Music

'I want to take music to the common man'

V. Sankaranarayanan  

He has the the boyish looks of a Hindi film hero, sans the moustache. Even more unbelievable is the fact that he is the father of two children. Based in Singapore, V. Sankaranarayanan travels to India and elsewhere, balancing his roles as vice-president of an MNC bank and a Carnatic performer. Excerpts from an interview done during one of his recent visits to India:

The beginning…

My father N.V. Subramaniam was good at playing the violin. As his job at the Railways required him to move around India frequently, he could not pursue it further. Right from his student days at Madras Christian College, Tambaram, he was known to be a good organiser. When he moved to Hyderabad, he became the secretary, Kala Sagaram. For me, the connection with music started there when I was a child. Music became part of the household what with vidwans coming to Hyderabad for performances and visiting us at our house. Finally after moving to Chennai, Saraswathi and Saraswathi Vaggeyakara Trust were formed. Until recently, both these organisations were busy with regular performances. Only now the frequency of concerts has reduced. I was assigned the job of recording the concerts. That was really a good exposure for me.

Your guru…

Vaigal Gnanaskandan has been my guru for the past two decades. His training and my experience as a recording engineer have helped me gain deep insights into the realm of Carnatic music. My first full fledged concert for a Chennai sabha was with S. Varadarajan and B. Ganapathyraman. I was nine then and so were they.

Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan’s influence…

It was in 1984 that I first heard him in concert. I was just dumbfounded. What a musician he is. That concert changed my outlook completely. A family friend gave me another recording of TNS and that year, I must have listened to it over 150 times. I could not keep away from his music. I began to adopt his style, so much that many believed that I was his disciple. I must thank my guru Vaigal Gnanaskandan for sportingly allowing me to adopt the style of a saka vidwan and still continue to teach me.

The ingenuity of TNS…

He is a genius. His repertoire runs to many thousands… Kamba Ramayanam, Divya Prabandam and much more. He connects a verse from Kamba Ramayanam to a kriti of Tyagaraja effortlessly. We are fortunate to be able to soak in his his music during his lifetime.

Prof. T. R. Subramaniam…

I am learning the art of singing pallavis and niraval from him. He is a fount of knowledge on Carnatic music. The experience has been enriching. He has an invaluable wealth of padams and javalis, having travelled extensively in Andhra Pradesh to learn them.

Balancing a banking career and music…

I have been singing since the age of nine and have been performing since I was 14. However, my father wanted me to pursue education seriously. So I went on to complete my engineering and management courses, and joined a MNC bank. I got my A grade with AIR when I was 26. Once I got involved with my job, there was a lull in my music career. Although I was in Chennai, I hardly got time foster my music. My work took away almost 16 hours. Yet I decided to steal time and give at least 30 minutes to music daily. My transfer to Singapore came as a blessing. After a few years, I shifted to another division that allowed me to do work from remote locations too. This way, I have got to travel to India frequently and perform at festivals during Navarathri, December Season, and Sri Rama Navami. Today, I am able to devote at least 3 to 4 hours a day to music.

Teaching and organising…

I have also started teaching music for advanced learners. A great advantage of teaching is you get to practise the kriti and polish it further. I have also started an organisation called Music Circle, where chamber concerts are organised on special themes. The singer either delivers a lecture before or after the concert for about 30 minutes. I want to take our music to the common man without diluting its contents.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 6:37:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/I-want-to-take-music-to-the-common-man/article16120760.ece

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