Perspective Music

Carnatic’s Nobel

Sheik Chinna Moulana and Harikatha exponent and Sanskrit scholar Embar Vijayaragavachariyar at the latter’s home in Srirangam.  

One announcement that is eagerly looked forward to this season every year by rasikas is the Sangita Kalanidhi designate — named by the Madras Music Academy.

The awards last year and the year before and the current award are in favour of exceptionally brilliant artistes. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Kanyakumari and Ravikiran have nothing more to prove themselves, having achieved perfection in the art, if at all it is possible.

Above prejudice

Once upon a time, critics used to make fun of the Academy as Vocal Academy. It is no longer true. Successive years have seen instrumentalists receiving the award. The Academy always rises above caste and religious prejudices. Sheikh Chinna Moulana got a standing ovation when he rendered Mamava Pattabhirama during his Sangita Kalanidhi concert. Also the Academy invited K.J. Yesudas to perform.

Nor can the Academy be accused of gender prejudice. About a dozen leading lady artistes have been decorated with the award. Many more are queuing up. Can the selections be faulted on any ground?

It is generally the unanimous decision of the expert group. In the years ahead, we can look forward to Kerala and Karnataka artistes also being honoured. For instance, Dr. Omanakutty of Thiruvananthapuram and R.K. Padmanabha of Mysore.

If there has been an omission, it is the failure to consider a Harikatha exponent for the award. Embar Vijyaraghavachariar was the last one honoured.

At present, we have the doyen Kalyanapuram Aravamudhachar, who captivates the audience with his voice, erudition and masterly delivery. Why not consider Villupattu for the award? Subbu Arumugam is absolutely traditional and delights the audience.

A significant omission is Veena Gayathri. Mandolin Shrinivas would have got the award had he been alive. Kadri Gopalnath of Mysore has established the saxophone on a firm footing.

What about Andhra Pradesh? Kanyakumari may have roots in Andhra but for all practical purposes she is a Madrasi. A State, which produced veterans such as Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, Balamurali Krishna, Pinakapani and Nedunuri Krishnamurthi seems to be lost, not being able to trace its cultural moorings probably because of the separation of the State.

Amaravathi will take a decade to bloom. Emperor Napoleon was once told that there was not much culture in Paris. The Emperor promptly asked what the Minister for Culture was doing. Chandrababu Naidu is no Napoleon. But is a patron of arts. The Carnatic music world can expect a miracle from him.

One not enough

There is enough promise in Vijayawada and Vizag — Malladi Brothers and Pantula Rama for example.

Perhaps, one award is not enough. Selecting two or three eminent artistes to share the award, as done in Oslo, could be considered.

The Academy once contemplated honouring Pt. Ravishankar. That did not materialise. There is no ban on conferring the award on Hindustani classical artistes. That will lend an all India image to the award.

Not many are aware that the Academy has a centre at Tumkur University for Carnatic music. The facility could be extended to Dharwar and Gwalior.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 10:44:30 PM |

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