‘Artists are highly sensitive’

I feel one needs to work diligently to excel. Practice should be rigorous, says Ramakrishnan Murthy. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Rising star

He may look incredibly young and amiable at close quarters; but, he speaks with commendable maturity.

Ramakrishnan Murthy’s views are definitive and clear like his music; nothing tentative or meandering. Murthy migrated from the Indian Youths’ Eldorado, U.S.A. to Chennai for pursuing his goal -- Carnatic music – and making it a full-time profession.

He speaks in fluent Tamil and the non-slippery American English when I meet him at his grandparents’ aesthetically done-up home. The young vocalist wears his ‘South Indian’ origin by donning a white dhoti and T-shirt.

Excerpts from the conversation:

On his childhood in the U.S.

The school where my sister and I studied in Irvine near Los Angeles, had many children of Indian origin. It was more like growing up in Chennai. Of course, there were few American children too. I was seven when I was enrolled into music classes of Padma Kutty, a famous teacher there. I began with violin classes but was more inclined towards vocal music. So I switched over to vocal. Delhi Sunderrajan initially mentored me during his concert visits to U.S. Later, I learnt from Chengleput Ranganathan, Vairamangalam Lakshminarayanan and Vaikom Jayachandran, to name a few.

On learning from different gurus

It is a great opportunity to learn under one guru directly. Since I lived abroad, I had no option but to utilise every opportunity I got to meet these artists to learn from them. I was also advised to listen to the recordings of great masters and improve my knowledge. I have had good guides and well-wishers who showed me the right artistic path.

On opportunities to perform

It was not difficult as I would give short concerts in the U.S. Thanks to K.P. Nandini, another young artist, I got to perform for VDS Arts Academy in Chennai. I was 13 then. In 2006, I performed at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha. However, the concert that got me noticed was for the Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer Trust in 2011. Also the ‘Pallavi Darbar’ conducted by Carnatica brought me more recognition.

Carnatic music as a profession

I did my graduation in Computer Science from the University of California. I was a day scholar and after the college, I would go home and practise music. When I came to Chennai, I got two or three offers in reputed companies but the timings were not flexible. Later, I was offered another assignment where I could work from home and continue my music. But, again I could not do justice to either. So I declined the job to take up classical music full time.

I feel one needs to work diligently to excel. Practice should be rigorous. My mother was strict and saw to it that I practised regularly. Yes, it was painful in the beginning; but once, I developed a liking for singing, I started enjoying it. There is no substitute for hard work.

I have been given the freedom to follow my passion. Besides my parent’s unstinted support, my grandparents with whom I live now, make my life easy in every aspect and facilitate my music career. Earning? Well, I do earn well.

His views on Carnatic music scenario in Chennai

There are too many concerts during December and not so, the rest of the year. , A more balanced distribution of programmes would perhaps help.

On what Carnatic music means to him

Carnatic music is not just about entertainment… it elevates a person beyond that; it’s soul-lifting. The Trinity’s compositions are loaded with piety, beauty and raga bhava. There is no end to learning from them.

His views on reviews

All artists are highly sensitive. So when something negative is written, it does hurt initially. But, at the same time one should be objective and see where improvement can be made. But, personally I don’t think a review alone can make or unmake an artist. It is the merit of the music that decides.

On his peers and other passions

I share good rapport with artists such as Bharat Sundar, Rithivik Raja, and Sandeep Narayanan. Sometimes, we practise together. I love sports especially basketball, but no way for me to play here.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 10:44:03 AM |

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