Classical musician and musicologist Leela Omchery, who was known for her large body of research work related to various streams of Indian classical and folk music, passed away in New Delhi on Wednesday night. She was 94.
Born at Thiruvattar in Kanyakumari in 1929, she lived much of her life in Delhi. She had proved her mettle in Carnatic music, Hindustani music, Sopana Sangeetham and folk songs. Much of her research was concentrated on Carnatic and Hindustani music, but she also brought public attention to less popular musical forms, including Thevaram songs and Kathakali Sangeetham as well as dance forms such as Krishnanattam.
Ms. Omchery retired as the head of the music department at Delhi University, where she served for 28 years. Some of her major books include Immortals of Indian Music, Gleanings in Indian Music, Indian Music and Allied Arts (5 volumes), Abhinayasangeetham, Keralathile Laasya Rachanakal and Leela Omcheriyude Pathangal. She has also written short stories and done translations from Tamil, including Kalki’s Parthivan Kanavu. The country had honoured her with Padma Shri in 2005 for her contributions in the field of music.
She was married to playwright, poet, and writer Omchery N.N. Pillai. Popular playback singer Kamukara Purushothaman was her younger brother. Condoling her passing, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said she played a key role in popularising Swathi Tirunal krithis as well as in evolving the sequences of Mohiniyattam.