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Three Generations of Flute in Atlanta

June 2006
Three Generations of Flute in Atlanta

An enchanting evening with three generations of flute was held at The Hindu Temple of Atlanta under the auspices of Carnatic Music Association of Georgia (CAMAGA) on May 6th. Renowned flautist Dr N. Ramani was accompanied by his son R. Thyagarajan and grandson T. Atul Kumar.

Dr. Ramani's illustrious career spans over five decades during which time he has acquired a name for himself as one of the greatest instrumentalists in the present day carnatic music. When asked about his initiation into Carnatic music and acquaintance with flute, Dr Ramani said that he was born in a family of rich musical tradition. His grandfather, and first Guru, Sri Aazhiyur Narayanaswami Iyer was a well known flute artist who could play violin, harmonium as well as sing. Dr. Ramani started playing flute at a young age of 5. He later started learning from his maternal uncle, T.R Mahalingam, (Mali) an accomplished flute maestro. In1956 he gave his first concert in Madras Music Academy. Since then, Dr Ramani has performed numerous concerts both in India and Abroad. He has played a lot of jugalbandi concerts with noted Hindustani flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia. Dr Ramani has won a variety of awards including Sangita Kalanidhi, Sangeetha Choodamani, Kalaimamani, Sangeetha Natak Academy Award, Chowdiah Memorial Award, Padmasree, and the Doctorate from Arizona, USA.

Thyagarajan, Dr.Ramani's son, initially felt that it was tough to emulate his father but later through various opportunities and exposure, developed his own style and has become a flautist in his own right. Dr.Ramani's grandson, Atul Kumar, joined the duo in the performance. Dr. Ramani, Thyagarajan and Atul kumar began the concert with the varnam in Nalinakanti followed by a kriti on Ganesha in raga Atana. Alapana in Mohanam was expansive, bringing out the essence of the raga and letting the listeners soak in the melody of the flute. The all time favorites like ‘Brova Bharama', ‘Srinivasa Thiruvenkata mudayay', ‘Kurai onrum illai', etc provided necessary highlights for the listeners.

Dr Ramani commented," The younger generation is able to listen to lot of recordings of masters which help them increase their depth and knowledge. In the olden days one had limited exposure to concerts as well as no technology to record." His advice to young students is to practice hard and improve on their music. In all the evening was a special treat for Carnatic music followers in Atlanta.

CAMAGA, a not for profit organization, was started in 1998 to promote South Indian classical music known as Carnatic music in the Atlanta area. It is the premier Carnatic music organization in the US. Dr. Ram Sriram, the President, stated, "The primary objectives of CAMAGA are to promote classical music among the younger individuals living in the U.S. and, also to preserve Indian art, culture and values." A list of upcoming concerts can be found at CAMAGA's website - www.camaga.org

--Madhumati Rao

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