Song of Surrender

Monday, 12 February 2018

Rama Ravi

Birthdays & Anniversaries

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear
 Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air”

These famous lines of Thomas Gray, although in an altogether different context, seem to describe the status given to some of our most accomplished musicians. Closer home, Subramania Bharati’s “Nallador veenai seidey, adai nalam keda puzhudiyil erivathundo,” conveys similar meaning.
 To a large extent, the two quotations fit the classical vocalist and musicologist Rama Ravi (66), seldom heard in sabha-s. The description “complete musician” fits Rama Ravi better than many more successful musicians.

When I told a friend – a frequent concertgoer – I was going to attend Rama Ravi’s concert one particular evening, his immediate response was, “What? That padam-javali singer’s concert? And that slow music?” He is certainly entitled to his opinions but what about the musical fraternity? The rasika-s, vidwans, sabha-s? It is unfortunate that quite a few of them do share this view to a greater or lesser extent.

The fact is that Rama Ravi’s is vintage music; it is great music. It is not exuberant, not exhibitionist; nor is it dull or pedestrian. To appreciate her music, one has to shed one’s inhibitions and preconceived notions. Indeed one has to take a few steps to meet her and appreciate her music. It is not that her music is esoteric or mysterious; it is highly nuanced and stylised.

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