Music is in the air already as the season descends on the city very soon from November and stretches till February these days.
Music aficionados have started thronging Chennai. A group of T.R.Subramanyam’s (TRS) disciples has landed in the city and is holding special concerts in his memory in the last few weeks. Senior disciples and colleagues Delhi Muthukumar, Radha Venkatachalam and Mohan Santhanam among others are working hard and performing to bring alive memories of this highly intellectual, charismatic musician/musicologist. TRS was Delhi University music department’s beacon light for decades till he retired to Chennai, where he inspired students at Madras Music Academy.
‘Sangeethanjali’, a tribute to celebrate the eminent musician’s 90th birth anniversary, was held at Arkay Convention Centre, Chennai, recently. The tribute was followed by an instrumental recital by Chitravina Ravikiran.
This musical thespian’s knowledge of RTP was legendary. “TRS and I were on stage at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana for an RTP demonstration, and he had so much to say on the subject that throughout the demo I was left sitting like the proverbial kolu doll on stage,” laughed chitravina maestro Ravikiran that evening even as he proceeded to play a special RTP in raga Bhairavi that he had composed in TRS’ memory. The words of the pallavi inspired the audience into cheerful applause, “Subramanyane Sharanam neeyindri gati yaar,” including the initials of T.R.Subramanyam.
Organiser of the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana V.V.Sundaram said that could not forget TRS’ versatility and dedication to inspiring students till the end of his life.
Delhi Muthukumar, organiser of Sangeetanjali, recalled how TRS was a teacher par excellence to the young and ambitious, as also a promoter of talent wherever he saw it. “TRS was a leading light to every new artiste, who got a break in Delhi,” Muthukumar said adding, “His sense of aesthetics made him never hold back on appreciating any good contemporary musician.”
Other students spoke how he was a master craftsman, a brilliant composer, a challenging performer, and a humane professor as well. “He taught us life’s values,” they said.
Ravikiran at his concert that evening said, “I am playing a varnam in raga Behag composed by TRS. You can see how brilliant it is when compared to some other ordinary varnams that we come across.” He proceeded to regale the audience with the strains of Behag as conceptualised by TRS.
Needless to say Ravikiran played also TRS’ favourites. “I have heard the most rapturous Nalinakanti raga (exposition) from TRS,” he commented before playing the song “Nee padame gati” (raga Nalinakanti) a composition by G.N.Balasubramaniam. It was one of TRS’ favourites. Ravikiran had an able team of accompanying artistes — violinist Akkarai Subalakshmi, and percussionists Shree Sundarkumar and Guruprasad — with him.
(The writer has a Ph.D. from Ohio University and is a professor of journalism at California State University in Los Angeles. She is also a classical musician trained by stalwarts)...