The ITC Samman 2016 was conferred on violin vidushi (Dr.) N. Rajam during the 38th ITC Sangeet Sammelan held in Kolkata from 2 to 4 December 2016. A stalwart of Hindustani music, Rajam is one of the seniormost disciples of the late Pandit Omkarnath Thakur of the Benaras gharana, and follows the gayaki ang. The award was presented by Sanjeev Puri, COO of ITC Ltd. in the presence of Ravi Srinivasan, Executive Director of ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata.
The ITC Samman comprises a citation, shawl, flowers, sweets, and a cheque for one lakh rupees. The award was first presented in 1978, and the list of recipients includes eminent musicians like Satya Kinkar Banerjee, Jamini Ganguli, Jnan Prakash Ghosh, Mushtaq Ali Khan, D.T. Joshi, V.G. Jog, Asad Ali Khan, Girija Devi, Ali Ahmed Hussain, T.N. Krishnan and L. Subramaniam.
Author: Shilpi Sambhamurty
Assam Shrestho Award for Indira Bora
Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee and veteran Sattriya exponent Indira P.P. Bora received the prestigious Assam Shrestho Award 2016 for her lifelong contribution in the field of classical dance from The Telegraph Media Group. The award was presented to her by Rupali Ganguli, CEO and President of Apollo Hospitals Eastern Region, at Guwahati in November 2016.
Veena Seshanna Memorial Awards
Every year Bangalore-based Swaramurthy V.N. Rao Memorial Trust conducts “Veeneyabedagu”, music festival in memory of Veena Seshanna. This time, it was held at Udupi, Karnataka from 18 to 20 November 2016, under the joint auspices of Sri Paryaya Pejawara Adhokshaja Mutt. The Veena Seshanna Memorial National Award was presented to D. Balakrishna by Sri Vishwesha Teertha Swamijee, and the Swaramurthy V.N. Rao Memorial National Award to Bombay Jayashri by Dr. Veerendra Heggade, Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala. Each award carries a purse of one lakh rupees, a bust of Veena Seshanna and a shawl.
The festival was followed by five music concerts including the awardees D. Balakrishna (veena) and Bombay Jayashri (vocal). The other concerts featured N. Vijay Siva (vocal), Bangalore Brothers—Ashok and Hariharan (vocal) and Herambha and Hemantha (flute). A workshop was also held on the compositions of Veena Seshanna under the direction of R.N. Tyagarajan (one of the Rudrapatnam Brothers).
The Festival was held under the leadership of Prof. Mysore V. Subramanya, great grandson of Veena Seshanna, and Chairman and Managing Trustee of Swaramurthy V.N. Rao Memorial Trust.
Neela Ramgopal honoured
As a part of their Spring Music Festival, Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira conferred the title Sangita Vedantha Dhurina on renowned vocalist, Sangita Kala Acharya Neela Ramgopal along with a purse of Rs. One lakh and a silver medal. The award was presented by His Holiness Sri Sri Yadugiri Yathiraja Narayana Ramanuja Jeeyar, Melukote on Sunday 12 February 2017 at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja Auditorium.
The legacy of Ariyakudi
A tribute on his 50th death anniversary
On 23 January this year, on the 50th death anniversary of Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Carnatica, in association with the Ariyakudi Legacy Centre, presented a musical homage under the overall theme Sri Ariyakudi: the Legacy Lives On at Arkay Convention Centre, Mylapore, Chennai. The programme was followed by two more commemorative events in quick succession at different venues.
The first programme was highlighted by a lecture by Alepey Venkatesan Ariyakudi's Tunesmithy on the wealth of compositions by Ariyakudi, with particular reference to the Tiruppavai, with songs from the repertoire rendered by Alepey Venkatesan'ss disciples Vaishnavi Anand and Shruti Jayaraman.
This was followed by a delightful lecture-cum-concert programme by senior vocalist S. Sowmya on Arunachala Kavi's Ramanatakam, with some excellent singing by young musicians Bharat Sundar, Aswath Narayanan, and Gayatri.
"In the fitness of things, this musical homage is to be paid by generations of singers, hailing from different schools of music, " said Venkatesan, stressing that the Ariyakudi influence on musicians went beyond his own disciples and followers of his bani.. It is with this idea that various singers have come together to participate.
On 27 January, Venkatesan gave a weighty yet enjoyable lecture on the Ariyakudi bani at the Sivagami Pethachi hall on Luz Church Road. "A Compendium on Ariyakudi" an illuminating DVD created and performed by Venkatesan was released by chief guest N. Gopalaswami, Chairman, Kalakshetra and received by guest of honour vidushi Sudha Ragunathan. The highlight of the evening was a concert in the Ariyakudi by by vidushis Ranjani and Gayatri.
The 50th anniversary event culminated in a concert of Ariyakudi's pallavis, presented by Venkatesan and star vocalist Abhishek Raghuram on 28 January at the Mylapore Fine Arts Auditorium, Mylapore, Chennai. The audience enjoyed an in-depth talk on Ariyakudi's pallavis by Venkatesan.
The whole tribute to Ariyakudi, fifty years after his demise, was conducted in a fittingf manner, with great warmth and attention to detail.
Veteran musicians honoured
Hamsadhwani, the well known sabha, conferred the ‘Sathguru Tyagaraja Hamsadhwani Award on Radha Viswanathan, daughter and disciple of M.S. Subbulakshmi, on 11 March 2017 at Chennai. N. Murali, President of the Music Academy presented the award to Radha.
Speaking on the occasion R. Sundar, secretary of the sabha, highlighted the contributions of Radha Viswanathan. V. Shrinivasan, son of Radha Viswanathan, in his acceptance speech on behalf of his mother, dedicated the award to M.S. Subbulakshmi and T. Sadasivam. The award ceremony was followed by a concert by S. Aishwarya (great granddaughter of MS and granddaughter of Radha) accompanied by M. Narmadha (violin), Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar (mridangam), Papanasam Sethuraman (khanjira) and H. Sivaramakrishnan (ghatam).
Chennai Fine Arts conferred the title Dig Vijaya Nada Vani and presented the Gotuvadyam Narayana Iyengar Award for excellence to veteran violinist T. Rukmini during the music season. The award comprising rupees one lakh, a gold medal and citation was presented by K. Vaidyanathan, Chief Editor of Dinamani and composer Spencer R. Venugopal who felicitated her. P.N. Muralidharan, founder, Chennai Fine Arts, is also in the picture.
A road named after first woman sarodiya
Dr. Sharan Rani was the first woman instrumentalist to take up the sarod which was described as a 'man's instrument’. Sharan Rani was born on 9 April 1929 in a cultured Mathur family of Old Delhi. She was educated and married—to Sultan Singh Backliwal—in Delhi where she lived and taught music until she passed away on 8 April 2008. She learnt from eminent masters like Ali Akbar Khan and Alauddin Khan. Popularly known as ‘Sarod Rani’ after Pandit Omkarnath Thakur named her so, she presented sarod concerts for seven decades in India and abroad, winning unprecedented critical acclaim. She cut several gramophone records, among them an album issued by UNESCO. Sharan Rani was a guru to many students in India and abroad, whom she taught for free.
Called the 'Cultural Ambassador of India' by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, she was a pioneer with many firsts to her credit. To preserve and promote India's musical heritage, Sharan Rani spent decades collecting old and rare classical musical instruments. From her personal collection, she gifted nearly 450 such musical instruments—musically perfect specimens and aesthetic masterpieces—to the National Museum, New Delhi. This entire collection was builtup singlehandedly without government or institutional aid. These instruments are exhibited in the 'Sharan Rani Backliwal Gallery of Musical Instruments' inaugurated and dedicated to the nation in 1980 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who described it as "an unparalleled collection of rare classical music instruments of national importance". This is the first and largest collection of its kind in the world, till date.
In 1998 the Department of Posts, Government of India, released the first set of four postage stamps (along with a first day cover and brochure), based on four Indian musical instruments, from the Sharan Rani Backliwal Gallery of Musical Instruments. Sharan Rani was the author of the Divine Sarod—a book on the origin, antiquity and development of the sarod released in 1992 by President K.R. Narayanan, followed by its second edition, released by former Prime Minister, I.K. Gujral in April 2008.
She was the first woman instrumentalist to be honoured with the Padma Shri in 1968. She received several prestigious awards and honours like the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1986), Padma Bhushan (2000), and National Artiste by the Government of India (2004).
Her house in the Capital was a 'mecca of music' graced by legends from around the world. Her sangeet sadhana and her contributions are an inspiration to future generations. To honour her pioneering contributions, the government of Delhi recently named a road after her--the Sharan Rani Backliwal Marg--near her residence in Defence Colony—a befitting recognition to the sarod maestro.
Her daughter Radhika Backliwal Narain, who has made a documentary on her mother, is the Honorary Director of the Sharan Rani Foundation.
Tabla maestro Hashmat Ali Khan passes away
The senior-most artist of the Ajrada gharana of tabla, Hashmat Ali Khan passed away in Delhi at the age of 85 on 22 April, 2017. He had received his training in the intricacies of tabla from his grandfather, Mohd. Shafi Khan. He was later groomed in the art by Niazu Khan, a noted representative of the Ajrada gharana.
His greatest contribution to music was the way he upheld and enriched the repertoire of the Ajrada gharana, specially the laggi sections that carried his unique signature. He had numerous students across the world and was known to be a taskmaster, yet a magnanimous guru.
The mantle of his musical legacy now rests upon his son and disciple, the eminent musician Akram Khan, and his grandsons.
Author: Shrinkhla Sahai
Remembering Fiddle Govindaraja Pillai
Chennai Fine Arts celebrated the 105th birth anniversary of renowned violin maestro Mayavaram Govindaraja Pillai on Friday, 12th May at Srinivasa Sastri hall in Luz. Earlier CFA had also celebrated his birth centenary in the year 2012, in which a short documentary on him was presented.
On the occasion yesterday, three students learning at the CFA Academy were presented the musical instrument Nagasvaram. These students are trained by Vidwan Kundrathur T. Venkatesan who is a faculty of CFA. The instruments were sponsored by the Mayavaram ‘Fiddle’ Govindaraja Pillai Trust founded by Shri. Shanmughanathan, son in-law of Govindaraja Pillai. Vidwan Seshampatti Sivalingam presided over the function and presented the instruments. This initiative is to encourage the students to learn sincerely and achieve big. The function was followed by the violin duet concert of Dr M Lalitha and M Nandini. Beginning with Abhogi varnam in four speeds, the duo presented sarasiruhasana in Nattai (Puliyur Duraiswamy Iyer), Siddhiswaraya in Neelambari (Muthuswami Deekshitar), Paraloka in Mandhari and Nannu kanna thalli in Sindhu Kannada besides the main piece Etavunara in Kalyani (all three by Tyagaraja). KH Vineeth, Mrdangam and S Sunil Kumar, Kanjira were the accompanists. The concert which lasted two hours witnessed a full house audience.
(Left to right in the photo: S Nithyasree - Secretary, Chennai Fine Arts, PN Muralidharan - Founder, Chennai Fine Arts, Kundrathur T Venkatesan - Nagasvaram Faculty, Chennai Fine Arts, D Rajeswaran - student, S Kishore - student, vidwan Seshampatti Sivalingam, Shri. Shanmuganathan - Founder Mayavaram 'Fiddle' Govindaraja Pillai Trust, Mohana krishnan - student).
Author: P N Muralidharan
Gangadhar Pradhan Samman Award
Sruti’s senior contributors Leela Venkataraman and Dr. Sunil Kothari were honoured with the Guru Gangadhar Samman by the Orissa Dance Academy in February 2017 during the Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav in Odisha.
Launch of Vishwashanti Sangeet Kala Academy
Lata Mangeshkar, Chairperson of the Vishwashanti Sangeet Foundation, announced the opening of Vishwashanti Sangeet Kala Academy--envisioned as India’s biggest gurukul--in Pune. The Gurukul aims to provide a platform for aspiring Hindustani classical musicians from across the country to learn from the best of gurus.
The institute is the vision of Prof. Dr. Vishwanath Karad, founder of MIT Institutes, and Founder-President of the Vishwashanti Sangeet Foundation. The Gurukul--built over a vast area of 70,000 sq. feet--offers state of the art facilities along with the supervision and guidance of renowned gurus. The faculty boasts of eminent musicians like Dr. N Rajam, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ulhas Kashalkar, Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Suresh Talwalkar, Shama Bhate, Yogesh Samsi and Devaki Pandit.
Speaking on the occasion, Lata Mangeshkar said she was happy that the Academy was adopting the Gurukul system, as the venerated guru-sishya parampara has been the pride of Indian culture for centuries and has been instrumental in producing some of the finest artists in Indian classical music, dance and many other forms in the country.
The admission procedure begins on 1st June 2017, and the application form is available on the website www.mitvsf.com. Learning is free, but students will have to pay the residential and mess charges after their enrolment.