When the wind is high

L. Vijayagopal

L. Vijayagopal  

From being an orthodontist to playing the flute for A.R. Rahman, musician B. Vijayagopal has come a long way

Flautist-cum-singer B. Vijayagopal’s home was always abuzz with discussions around classical music. Yet, choosing to become a full-time musician was a gamble, considering he had studied to be an orthodontist, and was a gold medallist at that.

Now, Chennai-based Vijayagopal, who spent his early years in Hyderabad, says he is happy that he managed to balance his passion and profession for a few years till he made the final switch to music.

He recently delighted Carnatic music aficionados in Hyderabad with a scintillating flute jugalbandi along with veteran Ronu Majumdar as part of SICA’s annual music fest.

Speaking to MetroPlus just before the concert, Vijayagopal shares that he is in a happy space, what with multiple awards at state (TN) and national levels, regular classical concerts and a stint as lead musician in two bands, besides playing the flute for both A.R. Rahman and Harris Jayaraj. His latest film was Gautham Menon’s Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo.

Initially, after he quit his medical practice, he says the lack of a formal routine worried him. “The fact that I had a lot of time for music enabled me to be more disciplined. I knew where I wanted to go.” That’s when he began to venture beyond classical music, experimenting with indie and film arenas.

On balancing his instrumentalist and vocalist sides, he says, “It’s tough to say how it all started. Being an instrumentalist taught me an abstract way of approaching music. While learning music from my aunt and grandfather, I was always asked to vocalise whatever I played on an instrument. Then some people told me I sing well and I took that seriously. Anyway, ultimately it’s all music. Discussing music with my contemporaries and reflecting on my style are the biggest highs I can ever get. I’ve literally grown up with it, so music doesn’t feel like work at all.”

Discussing preparing for a concert, he says, “I am as chilled out as I can ever be. Bonding with dad over a cricket match like today. And not over eating (laughs). I am prepared musically, well in advance, to know what to expect from the concert, though it may or may not turn out the way I expect.”

He believes awards are gratifying when one doesn’t chase them. “I never perform for an award (that defeats the purpose of music!), but if you’re given something as a by-product for the work you’ve done, why not?”

Getting youngsters interested in classical music is a challenge, he says. “I hear people say ‘let’s popularise something like mathematics and music and make it accessible to the young’. But however much you do it, aspects like aptitude, interest and background play a big role. As a musician, you can’t water down aesthetics merely to ensure mass appeal. A lot of my friends, who’re fans of classical music, regret not taking it up much earlier in their lives.”

His role as a music teacher keeps him young, active and open to new trends and styles.” I try to pass on what my gurus did to me; teach them the grammar and the basic structure and allow them to develop a style of their own. That’s how I benefited from my lessons, I hope my students feel that too.”

Off music, he’s an avid adventure junkie. He treks and has biked from Chennai to Leh, Chennai to Mumbai. “I like to take my time off to do things that I really like to do. While my time with bands is one, I binge-read too,” he signs off.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 6:43:05 AM |

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