NEWS & NOTES
Festival in memory of Yagnaraman - MANNA SRINIVASAN An impressive function was got up at the Nalli Gana Vihar in Chennai on 30th June, heralding yet another annual event at the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, which already has a continuously active schedule. Organised to pay tribute to the sustained and significant services rendered by the late R. Yagnaraman, the occasion was used to express appreciation, confer honours for the accomplishments and contributions of some eminent artists, and to recognise some outstanding young talents. The awards were instituted this year by the Sabha in memory of Yagnaraman, its General Secretary from 1956-2007.
A CENTENARY TRIBUTE Dandapani Desigar From temple song to the summits of music -VAMANAN A humble temple singer and teacher of religious hymns to children, he went on to become a celluloid hero, charismatic classical performer and university music professor. He not only set high standards of teaching but also carved a niche for himself in musical innovation and composition. Here is a tale of continuing re-invention by a man of poor resources who did not go beyond the pyol school in his village but eventually became an icon of the Tamil isai movement. He did well by himself too, securing the best of bargains in a status and wealth conscious society. M.M. Dandapani Desigar (1908-1973). Thirty-five years after his passing, his ringing voice and evocative Tamil song continue to inspire artists and activists in the cause of ethnic Tamil music in his birth centenary year. In a milieu where language and culture have become focal points of identity and politics, the resonant example of Dandapani Desigar is a continuing source of inspiration. Some mainstream musicians too recognise his musical worth and value his Tamil oeuvre. He was known as Desigar for short. The word refers to the community that rendered the Tamil hymnal offerings in Tamil Nadu temples from the times of the imperial Cholas, who made endowments for the cause. Temple singers were called Oduvar-s (renderers from the canon of Tamil devotional hymns known as the Tirumurai). Their ranks were mainly filled by the Desigars, but also by members of the Saiva Vellala community schooled in the traditional style of singing. Each big Siva temple has a handful of Oduvar-s who recite from a part of the Tirumurai known as the Tevaram (the first seven books of the canon) at the various periods of worship.