Classical Flautist, Tamil Nadu, India
Date of Birth : 23 - Aug - 1963
Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar was born in a reputed musical family, she started learning flute at the age of five from her gurus Padmasree Sangeetha Kalanidhi Smt Sikkil Neela (Mother) and Smt. Sikkil Kunjumani (Aunt). Learning was very informal. She was gifted a small flute in Nagercoil. They very casually taught her how to create sound, special blowing exercises and sarali varisais in ragam ‘Harikamboji’. So slow and non-receptive she was to music. However her mother and aunt used to coax and cajole her to play on the flute.
Lessons progressed slowly until her 15th year when they decided to do her arangetram. This was done at “Sakthivel llam”, Mylapore their spiritual guru’s house (Sri Mani Swamigal) in an unconventional manner with Sri. S.D. Sridhar on the violin and Sri Srimushnam.V. Rajarao on mridangam. Later she passed through auditions in all India radio for youth programme where she performed at regular intervals.
It was at this time that she happened to be auditioned and selected by Doordarshan Kendra in 1980 to perform in “Ilam thendral” programme (a 15 minutes live slot). She had played Thyagaraja’s tholijenma-belahari, Ramakathasudha-madhyamavathi and a song in behag. This programme brought her lots of appreciation from many great musicians like late Smt. Brindamma and late Sri Nagarajan-reputed Khanjira artiste. It was at this point that late Sri Yagnaraman of Krishna Gana Sabha (who happened to watch the TV programme) gave her the first opportunity to perform her debut concert at the sabha in August 1980. From then on, her musical responsibilities gradually increased.
At this juncture, she got the first prize from all India radio for “wind instrument category” blessed by late Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi (MSS) in 1982 and was there upon graded to give regular concerts in radio. At the same time, her inter collegiate music competitions (represented Stella Maris college where she studied) were also instrumental in building up her confidence to emerge as a successful musician.
It was during her final year, that she had the opportunity to participate in the “Violin Venu Veena” trio ensemble with smt Lalagudi Vijayalakshmi on the violin and her friend Padmavathi on the veena. Soon this became successful and Lalgudi suggested such an ensemble for concerts. They performed their debut concert at Krishna Gana Sabha along with Veenai Jayanthi on 1.1.1986. Her association with Lalgudi’s family taught her many values in life such as discipline, hard work and dedication to the cause of music.
It was on 20th June of that year that she joined the family of the legendary MSS through marriage. This indeed provided her an additional mileage to attain perfection in her musical career. Besides the VVV ensemble, she also had the opportunity to perform with Sikkil Sisters as flute trio which helped her to improve her repertoire in the concert platform. Her very first gift from her husband and mother-in-law was an electronic Tambura. MSS would teach her about Sruthi Suddham with this Tambura & she would practice the same every day. In this way, she was very lucky to get the right kind of encouragement from her in-laws in her musical journey.
She studied in Rosary Matriculation School. No one knew that she would play flute until she stepped into 7th standard. She was very shy and refused to participate in school cultural activities. Later, one of her teachers took the initiative and made her play a solo piece. This became an opening for her to participate in inter school music competitions. Her most interesting subject in school was biology and this encouraged her to take up botany as her major in Stella Maris College. Just loved that subject and used to be one among the class toppers. Soon her principal and head of the department, on knowing her potential, would allow her to participate in all cultural activities of the college. As a result, her interest in music blossomed and winning prizes for her college gave her great confidence to pursue her musical career.
During the same period, she started giving concerts in sabhas both in Chennai and outside. After her graduation, she joined Presidency College for post graduation in botany. It was destiny which completely made her a music professional as she was forced to discontinue her M.Sc degree. She thanked god for showing her this divine path of music. Her other interests included painting, embroidery and a bit of creative hand work.
Sikkil Bani - This style has evolved in a very unique way in the sense that when the song is rendered on the flute, every syllable, and every word in the song will be felt by the rasika. To create this bani or style, full credit goes to her grandfather (Sri.Natesa Iyer –a reputed Mridanga Vidwan) He used to sing phrases in different ragas, songs etc and Neela used to exactly repeat the same on flute in spite of least knowing how to place the fingers according to the tune. The only thing she knew was to reproduce the same sound with emphasis as in vocal music.
He would correct her till she attained perfection in that particular phrase. Every evening, he used to ask Neela to have a practice session with mridangam and violin. For violin, they had Sikkil Balu who grew up with them. The sisters who then started performing as duo, later developed the same with special thuthukara technique.
This style may sound easy to hear but when it comes to playing, it is very intricate and inter-woven with gamakas. One gets the exact feel of hearing vocal music. Another important aspect in this bani is the laya gnyanam (keen sense of rhythm) he has imparted to his daughters.
The unique thuthukara technique along with its gamakas comprises the Sikkil bani. Their repertoire, planning, style of execution, audience psychology and their presentation during a concert has carved a niche for Sikkil Sisters in the hearts of rasikas.Shows & Major Performances
Her mother-in-law, Radha Viswanathan, who insisted that her pursue musical career in all earnestness. Slowly and steadily, she started getting more and more concerts, toured abroad and by god’s grace won awards and accolades. In this context, the VVV ensemble was of immense help in improving her repertoire and boosting her level of self confidence.
Her very first trip abroad was to Mauritius in 1997 which was suggested by the late Smt. Anandhi Ramachandran after which she have been regularly touring different parts in the globe. She deeply grateful to her kind gesture. M.S.amma’s practice sessions with my Mother-in-law taught me many intricate nuances in music. Late Shri Calcutta Krishnamurthy, vocalist and musicologist, late Shri T. Viswanathan, reputed flautist, (both were my neighbors) and late Smt. Sulochana Pattabhiraman were instrumental in imparting sound musical knowledge to her. All these above personalities have contributed to what she today for which she immensely grateful to them.
Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar has given lots of acclaimed performances both in India & overseas.
Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar
New No. 11/4, 2nd floor,Sripuram 2nd st.,
Royapettah, Chennai - 14.
Phone: +9144.2811.5885, +9144.2811.5884
Mobile: 91- 94440 85884
Skype id: Sikkilmalasekhar1Awards & Recognitions
LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD From Sahara India Parivar at Lucknow in April 2011.
THE 2008 EXCELLENCE AWARD Conferred Jointly By Youth Center For Music & Arts. U.S.A..& Nation To Nation Networking Limited
Shanmukha Sangeetha Shiromani Bombay Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha- MR.S.M.KRISHNA, GOVERNOR OF MAHARASHTRA
Received the title of VENUGAANA SIRONMANI at DUBAI by Dubai Thamizh family.
NADAKKANAL From Nadakkanal ( Regd), Chennai Founded by Sri Pathamadai Krishnan.
The Music Academy's MD Ramanathan Award for a senior flautist from Sri RV Vaidyanatha Iyer, Secy. Dept. of Culture, Govt. of India.
Kartik Fine Arts' Isai Peroli title from Smt Vyjayanthimala Bali
Kalki Centenary Award, instituted by the Kalki Memorial Trust, from Smt Prabha Sreedevan, Judge, Madras High Court
Bharat Kalachar's Yuva Kala Bharati from Lalgudi Sri G Jayaraman
The title Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamilnadu. Kum. J Jayalalitha gave away the award
The Flute Mali award of the Music Academy, Madras, from Dr Raja Ramanna
The Nyapati Ranganayakammal Award for Junior Flautists of the Music Academy, Madras, from Smt ML Vasanthakumari
The Flautist award and Main Artist award of the Youth Association for Classical Music, Madras from Sri DK Jayaraman