging artistes and carries a cash prize of Rs. 25,000, a trophy, a citation and a shawl. So far, 43 promising artistes have received this award.
The award function was followed by a memorable concert by Sanjay Subrahmanyan.
The Natya Kala Mani Award was conferred on veteran natya exponents and teachers C.K..Balagopalan and Kalamandalam Kshemavathi, on 26 December 2014 at the inaugural function of the 34th Natya Kala Conference organised by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in Chennai. Veteran make-up artist Sethumadhavan was also honoured on the occasion. Natyacharya V.P. Dhananjayan inaugurated the conference and felicitated the awardees. In his inaugural speech he exhorted the dance fraternity to uphold tradition and use appropriate nomenclature and terms to describe specific facets of Indian art forms. Swapnasundari, famous exponent of Kuchipudi and Vilasini Natyam is the convenor of the week-long Natya Kala Conference focussing on the theme "Knowing Again". Y. Prabhu, Gen. Secretary, and R. Venkateswaran of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha were part of the inaugural function.
Vaadhya Padmam for veteran mridanga vidwan
Mridanga vidwan Tanjavur R. Ramamurthy received the title “Vaadhya Padmam” conferred by the Brahma Gana Sabha, Chennai on 3 December during the inauguration of its December Art Festival 2014. The Vaadhya Padmam award was instituted by Brahma Gana Sabha in December 2013 to honour veteran instrumentalists.
Born on 15 June 1929 in Tanjavur to Krishnammal and Rathnam Pillai, Ramamurthy hails from a family steeped in music and dance. His father was a violinist and direct disciple of Tirukodikaval Krishna Iyer. Aunt Veenabhashini was a famous exponent of Sadir/ Bharatanatyam, and father-in-law Tirukadayur Chinnayya Pillai a versatile tavil vidwan.
Ramamurthy’s mridangam classes began at the age of nine with Bhairavam Pillai and he made his debut when he was 12. In a year’s time he got opportunities to accompany stalwarts like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, and flautist Palladam Sanjeeva Rao. He later received advanced training from mridangam maestro Tanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer. He joined All India Radio, Tiruchirapalli on 5 September1945 and served there for a record 44 years. He joined as an A grade staff artist and retired in June 1989 with the distinction of being a Grade I Artist. During his tenure he played for several eminent musicians and participated in many National Programmes of All India Radio, Akashvani Sangeet Sammelans, musical features, and laya vinyasam presentations. On special request from AIR-Delhi, he played the mridangam for a vocal recital by Sathoor A.G. Subramania Iyer in March 1950 for the External Services Division. This distinguished former staff artist of AIR is a simple man who shuns publicity.
Ramamurthy has more than 70 years of experience as a mridangam artist; and was preferred by many senior vidwans for his gentle and dignified mridangam accompaniment. As he started accompanying musicians at a very young age, Ramamurthy says he has had the rare distinction of playing for several generations of musicians. The list reads like a veritable who’s who and ranges from Marungapuri Gopalakrishna Iyer, Karur Chinnnasami Iyer, Semmangudi Narayanaswamy Iyer, Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer, Palladam Sanjeeva Rao, Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai, Alathur Brothers, Chembai, Musiri Subramania Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, GNB, T. Chowdiah, Dandapani Desigar, MS, DKP, MLV, Madurai Somu, S. Balachander, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Lalgudi Jayaraman, M.S Gopalakrishnan, M. Balamuralikrishna, D.K. Jayaraman, T.M. Thiagarajan, K.V. Narayanaswamy, N. Ramani, T.N. Seshagopalan, T.V. Sankaranarayanan, Geetha Bennet, Mandolin Shrinivas, to T.M. Krishna. He also recalls with pride how the Kanchi Paramacharya asked for an encore of his tani avartanam when he played in his presence at Kaladi.
Ramamurthy is the recipient of several awards including the prestigious Kalaimamani award from the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram (1981), Isai-k-Kadal from Karaikudi Tamil Isai Sangam (1983), Mridanga Selvam from Muthamizh Peravai (1987), Laya Vadya Ratnam from Sri Sadguru Tyagabrahma Aradhana Trust, Tiruchi (2002), Madhura Kala Nipuna from Laya Madhuraa, Chennai (2011), and the TTK Award from the Music Academy, Madras (2013).