Prema Ramamurthy couldn't have celebrated her felicitation better. And that was
the way Kalarajyam would have wanted it on its 30th anniversary. This three-day
festival of music, dance and theater showed an artist totally in command of her
art that left the, however, meager crowd asking for more. And that's the way we
believe things should end - at their peak. With the felicitations out of the way,
this veteran vocalist concentrated on her impeccable renderings of Carnatic refrains.
The uniqueness of this singer is that she is not only a concert singer, carrying
that strict discipline and mode of classical vocal recital, but also a vocalist
and music composer for many a veteran dancer of the country. Vocal support for
dancing needs this special nurturing mode and grace, to render the movements and
gestures of the performer meaningful, and also to keep up the desired thematic
Prema has been a favorite of the dancers, mainly, because of her ability to
strike an instant rapport in a recital. She was discovered and trained by Srinivasa
Iyer, and later under Mangalampally Balamurali Krishna and T V Gopala Krishna.
She was then a child prodigy in her own right and then evolved as an artist
of special repute, and today even her young daughter, Jaya Prada Ramamurthy,
has advanced to be one of the best flutists of the country (especially when
wind blown instruments are hardly pursued by women).
In this performance, Prema displayed her adroitness in the traditional approach
to music. With Saveri Varnam, in Tisra Nada, and Chaturasra Nada, she alternated
between two levels of speeds, keeping a precise control over the rhythm. However,
the recital was a brief one, leaving the audience discontented, and desiring more
of Prema's music.
What heightened the experience was the appropriate support lent by the supporting
artists, like violinist Kokkonda Subramanya Sarma, percussionist D S R Murthy,
kanjeera artist Kalaya Prasad and morsing artist Ghantasala Sai. Kalarajyam
aptly hailed the artist as "Gana Kokila", for Prema is blessed with a sweet
voice of the Nightingale, which is further embellished by her skillful singing.
Veteran musician, Dr Nookala Chinna Satyam, honored the artist and praised Prema
for her dedication to the art. Even dance gurus, V S Ramamurthy and Manjula
Ramaswamy, felicitated the artist.
The other guests among the audience expressed their disappointment over the
thin attendance at this ace vocalist's concert. But, at the end of the day,
it was more the people's loss than the artist's.