To be able to felicitate and celebrate a composer and perform in his presence is a rare occasion for a disciple or a musician. Dr. Sunder, Sriram Parasuram and Chitravina Ravikiran were fortunate to experience this when they rendered Tanjavur Sankara Iyer’s creations before the composer on the 1st of September in Tirunelveli.
The Music Forum Chennai in association with Sri Jayendra School, Sankar Nagar, Tirunelveli, organised a special function to felicitate the veteran composer. As the convener of Music Forum, Dr. Sunder took the initiative to organise the programme. Eminent musicians like Dr. Sriram Parasuram, Chitravina Ravikiran, V.V. Srinivasa Rao, Umayalpuram Mali, and Dr. Sunder, who have learnt from Sankara Iyer and are closely associated with him, went to Tirunelveli to offer their musical tribute in the form of compositions learnt from him. The nonagenarian stalwart is convalescing in Sankar Nagar, where his nephew takes care of him.
Sankara Iyer, though weak, greeted his well wishers with gusto, his face wreathed in smiles, his happiness knowing no bounds. He had to be carried on to the stage where he sat through the concerts for over five hours despite his ill health. It was amazing to watch him recollect what happened 60 years ago—with his musical memory perfect—and share many precious moments he had spent with doyens of the past. He laughed, cried, and enjoyed everything taking place on stage. He applauded and blessed Ravikiran, Sunder and Sriram Parasuram as they performed, and was moved to tears by the end of the programme, which concluded with one of his disciples Valivalam Venkatraman rendering three of his songs.
The local team from Jayendra School including Usha Raman and Nirmal created the right ambience with their wonderful hospitality and arrangements. The hall was packed with admirers of Tanjavur Sankara Iyer, some of whom had travelled to Tirunelveli from abroad. Many in the audience were moved by Sankara Iyer’s love and dedication to music, and the gurubhakti of the disciples. It was an overwhelming experience for all.