Song of Surrender

Friday, 7 September 2012

Generation Next

Akkarai S. Subhalakshmi

(Reproduced from Sruti 279, December 2007)

Twenty four-year-old Akkarai S. Subhalakshmi, one of those child prodigies Carnatic music delights in throwing up every once in a while, is among the more sensitive violinists in the kutcheri world today. Born at Nagercoil, she hails from a musical family belonging to Akkarai village in Suchindram, Tamil Nadu, and went to school at New Delhi. Grandfather S.P. Siva Subramaniam was a musician and composer, grandmother R. Sornambal, a Harikatha exponent and father S. Swaminathan, a violinist who established the music school ‘Swara Raga Sudha’.

Subhalakshmi is a disciple of her father, whose intensive, unusual training methods helped her debut as a concert violinist when barely eight.

Subhalakshmi trained with the late V. Janakiraman for a couple of years and learnt vocal music from O.V. Subramanian and his daughter Padma Natesan in New Delhi. She now trains with P.S. Narayanaswamy and N. Ravikiran, whom she also accompanies in concerts.

Her concerts with Ravikiran, sharing the platform with Umayalpuram Sivaraman on mridanga, or sometimes with A.K. Palanivel on the tavil, have been rewarding experiences. Among other leading musicians she has accompanied are M. Balamuralikrishna, N. Ramani, T.K. Govinda Rao, Shashank, P. Unnikrishnan, T.M. Krishna and Aruna Sayeeram.

Subhalakshmi owes much to her guru-father, who exposed her and her sister Sornalatha to the music of the great masters. He is a strict mentor and the sisters look towards him for approval even at concerts.

Subhalakshmi is known for her imaginative manodharma, and to be very quick on the uptake as an accompanist. Musicians of varying styles love to have her as their accompanist, as she adapts so well to them. She has worked hard to achieve a rich tone and smooth bowing style, and refuses to compromise her musical values.

An A-grade artist of All India Radio, Chennai, Subhalakshmi has performed as a violin soloist and accompanist in many countries. She has been featured in prestigious events like the Indo-Russian culture exchange programme (1996), Theatre de la Ville festival (Paris), the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana (U.S.A.), the farewell concert for Zubin Mehta (Munich) and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute Sangeet Utsav (Mauritius).

Subhalakshmi, who has released many albums, performs violin and vocal duet concerts with her younger sister Akkarai S. Sornalatha, another talented young violinist and vocalist. The music of the Akkarai Sisters has been described as “mature, fastidiously classical, suffused with unsentimental bhava.”

Subhalakshmi is a voracious reader and loves to listen to music. As a full time musician, she has had to opt for distance education, studying B.Com by correspondence at the Annamalai University.

Akkarai Subhalakshmi is one of our outstanding young musicians, whose best years are clearly in the future.

Awards and titles

● Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Puraskar from the President of India (1996); ● Outstanding young violinist award from the Music Academy (1999, 2001, 2006 and 2007); ● Inspiring child artist award from Valayapatti Naadalaya (1999); ● Best performance award from the Music Academy (2001); ● Ananda Vikatan award for the best violinist of the year (2001); ● Yuva Kala Bharati from Bharat Kalachar (2002); ● Naada Oli from Naada Inbam (2005); ● Kalki Krishnamurthy Memorial Award (September 2007); ● Spotted as one of India’s 50 emerging stars in an issue of The Week magazine.

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  3. Hi, My name is Sam and I used to be a student of Shri Suchindram Siva Subramaniam, Grandfather of Subhalakshmi, in the early 90s and I remember listening to Subhalakshmi playing her violin when she was yet a child when she came to Nagercoil on a summer vacation. I can still remember Shri Siva Subramaniam shedding tears of joy listening to his grand daughter playing the violin. She was a young musician. Just want to let her know that she and her family are remembered.

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