CHENNAI: The Narada Gana Sabha conferred the title of Nadhabrahmam on legendary mridangam player KV Sivaraman, better known in music circles as Umayalpuram K Sivaraman on Saturday.
The sole mridangam artiste in the nation to have been awarded three of the nation’s highest civilian honours – Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, the 78-year-old veteran was presented the title by U Ve Appan Parakala Ramanuja Embar Jeeyar Swamy of Sriperumbudur.
Filmmaker Rajiv Menon who, while offering his felicitations to the awardee during the event, said that Sivaraman dedicated his life to the performance art of playing the mridangam and its exponentiation.
“The mridangam is unlike any other percussion instruments like the drums because these do not possess shruti. The mridangam, like its north Indian counterpart Tabla, has a melodic quality,” said Menon.
Menon reminisced on a childhood fact about Sivaraman, who was asked to practice tuning the tumbura for six months by his father, when he had told him about his interest to play the mridangam.
Alongside Sivaraman, veteran nadaswara vidwan Seshampatti T Sivalingam and musician Kalyani Ganesan were also conferred titles by the sabha. Sivalingam was honoured with the Tirunelveli P Subramania Iyer award while Kalyani received the senior musician award.
Menon, who declared Sivalingam as the ‘Voice of Alwarpet’, also addressed Kalyani as the torch-bearer of Carnatic music and an embodiment of Goddess Saraswathi.
“She is one of the few who can sing while playing the veena with effortless ease. She is among the veterans who work behind the scenes of Carnatic music and educate the next generation of students,” said Menon.
“Listening to Sivalingam play the Nadaswaram in the Pillayar temple at Alwarpet, one would even forget that they are there to offer prayers to the deity,” he added.