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S Rajam Memorial day
17 February, 2014

- Uma Krishnaswamy

Sunaada Trust celebrated S Rajam Memorial Day (95th Birth anniversary) at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on 11th Feb 2014. Smt Pramila Gurumurthy, daughter in law of S Rajam, and Head of the Department of Music, Madras University, welcomed the chief guest and other dignitaries and the gathering, and also thanked the sponsors.   The trust conferred “S Rajam Award of Excellence” to Abhishek Raghuram in recognition of preservation, promotion, and propogation of Bharatiya Samskriti. She also talked about Abhishek Raghuram’s uniqueness, rhythmic dynamics and manodharma, his untiring practice and dedication to the art. The citation was handed over to Abhishek, by Mr V V Sundaram, and the award which included a medal and cash award of Rupees Twenty thousand, by Sangita Kala Acharya Sri P S Narayanaswamy, his guru and the chief guest of the day. The accompanying artistes were also honoured.

Sri P S Narayanaswamy in his speech about S Rajam, fondly recollected their days together at AIR Chennai. He also said that S Rajam was a humble person who never clamoured for recognition.  He was also proficient in Veena, and Kanjira, and, the uncanny knack he had in tuning songs. He promoted Koteeswara Iyer’s 72 melakarta songs and apurva raga kritis.  Also mentioned S. Rajam's promotion of Koteeswara Iyer's 72 melakarta songs and apurva raga kritis, and also his paintings of the Karnatic music trinity and  Navagraha pictures etc,which speak for  themselves.  He then blessed his sishya Abhishek Raghuram wishing him a bright musical journey ahead. 

 Mr K N Ramaswamy, Director, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, said that S Rajam  was an excellent human being and compared  him to Ravi Varma. He said that the society should feel sorry for not having given him due recognition in his lifetime. Sri N Krishnamurthy, Secretary, Parthasarathy Swami Sabha in his address, mentioned that S Rajam was a good teacher as well. He also made a special mention about Abhishek’s virtuosity in layam and his tristayi reach, and his spontaneous pallavi singing capability. The awardee, while expressing his greetings to the elders on the dias, said that it seems easier to sing than talk!!   He thanked the Sunaada Trust for having chosen him, and his guru for having made him what he is today, and the other dignitaries for their inspiring words. He also thanked all his rasikas and his family. Mr V V Sundaram said that Abhishek Raghuram is blessed with a great guru and, he is also utilising the God given talent very well. He wished him well and also mentioned that he brings in “excitement in praacheenam”. Last he could not but recall S. Rajam's simplicity and humility mentioning that he would accept a $10 and a  $1500 gift with the  same  respect.

Coming to the performance of Abhishek that evening,
two qualities have to be mentioned of him: He  is an amalgam of top-class  musicians like  Madurai Mani Iyer, Dr Bala Murali Krishna,  T N Seshagopalan to name a few. His music, at one point or the other, reminds you of these stalwarts.  Secondly, his imagination runs uncontrollably, with a speed far beyond delivery.  The following lines from K Balachander’s two film songs are very apt descriptions of these.  “Oru puram Parthal Mithilaiyin Mythili....” from Apurva Ragangal and “Ganagai vellam Sangukkulle Adangi vidaadu.....” from Avargal. 

He started his concert with Dikshitar’s Gajarajena Rakshitoham in Aarabhi, with brisk kalpana swaram at Dinakarakoti. Then he proceeded to sing Papanasam Sivan’s Balakrishnan Paadamalar in Dhanyasi. The slight voice problem vanished after this. The Vasanta raga alapana, which followed, was ebullient   with mesmerising upper octave sancaras. Thyagaraja’s Seetamma Mayamma with a chittaswaram, had elaborate niraval at Dharanijabhagavatagre....” and  a  good spell of Kalpanaswaram wherein his manodharma  was unleashed totally with apt replies from the violinist.  He gave a different dimension to Karaharapriya in his alapana and there was “visranthi” in it.  And Chakkani Raja Margamu followed with swaram at  the pallavi line. The violinist Akkarai Subbalakshmi’s Vasanta was pleasing and her Karaharapriya essay was traditional. Befitting the occasion, he chose to sing  Edayya gati Enakku, the Koteeswara Iyer compositon in Chalanattai, and concluded the concert with the lilting Poorvi  Tillana. The percussion support from Trivandrum Balaji on the mridangam and K V Gopalakrishnan was excellent and the tani was well appreciated.

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