A splendid juggling act!

This professor who teaches at the Vidhya Vardhaka Sangha College in Bangalore is an accomplished singer as well as an erudite scholar. A prolific writer and a sought-after speaker. An avid researcher and a popular teacher. A doctorate in Sanskrit to cap it all. Surely a formidable combination to justify one's trepidation in approaching Prof (Dr) T S Sathyavathi for a peek into her basket of achievements.
But the hesitation is soon put to rest as Dr Sathyavathi comes across as an affable and down-to-earth person without any airs about her. She takes the initiative to spell out her stand on the inevitable opening salvo on her ability to straddle seemingly diverse domains. "I do not see Carnatic Music and Sanskrit as two separate entities but rather as offshoots of the same parent tree of Indian culture. Both are mutually supportive of each other and I have benefited immensely from this." One could not agree with her more for Sathyavathi is known to be a cerebral musician, whose knowledge of Sanskrit  imparts a unique aura to her music with her attention to correct pronunciation, splitting of the syllables and understanding of the lyrics. Her precociousness recognised while still a child, Sathyavathi was groomed by her elder sister Vasanthamadhavi and later by the maestro Sangeetha Kalanidhi R K Srikantan. In her quest to understand the theory behind music, she sought and received guidance from the renowned BVK Shastry.

Stamp of authority

To complete the picture, she also learnt the Tala (rhythmic) aspects of music from the late Bangalore K Venkatram. This unique combination of music, musicology and Sanskrit lends to her lectures and renditions a stamp of scholarship and authority. This was demonstrated clearly in her recent lecture on the composer Harikeshanellur Muthaiah Bhagavatar for the celebrated song ‘Sudhamayee Sudhanidhi’. Her  explanation as to why the composer chose to begin from the upper octave rather than the middle octave to denote the pouring down of Sudha (nectar) by the universal goddess in the apt Amrithavarshini raga is a case in point wherein an otherwise familiar song was explored in a refreshingly different manner. Not surprisingly, she has been invited to present papers at many conferences and seminars, which if compiled together would serve as a compendium for students. Two-time winner for the best lecture demonstration from the Mecca of Carnatic Music, the Music Academy Chennai, Sathyavathi is also an examiner and evaluator for Post-Graduate and doctoral studies in music.

Innate creativity
Her innate creativity has found expression in the many programmes she has conceived and presented like the ones on the poet Kalidasa's works, Kannada writer Pu. Thi. Narasimhachar's musical operas, the compositions of the Carnatic Trinity etc. As a resource person to impart training to teachers, she has explored new frontiers in highlighting the psychological and therapeutic aspects of music.
Passionate about introducing youngsters to music, she has brought out a number of CDs and DVDs on music learning and appreciation. Sathyavathi's recent collaboration with the cultural bodies Ananya and India Foundation for the Arts for the production of a series titled ‘Haadu Hakki’ aimed at attracting children towards music and which was aired on AIR as well as the FM Channel of IGNOU has evoked a tremendous response with requests for an encore still pouring in from all corners of the state.  Awards and honours have naturally found their way to Sathyavathi including the Best Young Musician Award from the Music Academy and the Ganakalashree Title from the Karnataka Gana Kala Parishath among many others. Many of her students are established performers themselves.
Perhaps another little known facet of Sathyavathi is that many new publications on music first undergo checking by her before being printed. The inevitable parting question as to how she manages to find time for all this fades away before utterance when one is reminded that time is of no significance when one enjoys doing what one loves most.

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