“Sangeetha Kalanidhi” Smt R. Vedavalli (refered to as RV henceforth) is considered to be a living legend. In a career in Carnatic Classical music spanning over five decades, she has enthralled audiences in India and abroad with her staunch adherence to tradition, deep understanding of and vast knowledge about Carnatic music and manodharma (improvisations). Though in her 70s, she continues to give quality concerts even today.
Though I had been hearing RV recordings for quite some time, I had never got the chance to attend her live concert. I came to know about a month back that BTM Cultural Academy is organizing her concert in Bangalore and had been eagerly waiting to attend the same since then. Having attended the same today, all I can say is that it was truly a great experience.
During my childhood days, whenever I heard old maestros sing, I used to wonder why people liked them so much. The quality of recordings would be poor and All India Radio would add to the woes through its poor broadcasts. A beginner in Carnatic music at that time with no one to teach me the nuances, I would get pissed off upon hearing such recordings. As I started hearing Carnatic vocal more, I learnt more and more by myself and started appreciating the nuances. I then started hearing recordings of old maestros and then realized why they are revered by many even today. For example, we had this old audio cassette of Shri T. N. Seshagopalan (TNS) at home. It was one of the very few audio cassettes we had at that time. The quality of the cassette was not all that good and I could never understand why my father used to praise TNS so much. I happened to hear the cassette again when I was in Class X. Though having heard quite a few musicians till then, I had never heard anything like what TNS had sung in that cassette before. I instantly became a fan of his and he continues to be one of my all-time favorites even today.
Coming back to RV …… will write more about her concert in the next post.