COVER STORY - A man on a mission by V. RAMNARAYAN
He is a man on a mission, and his passion for his vocation is palpable as he strides the stage like a lion unchained. He roars, he paces restlessly across the dais, he bursts into song, now crooning (in imitation), now bellowing, and then giving vent to the most nuanced vocalisation of Hindustani or Carnatic raga. He cajoles, bullies, and thunders at trained vocalists he picks as volunteers from the audience. His long, coloured, brushed back straight hair and salt-and–pepper beard, his grand, brightly-coloured, ornate kurta-suits and his colourful jewellery give him the appearance of a prosperous godman or magician about to unveil an exciting bag of tricks. Within minutes, he convinces his mesmerised audience that the human voice is a singing voice, that a strong, musical voice is everyone’s birthright. In the forty five minutes he is allotted – at the Music Academy’s morning academic sessions last season – he dramatically demonstrates that not only is a strong, sruti-aligned voice alive to every nuance of Carnatic music desirable, it is also achievable by those willing to work for it. Ananth Vaidyanathan is today India’s leading voice expert, but his career might have shaped differently had he not seriously damaged his voice in his youth. Trained in Carnatic and Hindustani classical singing, he “lost” his voice in the 1980s and regained it with help from Sunil Bose, a teacher at ITC-Sangeet Research Academy, and Peter Calatin of Ireland, eventually learning from Calatin to be a voice trainer. Ananth was born in Jamshedpur in 1957, to “doctor parents passionately interested in Carnatic music”. His father, an untrained singer, taught Ananth his first songs. Starting lessons at the age of seven, Ananth later became a pupil of Sangita Kalanidhi T.M. Thiagarajan, while pursuing undergraduate studies in Economics at Loyola College, Chennai. He later went on to graduate in business management from XLRI, Jamshedpur.
SPECIAL FEATURE - Guru K. Kalyanasundaram by GAYATHRI SUNDARESAN
With his family background of nattuvanar-s and revered guru-s of the Tanjavur bani of Bharatanatyam, it is not surprising that the list of honours and accolades Guru K. Kalyanasundaram (Tiruvidaimarudur Kuppiah Kalyanasundaram) has received, runs into several pages. The E. Krishna Iyer Medal from the Sruti Foundation – 20 October 2012 – is the latest jewel in his crown. He was initiated into the family’s traditional art in his childhood by his father T. Kuppiah Pillai, brother T.K. Mahalingam Pillai, sister Karunambal and her husband Govindaraja Pillai. He made his debut when he was six years old, at the Kumbheswarar temple in Kumbakonam, on the auspicious day of Arudra darsanam. He learnt music from Alathur Panchapakesa Iyer and the mridanga from Ranganatha Iyer.
SPECIAL FEATURE - Suguna Purushothaman by S. JANAKI
Vidushi Suguna Purushothaman is a versatile Carnatic musician, master teacher and composer. Her proficiency in lakshya is matched by her knowledge of the lakshana of music. Suguna was born on 4 April 1941 in a family passionate about music. Her grandfather Venkata Dikshitar was a regular at Veena Dhanammal’s Friday soirees. Her grandmother and mother played the harmonium and violin. Suguna started her music lessons with Mannargudi Ramamoorti Iyer and then went on to learn from Tinniam Venkatarama Iyer. She had her maiden performance at a Tyagaraja Utsavam in Saidapet. She also acquired proficiency in playing the veena, which she learnt from Lalitabai Shamanna. J. Lalita trained her for technical examinations in music theory, and Suguna secured a first class in the Technical Teachers Training Certificate course. She was a recipient of the Govt. of India Scholarship for advanced study in vocal music.
NEWS & NOTES - Pairs to the fore at Natyarangam festival by MAITHREYI KAILASH
Natyarangam’s annual dance festival was held at Narada Gana Sabha from August 19 to 25 August. The 16th edition of this festival, Baandhava Bharatham, featured seven duet performances focussing exclusively on relationships. Noted scholar Dr. Sudha Seshayyan served as both introductory speaker and primary resource person for each performance of the festival. Guru-Sishya The festival began with an eloquent presentation on Guru-Sishya by Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar and Sibi Sudarsan. It explored the special bond between teacher and student in the gurukula system. Beautifully uncluttered and leisurely paced, the presentation benefitted greatly from the seamless transitions between scenes and the remarkable sensitivity with which both dancers inhabited their roles. A gracious Chandrasekhar gave ample space to the younger dancer to showcase his talent. During Ekalavya’s story, Chandrasekhar subtly switched into different supporting characters while Sibi narrated and enacted the main role. This story also had a subtle message; a true guru shares his knowledge unconditionally and does not make unreasonable demands on the student.