Umpire Dickie Bird’s call during cricket matches was this: “It’s time for Tea.” >Margazhi.org, a young platform for connecting culturally conscious people, had another call and another agenda - “It’s time for a chat:” an camaraderie exercise where the Artist of the Month (AOM) meets rasikas for an informal tête-à-tête. Some of the artistes featured previously included Ranjani-Gayatri, Vijay Siva and Jayanthi Kumaresh.
On September 21, it was S. Sowmya’s turn. She shared her thoughts, ideas and ideals in a candid talk that touched everybody’s heart!
Sowmya humbly acknowledged the influence of her early role models and gurus – her father Dr. Srinivasan, a chemical engineer, and her gurus Dr. S. Ramanathan (SR) and Mukthamma. “No conversation of mine can happen without the reverential mention of this threesome.” She shared an endearing anecdote about how SR would scold. “He never got angry even for a moment. All he would do was say “Makku”. It’s a trait that I have not learnt from him.” She recalled the contribution of people such as Brinda-Muktha who taught so many people, rendering yeoman service to keep alive their lineage and traditions.
Sowmya is one of the pioneers in bringing about the concept of e-gurukulam live. Here, she spoke of the pivotal role played by vocalist Sashikiran, along with whom she started Carnatica.com. She felt that personal interaction and sharing are requisites before one can use the tools of technology. She also admitted that Internet and technology have made teaching possible across the globe. “You can connect from where ever you are.” For enthusiasts around the world, this is definitely a good thing and rewarding too.
Sowmya said that the seeking knowledge was a “given” in her life. A beautiful perspective she shared was, that her work is like being surrounded by the ocean; she cannot sight the shore. “There is so much to see and explore.” She felt an enquiry and rigorous research into the history of music need not be classified as a different pursuit to her work as a musician. Studying the history of music or a raga helps connect the dots and enhance her musical exploration. She feels that all this does translate into her music on and off stage. And she is still a learner……she doing her M.A. in Sanskrit now!
Sowmya was asked about her evolution as a musician over 30 years – she places music ahead of herself and that has helped project her music rather than herself as a person
Sowmya was quizzed about her non-musical pursuits and her friends in the music world. She said she still loves to attend the concerts of others. It also emerged that Sowmya is an accomplished cook and loves plants; she has surrounded her home with greenery and often talks and sings to them.
What does she expect from her audience? Her reply, “People must come to concerts with an open mind - receptive to the ideas and the performance.” She also felt that there is no dearth of information on music with archives and libraries now being open and re-organised for the benefit of music students and researchers. She urged more and more people to attend lec-dems related to music as sharing knowledge is a great way to take our arts forward.
Did Sowmya sing? Most definitely. “Vinave O Manasa” (Vivardhani) and “Swagatham Krishna” in Mohanam. The second was a listener’s request. And frankly one wished the session never ended…