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When the Silent Violin Speaks

Noted violinist Embar S Kannan talks about his journey in the film industry, what led him to start his own band, and his divine relationship with Ilayaraja, from whom he learnt to be disciplined

Published: 10th December 2014 05:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th December 2014 05:58 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Whether it’s carnatic, western or Tamil film music, artiste Embar S Kannan has delivered everything with ease and precision on the instrument he loves playing most – the silent violin. The violinist, who took to playing the instrument at the tender age of six, made his debut in the film industry when he was only 10, with Puli Petra Pillai. This transformed his life forever. From then on, he displayed his skills in numerous Tamil flicks and worked with biggies in the music industry like Ilayaraja, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Vidyasagar and A R Rahman, to name a few.

After giving a magical performance at the Sivagami Petachi Auditorium with his band CROSSROADS on Monday, he sits with us for a candid chat, only to recall the halcyon days he had spent with the music maestro Ilayaraja.

Embar-S-Kannan.jpg Kannan tells us that his sisters used to frequent Ilayaraja sir’s residence as they used to sing for him. “I used to make use of the opportunity and accompany them,” he says with a smile. “Later, when I actually started playing for Ilayaraja sir, I learnt a lot from the legendary maestro — both musically and otherwise. Though the literal meaning of the word ‘discipline’ was taught to me when I was in school, it was under Ilayaraja sir’s guidance that I learnt what discipline was all about. And it was he who made me implement discipline in my everyday life,” says the recipient of the Kalaimamani Award.

Ask him about the relationship he shares with Ilayaraja sir, and he’s quick to respond, “Ilayaraja sir and I share such a divine relationship that I can’t put it in words.”

Kannan, who had introduced silent violin in carnatic music in 2001, shares how the band CROSSROADS actually came into being. “I love travelling and have been travelling across the globe for many years now. The first aspect I notice when I visit a country is the music. Then comes food and culture. So, when I had actually gathered enough knowledge about the traditional music of the countries I had visited, I wanted to introduce a concept in which I could bring in the conventional music of other countries to India,” he says. “And that’s when the idea of CROSSROADS originated, in 2009. We gave the first concert in July 2012. The term CROSSROADS, however, was coined by veena artiste Jayanthi Kumaresh. The name is apt, given that the concept is a convention of music from various countries,” he adds.

Born into a family of musicians, Kannan has also been a recipient of numerous awards and accolades, the latest one being the Award of Excellence by Kartik Fine Arts. However, according to him, awards are not the end of the world, and they shouldn’t be construed as a big achievement. “Awards and titles are only stepping stones to success. Awards should encourage a performer to perform better. I have always valued the awards I’ve received, and that has boosted me to deliver better than before,” he signs off.

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