In the world of classical music fraught with disagreements, one of the topics on which you will find little divergence is the greatness of mridangam artiste Palghat Mani Iyer. Even in his lifetime, connoisseurs were saying that he was one in a century, that the artiste to equal his contribution to Carnatic music would not be born for decades to come. And now, in his centenary year, that reputation intact, the late maestro will be remembered with performances not only in the country but by organisations committed to classical music across the world.
It is to Mani Iyer that the art of mridangam accompaniment as it is known today owes a great deal. Mani Iyer was credited with embellishing a vocal concert with the right kind of percussion to suit the requirements of the songs. A website dedicated to the maestro, http://www.palghatmaniiyer.org, lists the programmes so far arranged to mark his centenary.
The line-up begins in Chennai at the Music Academy on January 28. The programme includes the release of a special audio CD of the maestro. Other highlights include a talk by Vidwan T.K. Murthy and a presentation by Mani Iyer's son, mridangam maestro T.R. Rajamani. There will also be a mridangam solo in Thayambaka style by Vidwan Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman.
In Mumbai, the Shanmukhananda Sabha presents Karaikudi Mani on February 24. A festival in Palakkad on March 2, 3 and 4 features Trichy Sankaran, Umayalpuram Sivaraman, A.K. Palanivel, and Zakir Hussain.
In the U.S., the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana scheduled for April has also planned programmes to observe the centenary.