Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Birthdays & Anniversaries

A beautiful musical mind
(Excerpted from the Sruti archives)

Prof. S.R. JANAKIRAMAN turns 89 on 12 July this year. When Sruti called on the veteran musicologist (2016) to congratulate him on his being conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, he spoke at length on what Carnatic music means to him. His originality of musical thought, his passion for his art and his reverence for his gurus make him an electrifying conversationalist. Some excerpts:

How important has the recognition been to you as a musician?

While there have been 86 Sangita Kalanidhis, only ten or 15 musicians and scholars from south India have received the honour of the SNA Fellowship. They include greats like Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Musiri Subramania Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Prof. P. Sambamoorthy, Embar Vijayaraghava-chariar, M.S. Subbulakshmi, M.L. Vasanthakumari, Dr. V. Raghavan, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, T.H. Vinayakram, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and some others. I have now been clubbed with truly great legends – and that is the greatest honour for me.

Do you have regrets about not receiving the Sangita Kalanidhi?

Initially it didn’t bother me much, but with the passage of time, I feel that I could have been nominated for it. When I first heard from the Music Academy that I was to be the first nomination for their Sangita Kala Acharya title, I accepted happily, not giving it much thought. On a side note, M.S. Subbulakshmi recommended my name several times for the Kalanidhi. It was an honour that she had such regard for my music.

The title of Sangita Kalanidhi is not awarded to artists who have been designated Kala Acharya. Should the conferring of the latter preclude the awarding of the former?

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer once told me, “Janakiraman, what difference does it make whether it is Kalanidhi or Kala Acharya? These distinctions are after all man-made. Ultimately, a prestigious institution wishes to recognise you for your contributions, and that is the most important thing.” Once, while introducing me to some guest at his Lloyds Road home, he said, “I am merely a ‘gayakan’, but SRJ is a vidwan!”

I would like to share another instance of Semmangudi’s generosity. At a meeting at the Academy, to felicitate A.S. Panchapakesa Iyer, Semmangudi turned towards me and said, “Janakiraman, the walking university!”

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