The 18-year-old Ramakrishnan Murthy, made quite an impression on listeners at Gayana Samaja. The shy young man says he has a long way to go
I feel uneasy to be labelled an NRI musician, I would rather be referred to as a musician based in the U.S.,” says vocalist Ramakrishnan Murthy, all of 18. He bagged a special three-hour concert at Bangalore Gayana Samaja last weekend. “I feel really nice,” is Ramakrishnan’s modest reaction, his confident persona coming across admirably on stage.
Ramakrishnan had crossed the Atlantic as a toddler when his father decided to continue his software vocation in the U.S. The shy teenager recalls instances where he was attracted to every kind of music as a kid. “Nobody ever forced me into joining regular music classes, but the pull towards melody was rather innate,” says the B.S. Computer Science student of the University of California.
Just when Ramakrishnan entered the portals of his school for academic study, he had concurrently flagged off his music lessons with Padma Kutty in Los Angeles. In 2001, he came under the well-known violinist Delhi Sunderarajan, and became his first vocal student, as Sunderarajan was adept at vocal music too. Ramakrishnan’s advanced lessons under his “primary guru” proved a delectable platter that offered him a taste of every aspect associated with serious presentation approaches. “Neither did my guru insist on exhausting early morn practice sessions, nor was he the kind to force me into stipulated hours of homework. He sensed the passion in me, and ushered me into a world where I got acclimatised with not only ragas, talas, kritis and composers, but gradually got acquainted to the nuances and gradations that any serious musician should be aware of. My lessons still go on, I am still at the fringe and yet to taste the vast melody…,” he says.
Ramakrishnan’s concert had a variety of scales and composers and what made it appreciable was his inclusion of several Kannada kritis that was testimony to his perceptible packaging. But that was not all, he had vilamba kala and madhyamakala pieces for the traditional connoisseur and this set a balanced pace for three hours.
Purandaradasa’s “Jaya Jaya Jaya Janakikanta” in Natta was threaded with a good swara-prasthara. Slipping into fast-paced and breezy numbers, “Abhimanam Ennathu” and “Marivera dikkevaraiya Rama” of Tyagaraja proved apt ‘in-betweeners’ as they contain rapid passages of swara and sahitya, because, what came up next was an unhurried “Yenna Rakshiso Ninu Devara Deva” of Purandaradasa in Shubhapantuvarali. And what a treat that was! Call it the frills, brigas, gamakas, light touches or dressings, the raga delineation had it all weaved so artistically that every phrase brought out some novel feature of the raga. Not surprising that the young man got the Chennai Krishna Gana Sabha Award for best raga rendition last year.
Sriranjani too had its enjoyable moments amid some varied swaramala with an accent on Dhaivata for Thyagaraja’s “Bhuvini Daasudana”, even as his full-throated rendition in the upper octaves in Khamboji elaboration was welcome. And Ramakrishnan should bring such open-mouthed delineations more often to his alapana as it opens up more vistas to his raga expanses amidst his akaara and ukaara treatments. Confidence is Ramakrishnan’s USP. For, the young man is positive that India would be his base for pursuing his passion as “it’s conducive” to his lifestyle.