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Craving for Carnatic notes

Suganthy Krishnamachari
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Meet Dr. Sivakumar, whose twin passions are music and management. Suganthy Krishnamachari

Dr. V. Sivakumar.PHOTO: S. THANTHONI
Dr. V. Sivakumar.PHOTO: S. THANTHONI

“Life is incomplete if one doesn't have a taste for the fine arts,” says Dr. Sivakumar, retired Professor of Management from the U.S. His exposure to music began in the village of Kulithalai. “The Panchayat board president was a rich man, and he would get the best vidwans of the day to sing in our village,” he recalls.

Later, Sivakumar moved to Delhi, where he continued to listen to concerts at the Carnataca Sangeetha Sabhai and Shanmugananda Sangeetha Sabha. He picked up from his father a love for religious discourses and theatre as well.

While doing his Masters in Mathematics at the Annamalai University, he would visit Chennai and listen to concerts.

What an idea!

On one occasion, he went to the Music Academy hoping to attend a concert by M.S. Subbulakshmi. But the tickets had been sold out. Just then he happened to meet a family friend, who introduced him to Ra. Ganapathy from Kalki . Sivakumar had read Ganapathy's ‘Arivukkanale Arutpunale,' a biography of Vivekananda. But Sivakumar exchanged a few words with Ganapathy, for he was preoccupied with somehow getting into the auditorium. Then an idea struck him. He walked up to the usher and said with bravado, “Did you notice I was just talking with Ra. Ganapathy from Kalki ?” The usher assumed that Sivakumar was from Kalki , and said, “Why didn't you tell me you were a correspondent? Take your seat in the Press enclosure!” That's how he got to listen to MS.

When he was working in Mumbai, and didn't have enough money to both attend a concert and have a decent dinner, he would munch on a carrot, but would not forego the pleasure of listening to his favourite musicians. Even on the night he was leaving for the U.S. for the first time, he attended a Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan concert at Mylapore Fine Arts!

And now, Dr. Sivakumar times his visits to India to coincide with the Music Season. What does he have to say about children in the U.S. learning music through Skype? “I think it's okay to kindle their interest through some beginners' lessons. But I don't think advanced classes should be done through Skype. The emotional aspects cannot be fully grasped by students learning through Skype.”

Commenting on the present day musicians, he says, “Some musicians don't create a mood of bhakti in the audience, something essential in our music.”

Favourite musicians? “I admire Ariyakudi for his brilliance. I am also fond of the music of Madurai Mani Iyer, K.V. Narayanaswamy, M.D. Ramanathan, MS and M.L. Vasanthakumari. But my all-time favourite is GNB.”


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