Violin virtuoso Dr L. Subramaniam has been organising the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival across India and in over 25 countries since 1992. The festival was set up in memory of his late father, Prof. V. Lakshminarayana, who had worked to ensure that violin evolved from being an accompaniment instrument to a solo performance instrument.
The Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival hosted by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) began at Shilpakala Vedika, with renditions by the Castile and Leon Spanish Symphony Orchestra.
“My father developed many innovative techniques of bowing and playing multiple notes, which brought Indian music and violin on the global stage,” says Dr Subramaniam. “There is definitely more respect for the violin in the western world now. In fact, renowned orchestras worldwide even perform many of my compositions.”
Dr Subramaniam, in fact, credits his father for the quality of his own performances. “Once I am on stage, my violin’s sounds take over, and an inner voice guides me. If I am tired or am missing out on something, my father’s picture in the backdrop ensures I give nothing less than a 100 per cent,” he says.
For the love of music
Incidentally, Dr Subramaniam has performed some of the most successful north-south jugalbandi programmes with doyens of Hindustani classical music, such as Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit V.G. Jog, Ustad Rais Khan and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, his first being with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan at the Lincoln Center in New York.
“I have always tried to study and understand the thought-process, tonality and strengths of my co-musicians. Musicians have to put their heart and soul into such collaborations so they can push their boundaries and discover unique musical results,” shares Dr Subramaniam.
As the concert progressed, Dr Subramaniam’s son Ambi Subramaiam, also on the violin, and daughter Bindu Subramaiam, performing vocals, presented a tillana, a rhythmic piece in Carnatic music, using tala-like phrases, usually performed at the end of a concert. As a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, the festival also had a rendition of Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram with Dr Subramaniam on violin and his granddaughter Mahati Subramaniam singing. Then, his daughter Bindu and his wife and Bollywood singer, Kavitha Krishnamurti sang Vaishnava Jan Toh.
An offering to the city
The large ensemble of musicians in the concert included Ghantasala Satyasai from Hyderabad, who created a Guinness Book of World Record playing morsing (an instrument similar to the Jew’s harp) for 27 hours continuously. He is been playing with Dr Subramaniam since 1996.
The evening concluded with a grand finale of compositions played by Dr Subramaniam and the Symphony Orchestra, receiving a standing ovation. “Hyderabad’s audience has always been open-minded. Whether it is Carnatic music or a Global Symphony, they have always received it with warmth and affection,” says the musician, who hopes to launch the Lakshminarayana Global Centre of Excellence in Hyderabad with an aim to help kids get an opportunity to learn music.