INSTITUTION IN FOCUS
Striking the right note
When this premier institution celebrates its golden jubilee in 2007, the college authorities and music lovers feel that it should be made a music university, or at least an autonomous institution.
IN MEMORY OF A DOYEN: A view of the Chembai Memorial Government Music College in Palakkad.
The Chembai Memorial Government Music College in Palakkad is one of the main centres of excellence in teaching classical music in the State.
When this premier institution celebrates its golden jubilee in 2007, the college authorities and music lovers feel that it should be made a music university, on the lines of Kalamandalam, or at least an autonomous institution for its overall development as a centre of learning for music, both vocal and instrumental. The institution was started in 1957 as a music academy under the Director of Public Instruction.
In 1977, Jana Praveena and Ganabhooshanam, both four-year courses, were started. From 2001, it was made a music college affiliated to Calicut University, with the starting of new BA courses in vocal, veena, violin, mridangam and so on, admitting 130 students annually.
The college was upgraded on the recommendation of a committee appointed by the Government "to examine the necessity to upgrade and restructure the courses of the three music colleges in the State and to affiliate them under the respective universities for making these colleges as centres of excellence in the field of performing arts/music.''
The committee recommended the following pattern of courses:
Two-year pre-professional course (performing arts/music); three-year degree course (Bachelor of Performing Arts-BPA, music, vocal, violin, veena and mridangam); two-year postgraduate course (Master of Performing Arts-MPA, music, vocal, violin, veena and mridangam).
The college has applied for starting MA courses in four branches and the university has recommended the State Government to give sanction. The college authorities are waiting for the sanction to start the courses in the coming academic year.
Principal in-charge of the college N.H. Ramaswamy said that no extra teaching staff were required to start the postgraduate courses; thus, there was no additional financial commitment for the Government.
He said that as Kalamandalam, the college should be made a deemed university to make it a centre of learning for music in Kerala.
If it was made a university, the Gurukula system of learning could be introduced to make the learning more traditional. Now, along with music, there were other subjects the students should learn. This affected the duration of practical classes.
There should also be hostel facility on the campus for both boys and girls since there were students from different parts of the State, he said.
Now, there were seven teachers for vocal and nine for instrumental music. Two vacancies were to be filled. The post of Principal was also laying vacant.
The college has a good library with more than 3,000 books on music.
There are enough instruments available for practical purposes: 50 veenas; 58 violins; 42 mridangams; two sruthy boxes and other instruments.
An auditorium having modern facilities was constructed recently in the college, with fund from MP's Local Area Development Scheme, to conduct music concerts and conferences.
Chembai is a village 20 km from Palakkad town. Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, doyen of Carnatic music, after whom the college is named, took Carnatic music to dizzying heights. His inherent talent, overtones, improvisations and voice-blending made him unique. Chembai encouraged many singers belonging to the younger generation. There is a long list of renowned musicians brought to limelight by him. They include M.S. Subbulakshmi, Palakkad Mani Iyer, T.V. Gopalakrishnan, K.J. Yesudas, V.V. Subramaniyam, P. Leela, Jaya Vijayans, Chembai Narayanan, Chembai Kodendaraman, Chembai Sreenivasan, Chembai Venkataraman and Chembai `Vathabi' Krishna Bhagavathar. The music college had been headed by well-known musicians and it had also produced a number of famous artistes.
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