Wednesday, April 1, 2015





                                                  36—ARUNA SAIRAM ( 1960……)

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                                   Aruna Sairam was born in Mumbai and initially received  training from her mother Rajalakshmi Sethuraman, who was a disciple of the Alathur Brothers and Thanjavoor Sankara Iyer. Her father, Shri Sethurman a music connoisseur who hosted many of the foremost musicians in the family home. It was here  that Aruna met her Guru, Sangita Kalanidhi Smt. T. Brinda, who trained her in the style of her own mentor, the great Veena Dhanammal,




                                 Aruna won her first gold medal at the age of eight at the Shanmukhananda Sabha Competition in Bombay.  She won the Best Young Musician Award at the annual conference held at the famed Music Academy when she was  21.



                             She learnt under Shri S Ramachandran, A S Mani, a disciple of Tiger Vardachariar , Prof T R Subramanyam and K S Narayanaswamy,  She met German voice maestro Prof Eugene Rabine, who helped her discover and apply a completely new sound and emotion to her voice. She later had the benefit of advice and guidance from, Dr. Balamurali Krishna. 



                                    In concerts she continually strives to deliver a unique experience through new repertoire. Every year for the Chennai's  December Season , she prepares and composes new material for recitals. Her preparation  involved  academic discussion with great musicians like  the nagaswaram vidwan  Shembannar Koil Vaidyanath and Pallavi Venkatarama Iyer in order to research special music forms, for example, the Mallari – a form played during the inaugural processions in South Indian temples.




                                   Aruna's mother was drawn towards the compositions of Uttukadu Venkata Kavi (1700 – 1765) who   hailed from the village of Uttukadu. His compositions come from a tradition of music, dance and theatre and express an interplay of joy in technical brilliance. Aruna's parental home was host to one of the scions of the Uttukadu family, Needamanagalam Krishnamurthy Bhagavathar. who spent months there, performing and teaching these compositions. Aruna has played a key role in propagating these brilliant, yet relatively neglected compositions and revealing them on the contemporary concert stage.



                               Another form Aruna specialized in and acquired name and fame  is the Abhang -- soulful music, traditionally sung by pilgrims who  travelled by foot to the temple of  Vitthala in Pandharpur. Aruna's interest in this form started with listening to the profound and passionate singing of leading satsang exponents who frequented her parental house. She was greatly influenced by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's Abhangavani – a series of Abhang concerts.






                                      Aruna has had the rare distinction of performing in such venues as the Indian President's official residence– Rashtrapati Bhavan, and the memorials to Indian Prime Ministers, Indira Gandhi at Sakthi Sthal and Rajiv Gandhi at Vir Bhoomi.




                                   Her first international experience as a Visiting Professor was at a German music conservatory where she taught South Indian music; it exposed her to a new world of impressions and lent new insights. This experience gave her a new life mission: to make South Indian classical music global. One of the many instances when her dream saw fruition was when the BBC Proms invited her to perform at London's Royal Albert Hall. as the first South Indian classical vocalist in the Proms' history – at that point in its 116-year history– in 2011. Aruna has also performed, among other important  venues, at New York's Carnegie Hall, Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, and Morocco's Fes Festival of World Sacred Music.



                                  Aruna's awards include the Padma Shri and the US Congress Proclamation of Excellence,  Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar Award, U S Congress Proclamation of Excellence, "Kalaimamani", Sangita Choodamani . She  has been appointed the Advisor to the Department of Culture, Tamil Nadu, on Musical Education.



                            Aruna has conceptualized and performed themed concerts. 'Aruna – Thousand Names of Divine Mother'– is a concert and recording project first produced in Germany. The recording was done in the crypt of a Benedictine monastery in Germany with co-artists Christian Bollmann and Michael Reiman'Sources' – is  a series of collaborations by Aruna and Dominique Vellard, a master of Gregorian and medieval songs. This connects devotional music traditions from South India and medieval Europe. Aruna and Dominique teamed with  the Moroccan Sufi vocalist Noureddine Tahiri expounding  music of the later Arab-Andalusian tradition, exemplified by their album 'Trialogue'.'Matrubhumi'– is a journey through India from the Himalayan top to the southern tip of Kanyakumari. This concert was performed with Shankar Mahadevan, 'Strains of Heaven' – is a duet concert with celebrated  Mandolin U Srinivas, exploring dialogues between the voice and the string. 'Aikya'– is a concert in 14 Indian languages, 'The Wisdom of Vitthala' and 'Rang Abang' – are concerts fully dedicated to abhang in which Aruna sings and narrates stories about these songs.




                                        Aruna's music and singing have been the inspiration for the production of the French musical 'Le Bebe Blue' (The Blue Baby) depicting the story of Lord Krishna . This was directed by French Theatre Director Dominique Pompougnac. The most important segment of audience for this production was children of France. More than 40 such performances were rendered all over France .




                                   Aruna composed music and sang for the production 'Yantra' and 'Bhinna-Pravaha' of renowned dance choreographer Chandralekha.  Aruna Sairam and Bharatanatyam dancer Malavika Sarukkai have come together in an extraordinary collaboration titled "Sammohanam". Bhoomija, a charitable trust founded to showcase the best of Indian classical music and arts . It is a celebration of classical music and dance. Both Sairam and Sarukkai are veterans who have several decades of learning, dedicated sadhana, experimentation and innovations, and success under their belt.




                            To date Aruna has to her credit over 50 records. Her recordings span classical repertoires, thematic presentations, concert recordings and collaborations with German, French, Moroccan and other international artists.