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By Lalgudi G. J. R. Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi
Saturday, May 4, 2024 | 4:30 PM
Fugett Middle School Auditorium
500 Ellis Lane
West Chester, PA 19380
Lalgudi Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi (Violin)
Lalgudi Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi belong to the fifth generation in the sishya parampara of the saint composer Sadhguru Tyagaraja. They were groomed in music under their gurus – their grandfather Sri Lalgudi Gopala Iyer and father legendary violinist-composer Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman. The duo has imbibed the essence of the Lalgudi bani and enhanced it significantly by their own virtuosity and creativity.
Lalgudi Krishnan’s debut in 1973 was graced by the presence of both his gurus. His music is noted for its sensitive tonality, spontaneity, tasteful exploration of vivadi ragas, innovative kalpana svaras replete with melody, intricate rhythmic patterning and innovative korvais, which have been acclaimed by veteran masters and contemporary musicians.
Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi first went on stage in 1979. Gifted with a fine sense of aesthetics, Vijayalakshmi’s music is replete with raga bhava and saukhyam. Vijayalakshmi’s raga essays instantly capture the essence and soul of the raga, with a freshness of perspective in every exposition. Pandit Ravi Shankar himself once observed, ‘You have your father’s fingers!’
Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi are best known for their scintillating violin duet concerts. Their duets are marked by pristine classicism and musical dignity, exquisite melody and intricate rhythm, deep intellect, refreshing creativity, instrumental virtuosity, wide repertoire, interesting and stimulating pallavis, engaging impromptu raga and swara repartees. Though they are both torch bearers of the Lalgudi bani, their styles are in fact distinct and contrasting in a way that complements each other and enhances the beauty and concert experience. They also perform solos, where audiences get to enjoy their respective individual styles. True to their bani, they use their commendable violin virtuosity to project artha bhava and raga bhava rather than to showcase instrumental skill for its own sake.
Krishnan has also provided violin accompaniment to legendary musicians such as the doyen Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Sri Maharajapuram Santhanam, Sri D.K. Jayaraman, Sri Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Sri N. Ramani and Sri Voleti Venkateswarulu. He made a choice many years ago to move away from accompaniment to focus exclusively on solos and duets, drawn by the phenomenal potential of the instrument and his faith in his own musical mastery.
Vijayalakshmi has shared the stage as an accompanist with many stalwarts like Sri T.V. Gopalakrishnan, Smt Parassala Ponnammal, Sri O.S. Thyagarajan, Smt Aruna Sairam, Smt Sudha Ragunathan, Sri Ravi Kiran, Sri Vijay Siva and Sri T.N.S. Krishna.
As a composer Krishnan has worked with many dancers in successful dance productions such as Jagat Pavani Ganga, Sai Nathane Varuga Varuga. Vijayalakshmi has composed beautifully structured and mellifluous varnams and thillanas. She has also provided lilting musical forms to works of Adi Sankara, Mahakavi Bharathiyar, Shuddhananda Bharati. Her orchestral piece Panchabhootham was staged by high school students in Dallas, USA.
Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi have also collaborated on many projects. The album Raga Rasa, an orchestral work for instrumental ensembles, deserves special mention. In this album, Krishnan’s visualisation of the classic Ahiri or the wondrous nature of Kosalam exemplify his musical vision, while Vijayalakshmi’s Sindhubhairavi composition based on western chords, and Amritavarshini set to a thirteen beat rhythmic cycle are stellar examples of her creativity. Other major collaborative projects are two full-length dance dramas Sambhavami Yuge Yuge (2017) and Oozh: The Divine Destiny (2023), both commissioned by The Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana, for which Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi together composed both lyrics and music.
Krishnan has collaborated in Jugalbandhis with Hindustani musicians such as Ustad Shahid Parvez, Ustad Shujaat Khan, Pandit Gaurav Majumdar, Pandit Viswa Mohan Bhat, Pandit Tejendra Majumdar, Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya and Pandit Dhruba Ghosh. Vijayalakshmi has likewise performed with renowned Hindustani musicians such as Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, Sri Debasish Bhattacharya, Vidushi Kala Ramnath, Ustad Murad Ali, Pandit Pravin Godkhindi. These jugalbandhis are a treat to the audiences, since Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi blend seamlessly with the Hindustani idiom while staying true to their Carnatic identity.
Vijayalakshmi’s early efforts in collaboration include Violin-Venu-Veena, a concept pioneered by her guru. She presented this in an all women ensemble in a successful tour of the USA.
Their creativity has also found expression in many poems on nature and other subjects, some of which have been tuned and presented by the duo.
Under the auspices of the Lalgudi Trust, Krishnan undertook ViolinWise, a path breaking offering for the string-instrument community in India, where world class training was provided by a top luthier from the USA to aspiring Indian luthiers. This has made top quality violin making and repair skills available within the country to violinists and other string instrumentalists, and is serving to address a hitherto major gap in the Indian music firmament.
Vijayalakshmi has, under her trust Krutagnya, conducted many events to provide a platform for young and budding violinists, and spread awareness of music among the general public.
The siblings have been using their trusts to raise funds and contribute their mite to charity.
Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi have both been honoured with many awards over the years. Notable among them are Sangeetha Choodamani from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Kalaimamani from the Tamil Nadu State Govt, Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal from the Indira Sivasailam Foundation and The Music Academy, National Eminence award from Sri Shanmukhananda Sabha, Mumbai, Sangeetha Rathnakara, Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana, Lifetime Achievement Award, Indian Fine Arts Academy, San Diego. They were both jointly honoured with the prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi award for 2022 by The Music Academy, Chennai. Besides, Krishnan is a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award.
Towards the cause of propagation of their musical lineage and bani, Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi have been teaching many young and aspiring violinists with dedication and commitment. They have also been sharing their knowledge and experience through workshops and lecture demonstrations.
B. Guru Raghavendra (Mridangam)
Shri. B. Guru Raghavendra hails from a family of musicians and initially learned the Mridangam from his grandfather Late. Palayamkottai S. Venkataramana Rao and later on continued under the tutelage of Late. Kalaimamani Thinniyam Y. Krishnan, a retired Staff Artiste, AIR, Pondicherry.
Over a span of 3 decades, Shri Guru Raghavendra has accompanied eminent musicians such as Padmabhushan Prof. T.V. Gopalakrishnan, Padmashri Dr. N. Ramani, Padmabhushan Sri T.N. Seshagopalan, Padma Bhushan Dr. L. Subramaniam, Mandolin Shri. U. Srinivas, Padmabhushan. Shri. T.V. Sankaranarayanan, Sri. A.K.C. Natarajan, Bombay Sisters, Anayampatti Sri. S. Ganesan, Sri. O.S. Thyagarajan, Lalgudi Sri. G.J.R. Krishnan & Lalgudi Smt. Vijayalakshmi, Neyveli Sri. Santhanagopalan, Dr. Pantula Rama, Sri. M.A. Sundareswaran, Sri. T.K.V. Ramanujacharyulu, Dr. Sriram Parasuram, Dr. Nithyasree Mahadevan, Dr. S. Sowmya, Sri. S. Shashank, etc. He has also performed internationally in North America, Europe, Russia, Asia and Africa in various tours.
Shri B. Guru Raghavendra is an “A” Grade Artiste (AIR, Chennai), has completed his B. Sc. in Computer Science & M.A. in Rhythmology. Some of the key awards he has received are Asthana Vidwan of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Yuva Kala Bharathi Award conferred by Bharat Kalachar, Chennai, Guru Karaikudi Mani Award from Karthik Fine Arts, Chennai, Smt. T.V. Sundaravalli Memorial – Sundara Layamamani Award and Mridanga Vadhya Sironmani Award conferred by Sri Vinayaka Hindu Temple (Toronto, Canada).
KV Gopalakrishnan (Kanjira)
KVG, as he is popularly known, had his initial training from his father KVRS Mani, and is now under the guidance of the percussion legend “Sangitha Kalanidhi” Dr. TK Murthy.
He’s been performing for almost 30 years now and he’s one of the most sought after Percussionists in the field of Carnatic Music.
He has shared the stage with almost all the top stars as well as up-and-coming artists of today. He’s an “A” graded artiste of All India Radio.
KVG has played along with legendary percussionists of Carnatic Music such as his guru Dr TK Murthy, Sri Palghat Raghu, Sri TV Gopalakrishnan, Sri Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Sri Trichy Sankaran, Sri Guruvayur Dorai and many others. He has also worked with famous Tamil cine music directors “Isai Gnyaani” Ilayaraja & Vidyasagar.
He has received many titles and awards over the years such as the “Bismillah Khan – Yuva Puraskar” from Sangeet Natak Academy, Govt of India, “Kanjira Harishankar Memorial Award” from Nadalaya Trust, “Palghat Mani Iyer Puraskar” from Chennai Fine Arts and the latest being “Nada Vallabha” from Nada Sudha and “Best Upa-Pakkavadhyam Endowment award from Kartik Fine Arts.
KVG has traveled widely around the world taking part in many international tours and music festivals. And prestigious venues like The Kennedy Center – Washington DC, The Lincoln Center – New York, The Indian President’s Palace – New Delhi, Madras Music Academy, and many more.
He is also a well-accomplished Mrithangam player and has won the best Mrithangist award from the Madras Music Academy for 3 consecutive years.