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Renowned vocalist Trichy Ganesan’s who passed away recently was a complete musician in every sense of the term. Born in Mannarkad in Palakkad in 1960, to Kottayi (Chembai) Lakshmy Ammal and Trichy Subramanya Iyer, he got trained in Carnatic music from a young age. The doyen Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar was his mother’s uncle. His father and Tenkasi Muthuswamy were his gurus.
While doing his Gana Praveena at the Sri Swathi Thirunal Music College, Thiruvanathapuram, he had the opportunity to learn from the famous vidwan Vechur Hariharasubramanya Iyer. Thus, his grounding in Carnatic music was quite strong. Subsequently, he moved to Trichy, and started performing in the company of reputed accompanists such as Nagai Muralidharan, Mannargudi Eswaran and so on. Later, he relocated to Madurai and joined All India Radio as a staff artiste, a position he held till his demise. His musical career spanned over a period of 40 years.
He has given innumerable concerts at several centres in India and abroad. He was a much sought after musician in Kerala, having performed in every nook and corner of the state, where he had a legion of disciples and admirers. His last concert in Kerala was at Dakshinamoorthy Sangeetha Sabha in Nuranadu in Alappuzha in July.
A versatile musician, Ganesan was known for his original style, which was steeped in tradition and classicism. Though he made innovations, they were all within the bounds of tradition. His repertoire was wide and rich and he explored new avenues in his presentations. Ganesan could handle any raga- both major and minor- elaborately with effortless ease. The vocalist had a passion for rare and less popular ragas such as Rishabhapriya (‘Ghananayadesika’- Koteeswara Iyer), Kokilapriya (‘Kothandaramamanisam’ – Dikshitar), Gopikavasantham (‘Balakrishnam Bhavayami’- Dikshitar), Naasikabhushani (‘Maaravairiramani’- Tyagaraja), Kosalam (‘Kaguha Shanmuga’ – Koteeswara Iyer ) and so on.
Layagnana was his forte. This was always noticeable in his niravals and swaraprastharams. A master of laya, he used to weave intricate laya patterns. He was an admirer of percussion maestros Palghat Mani Iyer and Palani Subramanya Pillai.
Whenever a percussionist played a muthayppu or korvai, he would grasp it instantly and present varieties of swaraprastharas with accurate mathematical precision.
Ganesan ensured that his accompanists were on their toes, with his sharp laya intricacies. He could spontaneously conceive a complex pallavi (RTP) on the stage, with accurate thaalakorvais; such was his manodharma. Nadaswaram music appealed to him very much and he used to listen to nadaswaram concerts of great vidwans like T.N.Rajaratnam Pillai for hours together. He used nadaswaram techniques in his renditions and mesmerised listeners.
The awards and titles won by him include Kalaimamani, Sangeetha Chudamani, Innisai Bhanu, Madhura Kalanidhi and so on. Ganesan had great regard for senior and fellow musicians and was close to famous vocalist T.N. Seshagopalan and spent hours with him, discussing about music. He had trained many a few students.
In Kerala in particular, he has left behind many disciples all of whom have become performing artistes. Balamani Easwar, Vellinezhi Subramanyam, Thoppur Sairam, and Venkatakrishnan are among his prime disciples.
He had done yeoman service to Carnatic music by notating several compositions. Another notable trait in him was the encouragement he gave to the accompanists. Apart from vocal music, he was also proficient in violin and mridangam. The music world will miss him and his music forever.