EMINENT VIOLINIST L Subramaniam is constantly working to fulfil his father’s dream of bringing the violin to the forefront. “My only aim is to get the violin recognised.
Although it has already charted a long course in the musical journey, my sole endeavor will be to bring back the glorious days of my father, mentor and guru late Prof V Lakshminarayana who has been the greatest influence in my life” he says emphatically. Subramaniam was in Bhopal on Friday to perform at cultural fest Badal Rag held at Bharat Bhawan.
In an interview with Hindustan Times the maestro talked about his melodious voyage over the years.
You have been the pioneer in exploring intelligent fusions between European classical music, jazz and South Indian music. Why did you tread a different path of fusion?
Ninety-nine per cent of my performances spell out Carnatic music. But my western compositions have gained more popularity. The fact that I have a master’s degree in Western Classical Music from California helped me in fetching many offers from abroad. And when you have approached by the likes of Larry Corryel, Stephane Grapelli and Zubin Mehta who often commission me to write a composition or an orchestral piece, you can’t decline. Recently, on a tour to UK for a musical concert, I played with the London Symphony wherein two items called ‘Nadapriya’ and Spring Rhapsody were recited.
What are your forthcoming projects?
Sony BMG has released my composition called ‘Sangeet Sangam’ recently. It also features mellifluous notes from late Ustad Bismillah Khan. Another piece called the Laxminaryana Global Music Festival will soon be available at the music stores. A double CD which has me playing with the Norwegian orchestra currently hit the floors. A DVD consisting of a documentary called ‘Violin from the Heart’, by the French Television (shot in different countries) has already been telecasted in Europe and US. It will be officially released in India on the September 11 in Delhi. ‘Global Fusion’ with Kavita (including orchestration with musicians from various countries) and a DVD capturing the ‘Live concert at the Royal Albert Hall’ in London are other releases, which I am eagerly looking forward to.
Can you recall some of your memorable performances?
I can’t point out any one. There are many but some of the enjoyable and the touching have been the concerts with Yehudi Menuhin at United Nations and a special performance written in the memory of my mother L Seethalakshmi presented at the Lincoln Center in New York. Doing the ‘Fantasy on Vedic chants’ in collaboration with Zubin Mehta in 1987 for my mother holds a very special place in my heart. My Australian tour in the month of April was also very overwhelming. It was an open-air festival and our team thoroughly lived every moment of it. My recitals at Adelaide, Melbourne Asian Games, and Wellington Art festival along with my team including Sathya Sai, K Shekhar and K Gopinathan invited huge rounds of applause.
Both your brothers also play the violin. How are they different in the approach?
Well, they do their own thing. My elder brother Vaidyanathan loves writing compositions and my younger brother Shankar is more into rock pop kind of things. Earlier, my sisters also used to sing but now they are married.
What has been your family’s contribution in shaping your music?
My family has always been the driving force for my music. I am striving hard to bring violin perpetually to the mainstream so as to accomplish my father’s vision. My son ‘Ambi’ tours with me and we perform violin duets and my experience at Gstaad in Switzerland for a musical festival for Yehudi Menuhin last month was like a vacation where we savoured the scenic beauty with all those beautiful valleys and water bodies surrounding the place. My daughter Seetaa sings and the brother-sister duo is coming up with an innovative composition which will be staged during a music festival at Bangalore later this month.
How has Kavita collaborated with you musically?
I am working on an untitled album with my wife Kavita for the last five years, which will hopefully get released latest by December this year. I have composed the entire music for this project and Kavita will be singing with some guest artists like Lucky Ali, Hariharan, Sonu Nigam and Pandit Jasraj. The lyrics have been given by Sameer, Javed Akhter and Ravindra Jain.
Do you think the violin is gradually fading into oblivion as other modern instruments are gaining popularity with young artistes?
No, the violin is very much here and its recognition abroad speaks volumes about it. In South India also violin has stolen the show, for it has become an inseparable part of Indian Classical music specially the Carnatic score. Speaking truthfully, what has actually happened is that whenever I have played abroad for example at the Laksminarayana Global music festival with icons like Stanley Clarke and George Duke it has garnered more publicity and people tend to write more about these concerts.
What other musical elements are you infusing in your compositions?
Music has various depths and dimensions and therefore it can perform at different levels and I am trying to include the entire spiritual technical and the meditative aspects into my pieces.