The third Pandit Amarnath Vaggeyakar Samman will be presented to multifaceted classical dancer Swapnasundari this evening

While many may term themselves ‘pandits’, there are not too many, in this age of self-promotion, who would actually qualify for the epithet, which by definition implies exclusivity. Similar is the case with the term vaggeyakara, which refers to a composer who does not merely set words to music, but one who holistically creates poetry that is set to raga and tala. Of the vaggeyakaras of past epochs, the Carnatic ‘trinity’ of Tyagaraja, Muttuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri is well known, a large number of their compositions having survived to this day. Others, like Jayadeva, too were vaggeyakaras in the complete sense, but the musical notation of their original compositions has not survived.

The late Pandit Amarnath, a prime disciple of the great Ustad Amir Khan, was also known as a holistic creator, as was his guru — Sufi artists whose deeply philosophical thoughts have come down to us in their classical compositions in the form of Khayal bandishes. To honour such artists in our midst today, the Pandit Amarnath Memorial Foundation — spearheaded by vocalist Bindu Chawla, daughter and disciple of Pandit Amarnath —instituted the Pandit Amarnath Vaggeyakar Samman in 2011. This Thursday sees the presentation of the third Samman to Vidushi Swapnasundari, whose eligibility for the title would be hard to question. Adept at Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Vilasini Natyam — having researched and brought the latter art form to the stage in a big way — as well as Carnatic music, literature and the shastras related to the arts and temple worship, she is also an author, and her vocal and dance abilities — performance, composition or teaching — are considered at par.

The first Vaggeyakar Samman went to Kathak maestro, poet, choreographer and multifaceted musician Pandit Birju Maharaj, while the second one was conferred on Ustad Rais Khan the Pakistan-based sitar exponent. The presentation of the IIIrd Pandit Amarnath Vaggeyakar Samman to Vidushi Swapnasundari will take place at the India International Centre auditorium. Litterateur Ashok Vajpeyi will present the award. The ceremony will be followed by a 45-minute vocal concert by Bindu Chawla and a Vilasini Natyam recital by Swapnasundari. The programme begins at 6.15 p.m.