Friday Review » Music

Updated: March 21, 2013 17:23 IST

Class apart

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Violinist Kanyakumari in concert. Photo: S.S. Kumar
The Hindu
Violinist Kanyakumari in concert. Photo: S.S. Kumar

Yet another feather will be added to violinist Kanyakumari’s cap for her lifetime service.

“I have no ambition or goal; my only desire is that I should play the violin till my last breath,” says A. Kanyakumari, violin exponent, whose career spans five decades. She executes with élan new concepts that showcase the violin as an instrument as versatile as the voice.

Kanyakumari is a great campaigner for instruments. “There is abundant talent. Instrumentalists should be given opportunities. Accomplished players never fail to draw audience,” she contends.

First lady accompanist (violinist) to cross the shore with MLV, she played with Kadri Gopalnath at the Albert Hall, London, and more recently at the Kennedy Centre, Washington. And she is one of the few female violinists, perhaps the only one from Andhra Pradesh, to have played solo for The Music Academy.

Rapport with artists

“An accompanist should not remain in the shadows,” Kanyakumari asserts. He or she can give a lot to elevate the concert. She quotes MLV in this context: ‘I don’t miss a support vocalist with you around,’ MLV would say. It was a challenge keeping pace with her improvisations. I learnt so much in the process. In fact it is to her I owe everything. I shared a fine rapport with the Bombay Sisters and R. Vedavalli too.”

Kanyakumari’s innovations do not breach tradition; on the other hand they stand testimony to the allowance it gives an artist endowed with imagination. “Panchabootam that I presented during the Season has been a great hit. Wherever I go, the audience wants me to play that RTP based on kritis. It is nothing but re-invention, which I enjoy doing,” says Kanyakumari for whom Tirupati Balaji is Father, Mahalakshmi Mother and the shrine a source of inspiration.

Her best contribution to the field, however, is the legion of disciples Kanyakumari has produced. She is eager to share her knowledge, determined to keep the legacy alive. “I learnt so much from my gurus, who were so generous. Ivaturi Vijeswara Rao, M. Chandrasekharan and MLV were giants, who wouldn’t hold back anything. ‘Don’t imitate, carve out your own style,’ was MLV’s advice that has stood me in good stead.”

A significant aspect is that none of Kanyakumari’s disciples is a clone. Each is accomplished and has a style of his own. “Individuality is very important,” states the teacher.

Recipient of several awards, Kanyakumari will be adorned with another on Saturday. Shanmukhapriya and Sarvani Sangita Sabha will confer the Lifetime Achievement Award at a function (5 p.m.) to be held at the Narada Gana Sabha Main Hall.

The ceremony will be followed by a Musical Feast of Violins by Kanyakumari and her disciples.

Can one expect something special from the veteran? “Of course,” she laughs.

“We are presenting western tunes in female ragas, all my compositions, including the one I composed for the golden jubilee of our Independence.” They are accompanied by Shertalai R. Ananthakrishnan, Bangalore B. Rajasekar and Krishna Kishore.

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