Having critiques at home helped, says Carnatic music talent hunt winner Ashwath Narayanan

Another hunt for a Carnatic singing talent in the State has ended with Ashwath Narayanan from Shastra University. Winner of the Tanishq Swarna Sangeetham, this third-year Biotechnology student is excited about his win.

Ashwath has been learning music for the last 14 years, and found out about the competition online. “I've been learning music since I was six, from Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy initially and later from his wife Padma Narayanaswamy. I found out about Swarna Sangeetham on a social networking site, and my friends egged me on to try it. I live in Thanjavur and wondered if it would be possible for me to travel to and fro for the competition, but with permission from my college, I was able to do it,” he says.

13-week competition

The competition went on for 13 weeks, dwelling on a variety of themes for film-, Classical- and composer-based rounds. “We were given the theme a week in advance, and so we had time to work on it. The judges also helped us when we approached them. I contended from Tiruchirapalli, and there were two more zones where the preliminary rounds happened — Chennai and Coimbatore. We were about 90 people and everyone was really good. Around 45 of us got through to the main rounds, of which three of us reached the finals. The competition was tough throughout.”

Born into a musical family, Ashwath's toughest critiques were at home. “My aunt is my teacher, and everyone at home was always telling me how to improve. I'd get feedback from the judges too after the show, and I'd come home to even more suggestions. This helped me get better,” he says.

Ashwath sang in raga Nalinakanthi in the final, and was declared the winner. “On the morning of the finals, the three of us (finalists) were discussing what we were going to sing, and I realised the song I had prepared was relatively simple. I wondered if I had made a mistake; I even told my family not to expect much. When I won, they were so excited. Right now, my aim is to finish my studies; I haven't thought too much ahead.”