“I want to use the talent God has given me by sharing it with the world,” says percussion maestro Sivamani, humility shining through. He was in the city last week to address the 48th Bengaluru Ganesha Utsav press conference. In his characteristic showman style, he charmed the audience with an impromptu performance. He created a melodious tune by simultaneously drumming on a table, lightly tapping on a glass and playing a tune on his mobile phone.
At age 12, Sivamani gave his first stage performance. Under the able guidance of S.P. Balasubramaniam, he became a musician to be reckoned with.
“I started my career on December 6, 1975. Since then, I have composed music for Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and some Kannada films too.” He has collaborated with renowned national and international musicians from Ustaad Zakir Hussain and Louiz Banks to Noel Grant and Billy Cobham. His most successful collaboration has been with veteran Indian music director A.R. Rahman for “Bombay Dreams” and“Slumdog Millionaire”.
“When I first started my career, I did not see a gathering of the press like this. But today, the media is doing a lot to promote young talent,” says Sivamani. He has plans to encourage young talent by establishing a music school or gurukul.
His band Asia Electrik, which includes Louiz Banks, Niladri Kumar and Ravi Chari, plays raga-based music interspersed with western tunes and orchestration. The band has earned accolades and critical acclaim. The Ganesh Utsav is a special event for Sivamani. He has been performing in it since he was 17. “I first performed with S.P. Balasubramaniam in this festival. It was a big blessing. I started performing solo for this event with Shree Ganesha's blessings.” For Sivamani, “music is divine”. “When I play in temples and festivals such as the Ganesh Utsav, I feel like I am performing for the Almighty. Magic happens. Nature inspires me. I find rhythm everywhere around me.”
This year he will be performing with his troupe members Steven Devassy and Bala Bhaskar at the 12-day long Ganesh Utsav to be held in September. Devassy is a well-known pianist who has composed music for the Indian music industry while Bala Bhaskar is a violinist who has promoted fusion music in south India.
A combination of these three illustrious musicians will ensure a musical treat for Bangaloreans on September 15 at APS College Grounds, Basavanagudi.