He had the privilege of undergoing training under Isai Peraringnar Chittor Subramania Pillai. He also had the benefit of receiving training from Musiri Tiruppamburam Swaminatha Pillai and T Brinda to mention a few.
With his deep roots in classical tradition and with his music full of bhava, he has presented classical concerts in all important cities and towns and has won several awards and titles. He is none other than Tadapally Lokanadha Sarma, also a former regional director for handicrafts (development of musical instruments), Government Of India.
When he was a boy, his ambition was to become an army officer. But what changed the course of his life?
“My father was very particular that I should learn music. I had the tradition of music in my family. My father resigned his job in the defence accounts department in Pune and came to Vijayawada to take up a teacher’s post and studied music from Chilakapapudi Venkateswara Sarma, a composer,” he said.
“My father had taken up the challenging task of composing songs. Each of the thousand names of Devi can be found in Sri Lalitha Sahasranamam, referred to as Sri Lalitha Rahsyanam Sahas Raakru Tulu. It is set in not only 72 melakarta ragas, but also in several janya and unfamiliar ragas. This magnum opus took him 24 long years and this entire work has been meticulously noted by him, in his own hand writing in Lokanatha Sarma.
Tadapally Lokanatha Sarma rendered some of the special kritis for Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha, focussing more on presenting those rare songs with reverence and dignity. The renditions were unique as each kriti began with the name of Devi in the Sahasranama and each name was expanded for its significance and profundity.
At this concert, certainly his own artistic and emotional instincts enabled him to present the Devi kirtanas of his father Tadapally Venkata Subramanya Sastrigal (Swami Pravananda Bharathi Kumar) in a soulful recital.
It was apparent that he had decided to give a rasa orientation to the concert without being obsessed with misleading ideas of a kutcheri skill. Naturally any gimmick was totally absent and certainly he could do without it because he was capable enough to meet the requirements of genuine musical productivity, with a robust voice and perfect enunciation.
Lokanatha Sarma must be congratulated, not only for giving such a moving rendition of his father’s compositions on Devi, but also for presenting them in a totally different light that made us feel the divinity. His vidwat shone throughout the rendition. Certainly Lokanatha Sarma’s concert had truth of character.
The Chittoor Subramanya Pillai style was very evident in this exceedingly fine concert. No wonder he worships his guru with as much divinity and fervour as Syama Sastrigal worshiped goddess Shakthi. This katcheri was full of taste and imagination.
What are the unique exposition of your style?
Carnatic classicism is raga based. The ragas of its traditional legacy are gamaka based. It is because of its special gamaka features that each raga of the carnatic inheritance is unique. It has a name because it has a face which is very expressive.
Your views on the present day classical presentations?
The type of superficial talent that can revel in melodic scales cannot meet the demands of genuine carnatic classicism.Raga gnanam is needed for authentic carnatic artistry. Certainly this implies deep gamaka gnanam. If the gamaka insights that count in carnatic music completely elude the grasp of the scale, the talent becomes peripheral.
My guru Chittoor Sri Subramanya Pillai taught me to render a raga with deep insight and not with all the jhala of swara skill. Sometimes we miss the soul of the raga and its vibrant life.
Music is devotion and devotion is music. Devotion towards whom?
Devotion towards God almighty. What is God? God is truth personified. Search for the truth is the ultimate motive behind sangeetha and deliverance of which is bhakthi ensconced sangeetha, that which Sri Lokanatha Sarma delivers.