Doyens of Music – Vocal

Santhanagopalan – Neyveli to world arena

The sound of music lured me to unravel our priceless treasure – music, states this multi-faceted personality who imparts music through a popular TV channel. Blessed with a ringing voice and fluency in communication, he has proved that art is a vehicle of essential knowledge. He brings the magic of music in his inimitable style.

Can you guess the person? Neyveli Santhanagopalan is the musician I am referring to. Scion of a great musical genealogy, his first guru was his mother Jayalakshmi Ammal. The pervasive atmosphere of music at home made him swim in the ocean of nadam and layam. His initial training under Chembai Anantharama Bhagavathar and Srirangam Sri Ranganathan made him understand music in all its dimensions. His arangetram in Kerala Kala Samajam in Neyveli showcased his prodigious talents.

An admirer of Maharajapuram Santhanam, Santhanagopalan imbibed the intricacies of music under his tutelage. The maestro from Madurai, T N Seshagopalan, took him under his wings and channelised his potential.

In his gurukulavasam with Seshagopalan, he learnt that sangitam and sahityam are identical twins. Tanjore Sankara Iyer and Vellore Ramabhadran are my manaseeka gurus who made me look into the past, live in the present and search for more, states Santhanagopalan.

A true nadopasaka, he feels that nadopasana is the best way of realising the divine. Music is not for the cerebrum but for the soul and rigorous practice is essential to make a mark, opines this international guru. He is able to convey the entire gamut of human emotions musically which has made him a crowd-puller.

Santhanagopalan combines erudition and devotion and straddles the orthodox and modern milieu with élan. He has assiduously enlarged his repertoire to keep the audience engrossed.

Since Carnatic music is repetitive and elitist, he has gained proficiency in playing the veena and also percussion instruments. A renowned guru, his Chandrasekara Guru Kripa is a music factory for budding artistes.

A professional to the hilt, he has given performances all over India and the world.

He is a recipient of several awards and titles and is gifted with a fine sense of humour. He recalls how a person from Coimbatore mistook him for an astrologer. Since I was teaching Navagraha Kritis on a TV channel, that person from Coimbatore, after viewing my programme, thought I was an astrologer and landed in my house with his daughter’s horoscope seeking some clarification regarding the planetary positions, recalls Santhanagopalan in a light vein.

He blends sampradaya with creativity by conducting lec-dems and workshops. A devout person, he reminiscences his association with the Sage of Kanchi, his icon.

His wife Meera is also a musician and is a perfect foil to him. His children are rising stars in the musical horizon. Since Carnatic music is a majestic vehicle of Indian classicism, it is in the hands of youngsters to preserve, nurture and cherish it, opines Santhanagopalan.

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