the-south-asian.com August 2004
Culture & History
Dr L. Subramaniam
Besides being a medical doctor he also holds a masters degree in Western Classical Music from California and has mastered the art of orchestral composition. Today Dr L. Subramaniam, the icon of the violin, is one of the most sought after composers across the globe and is now set to release his first commercial album that he says is another attempt at creating global music.
His illustrious career boasts of performing, producing, collaborating and conducting over 150 recordings. He is unaffected by adulation. " Itís a great feeling that people appreciate your work," is the modest reply from the medical doctor-turned-musician nominated for the Grammy Award in 1981 for his album Fantasy With Truth and the composer of Mississippi Masala, Salaam Bombay, Cotton Mary, Little Buddha. "All those things were a long time ago. Letís talk about now," says Dr. Subramaniam. "I am releasing an album with my wife Kavita Krishnamurthy, Pt.Jasraj, Sonu Nigam and Lucky Ali with lyrics by Gulzar and Sameer."
Sonu Nigam and Lucky Ali? Is the doyen of the classical violin tilting to pop and commercial music? "No. It is a crossover and the album has both a philosophical and popular mix," says Dr. Subramaniam, a majority of whose works are collaborations with various artistes, be it jazz, occidental, jugalbandis or orchestra.
Ask him about the experience of teaming up with legends like Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Tony Williams and Stephane Grappelli, he says it is his insatiable love for music that has lead to these collaborations. "I experiment with all forms of music. Thatís why thereís a strong need to collaborate," says Dr. Subramaniam who recently performed with wife Kavita, daughter Seetaa and some school kids for the Olympic torch ceremony in Delhi.
Besides being a medical doctor he also holds a masters degree in Western Classical Music from California and has mastered the art of orchestral composition. Today he is one of the most sought after composers across the globe.
Dr. Subramaniam has written compositions for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Swiss Orchestra, The Berlin Opera and many more. He says writing orchestra is tough as it takes over six months to write a piece. You need to synchronize various artistes. Every one has a unique style and you need to put them together masterfully."
More recently he and wife Kavita were the only Asian representatives at the ceremony marking the century of the Nobel Peace Prize. "She has a vast experience of singing over 2000 songs in different languages and that comes handy in working on the melody," says Dr.Subramaniam about Kavita who is among the most popular Bollywood singers.
Apart from concerts and compositions, the Laxmi Narayana Global Music Festival held every January in memory of his father takes up most of his time. "I started it as a small tribute but over the years it has become a big global event that is now held across five continents. Itís an honour to see doyens of music come to perform at this festival."
Recently he released a CD of orchestra incorporating soloists from different musical traditions titled Astral Symphony . For the widespread understanding of concepts of South Indian Classical music, he has released a collection of four CDs titled An Anthology of South Indian Music and has also written a book Euphony that his late first wife Vijayashree co-authored.
After such an eventful life does he still have anything else to achieve? Lots, he says with a smile. "Music is a vast ocean and no one can claim to know everything. The more you sail in the ocean the more you discover, the more you learn. You realize how little you know. It is an eternal quest."
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