Kalakshetra like Shantiniketan in Bengal, is an institution that favours unique methods for learning the arts. Founded by Rukmini Devi Arundale, whose birth centenary is being celebrated this year (2004), it is a sylvan lung of Madras city, where students learn music and dance. The auditorium in Kalakshetra is renowned for the excellent acoustics that it offers. Together with the hoary tradition of the place, it inspires artistes to give of their best.
This concert was performed at the Kalakshetra auditorium on 28th December 2001 as part of the December season of that year. The featured artistes are some of the foremost in the art form and a brief profile of each is given below:
Vocal ? Sanjay Subrahmanyan
Among the top draws in today?s Carnatic music world, Sanjay comes from a family that was well known in Madras city for its love of music. The family was known to be strongly influenced by the GNB tradition and several of its members played important roles in the development of the Music Academy. Sanjay, began his tutelage on the violin under V Lakshminarayanan (father of L Subramaniam, L Shankar and L Vaidyanathan). An accident forced him to switch to vocal music which he first learnt from grand aunt Rukmini Rajagopalan and later from the renowned Guru, Calcutta KS Krishnamurthy. Sanjay is a staunch classicist. Eschewing the sensational and the populist in presentation, he presents music in its chaste form, as envisaged by the great composers and performers of Carnatic music. This comes through in his predilection for weighty classical ragas for his alapanas. Through his own efforts he has acquired an enormous repertoire of some of the best creations of the Trinity and several Tamizh composers as well.
Violin ? Nagai Muralidharan
Nagai Muralidharan, a resident of Trichy, began training on the violin from the age of seven. His first Guru was his mother Smt Komalavalli. Later he trained under RS Gopalakrishnan and began performing in concerts at the age of eleven. He has had the opportunity to accompany several stalwarts of yesteryears such as Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, ML Vasanthakumari, TR Mahalingam, KV Narayanaswamy and Maharajapuram Santhanam. These experiences helped him in honing his art and today he is among the foremost violinists. His style is marked by an emphasis on melody, making his violin play a sheer joy to listen and experience.
Mridangam ? Trichy Sankaran
Even when Sankaran was a lad of twelve years, it was evident to his formidable Guru, Palani Subramania Pillai, that he possessed extraordinary talent. It was common knowledge that Sankaran could effortlessly reproduce many of the mohras, pharans and jatis that Pillai taught him even during the first lessons. When Pillai recovered from a heart attack, he developed the habit of taking Sankaran along with to play a second mridangam. This brought Sankaran to the fore and soon he was acknowledged as a front ranking mridangist and several senior vidwans began utilizing his accompaniment. Today he is among the few representatives of the Pudukottai school of percussion, made famous by stalwarts such as Manpoondia Pillai, Dakshinamurthy Pillai and Subramania Pillai. Sankaran now resides in Canada.
Kanjira ? G Harishankar
The Kanjira and Harishankar were made for each other. In a short span of 44 years, Harishankar trail blazed to stardom, establishing the kanjira once again as a vital component on the concert platform. Training initially under his own father Govinda Rao, Harishankar later had his tutelage under Ramnad CS Murugabhoopathy and Palghat Mani Iyer. Brought to the forefront by ML Vasanthakumari who made him a regular at her own concerts, Harishankar?s mastery of the instrument was nothing short of magic. Sadly his health was always a matter of concern and he passed away in the year 2002.
A concert by some of Carnatic music?s best artistes in the best possible location. What more can one ask for?