Last year’s music circuit in the Kuala Lumpur city ended on an encouraging note with a graduation show featuring 49 student violinists under the tutelage of Vikhram Prabagar that helped re-introduce the art of Indian classical violin playing to city folks.
It was refreshing to see the student performers gamely dishing out the routines of their training programme under the direction of Vikhram, to give the audience comprising their parents, relatives and family friends an intimate peek into the rich Carnatic musical repertoire rendered by the robust tone of the violin.
The rigorous training required to master Indian classical violin playing has resulted in many students of violin dropping out prematurely. Due to this there are only a limited number of Indian classical violin performers in the city now. This has created a great demand for these instrumentalists who are an important component of the musical accompaniment at vocal and dance concerts.
The almost three-hour show at the Kalamandapam hall at Scott Road in Brickfields started with the stage Pooja and honouring of invited dignitaries in particular Nadham Academy of Fine Arts’ director, renowned violinist Logeswaran Kaliaperumal and one of tutor Vikhram’s principal gurus.
Starting off with the soothing mellow of the Gayathri Mantra and Ganesha invocations of Vakra Tunda and Mooshiga Vagana the senior and junior students took turns to go through their lesson routine from the Swarali Varusai to Geetams and Varnams. They also played several Thevaram and bhajan numbers.
The violin with its origins in Europe was adopted into the Indian classical music tradition around 1790 by Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775 – 1835), one of the Trinity of South Indian saint composers. (The other two saints are Swami Tyagaraja and Syama Sastri.} It was mastered and popularised by the saint’s brother Baluswami Dikshitar (1786-1859) and disciple Vadivelu of the Thanjavur Quartet.
Baluswami had learnt the expert art of playing the melodious instrument referred to as the fiddle in the Irish tradition from a bandmaster of the British military band comprised mostly of Irish musicians based at Fort St. George in Madras.
Now violinists have earned a prestigious position in Indian classical concerts as leading musical accompanists and solo instrumental artistes.
Lending the professional touch to the graduation show was a guest appearance by Ghazal maestro Uztaz Haider Selamat Ali who introduced the audience to the poetic beauty of Urdhu songs like `Guru Charanan’. Although the musical fare must have been rather new to the ears of most in the audience they silently took in the drawn out alapanas, gamaka turns and belly vibrating low notes and throat piercing highs.
Adding variety to the evening were veena performances by Shri Lalithalaya Music Academy students led by master Prakash.
Towards the conclusion of the grand show, violinist Logeswaran was conferred an award of recognition by a Malacca based music academy with international affiliation for his many contributions to the development of Indian music in Malaysia.
Review by R. Sittamparam.