Deccan Chronicle

The Musical Quartet

Deccan Chronicle.| Bindu Gopal Rao

Published on: June 21, 2023 | Updated on: June 21, 2023
L Subramaniam and wife Kavita with son Ambi and daughter Bindu Subramaniam

L Subramaniam and wife Kavita with son Ambi and daughter Bindu Subramaniam

Music has been an integral part of the Subramaniam family for over three generations. Their journey in music has been marked by a relentless pursuit of excellence, a passion for innovation, and a deep-rooted desire to make a positive difference in society.

Dr. L S Subramaniam’s father, Prof V Lakshminarayana, was the first in the family to embark on a musical journey and pursue it professionally. He not only dedicated himself to learning music but also became a prominent performer, striving to bring the rich tradition of Carnatic music to Sri Lanka. He organized concerts and invited musicians from various parts of India to showcase their talent there.

Heroing the violin

"This deep-rooted love for music was instilled in his children, including myself. Inspired by our father’s vision, we carried forward his passion and made significant contributions to the world of music. Our father envisioned the violin as more than just an accompanying instrument and worked tirelessly to establish it as a globally-recognized solo instrument. He developed innovative techniques and taught us to play the violin in a way that resonated with Western audiences as well. This revolutionary approach not only transformed the perception of the violin in India but also empowered future generations to pursue their passions and excel in their chosen fields," says Dr. Subramaniam. Collaborating with renowned artistes to showcase the versatility of the violin, he and his family have established the Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts (SaPa), a platform dedicated to teaching and promoting music. "Through our collaborations with universities, we have bridged the gap between traditional Gurukul learning and formal university education. We continue to carry the torch of our musical legacy, inspiring future generations to embrace music, explore their potential, and contribute to the vibrant tapestry of our cultural heritage," Dr. Subramaniam explains.

Music sans borders

After her marriage, Kavita Krishnamurthy Subramaniam settled down in Bangalore. Her first musically enriching experience was the Lakshmi Narayana Global Music Festival. "As a family, we would travel and perform, inviting guests from around the world. While I had been groomed in Bollywood for many years, this festival opened my eyes to collaborating with jazz musicians, Western classical musicians, and musicians from Africa, Norway, Europe, and other parts of the world. It allowed me to understand how international musicians work together and how to incorporate different genres into Indian music. My husband played a significant role in teaching me how to assimilate various types of music and experiment with fusion elements," she says.

Kavita has been vocal in her appreciation of her mother’s role in her becoming a musician, but she acknowledges that it was her husband who was responsible for her exposure to compositions by Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Shastri and Purandaradasa, and her greater appreciation for Carnatic music. "I would sit and listen to my husband practicing and realise the beauty and depth of this fantastic music system. All these growth experiences happened after my marriage, and I am delighted that my children are also involved in music. My husband ventured into music education and established SaPa, which my children, Bindu and Ambi are now taking to new heights," says Kavita.

Unity in diversity

Interestingly Bindu and Ambi have chosen their own musical paths. The Subramaniam family firmly believes in the power of music to inspire, uplift, and connect people.  Bindu Subramaniam has found her expertise in Western, Carnatic and Pop music and says she always had a passion for exploring diverse musical styles. "As an artiste, I believe that combining different influences is what sets one apart. My family’s musical legacy has instilled in me the values of open-mindedness and the pursuit of excellence.

Collaboration within our family happens organically and effortlessly. We have been performing together from a very young age. Ambi and I have shared the stage with our parents since we were little. Even my daughter, Mahati, has been joining us in performances since she was just three years old. While we are all dedicated to our craft and can be demanding in our pursuit of excellence, working together is always a joyous and enjoyable experience."

Her brother Ambi, who chose a career in music as a violinist, composer and educator, avers, "music was always a big part of my life, thanks to my musical family and the amazing music I grew up listening to. I had the privilege of being exposed to incredible musicians and getting guidance from my father. So, naturally, the transition from being a kid who loved playing music to becoming a full-fledged musician felt very organic for me. Teaching music has also been a passion of mine. Even as a teenager, I enjoyed watching my dad teach other musicians at home."

Fusion effusion

The siblings have collaborated with each other and other musicians on two bands — SubraMania and The Thayir Sadam Project. SubraMania explores the realm of contemporary world music, drawing inspiration from diverse musical styles across the globe. On the other hand, The Thayir Sadam Project combines electronic and Carnatic music, creating a unique fusion of sounds. Kavitha says in conclusion, "Music is not only a form of artistic expression but also a powerful tool for making a difference in society. I strongly believe that music should be an integral part of every child’s life from an early age."

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