The annual percussive arts festival and music conference Talavadhyotsav kicks off today

In the 1950s, noticing a young boy often attending the Gayana Samaja concerts, the president of the Samaja, V.T. Srinivasan asked if the boy had a ticket.

“Music is what I live for,” the embarrassed boy had said, showing his ticket. Moved by his passion, V.T.S. thrust a season pass into his hands.

From a boy who assisted vidwans by carrying their instruments, to a man who could feel and relate to every thump Bangalore K. Venkatram, rose to become a name to reckon with in the world of percussive beats.

Percussive Arts Centre is Venkatram’s brain child. The centre celebrates Talavadhyotsav, its 33rd Annual Percussive Arts Festival and Music Conference.

Venkatram had taken every step to see his centre grow. He invited stalwarts to perform, honoured seniors in the field, held lec-dems and seminars, brought out nearly 40 books on various aspects of percussion, released cassettes and CDs dedicated to ‘laya’, ran a one-of-its-kind periodical, and built a percussion ensemble, Laya Vrushti, to discover the potential of Indian percussive instruments.

“My father is fascinated with rhythm and has picked up nearly 25 instruments from Indian villages and highlighted them in tala vadhya cutcheris, says V. Krishna, mridangist Venkatram’s son. “My father learnt mridanga from K.S. Manjunath, but soon turned to ghata, as entry on stage was made easier with a host of mridanga stalwarts encouraging him. “My father travelled the length and breadth of the country with Palghat T.S. Mani Iyer and T. Chowdiah. Captivated by Mani Iyer’s blending of math and aesthetics, Venkatram adopted the pro-active attacking line of play onto his ghata.”

When people were apprehensive of the Percussive Arts Centre’s future after Venkatram’s demise in 2003, the then president of the Arts Centre, Nittur Srinivasa Rao insisted that Krishna takes over as executive director to carry forward the Venkatram’s work.

The Centre’s annual Talavadhyotsav would be inaugurated at 6 pm on July 10, at the Gayana Samaja. Apart from several concerts, lec-dems and awards, the three-day fest will see the presentation of the Bangalore K. Venkatram Memorial Award to Prof. S. R. Janakiraman.