Kalasagaram's 43rd Annual Festival of Music, Dance & Drama
is on at the Keyes High School, from 27th November to 5th December. And as part of the festival, 86-year-old senior vocalist Parassala B Ponnammal from Kerala will be performing a Carnatic vocal recital, on 3rd December.
Ponnammal was born in 1924 as the third of four daughters to R Mahadeva Iyer and Bhagavathi Ammal. Her father's job as headmaster took the family to Adoor, where Ponnammal first learned under a music teacher named Paramu Pillai, and thereafter from Ramaswamy Bhagavathar.
Ponnammal was only 13 when she won the gold medal in the music competition held at VJT Hall, that brought her into the limelight. Among the judges were stalwarts like Semmangudi and Professor Srinivasan. Muthaiah Bhagavathar, who presented the gold medal, noticed her talent and offered her the opportunity to sing at various forums, including the Trichy All-India Radio.
Around this time, Swati Tirunal Music Academy was started under the initiative of the then ruling family. Muthaiah Bhagavathar who headed the institution asked Ponnammal to join the 3-year Gayika course. In 1942, she was in the first batch that passed out, winning a distinction.
In her career spanning nearly 70 years now, Ponnammal has given performances along the length and breadth of the country. She has been an A-grade artiste for the last 50 years, performing at AIR since its formation, and taking part in the national programs of both AIR and Doordarshan.
Kalasagaram is a South-Indian cultural association situated in East Nehru Nagar of East Marredpally, and has been organising Carnatic music concerts for more than 40 years now. The concerts are usually held in the Keyes High School campus in the open-air theatre. The singers are generally from outside Hyderabad, usually amateurs and upcoming artistes, and quite competent. Kalasagaram also occasionally stages South-Indian classical dances and Tamil plays.
The entry to this cultural festival is by daily donor passes of Rs. 100, Rs. 50 & Rs. 25 per head. Season passes are also available for Rs. 400, Rs. 300 & Rs. 200 per head. Please contact V Rajagopal, General Secretary of Kalasagaram, at 2773-1775 for further details.