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The Saxaphone Legend is No More With us
11 Oct, 2019

Kadri Gopalnath who breathed life into the Saxophone is no more

It is with immense grief that we record the passing away of “Saxophone Chakaravarthy”, Padmasri Kadri Gopalnath today. He became a legend in his lifetime. Inspired by listening to band-playing in the Mysore Palace, Kadri, as that was the way he was affectionately called, put his heart and soul into the Saxophone to make it “sing” carnatic music and thus became its pioneer. It was certainly a Herculean effort something akin to the stress and strain that Sri A K C Natarajan underwent to make the clarinet gain its place on the firmament of carnatic music. Both enjoyed the love of labour.

He always remembered his gurus, first his father Thaniappa, himself a nagaswara vidwan and then Sri Goplakrishna Iyer. He also remembers with awe the immense guidance given to him by Sri T V Gopalakrishnan.

Kadri was awarded the Padmasri in 2004 and valued above everything his position as an Asthana Vidwan both at Kanchi Mutt and Sringeri Mutt. He immensely cherishes the Kalaimamani award bestowed on him by the State of Tamil Nadu when Kalaignar Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister. Bangalore University had honoured him with a doctorate and duly recognized him and so did the Sangeet Natak Akademy. He has toured the world over making his mark in every continent. Making his debut in the film “Duet” by K Balachander he became a much sought-after cine musician though his heart remained with classical music. He has mentioned in an interview how A R Rahman would create exclusive slots for him for the sax to be heard prominently.

He has played both with heavy accompanying instruments like the thavil and also to the accompaniment of the gentle mridangam. His constant companion for the past twenty five years has been the violinist A Kanyakumari and their concerts became crowd-pullers.

The passion to learn became an integral part of his career and that always helped him reach great heights. He was a picture of humility wherever he went and whatever was the stature of the awards and accolades he received. He understood rasika-requirements and played with the rasika always at the back of his mind.

He passed away in a hospital in his own place, Mangalore.

S Sivakumar

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