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Shri Maharajapuram Santhanam concert day
By Sudha Jagannathan
Thursday, 24 June , 2004, 10:42
June 23. That was the day when renowned vocalist Shri Maharajapuram Santhanam gave his last concert at Manjakkudy some years ago. He may have passed into the pages of history. His fans and disciples, however, have ensured that his memory lives for a very long time to come.

His principle disciple and upcoming star vocalist Dr.R.Ganesh started an organisation 'Rasikas of Shri Maharajapuram Santhanam' in memory of his guru to propagate the Maharajapuram tradition in 1993.

This was converted into a trust in 1998. It is known as Shri Maharajapuram Santhanam Rasikas Trust. In the same year, the Trust got the Griffith Road in Chennai where Sri Krishna Gana Sabha is located as Maharajapuram Santhanam Road.

The Trust also pioneered the issue of Musician's Diary. After successfully doing it for three years, it had handed over the job to Mudra.

Come June 23, the Trust organizes Carnatic music concerts every year. This year, however,Shri Maharajapuram Santhanam Memorial Concerts were conducted simultaneously at five places. At Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in Chennai, there was a concert by Ms. Shoba Chandrashekar.

There was also a violin duet by Mysore M. Nagaraj and M.Manjunath. At Lakshmi Kalaivani, Valasaravakkam, a concert of V.Guruguha, a disciple of Sri Maharajajapuram Santhanam, was held. At Sri Sabapathy Sangeetha Gana Sabha in Chidambaram, Maharajapuram Srinivasan gave a concert. Tamil Isai Sangam in Karaikudi saw T.V. Ramprasadh giving a performance. C.B. Ramanarayanan gave a concert at Krishna Gana Sabha, Adoni.

The main event was held in Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai. The programme saw financial assistance distributed to Shri.M.R. Ganesan (Mridangam), Shri K Ganamurthi (Devotional Music), Embar Shri.R. Vaghulabharanam (Namasankeerthanam-Tabla) and Mrs. Uma (wife of Late Sri T D Balu, Ghatam Vidwan). Mediclaim policies were also distributed to musicians. Violin maestro Sri Kunnakudy Vaidyanathan presided over the function. Noted danseuse Dr. Padma Subramaniam, Sri V Narasimhan (Secretary, Asthika Samaj, Tiruvanmiyur) and R. Ganesh, Regional Manager (PR & Publicity), LIC of India, paid homage to Shri Majarajapuam Santhanam.

Shri Maharajapuram Santhanam was among the very few Carnatic vocalists who drew the largest of appreciative audiences.

He was endowed with a vibrant, easy-paced melodic voice and an attractive style, which was at once absorbing and richly rewarding. It was partly inherited and partly his own. He traversed the upper and the lower octaves with so much felicity. His rejuvenating voice cast a magic spell. He sprinkled it with arresting brikas. He carried with him the halo of his illustrious father Shri. Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer.

The Maharajapuram School has completed 88 years of classic concerts as it has been presenting rich and capacious musical meals through sabhas, aradhanas, festivals et al since 1911 when 'Sangita Bhupathi' Shri Maharajapuram Viswanatha Ayyar started giving concerts.

His inspired music, his fertile Manodharma and the grandeur of presentation immortalized him. The great legacy has been faithfully inherited by his talented son and disciple Shri.Maharajapuram Santhanam and further being continued by the latter's sons - Sri.Ramachandran and Sri.Srinivasan - and by his disciple Dr.R.Ganesh. Only a few traditions in music are blessed in this manner to carry the banner of original perceptor.

Shri.Maharajapuram Santhanam was born at Sirunangur, a small village in Tamil Nadu, on 20th May 1928 to Shri. Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer and Smt.Visalakshi. He had his initial training in music under Melattur Sama Dikshitar and then, of course, under his illustrious father. He followed him in his concerts.

Simultaneously, Shri Santhanam completed his academic studies in the Town High School, Kumbakonam in 1945. He announced his arrival on the stage in 1948 by giving a maiden concert at the South Indian Club in Calcutta. His music had a distinct pattern and unmatched mix of Lakshana and Lakshyagnana. His voice had a fine timber with an excellent sheen. His voice and the method of rendering had kept the audience on the edge always.

It was widely acknowledged that Santhanam always managed to catch the pulse of the audience and catered to its taste. His concerts were rich in tradition and packed with melody. Yet, they proved easy for every rasika to understand and enjoy.

Well-known critic Subbudu noted once that 'his (Santhanamís) music was a grand alchemy of melody, method and mathematics. A Master of Communication, he took note of the pulse of the audience and enjoyed the best of rapport.'

Shri Santhanam held many important positions. He was the Head of the Department of Music at Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan College of Music, Jaffna, Sri Lanka, between 1960-65. He was the founder Secretary of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai. He was in the expertsí committee of the Music Academy, Chennai, for a long time. He was Asthana Vidwan with the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam, Sri Kamakoti Peetam, Kanchipuram, Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Ashrama, Mysore, Sri Venkateswara Temple, Pittsburgh, USA, and Government of Tamil Nadu.

Funded by Dr.R.Ganesh, the Trust has very many objectives. Among others, it wants to

To promote classical Carnatic music among youngsters all over India and also abroad.
To teach youngsters classical Carnatic music, especially the Maharajapuram tradition.
To build an auditorium in the name of Shri Maharajapuram Santhanam for music performances and promotion of other fine arts.
To set up an audio/video library of collections of great artistes for rasikas and artistes to listen to great performances.
To conduct concert series / cultural programmes at regular intervals.
To hold programmes on 23rd June - the day on which Shri Maharajapuram Santhanam gave his last concert.
To give scholarships to deserving students in Carnatic vocal and instrumental music. Also, to encourage talents in other areas like education, sports and other arts.
To give financial assistance to artistes who are in poor economic status.
To set up centres at major cities of the country to teach classical music in the Maharajapuram tradition.
To institute awards for outstanding musicians - both young and old.

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