Music Academy's 85 annual conference and concert series get under way

The curtain went up on a fortnight of Carnatic music in the ambience of the Music Academy here, with the launch of the 85 annual conference and concert series on Thursday.

Inaugurating the event, S.R. Nathan, former President of the Republic of Singapore, said the deep philosophical and religious roots of Carnatic music helped one's emotions and heightened one's devotion, divinity and spiritual bliss. Listening to good Carnatic music was soul-satisfying as much to a layman as to a discerning listener.

A third-generation Singaporean of Indian, or more specifically Tamil, origin, Mr. Nathan said separation from the motherland had denied him the privilege of intimately knowing about the many-faceted splendours of Indian heritage, of which Carnatic music is an important component. In fact, his appreciation of Carnatic music began with cinema when he was exposed to vocalists such as M.S. Subbulakshmi through films Seva Sadhanam, Shakuntala and Meera.

While in South East Asia, the consciousness of Carnatic music was aroused only in the 1960s, Singapore became a major venue in more recent years for Carnatic music and classical dance, Mr. Nathan said.

A perusal of the list of artistes performing at the Academy this year showed that almost all senior personalities were recognised names among connoisseurs in Singapore and Malaysia, he said.

Mr. Nathan presented the ‘Sangita Kalanidhi M.S. Subbulakshmi Award,' instituted by The Hindu, to mridangam maestro and flag-bearer of the ‘Pudukottai' percussive tradition, Trichy Sankaran, who as this year's designate for the Academy's Sangita Kalanidhi, will preside over the 85 conference.

The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

He also launched the second volume of the ‘Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini' and released a souvenir.

Mr. Trichy Sankaran, who is based in Toronto, said it was gratifying to be the first recipient of the Sangita Kalanidhi title in the ‘Pudukkottai parampara' of his guru Palani Subramania Pillai.

Being unobtrusive was integral to the art of accompaniment, he said, and the accompanist should feel the melodic progression at every stage and be able to respond and provide enhancement.

Earlier, mridangam exponent Sangita Kalanidhi T.K. Murthy proposed the election by acclamation of Mr. Trichy Sankaran as president of the 85 conference, and Sangita Kalanidhi C. Saroja seconded him.

Music Academy president N. Murali said the Academy could take credit for pioneering the Margazhi music festival in Chennai, which had evolved into a wondrous phenomenon that greatly enriched the cultural underpinning of the city over the last eight decades, and was unparalleled for its sheer size, aesthetics, quality and undiluted classicism.

The Music Academy and the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS) exchanged a memorandum of understanding on education and training in Carnatic music, drafting of syllabus and training of teachers.

SIFAS president P. Selvadurai and K.V. Krishna Prasad and N. Ramji, secretaries, Music Academy, participated.

A concert by Sangita Kalanidhi R. Vedavalli followed.