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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Transmitting the Guru - Shishya Tradition

Sangeetha Kala Acharya P.S. Narayanaswami

(courtesy rsmridangam.com)

Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswami was a welcome guest at Parvathi over many years when he came along with his illustrious guru Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Sri K. Srikantiah remembers him as a very dedicated disciple of his guru. Sri PSN, as he is fondly called by rasikas, used to play on the tambura and give vocal support to Sri Semmangudi. On this occasion, however, we are happy to feature a full-fledged vocal concert of Sri PSN in the company of Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman on the violin and Sri Vellore Ramabhadran on the mridangam. The concert took place during the Ramanavami festival of 1976.

We glean from The Hindu and Carnatica these biographical details:

P. S. Narayanaswami is one of the most prominent among the several famous disciples of Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Sri PSN is hardly known by his full name. He is so popular as a teacher of music in Chennai that most of the young musicians of today would have had a period of training under him. Certainly, this speaks volumes about his capacity and reputation as a great concert teacher.

Born on February 24, 1934, at Konerirajapuram, to Dr. P. N. Subramaniam, a medical practitioner, Sri PSN exhibited his talent in music at a very tender age and his parents put him under Thirupampuram Somasundaram Pillai, a nagaswaram vidwan, for his music lessons. Sri PSN made rapid progress and later came under Sangita kalanidhi Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer, and then under Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Under the gurukulavasa system, he joined Semmangudi in the early 1950s.

Sri PSN had started giving concerts, both public and through All India Radio, at the age of 15. He has received a number of awards starting from when he was just 12 years old! To name some of them: Bala Gana Ratnam (1946), Sangeeta Sikhamani (1972), Sangeeta Nadakkanal (1991), Sangeetaacharya (1992), Madhura Gana Mamani (1994), Sangeeta Kala Sagaram (1996), Isai Selvam (1997), Innisai Chakravarthy (1999), Gana Kalanidhi (1999), Sangeeta Kala Acharya (2000), Sangeetha Choodamani (2003) and Padma Bhushan (2012). He was also made the Asthana Vidwan of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham in 1990.

Vellore Ramabhadran, P.S. Narayanaswami, Lalgudi Jayaraman - 1976

Today Sri PSN is well known as a teacher of many star disciples. He is known to attend his disciples’ concerts regularly and give them much encouragement. He talked to Carnatica some years ago about his methods of teaching and his views. He trains aspiring professionals in around 40 ragas, and makes them work on those for rendering in concerts. He does not encourage his students to follow his own style but leaves it to their intelligence to develop their own style and maintain it. He states that in order to achieve a certain proficiency, each song should be sung at least 100 times!

Coming to this concert, we feature some elaborate renditions in Shankarabharana, Kamavardhini (MD: Kashiramakriya), and Mohana. After a vibrant Viriboni, the not-so-common Neranammithi in Chakravaka receives vigorous treatment. The Shankarabharana main piece- alapana, rendition of Enduku Peddala and the swara exchanges- is the highlight of this concert. It is a delight to feel the camaraderie and mutual appreciation among these three contemporary stalwarts. The tempo of the song as well as the solid vidwat on display gives an insight into Sri PSN’s musical values that eschew vocal callisthenics as well as overworked manodharma. The overall feeling is one of a very satisfying concert experience. The violin and mridangam accompaniments carry the hallmark of genius.

Details (Parvathi Ramanavami festival, 10.4.1976)

P.S. Narayanaswami – Vocal
Lalgudi Jayaraman – Violin
Vellore Ramabhadran – Mridangam

Song List

01. Viriboni – Bhairavi Ata Tala varna – Pachimiriyam Adiappayya *** 02. Neranammithi – Chakravaka – Mysore Vasudevacharya *** 03. Ramanatham Bhajeham – Kamavardhini – Muthuswami Dikshitar *** 04. Paripahi – Mohana – Swathi Thirunal *** 05. Enduku Peddala – Shankarabharana – Thyagaraja *** 06. Ramajogi – Khamach – Bhadrachala Ramadasu*** 07. Shloka – Saveri, Bilahari, Sindhu Bhairavi *** 08. Bhaja Bhaja Manasa – Sindhu Bhairavi – Swathi Thirunal *** 09. Thillana – Darbari Kanada – Lalgudi Jayaraman *** 10. Mangalam ***