Year1999 marks the golden jubilee of violin vidwan M. Chandrasekaran's service to music. "Matru Devo Bhava'' this is the refrain of M. Chandrasekaran, violin vidwan, who completes 50 years as a performing artist today. His first performance was on 5th March in 1949. Chandrasekaran's reverence to his mother is next only to the devotion he has to the Almighty. He acknowledges his deep indebtedness to his mother whom he considers responsible for what he is today. He lost his sight before he was even two following an attack of jaundice; since then it was his mother Charubala Mohan who guided him in every aspect - teaching him to play the violin, sing and learn Braille, in which he can read and write Tamil, English, Sanskrit and Telugu.
Besides his mother, Chandrasekaran learnt vocal music to improve his repertoire from Mannargudi Sambasiva Bhagavatar, Kumbakonam S. Viswanathan, Vidyala Narasimha Naidu and T. Jayammal, who taught him padams and a few other well wishers. He started playing violin as an accompanist even when he was 11 years old and later accompanied stalwarts like G. N. Balasubramaniam, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Musiri Subramania Iyer, T. R. Mahalingam (flute), Madurai Mani Iyer, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, Madurai Somasundaram T. K. Rangachari, Ramnad Krishnan Maharajapuram Santhanam, Dr.S.Ramanathan and living legends Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Balamuralikrishna. K.V.Narayaswamy and Nedanuri Krshnamurthy ,including current popular artists like T.N.Seshgopalan, T.V.Sankaranarayanan, Dr. N.Ramani.and Thiruchur Ramachandran.
In 1950, at the age of 13, he won the first prize in a violin competition conducted by the Music Academy, Madras. Chandrasekaran has taught many youngsters and continues to do so. He has about 30 accomplished students, some of them leading artists in their own right, such as his own daughter Bharathi, Kanyakumari, S. D. Sridhar and Madurai Balasubramaniam.
When Chandrasekaran is an accompanist, he openly appreciates the main artist's performance. He absorbs everything that is sung and when he plays gives the essence in perhaps a quarter of the time, according to senior mridangam vidwan Umayalpuram Sivaraman, who has played with Chandrasekaran for about 40 years now. Sivaraman adds that this violin maestro knows the value of sahitya, its rakti and bhava and can bring all nuances and beauty in his violin and make the rasika visualize the raga devata dancing in front of him. He is an expert in the laya aspects too. He has an inner eye, as it were, through which he can see any intricacy in tala and play accordingly.
Being a good vocalist - he presents vocal concerts too once in a while - he sometimes sings along during his violin solo concerts, making it easy for the listener to appreciate. Agreeing with these points senior violin vidwan M. S. Anantharaman, who has known Chandrasekaran since he was seven years old, adds that he had come up in life through dedication, concentration and hard work and deserves all the praise and honor.
Chandrasekaran feels that playing accompaniment helps to improve the violinist's knowledge as he/she is exposed to the talent and skill of different artists. His favorite musician has been G. N. Balasubramaniam, particularly his style of singing ragas. Chandrasekaran confesses that he cannot avoid using some 'sangatis' of GNB when he plays or sings. Similarly, he was very fond of the style of playing tanam by veena vidwan Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer and had longed to play like him. He also used to like the raga alapana in the nadaswaram technique and enjoyed listening to T. N. Rajaratnam Pillai and Karukurichi Arunachalam. He recalls with pride how TNR performed for his wedding and asked Chandrasekaran also to play and how he was so pleased with his essay of raga Kadanakutuhalam and blessed him affectionately.
A couple of other occasions remembered fondly by him are his playing along with Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu and accompanying M. D. Ramanathan at the residence of late President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. Chandrasekaran is an admirer of Ramanathan for the depth in his music.
Chandrasekaran founded last year on September 12, the Charubala Mohan Trust. He wishes to organize concerts for good artists who are not able to get adequate opportunities. Every year the Trust would confer titles on talented artists. "Veena Nadamani'' and "Sangeetha Visarada'' were conferred on Ravindran and A. S. Panchapakesan last year, and this year on the occasion of his golden jubilee "Violin Nadamani'' would be conferred on Kandadevi Alagiriswami.
Chandrasekaran is a recipient of several honors - Sangeet Natak Akademi award (1986), Mysore Chowdiah National award (1989), Astana Vidwan of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam (1993), Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu, Sangeetha Choodamani ,Mathurakala Praveena and many more. He was a visiting faculty at the Palghat Music College.
Chandrasekaran has also composed varnams and kritis in different languages. His music has enthralled rasikas in the U.S., England, Canada, Malaysia and Singapore.
The golden jubilee of Chandrasekaran's service to the performing art is being celebrated by his children and devotees this year (1999).
Bharathi is the daughter of well-known Violin Maestro M.Chandrasekaran. Bharathi is an artist with many talents. There are great musicians, great dancers and great instrumentalists, but very few three in one, being able to perform in all three arts equally proficiently. She has performed successfully around the world as an exponent of Bharathanatyam, as a soloist on the violin and as a vocalist. She gave her maiden program at the age of nine. She was blessed by Smt.Rukmani Devi and won appreciation as child prodigy. She was the merit scholar in Bharathanatyam awarded by the Department of Culture, Government of India. She has specialized in Abhinaya from Smt.Kalanidhi Narayanan. Besides her duet performances on the Violin along with with her father all over India and abroad she also accompanied leading vidwans. She has visited Canada, USA,U.K.,Singapore,Malaysia, Japan Australia, and Part of Europe and Middle East. She is an A Grade artist of All India Radio. She has over 25 years of teaching experience in all three arts Violin, Vocal & Dance. She is at present settled in Arizona, USA. Bharathi@pangeatech.comM.Chandrasekaran 72C C.P.Ramaswamy Road
Smt.Bharathi2134, East Broadway