Located in the royal city of Tripunithura in Kochi, Kerala, the RLV College of Music and Fine Arts continues to be a symbol of the State’s cultural heritage. As one of the three dedicated music colleges in Kerala, the institute attracts thousands of applicants every year for the limited number of seats it offers.
The college was set up by then King of Kochi (formerly Cochin), Varma Mitukkan Thampuran and his wife Lakshmikutty Nethyaramma for the uplift of women, with courses like painting, stitching and kaikottikali, a popular folk dance in Kerala. The institute was known as Radha Lakshmi Vilasam Academy, and the name was changed to RLV Academy of Music and Fine Arts in 1956 when the Government took it over. The academy then offered Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma courses in music, fine arts and performing arts. When the academy was upgraded and became affiliated to the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, in 1998, the Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma courses were restructured into three-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) and two-year Master of Arts (MA) courses.
In Music, Performing Arts and Fine Arts, the college offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in 13 departments. It offers BA and MA in Vocal, Veena, Violin, Mridangam, Bharathanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kathakali Vesham, Kathakali Sangeetham, Chenda and Maddalam and Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting, and Applied Art and Sculpture. There are 80 undergraduate seats and 42 postgraduate seats in the department of Music, 15 seats in each UG course and 10 in each PG course in the department of Performing Arts and 40 seats in the UG course and 30 PG seats in the department of Fine Arts. The academic year in the college is similar to that of any other government college in Kerala.
Although the number of seats is few, the number of applicants is in the hundreds for each course. The selection is based on an aptitude test where the applicant is tested in the discipline he/she has chosen to pursue. For example, if the student wishes to pursue Vocal in Music, the student will be asked to sing. The minimum educational qualification for entry into the undergraduate course is Class XII.
“It is the tradition and history that is associated with the college that attracts so many students each year,” says C J Susheela, Principal-in-charge, RLV College of Music and Fine Arts.
“We cannot admit everyone who is interested due to the limited number of seats. The aptitude test is the selection criteria we have set to filter students. Although the courses are taught from the basics, we look for students with some talent,” she adds.
The entry into the Fine Arts courses is a little more difficult compared to Music and Performing Arts. After an aptitude test where the applicant is tested on drawing skills, they are asked to present their previous works in an interview with the selection panel.
“The selection is, of course, the beginning of it all. There are several practical hours that we attend during the course, which gives us the experience of working on the field. Eminent artists who conduct classes here attracted me to apply to the college,” says Ajay C Soman, a third-year BFA student. The college has 18 permanent lecturers who are professionals in their respective fields and an additional 43 guest lecturers, all of whom are renowned artists.
Despite the students’ passion for their discipline, it is said that the structure and syllabus does not give them much time for practicals as it did previously. However, the college balances between the two ensuring that justice is done to the arts.
“The students are willing to spend time practising what they learn. This helps us give them the most of what we have to offer,” says K V Shibu, guest lecturer, RLV College of Music and Fine Arts.
The college has a recording studio, photography studio, computer labs, conservatory, art gallery, auditorium, classrooms and a smart class in every department.
The college conducts a yearly Music and Natya Festival, jointly organised by the Higher Education Department, Government of India, and funded by the government. The five-day festival showcases the talents of world-renowned artists. The college also conducts a film festival, fine arts exhibition, workshops and seminars from time to time.
Apart from participating in talent fests in the college, the students regularly perform at events in and around the city.
For BA and BFA general category: `5352, OBC/KPCR (As per the Kumara Pillai Commission Report (KPCR) students with a family income limit of `36,000 are eligible to get fee concession): `3,367, SC/ST/Other Eligible Category: `3,007 (The fee is inclusive of tuition fee, special fee, matriculation fee, caution deposit, university affiliation fee, College Development Council fee and Parent Teacher Association fee). firstname.lastname@example.org