MANGALURU: Saxophone maestro Padma Shri Dr Kadri Gopalnath passed away in the early hours of Friday at AJ hospital in Mangaluru following a prolonged illness.
Born at Nagri in Bantwal taluk, Gopalnath went on to become a pioneering saxophone player, particularly earning fame for rendering Carnatic music.
His journey began after his father moved to Kadri where he started practising saxophone.
His father, Taniyappa, was his first guru. Later, as a student of N Gopalakrishna Iyer, he got the opportunity to learn Carnatic music.
Saxophone is a western instrument and it took mammoth practice, dedication and a lot of experiments for him to render Carnatic on the instrument.
The saxophone wizard performed several concerts on the world platform and the government of India recognised his work and awarded him a Padma Shri in 2004.
In his glittering career, Gopalnath received the distinction of being the first Carnatic musician to be invited to the BBC Promenade concert in 1994 in the Royal Albert Hall at London.
Artists from the musical fraternity have mourned his demise terming it a big loss.
Chetan Ahimsa, a noted Kannada cinema actor and saxophone player, sharing his condolences said, “I am deeply saddened by the demise of Kadri Gopalnath. The vacuum caused by his death cannot be filled. But he has over hundreds of students who will keep his work alive for many generations.”
Ahimsa recalling his childhood days said, when he was pursuing his sixth grade at Chicago in the United States of America (USA), Gopalnath had visited his house.
“It was not just a visit, I played Saxophone in front of him and he asked me to come to Chennai for further studies. However, I could not come to Chennai as I had to focus on academics,” he said.
He added that he learnt to play carnatic, jazz and Indian folk. This was thanks to the inspiration provided by Kadri Gopalnath’s work.
Pravin Godkhindi, who performed many concerts along with Gopalnath, said the void created by his demise cannot be filled. He was a pioneer in many techniques and none can match him.
“He had the ability to make music pleasure and it is because of him I have grown to this level. He simply loved good music and when I was nobody he agreed to play with me,” he recalled.
"He was a good human being and his art work will be remembered as golden work and his music will remain immortal. He is the first person to blend Carnatic in saxophone which was not at all easy," he added.
Gopalnath is survived by his wife and their three children, his last rites will be performed on Friday in Dakshina Kannada district.