By Srividya Ramasubramanian
London, 5 November 2013
Dr TV Gopalakrishnan is a renowned mridanga vidwan, a trained violinist, an accomplished Carnatic music vocalist, expert Hindustani musician, composer, and sought-after guru.
Youngsters from London were fortunate to get to spend quality time in his larger than life presence for an entire week from 21-25 October at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. They not only learnt some rare kritis from the master teacher but also got to experience his generosity, wit, and wisdom.
“Teaching is very close to my heart,” says TVG. “I love being with these children, having fun with them, making them come alive, and bringing out their personality through music. I want them to see that our Indian music has so much life in it. What does it not have to offer? I have taught in so many cities in India and around the world. Bhavan in London is one of the few places that offer a conducive atmosphere where I feel inspired to share the glory of our music - not just the technicalities but music as enjoyment and a pleasurable experience.”
The workshop attendees have been given a strong foundation in Carnatic music designed at the Bhavan by Sivasakti Sivanesan, a leading Indian music teacher and performer in the United Kingdom. Says TVG, “My job was simply to embellish and give the final touches to songs that Sivasakti has painstakingly taught to these students over the last few months. She has put in a lot of thought and effort to train her students in the Chembai tradition that emphasizes purity in sruti, bhava, enunciation, sahitya and rasa. I am impressed with the high standard of music here in London and the commitment of parents and children to undergo such strain to make sure to attend this intensive week-long workshop despite all their other activities.”
TVG picked some simple yet beautiful nottuswarasahityams of Dikshitar such as Santatampahimam and Varasiva balam apart from his own composition called Arunachalame in the raga Sivaranjani to teach the children. Based on the request of the workshop attendees, he also included a moving and meaningful Hindustani bhajan Nirdhanko by Kabirdas in the agenda, thus teaching the children the differences between the two main systems of Indian classical music.
Every session was dotted with TVG Sir’s anecdotes and interesting stories about his guru, Chembai. He told us about how Chembai lost his voice for about eight years and got it back miraculously. Another story was on how Chembai’s rendition of a particular song led to heavy downpour just as he had warned his audience who had insisted on him singing the raga.
TVG offered many tips to students on voice culture, aural sensitivity, spiritual aspects of music, the significance of the guru-sishya relationship, balancing music with other activities, and the different types of gamakas used in Carnatic music. He shared them with much generosity, sincerity, and caring for the students in a loving and patient manner. Overall, it was an unforgettable week of intense learning that left us students feeling inspired, energized, and very grateful.