In 1991, alternative rock band REM released Losing My Religion, a song that stayed on Billboard’s Top 100 throughout the year at number four. It won two Grammy Awards and shot REM to stardom, overnight. In 1995, the Bollywood blockbuster Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge released and its signature tune, Tujhe Dekha To Ye Jaana Sanam, became a rage. Both these musical phenomenon had one thing in common — an instrument called the mandolin.
An 18th century, Italian-origin instrument, the mandolin was popularised in India from 1978, by U Shrinivas, a Carnatic classical artist. Often referred to as the Mozart of classical Indian music, he is the first Indian to have excelled with this instrument. “He picked a relatively alien instrument and made it his own. He changed the traditional eight-string mandolin to a five-string instrument, to highlight the nuances of Carnatic music,” says U Rajesh, Shrinivas’s younger brother. For his ground-breaking work in the field of Indian classical music, Shrinivas was awarded the Padma Shri in 1998.
Shrinivas passed away in September 2014. A year on, U Rajesh and Carnatic piano artist Anil Srinivasan are gearing up for a tribute concert to celebrate his legacy. “It has been a year and I am still as shocked as I was when he passed away. But preparing for the concert has brought back a lot of happy memories that we shared,” says Rajesh.
Along with flautist Rakesh Chaurasia and tabla artist Satyajit Talwalkar, Rajesh and Srinivasan identify themselves as Strings in the Wind, a band formed for the concert. “We will perform Shrinivas’s favourite compositions, including songs in Raga Kerwani. Our individual pieces will reflect what Shrinivas taught each one of us and is a personal ode to him,” says Srinivasan.
The artists are hoping to perform annually (around September and October) to keep Shrinivas’s memory alive. “He taught us how to perform for ourselves, and find peace in our music. Paying him a musical tribute is the least we can do,” says Rajesh.
What to attend
The tribute concert is part of NCPA’s One World, Many Musics festival, that celebrates the diversity of cross cultural musical productions.
Strings in the Wind will perform at the Experimental Theatre on October 23, 7pm onward.
Indian Ocean will perform at Tata Theatre, NCPA on October 24, 7pm
Where: NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call : 6622 3737
Tickets: Rs 400 onward