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Southern States - Tamil Nadu-Chennai

An Aussie honour for Indian vocalist

WHEN SIRKAZHI G. Sivachidambaram set out to Australia in late October, he did not know that he would be honoured in that country's Parliament.

An Australian M.P., Mr. Con Sciaca, also the Shadow Minister for Immigration and Immigration Laws, presided over Sivachidambaram's concert in Canberra. Impressed by the performance of the physician-cum-vocalist, Mr. Sciaca invited him and his team to Parliament the next day. He honoured the musicians from south India in the presence of the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. John Howard. ``A mention was made in the Parliament records,'' says the beaming Sivachidambaram.

More than the honour, the 40-year-old musician was bowled over by the treatment that the Australian Parliamentarian gave to him. ``He took us to Parliament and introduced me to other MPs and dignitaries. The gesture was touching,'' recalls Sivachidambaram, who did postgraduation in internal medicine.

About the Aussies in general, he says they are keen on preserving and promoting their country's status as a multi- cultural and multi-racial nation.

Invited by a host of organisations including Canberra and Melbourne Tamil Sangams, and Brisbane cultural centre, the musician was in Australia and New Zealand for three weeks. A couple of his well-wishers, Mr. Mayilvahanam Balasubramanian and Dr. Vasandhini, took care of the details of his visit.

``In my concerts, the focus was on Carnatic music, though I did sing some film numbers of my father, Sirkazhi Govindarajan, which were essentially classical in nature,'' he says.

As the hall in one of his concerts was full, a special permission had to be obtained to install loudspeakers outside the venue. In fact, for this programme, the Sydney Mayor was one of the chief guests.

Sivachidambaram, accompanied by Suresh Babu (Violin), Gopalarathnam Saikrishnan (Mrudangam) and Madanagopal Deenadayalu (Morsing), had a fulfilling trip in New Zealand too. He inaugurated a Tamil satellite channel, Prakasam, in Auckland.

By T. Ramakrishnan

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