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The Semmangudi Century
Issue : 287
Published on : August, 2008


Cover Story - The Semmangudi Century


The Semmangudi Century - V. RAMNARAYAN

He was the pitamaha, the patriarch of Carnatic music. His singing was powerful, deeply moving. His profound scholarship never hampered his creative genius. His centenary celebrated on 25th July 2008 has been a reverential journey back into the past for the devotees of his music.

He was a star in the midst of outstanding contemporaries like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Madurai Mani Iyer, Musiri Subramania Iyer and G.N. Balasubramanian. He battled a gruff and nasal voice all his life and managed to produce grand music despite having to fight those wayward vocal chords every inch of the way.

Through that gruelling vocal odyssey, it often seemed he was pleading with God, even altercating or wrestling with Him as he struggled to overcome his handicap.

It could not stop Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer from becoming arguably the top Carnatic musician of the 20th century.

The following lines excerpted (and slightly edited) from an article from Shankar's Weekly (1963) reproduced in the Sruti publication, Semmangudi, A Mosaic Portrait (1993), provide a comprehensive analysis of his music.

People listening to Ariyakudi, Maharajapuram and Chembai were filled with admiration or awe. But it was Semmangudi's music which they understood, because they participated in it. Click here to read more ...


Shahid Parvez
Non-conformist of the Etawah gharana - DEEPAK S. RAJA

Shahid Parvez is amongst the front-ranking sitarists of the younger generation. He is a scion of the Imdad Khan/ Etawah gharana (stylistic lineage) of sitar and surbahar music, whose most distinguished torchbearer in recent years has been the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan (1927-2004). Shahid (born: 1958) occupies the top grade as an empanelled artist on All India Radio. He has released over 60 titles in the pre-recorded music market, and enjoys a substantial following in the U.S.A., Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Arabian Gulf, and East Africa.

Shahid received early training from his father, Aziz Khan (died: 1973) and uncle Hafeez Khan (died: 1970), both grandsons of the gharana fountainhead, Ustad Imdad Khan. From the age of 15, Shahid has been a self-taught musician. His evolution has been inspired partly by his uncle, Vilayat Khan's vocalised idiom and, in the other part, by the contemporary search of instrumental music for a language liberated from the traditional reference points in vocalism, as well as the music of the rudra veena. The two seemingly divergent directions appear to cohabit comfortably within Shahid's music. Their integration is the product of exceptional talent having had to tutor itself through a vast generation gap. Thus, you have Shahid Parvez, now creating a distinctive niche for himself in the Etawah stylistic space. Click here to read more ...



Venue: Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Italy.
Dates: 14-18 March 2008.
Choreography: Luciano Cannito with interventions by Ileana Citaristi and Tadashi Endo.
Direction: Beppe Menegatti.

This unique dance production about the spiritual paths of men and women of our time was inspired by a sentence written by Mother Teresa of Kolkata on a postcard directed to Carla Fracci, the legendary Italian prima ballerina: "God loves you tenderly; put your love for him in your dance so that people may be attracted to him through your dance. God bless you".

The title I have a Dream is taken from the speech Martin Luther King delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on 28th August 1963 at the end of a civil rights march. The first segment of the ballet was dedicated to King, followed by Ernesto Che Guevara, the Cuban martyr who died for the liberation of his country from American domination.

The other segments were dedicated to Edith Stein, the Jewish nun who gave her life helping prisoners in concentration camps under the Nazis; the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, recently killed in Russia for her investigative work on the links between the mafia and the establishment; Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi the two great Indian symbols of peace and non violence; Aung San Suu Kyi, who lives as a permanent prisoner in her own country Myanmar; the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, the women who challenged the dictatorship in Argentina during the Peron regime, and Jan Palach who set himself on fire in Prague in January 1969 to demonstrate against the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. Click here to read more ...


Neyyatinkara Vasudevan -S. JANAKI

Neyyatinkara Vasudevan shone like a meteor in the field of Carnatic music. Hailing from a humble background, he attained success in his career as a vocalist and teacher against heavy odds, facing many rough patches along the way. He passed away on 13th May at his residence in Vazhuthucadu, Tiruvananta­puram at the age of 68.

Vasudevan was born in 1940 in Neyyattinkara in Kerala. He was passionate about music even as a young boy. After high school, his ardent love for Carnatic music prompted him to join the Swati Tirunal Music College at Tiruvanantapuram. He passed Ganabhushanam in 1960 and the Sangeeta Vidwan course in 1962 with flying colours. In the College, he was fortunate to train under reputed musicians like Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Later he had rigorous training in Chennai under Ramnad Krishnan who helped him further hone his skills. Click here to read more ...

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