At the age of 16, she may have won major honours — from performing in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Mahatma Gandhis 150th anniversary, winning the Bala Pratibha Award, and honours by Kalasagaram, Rasika Ranjana Sabha and Madras Music Academy; but violinist VSP Gayatri Sivani maintains that she never feels ‘left out from what youngsters her age enjoy. Someone who has already started teaching students and helped them participate in competitions, says, “While I enjoy practicing violin everyday, when I am not doing that, I love watching sports, playing and reading. So, I dont think I am missing out on anything much.”

Sivani, who started singing along with her mother, a musician, from the age of three started learning violin from G. Srinivasa Murthy when she turned seven. Making her debut at the age of nine, she went on to give multiple performances across Andhra Pradesh and several other states. “I learned violin from Dr. M. Narmada Gopalakrishnan for a while and have also been learning from Dr. M. Chandrasekharan.”

While her mother recognised her talent as a singer early on, a birth condition — cleft palate — which affects speech was diagnosed. “As a result, the words I speak can be hard to understand. And that poses a problem with the lyrics. Violinists perform solo and also accompany artists. Hence, I decided to learn violin alongside learning vocals from my first guru, G. Srinivasa Murthy.”

Attributing her success to learning at Ganduri Srinivasa Murthy, who besides teaching also organises monthly concerts at his home where students are encouraged to perform as well as organise performances, she adds, “Not only that, but he also later started a ‘sabha’ that invited masters in the field to perform on the stage and at the same time gave a chance to his students to perform.”

Lamenting that many talented youngsters do not get a chance to immerse themselves in Indian classical arts, this violinist feels that finding the right ‘guru’ can be an ordeal, not to mention lack of funding. “I feel there is a need to raise awareness about our art forms too. Organising seminars, talks, lecture demonstrations and question & answer sessions can really help people get a glimpse inside this world.”

The artiste, who was part of the recently organised HCL Concerts’ ‘Baithak with India’s Next-Gen Carnatic Stars’ which also witnessed Mridangist Kishore Ramesh and classical musician Abhishek feels that corporate houses like HCL were doing a commendable job in encouraging young talent. “They have been providing a platform for artists to gain more exposure.”

Clear that she wants to be a professional artist and guru, she says, “That will give me an opportunity not just to perform extensively but also teach what I have learnt from my ‘gurus’.”

(Sukant Deepka can be reached at [email protected])

–IANS

sukant/rs