K V Navya
"There are two types of people. One are those who dedicate their life to music. Another, who follow a different path in their life but are very passionate about music. I belong to the second category," grins Shiv Subramaniam, a Fullbright scholar who is performing this Margazhi music season in Chennai.
The 27-year-old vocalist resides in New York and flies to India once a year for the Margazhi season. "I developed an interest in music at a very young age. As a child, I would go to sleep listening to a soothing song by my grandmother. As my parents were also interested, they put me in a music class," he told 'News Today'.
"And that was how the voyage started with my guru, P S Narayanaswamy," he says.
He gave his first concert at the age of 16 in Cleveland , Ohio. He says one of his fondest memories was in the same year when he won a competition judged by renowned people like Neyveli Santhanagopalan and Aruna Sayeeram.
"My first concert in Chennai was in 2007 in T Nagar. My guru would sit in the first row and make hand gestures if I was going wrong anywhere and I used to become conscious immediately," he recalled.
When asked about his practice sessions, he says, "When I was younger, I used to practice more as I had more time in hand. Now with the pressure of education, it has come down. When I have concerts, I practice for two to three hours and that is why I love them as I have something to look forward to. Also, I practice with my friends in New York. Once a week we all meet up and drown in melody. While practising with acquintances, you get to know things and learn better as there is an off-beat relationship. The best way to learn music is to teach each other."
He has a doctorate in Sanskrit from Columbia University and has completed comparative literature in 2011. "I am working on a dissertation on Kalidasa by taking three different interpretors of his so that people can reconsider the possibilities of our own relationship to Kalidasa’s poetry," he explained.
Talking about how the West welcomes music, Shiv Subramaniam, he says, "They just listen to the sound and not the lyrics. The positive side is that there is more openness and the drawback is they will not get it if we want to communicate something with them through a ragam."
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