Bowing to tradition


Mysore N. Karthik comes from a grand lineage of violinists. Exceptionally talented, Karthik is aware of his responsibilities in carrying the great legacy forward

Mysore N. Karthik enjoyed a distinctive position as a child prodigy. Born into a family of three generations of celebrated violinists, he enjoys a pre-eminent position of acquiring as legacy a musical tradition which is distinguished and legendary. Karthik is the grandson of the much-revered violinist Vidwan Prof. S. Mahadevappa. He is the son of violinist, Sangeet Samrat Mysore M. Nagraj and the nephew of Sangeeta Ratna Mysore M. Manjunath – three generations of classical violinists, hailing from Mysore.

Playing violin since the age of eight, Karthik has emerged as a promising violinist in the realm of Carnatic Music, making rapid progress with his musical acumen, prowess and technical virtuosity. He is one of the youngest musicians in India to be awarded an ‘A’ grade from All India Radio and Doordarshan, which is a significant recognition by the Government of India. Karthik has been performing in reputed sabhas and organisations such as NCPA Mumbai, Bangalore Gayana Samaja, Ramaseva Mandali Trust, the prestigious Dussehra Festival at Mysore Palace, the famous Bengaluru Ganesh Utsav and so on. Karthik performs duo and trio concerts with his father and uncle . He has accompanied various top leading musicians such as T.V. Sankaranarayanan, Ramani N., Shashank Subrahmaniam, Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam, Patri Satish Kumar, Vijay Prakash and Ustad Rashid Khan. Karthik is associated with ‘Layatharanga’, a percussion ensemble and with ‘Saagara’, a Carnatic Jazz group. He has travelled to many countries for concerts and workshops.

Excerpts from an interview with him.

Every artist will have influences, personal aspirations and challenges - can you talk about them?

Growing up in a musically rich family, it was only natural that I was majorly influenced and encouraged by it. Right from a very young age, I took to music and started learning violin and evidently it became my passion and goal.

Though like every youngster, cricket was a great attraction to me, violin took precedence over all other activities, because after seeing examples like my father and uncle, I realised that for one to gain mastery over a difficult instrument like violin, it takes that much dedication, discipline and a single-pointed attention.

My deep aspiration and dreams are to become like my father or at least try to meet him halfway. He is undoubtedly my role model. As a violinist the expectations on me are high, therefore there is an inevitable pressure, though I see it as a pleasurable pressure, as I have to keep the legacy going and maintain the high standard of music that my grandfather, father and uncle have set.

Apart from a highly musical background, was there any special person or experience that gave the required impetus to choose the violin?

My grandfather is the sole reason for whatever I am today. He was the mainstay behind my father and my uncle to emerge as two great violinists. He was the reason that there is a Mysore bani today. He is my first guru and my everything. I miss him a lot. In my childhood, he used to make me practice and sit with me for long hours. I’m really blessed to be born into this family. As it was violin that I grew up listening to, almost all the time in the house, it was an obvious choice. Nevertheless, when I play it now, I do feel that this is the right instrument for me, as it gives the joy and satisfaction a musician seeks. Given a choice I would still choose the violin over any other instrument. Violin has been and is integral to my living - a sort of mode of living.

Bowing to tradition

How do you feel when you play with your father Mysore M. Nagaraj and uncle Mysore Manjunath ? There must be a sense of privilege and responsibility.

Sharing the stage with my father and uncle in itself is an honour, rather a privilege I would say… I practice a lot before going on stage with them, as I get blown away by their mastery and skill. I like to handle this challenge in the best way possible – that is by raising my standards, trying to match up with them. They both mesmerise me on and off stage. Playing the violin, I feel requires a strong spirit and firmness of mind apart from a deep passion in heart.

What is the most useful advice you ever received from your father-guru? Can you share it with young students learning violin?

I get to learn a lot during every practice session with my father and I am always awe struck with his musical knowledge and mastery over the instrument. Though he is my father, I hold him in the same respect and awe that one reserves for a guru, a mentor, because he is the one who led me firmly, yet gently into the beautiful world of music through violin, helped me develop the nuanced understanding of this wonderful instrument. He is always behind me supporting me as I make forays into farther horizons. My practice sessions with him are so valuable that I consider each session a master class. He always says that ‘along with practice, we need to listen to a lot of good music’. He says, it is from listening that we learn the nuances and improve our quality of music. I follow the same, it is indeed something that every student of music should follow.

Over the years, did you develop your own style?

Each musician has his own individuality. You must grasp the good techniques and add your own flavour to it – which is my endeavour always.

Being a part of the Carnatic-Jazz group, ‘Saagara’ comprising many leading musicians help you gain ground to establish yourself as a sought-after violinist and fusion artist?

Yes, most definitely. ‘Saagara’ comprises great artists like Ghatam Giridhar Udupa and Waclaw Zimpel. This band has gained a lot popularity across Europe. Being part of this band, I get exposed to Jazz. To play with Jazz artists, I need to work a lot on my bowing and fingering techniques. I have toured with the band to the Witold Lutoslawski Concert Studio of Polish Radio, Warsaw, Wrocław Philharmonic Hall, National Forum of Music, CK Zamek, Krakow Jazz Atumn Festival, Jazztopad Festival at Poland, Lviv Philharmonic Hall, Jazz Bez Festival at Ukraine and Bimhuis at Amsterdam.

Bowing to tradition

I have toured with many other eminent artists to Qatar, Denmark, Germany. I have travelled across USA for concerts and workshops.

The growing competition in the classical music scenario with so many talented artists sprouting from everywhere, how do you intend to carve a niche for yourself?

Every big concert I perform in, motivates me to practice and become better. Yes, there is competition in the field, which is a good thing, if taken in the right spirit, because healthy competition provides the right impetus to keep working to excel oneself. I ensure that whatever appreciation I receive does not stand in the way of my progress as a musician nor the adulation I receive will act as a hindrance to it. I want my parents’ heart to swell with pride by my deeds. And, in my musical journey, the part played by my grandmother and mother is also significant as they are the pillars of our family.

Bowing to tradition

Without their support, it wouldn’t have been possible to involve ourselves or rather immerse ourselves in music to this extent. They have always managed everything with composure and grace. My family is my biggest motivator I must say…

What have been your ‘aha’ moments of satisfaction and inspiration recently?

Firstly, I am very thankful that I have had the golden opportunity of sharing the dais with the legendary Ustad Rashid Khan, whom I wanted to meet in person at least once and I got to perform with him in Ganesh Utsav 2019 – a dream come true moment for me.

Very recently, I went on a tour to Sweden and Denmark with the great ghatam maestro Giridhar Udupa. We had a series of concerts and workshops. It is always an amazing experience to perform with him.

Despite his immense popularity and success, Mysore N . Karthik stands with his feet firm on the ground. Karthik can be classified as a culturally rooted and globally recognised violinist.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 9:38:21 PM |

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