Pt VG Jog, Kunnakudi Balamurali Krishna & Vidhya Subramanian
- Published By: Sruti
- Issue: 463
CONTENTS Vol. 30 Issue 4
6 News & notes
22 Vishnu Govind Jog
28 Kunnakudi M. Balamurali Krishna
42 Vidhya Subramanian
56 Season titles and awards
58 Heritage v The season
75 years ago
62 Spotlight v Arts management
66 Special feature v Vija Vetra
70 Art spaces v Sarani – Creating spaces for
73 Remembering v Nedunuri Krishnamurthy
76 News & notes (continued)
86 Centenary tribute v K.V.
90 Point of view v A curious musical ‘one-way’
94 From the Editor
Front Cover: Vishnu
Kunnakudi M. Balamurali Krishna (Rajappane Raju)
No. 463 OCTOBER-DECember 2023 (Quarterly)
A centenary tribute (22 February 1922 - 31 January 2004)
Harmonising Legacies: The versatile Vishnu
Govind Jog Shailaja
V.G. Jog’s name is as synonymous with the
violin, as is that of Ravi Shankar with the sitar or Shiv Kumar Sharma with the
santoor. As a celebrated musician and teacher, he played musical duets
(jugalbandis) with many notable artists of his time, including Bismillah Khan,
Amjad Ali Khan, Sultan Khan, M.S. Gopalakrishnan, and Rais Khan. He also
collaborated with younger musicians like Nishat Khan, who had the honour of playing
with the renowned Jog Sahib. Jog simply had no ego. Despite his stature as a
soloist, he remained a sensitive accompanist, having accompanied vocal greats
such as Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, and even much younger, then-unknown vocalists
such as Ajoy Chakraborty and Rashid Khan.
Born in Mumbai on 22 February 1922, Jog’s
most celebrated guru was the founder of the Maihar gharana, Allaudin Khan. As
Allaudin Khan played the violin, he taught quite a few students in Lucknow and
his most celebrated disciple was, of course, Jog. It was Allaudin Khan who
taught him his much-acclaimed violin techniques. Though he was the court
musician in Maihar MP, Allaudin Khan spent a lot of time in Lucknow, playing
for All India Radio and also as a part-time lecturer at the Marris College.
Interestingly, Allaudin Khan’s violin,
which he gave to Jog, was presented by the latter to the Museum of Instruments
in Gwalior, Sarod Ghar.
A musical odyssey:
The inspiring journey of Kunnakudi M. Balamurali Krishna Ramaa Ramesh
Balamurali Krishna sits at the forefront of Carnatic vocalists today, a
position earned the hard way - through grit, passion and an unyielding spirit.
Born on 30 June 1985, into a family of teachers, Balamurali started performing
at the age of 11 and excelled at both vocals and percussion, winning prizes,
scholarships, awards and touring India and abroad. His path to the top seemed a
straightforward one until life threw him an unexpected curveball. In 2010, out
of nowhere, Balamurali lost his voice and, to some extent, his sense of
purpose. Battling medical appointments and uncertain diagnoses for years, he
recovered his voice in 2014 and recommenced the journey back to being a
performer. In this candid conversation, he opens up about his career and how he
fought back from those depths to reclaim his place on stage, his experience of
learning from musical legends and his evolving approach to music and sound.
me about your earliest memories of Carnatic music and your roots?
father, R. Meenakshisundaram is a music teacher. After his wedding, he prayed
at Tyagaraja’s sannidhi in Tiruvaiyaru, asking for a son who would grow up to
sing. When I was born, I was named after the legend Balamuralikrishna, as Appa
is a big fan of his.
was born and raised in Tambaram, and my first memory of listening to a concert
was at the local Rama Navami festival. Around the start of the 1990s, popular
artists like T.N. Seshagopalan, T.V.
Sankaranarayanan would perform there. I was about four years old and had just
started to learn the mridangam; I apparently used to play an imaginary
mridangam on Horlicks boxes, as if accompanying the artists from where I sat in
the front row. The amused artists would notice this and enquire about me after
the concerts. At home, I used to sit in on Appa’s lessons with his students,
from which I absorbed geetams and the popular varnams. I was shy to sing
initially, though I never shied away from playing the mridangam which was my first
love; rhythm was and remains a passion.
Beyond beauty and grace
Trained in the Vazhuvoor bani under S.K.
Rajarathnam and for abhinaya under Kalanidhi Narayanan, Vidhya Subramanian has
developed a style of her own where elegance and deep introspection have
permeated her artistic journey. Like many young promising dancers who migrated
from India at the height of their dancing careers in the 90’s, Vidhya found
herself in an environment very different from the whirlwind of culture in
Chennai. It was sheer willpower and passion that kept her engaged with her art
form, soaking in new cultures and beginning a long inward journey of
discovering her artistic self. Today, Vidhya Subramanian has emerged as a
consummate artist who has made a name both in India and internationally.
Creating powerful solo works and engaging with the traditional form in a deeper
way, Vidhya has moved back to Chennai from the
US, convinced that this is where her heart lies.
Vidhya Subramanian holds a Master’s degree
in Theatre Arts and continues to participate in theatre and film projects. She
speaks to Sruti about the irreplaceable role that her father has played
in her artistic journey and the joy that this art form has given her. Her newly
founded Sparsha Arts Foundation is her way of paying tribute to her father
Subramanian and connecting with artists at a deeper level.
Can you tell us about your father K.S.
My father was a mridangist who was unable
to pursue his passion full-time. He was one of eight children, and having lost
his father when he was very young, the arts became a luxury. It was always a
dream for him to see me involved in the arts. He would take me to all the
performances at Krishna Gana Sabha, which was near our home and patiently
explain the tala nuances to me. At that age, I would reluctantly tag along.
Over time, I expressed an interest in dancing. I had watched many dancers and
Padma Subrahmanyam (Paddhu Akka) was someone whom I was in awe of. Her ability
to communicate to even that last person in the audience is a memory I cannot
Vētra: A century dedicated to
Latvian dancer from the United
States, Vija Vētra (born 6 February 1923), celebrated her 100th birthday
and was honoured in her home country, Latvia, on 20 June 2023. On her 100th
birthday in February, diplomats from the Latvian representation at the UN in
New York awarded Vētra a special Diploma of Achievement from the president of
Latvia, H.E. Egils Levits.
Born in Riga, Latvia, Vētra is an
acclaimed classical and contemporary dancer, choreographer and performer of
Latvian traditional dance. Vija Vētra is also an Indian classical dancer and a
path-breaking creator of the movement of sacred devotional dance in Latvia.
During her artistic journey, Vija Vētra has performed on stages of four
continents and countless cities. A patriot of Latvia, she carried the name of
her country even when the country was behind the Iron Curtain.
For Vija, dance is her life and
single focus. Sacrificing family life, she devoted her life to the pursuit of
art. During World War II, she studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and
Performing Arts and the Vienna Conservatory Ballet chapter. However, she had to
escape as a war refugee to Germany. In 1948, she immigrated to Australia and in
1951, opened a dance studio in Sydney. Destiny had other plans for this young
artist. While performing in Australia in the 1950s, Vija Vētra was cast as an
Indian princess in a musical for the Sydney opera—this was a turning point in
her life and the beginning of a life-long passion.