ARTIST - N.GIRIDHARA UDUPA

INSTRUMENT - GHATAM

Your connection with The December Fest…

Coming to Chennai and staying here for 15 days is something I look forward every year. Rest of the year, I globetrot on concert tours. The Season is like a home-coming for me. All rivers in India are sacred yet bathing in Ganges is considered most auspicious. Similarly, playing in Chennai is like taking a dip in the Ganges.

Whom are you accompanying?

R.K.Srikantan, Bombay Jayashri, Mandolin U. Shrinivas, Jayanthi Kumaresh, Ganesh-Kumaresh and many others.

An unforgettable experience…

As a 10 year old, and for many years thereafter, my father and guru mridangam vidwan U. Nagendra Udupa, used to bring me to Chennai during December only to listen to stalwarts. Even though we did not know ganjira maestro G. Harishankar, we would regularly attend all his concerts. I consider him as my mentor. Once after a concert of his at the Indian Fine Arts, we spotted him rushing in an auto-rickshaw for his next concert. We were new to Chennai and did not know the routes too well. We too rushed out of IFAS and jumped into another auto to catch up with him. I still remember my father shouting at the driver to follow the auto which Harishankar had taken. Finally we arrived at Narada Gana Sabha to listen to his next recital. It was a thrilling experience.

ARTIST -- KUMBAKONAM SARAVANAN

INSTRUMENT-- MRIDANGAM

Your thoughts on this grand music festival?

For me, it’s a golden opportunity to meet musicians. As we grow older, our music too matures. Similarly, the way we appreciate Carnatic music too changes every Season. The performance bar is raised and higher goals are set. The Season helps us move towards those goals.

Whom are you accompanying?

I am playing for O.S. Arun, Vasudha Ravi, Dr. Sundar and many other vidwans.

What’s special?

We are extremely happy that the importance of laya is being recognised and sabhas have organised exclusive laya-based programmes during the Season.

ARTIST -- S.V. RAMANI

INSTRUMENTS -- GHATAM AND MRIDANGAM

What does this time of year mean to you?

First and foremost, the camaraderie that exists among artists is palpable. Meeting vidwans and exchanging pleasantries with them is a high point. Also playing at as many concerts as we can is important.

You are playing for…

I am accompanying Malladi Brothers, Mandolin U. Shrinivas, G.J.R.Krishnan, O.S. Arun and others.

The Season special…

I treat every Season as an examination. Vidwans showcase their best and therefore, every concert becomes a challenge. Playing with seniors such as Srimushnam Raja Rao and Mannargudi A Easwaran is a blessing; it’s a dream I’ve nurtured for about 25 years now, which has come true. Apart from playing the ghatam, I also enjoy the ragas performed by the main artist; which is a great opportunity. I have also started playing the mridangam and Neyveli Santhanagopalan is encouraging me a lot. My father Palakkad R. Seshamani, himself an mridangam vidwan, has trained me. So I play a dual role!