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Music > Face-To-Face
Y. Prabhu - A Profile
09 December, 2013

- by V.V. Ramani 

Passion for the Arts saw Yagnaraman leave his legal practice to follow his heart - that as an organizer, promoting music and dance. His wife, like most mothers tried to keep her son Prabhu away from the sabhas, just so that he could concentrate on his studies without any distraction. But, it is the forbidden fruit that always is found to be the most delectable! And so, young Prabhu soon found a way of entering the sabhas, listening to cutcheris and watching dance, every time his mother went out!

Hailing as he did, from a traditional family totally steeped in music, from  Ranganathapuram village on the banks of Cauvery in Tanjavur, Prabhu could not help but be drawn into the whirlpool of the Classical arts. Music became an all-consuming passion, surrounded all the time with legendary musicians and dancers frequenting the household especially after his father, Yagnaraman became the founder-secretary of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha. Soon thereafter, he was unanimously elected as the secretary of the Sabha, a post he relinquished only at his death. In the 55 year tenure, he moved on to give the Sabha such a grand stature that artistes unfailingly seek to be presented at this prestigious proscenium year after year.

Yagnaraman, who was a pioneer in his effort to showcase the best talents in music and dance from all over the country, had many ‘firsts’ to his credit. He was responsible for bringing together the various genres of arts with special interest to dance. Along with Dr. Padma Subrahmanian, Yagnaraman began the lecture- demonstration series called the ‘Natya Kala Conference’, and also instituting the coveted ‘Nritya Choodamani’ award for the best talent in dance. He played a key role in shifting the focus of the Music Season into one where Dance also began to play a central role. Understanding that there was no dearth for talent, and unable to do justice in a month’s time, he soon found a way to showcase good talent at his sabha by way of introducing the famous ‘Gokulashtami Series’ in the month of August along with the introduction of presenting the ‘Sangeeta Choodamani’ award.

In such an impressive setting, Prabhu could not but be drawn into the Sabha in full steam taking on the reins after his father’s demise. Knowing that he was carrying the burden of such a legacy which he had to continue without a punctuating break, Prabhu, the established Chartered Accountant chartered his way into the world of music and dance, leaving behind the secure and established world of his family business in the care of his brothers and son!

Continuing the good work that his father had established, Prabhu realized that he could not rest content on the laurels of his father. To commemorate the memory of the unforgettable father, he began the ‘Yagnaraman July Fest’, which provided a platform for talented musicians and dancers to come up with creative experimentations and collaborations which cannot be exhibited in a regular concert during the season which had a classical flavour. It has succeeded in drawing attention to a lot of young talented musicians and also given them the courage and conviction to push the boundaries of the art.

The most recent feather in his cap was the role that he played in bringing together for the first time, two giants of the dance world- two people who understood Krishna, who could sing and emote with such conviction, and two who had the magnetic appeal of drawing large crowds- the inimitable duo- Dr. Padma Subrahmaniam and Pt. Birju Maharaj.

The two main festivals focus on star performers, presenting the best talents. But Prabhu’s focus now is also providing a platform for young talented artistes – he not only provides a free platform with the basic requirements, but also gives them a remuneration which provides enough impetus. The criteria for selection are based on not only the cds given by the young artistes, but also a recommendation coming forth from their respective Gurus.

For a family that promotes the Arts with such a passion, it is strangely ironical that Prabhu’s wife, who is a trained dancer in the Pandanallur baani, did not seek to further her art on the proscenium that has celebrated so many artistes. Prabhu regrets the fact that he did not do enough to nurture her talent, but the solace comes in the form of their young daughter Saashwathi, (trained under violin Maestro , Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman) who has taken to Music with a passion . Besides her interest in Music, she also takes an active part in the organizational duties of the Sabha ideating various thoughts through her fresh insights.

Good work cannot go unrecognized. And Prabhu is a happy man basking in the recognition that Kartik Fine Arts has bestowed upon him in the form of “KARTIK RAJAGOPAL AWARD FOR BEST ORGANIZER”.

About Sabhash - Everything about classical music, dance, drama and a platform for inclusive entertainment is the one-stop destination for the latest news and information on the performing arts of India - classical music and dance, theatre, bhajans, discourses, folk performances, and other lesser known art forms. Institutions that revolve around the performing arts have exploded in numbers, and thanks to the Internet which has made information easily accessible, the number of rasikas has grown too. Corporate patronage has played a big part in increasing the world-wide reach of the Indian arts. Sabhash wishes to be a platform for inclusive growth giving an equal opportunity and recognition to not only the main performer but also the artistes who accompany them on stage, and the people who work backstage and play the role of unsung heroes.