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Updated: April 26, 2014 17:43 IST

On a winning spree

G. SWAMINATHAN
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Ashwath Narayanan
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Ashwath Narayanan

Budding Carnatic vocalist Ashwath Narayanan is a fine combination of talent and confidence.

He is young and his credentials are remarkable. Think of any reality show in Classical music on television and Ashwath Narayanan has emerged the winner. Also on the list is The Hindu–Saregama MS Subbulakshmi Award 2013.

Ashwath has been performing for a while now in all the sabhas. In fact, during a concert in the December Music Fest, a woman sitting next to exclaimed, “Don’t you think this young singer is excellent?” even as Ashwath neatly rounded off his swaras for ‘Ninne Nammithi’ in Simhendramadyamam.

I smiled and nodded and felt such spontaneous sharing of appreciation with a total stranger happens only when the music touches the heart of the listener. That is Ashwath Narayanan’s music for you.

In a tête-à-tête, this student who hails from the school of the legendary Palghat K.V. Narayanaswami, talks about his aspirations, inspiration and his world of Carnatic music. Excerpts:

On his Guru KVN…

I started music lessons with him when I was eight. I was asked to learn the basics from Jayalakshmi Sundararajan and then went to KVN Sir for varnam. He started with the Sankarabharanam varnam. He was a simple person and an affectionate teacher. Despite his stature in the Carnatic world, he would often come down to my level to help me understand the nuances of the kritis and ragas. He was a spontaneous artist and his imagination so fertile that every time, he sang a particular kriti, he would add new sangatis and flourishes. Now my guide is his wife, Padma Narayanaswami.

On his winning spree…

Each contest was a great learning experience. Most of the judges, who are seniors in the field, were appreciative and encouraged me in every way. That inspired me to give it my best.

On his special interest in Carnatic music…

The devotion aspect of this genre is special. The extraordinary detailing given to gamakam amazes me a lot. It is not just for entertainment but also for enlightenment.

The balancing act between profession and passion…

I am an engineering graduate and work with as a data analyst with Latent View Analytics. It is an emerging new area of analysis and I like my profession. Further, it provides me enough time to pursue my passion.

On singing for films…

I have sung film hits at college functions and in inter-college culturals. But, I have not been approached for playback singing. I think it needs a different voice and style. However, given a chance, I will give it a shot.

On competition…

I listen to all musicians, both seniors and my contemporaries. Every concert is enriching as you learn new ideas or sangati or swara patterns. True, there are many fresh performers on the scene today. Luckily, there are several new sabhas as well and so we are all able to slots. There is no competition but many opportunities.

On future plans…

At this point in time, I cannot afford to take music as a full time profession. Besides, I like my job and have the luxury of pursuing both my profession and passion. My aim is to establish myself in the music field with unique style my own, that simple and straight from my heart.

Other interests…

I am crazy about movies; I watch a lot of films in English and Tamil. I love to hang out with my friends.

When melody met math

The Palghat K.V. Narayanaswami Day concert of the Hamsadhwani Annual Music and Drama Festival featured Ashwath Narayanan’s vocal recital. , an up and coming disciple of KVN.Ashwath Narayanan’s music brims with confidence and vitality. His robust and compliant voice lent maturity to this youngster’s elevated his concert. from that of a fresher’s presentation to the close level of a matured artist to a great extent. He gave a refreshing start with the Khambodi Ata Tala Varnam ‘Sarasijanaba’ in three speeds. gave a majestic start. A sweet ‘Paripalayamam’ (Swati Tirunal) in Ritigowla led to the raga essay of Varali. It’s a melody that carries a sombre tenor and Ashwath handled it with assiduousness. through expressive madyama kala phrases and weighty ones at the lower registers. ‘Seshachala Nayakam’ of Dikshitar with customary niraval and swaras at ‘Aravinda Badra Nayanam’ matched the flavour of the rest of the concert. A swift raga sketch of Nagaswaravali and ‘Sripathey’ of Tyagaraja with exciting swara combines came as a filler.In the main raga Kharaharapriya, . Here, one could see the vision of Ashwath where he scored over by detailing the raga with aesthetic flights, glides and stopovers. in the right junctures and correct measures. Tyagaraja’s ‘Pakkala Nilabadi’ had its allowance of niraval on ‘Manasuna’ with a complex chain of swaras expertly woven and wrapped up.Violinist Narmada seems to be encouraging young singers of late with her inspiring violin accompaniment. Her quick and matching repartees in Nagaswaravali, Varali swaras and Kharaharapriya exhibited her extraordinary musical sense and bonhomie with the young generation. R. Sanakaranarayanan and Nerkunam Sankar on the mridangam and the ganjira, respectively, fit in the team work with perfection.The other inclusions in Ashwath’s concert were ‘Suma Sayakha’ Karnataka Kapi pada varnam, and ‘Saagara Sayana’ in Bageshri, both by Swati Tirunal, and Tiruppavai ‘Oruthi Maganai’ in Behag.G.S.

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