I just heard through the grapevine that the Madras Music Academy has designated Shri. Trichur V. Ramachandran as the Sangeetha Kalanidhi awardee for 2012. The award will formally be given to him at the Music Academy Sadas on January 1, 2013, after he has presided over the conference and concerts in December.
For those who don’t know, the Sangeetha Kalanidhi is like the Nobel Prize in Carnatic Music. It’s the most sought-after award for Carnatic musicians, more so than even the Padma awards (from the Indian national government). It is only awarded once a year, like the Nobel Prize, and just like the Nobel Prize, it is also not awarded posthumously. Thus, the list of vidwans who never recieved the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title is just as famous as those who have received it! Examples of vidwans who never recieved the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title include: Palani Subramania Pillai, C. S. Murugabhoopathy, G. Harisankar, Thanjavur Upendran, Thanjavur S. Kalyanaraman, V. Nagarajan, Ramnad Krishnan, M. D. Ramanathan, and S. Balachander (veena) among others. Just like any major award, there is always a degree of politics surrounding it. I have been to the Sadas several times to see the awarding ceremony and hear speeches by the various artists, and it is always an interesting and enlightening experience.
Trichur V. Ramachandran is one of the prime and few direct disciples of G. N. Balasubramaniam still alive today. I’ll talk about G. N. Balasubramaniam (or GNB as he was called) in a later post, since I used to be absolutely obsessed with his music in the past. Trichur Ramachandran cultivated his voice to sound like his guru’s and for those ardent fans of GNB, hearing him is like a taking a nostalgia trip. I’ve heard several live performances of his; these are always fun because he maintains the duritha kala (fast tempo) that was characteristic of GNB. Thus, the mrudangam vidwan needs to have a lot of energy to keep up with him. The best performances of his that I have heard were obviously in the presence of such vidwans, including Umayalpuram Sivaraman and Trichy Sankaran.
This December music season should be very interesting…