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Home Personality Interviews Mandolin Shrinivas - Mesmerising As Ever

Mandolin Shrinivas - Mesmerising As Ever

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Mandolin ShrinivasChild prodigy, Mandolin wizard, Pride of Palakol, AP - Padmashri U. Shrinivas who at forty still exudes a boyish charm, is in conversation with S. R. Subramanian on the eve of the announcement of his receiving Sangeet Natak Academy Puraskar.

S. R. Subramaniam (SRS): How did you choose this Italian instrument called Mandolin to play Carnatic music?

U. Shrinivas (US): My father is a musician. He still teaches mandolin, guitar and other instruments. I was very keen to learn from him since my childhood. But my father wanted me to concentrate on academics. Later I succeeded in making him teach me initially. After that I was under the tutelage of the great vocalist Sri. Subba Raju sir, to learn the nuances of classical music. I learnt western music on the Mandolin from Sri. Vasu, son of Sri. S. Rajeswar Rao.

SRS: At what age did you start learning to play Mandolin?

US: I started learining at the age of 6.

SRS: When was your major concert?

US: My concert turned out to be major when I performed at Gudivada Thyagaraja festival. In the beginning of the concert there were ten to fifteen people in the audience as they felt some one was playing an unknown small instrument. But as the time advanced during the concert, I could see thousands of people gathering in the audience. In my journey of music, I had to face a lot of criticism from the audience and the musicians. But I faced all the criticism with a positive approach.

SRS: In which year did you give the first performance?

US: I was 9 years old when I gave the first performance.

SRS: You were inspired by …?

US: Inspirations were drawn from various artists. I am a great fan of Sri Raja Ratnam Pillai, Sri. T. R. Mahalingam, M. S. Amma, Sri. Lalgudi sir, Veena Balachandar sir and  Pandit Ravisankar ji. They are a great source of inspiration to me.

SRS: Now you have come to the stage as an artist and you inspire many to learn mandolin.

US: Its all due to the blessings of Paramacharyar and Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

SRS: How do you feel when you are a part of a fusion concert and your contribution to that.

US: The simple reason why I am able to perform over the globe sharing the stage with other instrumentalists, musicians and other styles is just because I have a very good classical background, which helps me to experiment and perform well in such fusion concerts. As you all know music has no language, no caste and no creed. Anyone can learn at any age as there is no age bar for music. I really enjoy and look forward to play in fusion concerts. Classical background takes me to different audience at different levels. I have performed with John McLaughlin, Michael Nyman and Nigel Kennedy. I am fortunate to have shared the stage with Indian mestros like Pandit Jasraj ji, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ustad Zakir Hussain ji and others.

SRS: Its very rare to be addressed by name as an artist with the instrument you play.

US: Ha. Ya! It all started after I began my career playing mandolin. When I call someone and say I am Shrinivas speaking they reconfirm asking me - Is it Mandolin Shrinivas? I am really lucky to have that title than any other title and it all started from Tamilnadu.

SRS: Unforgettable moments you would like to share with our readers.

US: As far as the concerts are concerned the worth mentioning is when I played this instrument in the divine presence of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba along with my brother U. Rajesh, which is a rarest opportunity for an artist. Happiest occasion is when I performed for Paramacharyar of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Then it was in the year 1990 when I performed in London - George Harrison came on to the stage to talk to me. He was full of praise for my performance. He said Pandit Ravi Sankar ji has told about you and I could enjoy personally today. In the same year I was invited by Rajiv Gandhi ji to perform in Teen Murthy Bhavan, Delhi on the occasion of Children’s Day celebrations. In those days there was only one TV network called Doordarshan and this programme was a live telecast for one and half hour throughout India. President Venkata Raman, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, Prime Minister Chandra Sekhar, Rajiv ji and Sonia ji were among the dignitaries. It was a great occasion which is still fresh in my memory. The next is when I performed at the Olympic music festival, Barcelona in 1992 representing India. I was the only classical musician from India. It is all due to the grace of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

SRS: At what age did your brother Rajesh join you and when?

US: That is very interesting. He was sitting next to me when I went to have Darshan of Mahaperival. I played first and he asked me what my brother was doing? He then insisted that he should also play mandolin. That was my brother’s first arangetram at the age of nine.

SRS: There is a lot of young talent coming up. You have any suggestions for them?

US: Now-a-days it is very interesting to see youngsters coming up. But nothing comes up easy. One has to struggle hard to achieve. Dedication is the main thing apart from listening to various forms of music.

SRS: Have you played mandolin for background music in films?

US: I used to play for small recordings when I was young with Vasu sir. But my interest was always for classical music and I wanted to focus on mandolin as a main instrument in the field of classical music like Veena and Violin. I wanted to play for a large audience. Fortunately I have many students learning mandolin. Devisri Prasad is my student. He is doing very well. I am very happy about it.

SRS: How is the response when you perform for the audience abroad?

US: Wherever I performed, be it in USA or UK, there was very good response from the audience. There is no language barrier when one plays an instrument. It was fabulous. They had knowledge of Indian culture and Indian music. There was tremendous applause when I performed in Japan, Europe, Canada and other countries.

SRS: Shrinivas, can you tell us how many concerts you have done so far?

US: I never counted sir and I will never do it also, as I feel music is an ocean and I am still in the learning process. Its a sentiment too.

SRS: Our magazine is widely circulated in Andhra Pradesh. You have anything in special to mention about the place you hail from?

US: Yes I hail from palakol. There is a famous temple in palakol. Mega Star Chiranjeevi, Padmasri Dasari Narayana Rao, Sri Allu Ramalingaih and Kodi Ramakrishna are also from palakol. I am proud to be born in palakol, a place from where all these personalities hail from. I attribute everything to the grace of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Om Shri Sai Ram.

Month: July 2010

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