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Nirmala Sundararajan.   | Photo Credit: R_Shivaji Rao

TTK Award from The Music Academy

It was in an atmosphere soaked in music that Nirmala Sundararajan grew up in Tiruchi. Tutelage under M.S. Soundarammal was serious business although young Nirmala did not realise the value of that rigorous training as she confessed later. Marriage to Sundararajan took Nirmala first to Neyveli and later to Calcutta. She made trips to Madras for lessons with Ramnad Krishnan until Sundararajan took a transfer to Madras.

A disciple of T. Brinda and Mukta, Nirmala was Muktamma’s vocal support for 20 years. A repository of the compositions of the Trinity, her repertoire includes over a hundred padams and javalis apart from a rich cache of Tamil songs.

Festive occasions at her home found celebrities such as Semmangudi and K.V. Narayanaswami performing. Balasaraswati dropped in for a chat and ended up singing sometimes along with abhinaya. Nirmala’s learning never stopped as she happily sat for the class along with daughter Subhashini Parthasarathy. And she finished her doctorate after Subhashini obtained her Ph.D.

“It won't be true to say I didn't want to become a big kutcheri performer. But it just didn't happen, though I did present even four-hour concerts in Kerala and Bombay. I think I didn't know how to do it, though I knew every musician and sabha secretary. Somehow, performance didn't seem as important as singing and learning,” she had opened up in an interview to this supplement a few years ago.

Choosing to settle down in the temple town of Kancheepuram, Nirmala visits Chennai to conduct workshops. Apart from being a professional “A” grade artist of All India Radio, Nirmala has to her credit hundreds of concerts given all over India, besides two broadcasts over the BBC, London and a concert for the London Tamil Sangam. She has also toured the U.S. presenting concerts, including Cleveland, and lecture-demonstrations. She is also noted for having tuned many Divya Prabhandam pasurams and the slokas of Vedanta Desika.

During her career, Nirmala has received several awards. These include the Fellowship of the Government of India, Department of Culture, for the years 1989 to 1991, Acharya Ratnakara in 2012 from the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana, U.S., the T. Mukta Memorial Award in 2014 from Chennai Fine Arts, Gana Kala Siromani – Manargudi Sambasiva Bhagvatar Memorial Award in 2014 from Thiagaraja Vidwath Samajam, and the Devakottai Narayana Iyengar Memorial Award in 2015 from Hamsadwani.

She co-heads the Music School, Vani Gurukulam at Vani Mahal, Chennai, run by Sri Tyaga Brahma Gana Sabha. During her time here, she has trained more than 30 students at an advanced level.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 6:04:22 PM |

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