“This youngster, among a few that have taken music as their profession, has been rising steadily over the last couple of years,” wrote TT Narendran in The Hindu during the last December season. “Here and elsewhere that I heard him, he sang Todi and Varali impressively at different concerts. He sings niraval well and excels in ragam-tanam-pallavi. What he needs are better presentation skills, poise and a little more power while finishing off fast paced niravals or swaras.”
The subject of this review was Rithvik Raja, a prominent disciple of senior vocalist TM Krishna. Young Rithvik has made steady progress over the years to establish himself as one of the leading young vocalists in the junior category of musicians. With a solid support system at home, he has plunged into a full-time career in music, taking the risk of not pursuing academics to a logical conclusion in today’s competitive environment. Rithvik has also sacrificed his other passion, cricket, in the process, after playing the game with great enthusiasm in his school years at Vidya Mandir, Chennai.
Rithvik’s sincerity and devotion to his art are evident not only in his diligent approach to performance, but also his regular presence in the audience at concerts throughout the year. In his own concerts, he shows the results of a praiseworthy level of effort and internalization of the ragas he and the lyrics essays, and adherence to his pathantara as well as the traditional values he has imbibed from his mentors. His mother Sudha Raja initiated Rithvik into Carnatic music even as a child. He studied for a couple of years with the late Sulochana Pattabhiraman before he came to Krishna in 2003.
Rithvik has won numerous awards and prizes, including some for rendering best the kritis of composers as varied as the Trinity, Annamacharya, Swati Tirunal, and Purandara Dasa, besides winning such events as pallavi competitions. His participation in all these events has been as total and uninhibited as his singing style, which bears the TMK stamp down to hand gestures and body language. Watching him in action over the years, we have no doubt that he will do all it takes to improve the quality of his somewhat recalcitrant voice.
Even in the choice of music as his profession, Rithvik has been wholehearted, with his serious involvement in activities that aim to enhance the welfare and security of young musicians. He is the current president of YACM and has been a founder member of Svanubhava, which has taken music and other performing arts far and wide to young audiences.