Passion riding on the beats of the ghatam

Percussion


On the beat: Ghatam vidwan Srishyla

The vidwan was in the public eye recently when the Percussive Arts Centre in Bangalore recognised his achievements by conferring the Puttachar Memorial Award on him. A number cruncher by day, Srishyla, is on a totally different turf once the clock strikes five and often has to rush off to accompany some leading vidwan or the other in concerts.

The shy and reticent musician took to the mridangam quite early in life, and was put through his paces by leading mridangam exponent TAS Mani who took him under his wing and served as a guide and teacher. His attention soon drifted to another percussion instrument, the ghatam and Srishyla soon made his debut at the age of 16 accompanying the famous Bellary Brothers.

The instrument was slowly gaining popularity in Carnatic music circles and this proved to be a boon for rising artistes like Srishyla whose name soon began to spread far and wide. Coming under the influence of another leading vidwan Arjun, the gifted artiste picked up the nuances of the instalment and became proficient in tani avarthanams, an acid test for any accompanist.

Srishyla is today a much sought after ghatam vidwan. He has played in concerts all over the country and has also toured extensively abroad accompanying stalwarts like TAS Mani in percussion ensembles held at England and also in jazz ensembles in various European countries, including inter alia Germany and Switzerland. During his European sojourn he also had the privilege of giving accompaniment to the famous jazz group ‘Embryo’ and an LP that blended both western and classical music was the result.
He also accompanied ace vocalist Madurai TN Seshagopalan to Bahrain and also performed in several other Gulf countries as well. His tour with the saxophone wizard Kadri Gopalnath which involved a series of concerts all over the UK and the South Asia Festival which was broadcast extensively over BBC was another turning point in his career, feels Srishyla.

A graded artist of AIR and Doordarshan, Srishyla has participated in concerts on almost all TV channels and has had the honour of performing at a SAARC Summit at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. Srishyla has given off his best in the company of some of the biggest names in the Carnatic firmament like Maharajapuram Santhanam, Unnikrishnan, T M Krishna, Sudha Raghunathan, Sowmya, Mandolin Srinivas and N Ravikiran to name just a few.

Queried as to how he manages to accompany veterans as well as the nouveau greats, Srishyla is all praise for the young singers who have carved their niche but also cherishes the memory of accompanying men and women who are eternally respected and revered by classical music lovers all over the globe.

While there are many around who feel that classical music is slowly but surely yielding place to the fast paced and more popular light music, not to mention film music vidwans like Srishyla are highly optimistic that Carnatic music is here to stay. “The very fact that more and more youngsters are taking to Carnatic music in a big way is an indication that classical music has a bright future,” says the maestro, Srishyla.

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