The Carnatic music scene is abuzz with discussions about the announcement of the Madras Music Academy awards for 2019. S. Sowmya who is an excellent musician, committed teacher, a brilliant academician and scholar with a doctorate in music, is a deserving choice to preside over the morning conference of the Music Academy and receive the Sangita Kalanidhi title. Sruti congratulates her and all the other awardees announced by the Academy.
Several names of veteran percussionists and senior instrumentalists were doing the rounds and one wonders why the Academy has not bestowed the honour yet on veteran tavil vidwans in the scene? The last time a tavil vidwan—Valayapatti A.R. Subramaniam—was honoured was ten years ago in 2009! Nagaswara vidwans too find a place only in the TTK Awards list these days; Sangita Kalanidhi Sheik Chinna Moula was honoured way back in 1998. Versatile senior violinists—solo and duo—will also have to wait it out it seems. So what could be the criteria for the selection of awardees by music organisations? Would it not be better to have transparent norms rather than not having any in selecting the artist? Should not age and seniority combined with versatility, scholarship and dedication be a determining factor so that such artists do not miss the bus?
Coming to the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi awards which were also announced recently, more percussionists from the south could have been included in the Akademi Puraskar list this time. The Akademi could introduce the practice of honouring both—a teacher and a performer—in each genre of the classical arts every year, to make it more focussed and comprehensive. It is heartwarming that four eminent personalities—K. Kalyanasundaram Pillai, Sonal Mansingh, Jatin Goswami and Zakir Hussain—have been chosen to receive the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellow for the year 2018. In this issue, Sruti pays tribute to the free spirited, fiery 75-year old Sonal Mansingh who is not only an iconic dancer, teacher and administrator but is also a social activist and a woman of true grit.
On 15 August every year we celebrate Independence Day. At the stroke of the midnight hour when India awoke to life and freedom in 1947, patriotic rasika Sumitra Charat Ram organised an all-night musical soiree in the Capital to celebrate the historic event. This sowed the seed for the birth and growth of a premier centre of Indian arts. We take you on a journey of the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra in New Delhi with an interview with its current head Shobha Deepak Singh.
Close on the heels of International Day of Yoga we wanted to introduce a regular series on ‘wellness’ for artists, and you will be happy to know that we have done so in this issue with an article on Yoga for the human voice penned by well known yoga consultant Tyagarajan Nandakumar.
Apart from several news reports on music and dance, we have interesting articles on the Western influence on Indian music and an unusual story about Nellai T.V. Krishnamurthy—born in Tamil Nadu, but who went to Kerala to emerge as a Carnatic musician.
The Rain-God seems to have finally shown some compassion to Chennai. The Global Carnatic Musicians Association (GCMA) had organised a musical prayer for rains for the parched metropolis. Megha Raga Varshini was a musical marathon from 9 am to 9 pm featuring about 150 musicians, organised at the Sringeri Sharada Peetham in T. Nagar in Chennai in the first week of July. Whether there was rain, no rain or a delayed downpour—the endeavour served to bring a large number of musicians together under one umbrella—all for a good cause.