Those memorable moments...
“A s children, both of us eagerly waited for December holidays as it meant coming to Chennai from Delhi (where we lived till 1999) to listen to Carnatic concerts to our hearts' content. It was a trip we looked forward to with great anticipation and excitement. Our father, who's also our guru, would ensure that we spent the whole day listening to kutcheris. At the end of the day, we had to tell him the kritis and ragas we heard, the artists and their interpretation... everything in detail. That exercise proved beneficial in widening our musical knowledge. It was thrilling too.
One such kutcheri that we heard was by Lalgudi Jayaraman, who played on January 1 at the Mylapore Fine Arts Club. Till then, we had only heard his recordings. We were in awe of him and just seeing in flesh and blood moved us beyond words. Even though we sat in the last row, we could feel the vibrations from his strings. He was so inspiring that we told ourselves that we must strive to reach that level of excellence and perfection.
For me, my first concert for the Season has special meaning. I must have been only 14 or 15 then. I was supposed to play at Vani Mahal. But the secretary of the Mylapore Fine Arts Club, who had heard me on television, was impressed by my playing and insisted that I accompany Abhishek Raghuram.
The only problem was that the date of both the concerts clashed. So, he called up the Vani Mahal office-bearer and told him to change my schedule. That evening, a young team took the stage by storm.
Abhishek was only 12 then and the mridangam artist was another youngster, Ananth Anandaraman. After I had played a raga alapana, the packed auditorium erupted with thunderous applause. That moment, I felt truly blessed, and, there was no looking back.
A few years ago, I got the opportunity to accompany Chitravina Ravikiran. He is an artist who generally does not plan his list. What's more, Umayalpuram Sivaraman was playing the mridangam.
That day, Ravikiran sir decided to play Chintamani as the main piece. Sensing that I was a little nervous, both Ravikiran Sir and Sivaraman mama reassured me a lot. I remember playing from my heart, just as they asked me to. The response was overwhelming… from the veterans and the audience. It's an unforgettable concert.
Playing for the Hyderabad Sisters is something that my sister Swarnalatha remembers fondly. The fact that they wanted her to play for them was a privilege and she still remembers their words of appreciation.
We recently worked on a CD where Srimushnam Raja Rao and the late T. V. Vasan accompanied us. We were a little worried as we had heard that Raja Rao mama prefers working with seasoned artists. But when he was approached to play for us, he agreed at once. Same was the case with Vasan mama. We never felt we were recoding for a CD… it was more like a live concert.
We have too many such beautiful memories…
(The violinist spoke to SAVITHA GAUTAM)
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