Classical musicians hail Kerala as performers’ paradise

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 22: With a keen ear for music, Malayalis make encouraging audiences for classical music concerts in Kerala where he has been performing for over half a century, renowned Carnatic maestro T V Sankaranarayanan said at a press conference here today.


“In fact, Kerala is my second home,” the septuagenarian vocalist said a press conference, where he shared space with famed Violin LN Sisters — young Dr M Lalitha and M Nandini — amid their participation in the ongoing Nishagandhi festival conducted by Kerala Tourism in the state capital.


Recalling that his Kerala concerts date back to more than 50 years, Sankaranarayanan said: “There is hardly a temple where I have not performed.” Among his initial performances in this state was at the Sree Krishna Swamy temple in Mavelikkara of central Travancore, he added.


As for the Nishagandhi festival, the Padma Bhushan awardee hailed the festival as “one of the most prestigious” in the country. “The high attendance here shows that Carnatic music has not seen a reduction in its passionate audience,” he noted.


At age 71, Sankaranarayanan will be performing this time at the Nishagandhi—with assistance from his son, Mahadevan Sankaranarayanan, an up-and-coming vocalist.


“I would not compromise on the quality of music delivered,” said the veteran, who is a disciple and nephew of celebrated 20th-centry musician Madurai Mani Iyer. “It is another matter I am open to changes. I do allow freedom within my traditional values.”


As for jugalbandis, which has caught up as a trend nowadays, he said: “I am not interested in it, as I may have to compromise on Carnatic music to fit into the scheme of Hindustani or any other sort of music. All the same, I do not mind anyone performing it.”


Sankaranarayanan’s laurels include Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Sangita Kalanidhi. He is poised to receive the Purandaradasa award at Bangalore. “Personally, I do not believe in returning awards as it would be unfair on our part to the organisation which presented the award,” he said as his take on the recent string of ‘award wapsi’.


The Chennai-based violin sisters, who will stage an instrumental fusion on Saturday, spoke of their roots in Kerala, with their grandparents hailing from Alappuzha and Tripunithura near Kochi.


Lalitha and Nandini too agreed with Sankaranarayanan, saying the state has an “overwhelming” presence of music lovers. The audience response is fantastic here, said the sisters, who are to perform for the first time at Nishagandhi.


The duo, who is popularly acclaimed as the Queens of Violin, hails from a family of musicians—and are trained under iconic Semmagudi Srinivasa Iyer. Being globetrotters, they have been to all the five continents and have been instrumental in introducing Carnatic music to many countries like Nepal.


Music — be it Carnatic, Western or global fusion — is ultimately God, said the duo. It has its energy focused in spirituality. “We will have our Lana Band being performed at the Nishagandhi fest, which includes artists from Germany, Italy and Kerala,” added LN Sisters.


There will also be performances by Pandit Sugato Bhaduri, Ileana Citarisi, Hema Malini and Ustad Zakir Husain on the following days.



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