Vocalist, flutist, vainika, and composer
A call to her disciples and music-lovers all over the world
Mayavaram Sarawathi Ammal, more popularly known in the music field as Mayavaram Papa, born in Raja Mannargudi on 3 rd September, 1921, to Sri Balasubramanian and Smt. Brahadambal, a musical family, first started learning the flute from Sri Muthu, at Peruncheri near Keeranur, in her seventh year. Relocating to Mayavaram, her vocal training started under Mayavaram Sri Venugopala Iyer, and flute under the stalwart Tirupambaram Sri Swaminatha Pillai. She was a very quick learner and mastered the nuances of Karnatic music at a very early age, proving to be a prodigy, and started performing cutcheris in and around Mayavaram when she was hardly sixteen years of age, and very soon on radio, (Tiruchi) in a very high grade concert level. In 1942, Mayavaram Saraswathi Ammal relocated to Chennai, the most happening place in Carnatic music, where her musical career flourished with concerts, in temples and Sabhas, that included performances at towns like Vellore as well as a concert tours to places like Sri Lanka, performing in Colombo and Yazhpanam, with leading artistes of the time as accompanists. She also developed her scholarship and art further under very senior stalwarts like Patamadai Sri Sundaram, (brother of Patamadai Sri Krishnan ) Patamadai Sri Krishnan, Tanjore Sri Sankara Iyer, etc. Ramnad Sri Krishnan taught music to her daughter, and through this, his musical ideas also embellished her music.
Around the year 1952, she started teaching music extensively, and trained a number of students on vocal. In 1959, she started learning the veena also, under Sri Pichumani Iyer, and later under Sri M. A. Kalyanakrishna Bhagavathar. At this point in time, she reduced her concert engagements to concentrate on teaching, making her mark as a teacher in vocal, veena and flute. However, she performed flute for leading bharathanatyam stars Ms. Padma Subramanyam and Smt. Vaijayanthimala Balir, travelling all over the world providing her music. Her flute students includes flutist Sri K. Bhaskaran, ( www.kbhaskaran.com
) Sri S. Rajaram, Smt Arthi Lal, and Sri Muthukumar, who had his initial training from her. Vocalist Sanjay Subramaniam's mother was also trained in vocal music by her, during her younger days. Saraswathi Ammal, apart from the above contributions, has also been in the field of composing right from the mid-fifties. She has to her credit several compositions which are inspired devotional songs, not only in kriti format but also as bhajans, kavadichindu, etc. She has also tuned several compositions of yester-year musical stalwarts like Kothamangalam Sri Seenu for many recordings and broadcasts over All India Radio, Chennai, Tiruchi and such places. During the era when acting in films required one to be a top singer, she has contributed extensively to that field also.
Mayavaram Saraswathi Ammal is nearing 90 years, and her disciples based at Chennai are releasing a CD of some of her selected compositions, and holding a function (planned for end February 2009, in Chennai) and presenting her with a purse on the occasion. Leading vidwans and dignitaries would felicitate her.
We invite contributions from her disciples all over the world. We welcome contributions from well-wishers, music-lovers and art-lovers who would consider it a privilege to honour a veteran guru, a veritable cultural icon right from yester-years. Since she has also been ailing with prolonged hospital treatment in the recent past, it would be a gesture all the more significant. Contributions may be made and sent to the address given below (preferably by cheque favouring ‘Mayavaram Saraswathi’ ).
Thank you, (on behalf of disciples of our guru)
KESAVA, 3 rd Floor
New 65, Oliver Road,
Mylapore Chennai 600004