P.S. Narayanaswamy

Carnatic Musicians
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mahavishnu
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#1 P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by mahavishnu »

I was surprised to not find a thread on this amazing musician, personality and guru (if there is one, mods pl merge). To my mind, this senior disciple of Semmangudi was the unsung hero of the recently concluded music season.

His students now dominate to the concert platform and are making waves all around. It almost seems as though every young musician that catches my eye seems to be training under PSN. This includes Ranjani/Gayatri, Gayathri Venkataraghavan, Abhishek Raghuram, Kunnakkudi Balamuralikrishna, Bharat Sundar, Radha Bhaskar, Akkarai Subhalakshmi (for vocal) to name a few. There are several others at various stages of their careers, even instrumentalists.

I just wanted to start this thread to celebrate the life and music of this great guru and contributor to classical Karnatik music. Please post any anecdotes, stories, tributes about Sri PSN on this thread.

Here is a link to an old site about him: http://www.carnaticcorner.com/articles/psn.html
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._S._Narayanaswamy
And a facebook site: http://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/P-S-Nar ... 3162835167

vanajan
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#2 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by vanajan »

Thanks mahavishnu for starting this thread.

PSN mama is an amazing human being. We took a 6 year old to him in 2003( a beginner student then,having learnt upto a few varnams and a couple of kritis.) without knowing what to expect and whether it would work out. Thanks to this great man, it has been an amazing journey for both the student and the parents. We have enjoyed this journey so much, the destination does not matter to me any more.

I know I am not qualified to write about him, but can't refrain from writing.
IMHO, the qualities that make him one of the great teachers are:
  • The barrier between the teacher and the taught is not there at all, treats his students as if they are in the same level as him, "we are in this together" state, so learning flourishes.
  • In any creative pursuit, giving space to the learner is vital and PSN mama gives that space to the student. So it is never stuffy, music is never "work" for the student.
  • There is an endearing informality/approachability.
  • Mama does not object to learning from other good musicians, in fact there are many instances in which he himself introduced his students to others and asked them to teach. Asks the student to sing kritis learnt from other paadams also in the class.
  • Allows the student to be honest to himself/herself. I have been a witness to incidents like.... Mama starts teaching a particular kriti, after a sangathi or two, the student says that (s)he likes that kriti better in some other paadam and would like to learn from that paadam. With a face beaming with joy, mama says " You are right, that kriti is very beautiful in that paadam, learn from that paadam."
  • The student at home is probably one of his first long distance students to whom he taught over phone in 2003, when skype etc were not very mature. The way he changed/adapted his teaching style to suit long distance teaching, as the first class progressed was amazing to watch and learn. With him everything seems to fall in place effortlessly and naturally.
He has the finest human qualities:
  • Magnanimity, personal honesty/integrity.
  • Innate genuine humility, the need to boast(to that matter even just talk) about one's own achievements or qualities (either in public or in private) is just not there.
  • Treats all his students with same kindness and affection irrespective of how one sings.
I can go on ad infinitum. To me, going to PSN mama's house is just like going to Kapali temple. I get the same peace.

I will stop with a few of my favorite moments:
One evening during Dec 2004, as usual many of his students came for the evening singing session. I remember Balamurali,Karthik(M.R.Subramaniam), Jayaraman, T.P.Nishanth,Kesav, Kuldeep and few others(I can not recollect). Many beautiful kritis were sung with alapana, neraval and swara rounds. Some one started the Kannada kriti Saketha nikethana and when done started the kalpanaswara rounds for Kannada. They were not satisfied with the way they sang. PSN mama was there in the front hall as always, listening to the music. One student called out "Sir, Konjam Vango, Seriya varamantegaradhu". Mama came inside the hall and sang few rounds of wonderful Kannada. Every one was inspired, many sang beautiful swarams dripping with Kannada.

A student, the first one to arrive for the evening singing session that day, as he removes his shoes sees PSN mama standing near the main door, says "mama, I forgot the kriti xxx". Mama starts singing kriti xxx and within a couple of seconds the student also joins, stopping whatever he was doing(shoes half removed!) and there was absolute bliss for the next 5 to 10 mins, both of them just singing.

A young student , after the class is done, sees some lego blocks in the front hall, starts building something, singing anandabhairavi subconsciously, hangover from the class. Mama watches whatever that is being built for a minute, asks "What are you building?". "Temple. ", answers the student. The teacher joins the student in the lego activity, both of them singing beautiful anandabhairavi taking turns subconsciously. A cute lego temple is built along with anandabhairavi. Suddenly the teacher gets up, goes inside and searches something. After a few minutes, comes back with a little lingam which fits perfectly in the lego Sanctam sanctorium. The teacher and the student are very pleased with the outcome.

Vanaja.

ganeshkant
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#3 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by ganeshkant »

Listened to his concert in AIR yesterday night.An amazing concert.Can't guess when was this recorded.The Begada is still ringing in my ears.Beautifully supported by T.Rukmini and UKS.

satyabalu
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#4 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by satyabalu »

* He personally saved me from a great embarassment .
* When I had been a part of an organising team for "rendering of Pancharatna kritis" in which PSN sir was on the certrestage leading& in the end, when I had gone to him first to hand over the token, he whispered"(S)Rajam Iyer pinnale irukar "(Who was sitting on a chair which I had forgotten for a moment).
* In another function organised by a senior lady vocalist Where PSN sir was the chief guest -she had omitted giving memento to a girl who had sung the invocation -perhaps due to the fact the girl happened to be her daughter -He intecepted the vote of thanks & insisted she be given the memento.
* One versatile senior vidwan known for his humility sat in the back row when he joined a pancharatnam.When he had hesitated to come to the front despite persuasion from organisers he turned back &told"Nee munnale varalena non pinnale vanthuviduven" The senior vidwan had to obey his command with the words" yennada idu vamba pochey"

Nick H
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#5 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by Nick H »

I do not know very much about Sri PSN --- except that I often see him sitting in the audience, and quite often at the performances of younger artists. I do not think that they are all his students, either.

It must be nice for these people to see that they have this support. It is good to see.

sivachinta1965
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#6 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by sivachinta1965 »

dear Rasikas

"Vidwan" a title or just like that since this topic is under "Vidwans and Vidushis" in Rasika

Siva

mahavishnu
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#7 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by mahavishnu »

I just found this very nice video of Sri PSN singing a wonderful Sugunamule in Chakravaham with his disciples. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAn_tR21J8w

Sahana and Satyabalu: thanks for posting those personal anecdotes.

Nick, I have also noticed his calm presence in various concerts (of both his students and others). He seems to have a wonderful relationship with the music fraternity, especially young artistes.

satyabalu
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#8 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by satyabalu »

* I also remember one more incident.When we had participated in one of the Akandams during Sivarathri @Tiruvaiyaru everyone will get to sing a few songs after their turn they will be honoured with a small shawl(Kutrala thundu sponsor- Visalur Gurumurthy). Atleast one would get 3/4 kritis depending on the seniority to sing @ a time.
*One gentleman, husband of a lady vocalist pleaded with him for singing a few kritis claiming familiarity &lineage of padanthara of a doyen .PSN sir although had not known much about him nor heard him obliged him with a chance to render kritis. Going by the body language of musicians around PSN sir realising that his standard was below average &his style of singing was creating lighter moments could not know how to stop him . As soon as one song was over before he could start the next one he prompted one of his disciples "Thundai konduva ! Sirukku porthalam" .After shawl &clapping he was forced to move away-without ill feeling.

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#9 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

PSN(aka Pichai as he is affectionately known) is one of the best Acharyas I have witnessed in the last 6 decades.(DISCLOSURE: Good family friend thro our family's association with Semmangudi Mama and his younger brother was a classmate of mine in Engineering School-- I am BIASED!!).
The thing that sets him apart from other Acharyas is that he makes it a point to attend his sishya's concerts(no matter how short the tenure of teaching the sishya may have been). Not only that he will guide the accompaniment to tone down their playing or hint at slight sruthi infraction on the part of the accompaniment--so unobtrusively not to offend the accompanist--be it the violinist or the Mridangist wherever appropriate because he wants the sishya to shine.

He is also unique in the sense that he could be around a sishya in the lobby of the Music Academy or NGS in a concert and not make the sishya feel shy or reserved(as he himself has faced many a time from his Guru!!) the legions of sishyas that he has trained--Shankar Srinivas, Abhishek Raghuram,or Ranjani Gayathr would swear by his pedagogy and humility and understated authority endemic to any Guru-Sishya relationship these days!!

He is also a very perceptive witty personality-- an anecdote comes to my mind which I will relate in an ensuing note--Have to sign off now,Sorry!!.

mahavishnu
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#10 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by mahavishnu »

MKR sir, Look forward to hearing more!

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#11 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

To understand this anecdote one needs to be familiar with where Semmangudi Mama lived in Chennai. Chennaites might know that he lived in a side street off Lloyds Road between Gopalapuram and Royapettah--the street runs opposite to the AIADMK office on Lloyds Road. Any passerby by --by walk or bicycle can see any activity in front of Semmangudi Mama's house without having to come into the street--the street was otherwise quiet with the residents going about their businesses.
Semmangudi Mama had an elder brother--Panchapi Anna(PA) as he was affectionately called. He remained a bachelor staying in Venkata Lodge in Kumbakonam--looking after Mama's and other members of the family lands around Kumbakonam.he frequently will visit Semmangudi Mama whether in Trivandrum or Chennai--during Mama's earlier years when he was travelling a lot on concerts or official visits--PA would be the father-figure for the kids(five of them) in Mama's absence. He was a very witty man--man of few words but could "sting" you with it if you give him an opportunity--all of Mama's friends were close to PA as well so that free jokes would fly around--always at the expense of Semmangudi Mama and PA would join the fray much to the delight of the friends reeling off stories about Semmangud Mama's childhood etc. In the Eighties,Semmangudi Mama asked PA to close down his Kumbakonam establishment and live his years with Mama in Chennai--Mama's children had all been married and had their own families. In Mama's house there were only three people--Mama his wife and PA.

Now what has this got to do with PSN.

Sometime in the Mid eighties,PA died in Semmangudi Mama's house and a few close friends of both PA and Mama had come for condolences(most of their common friends--except for my father and uncle-- had predeceased PA and Semmangudi Mama so that it was a small crowd)) and had gathered in front of the house. PSN was playing the role of the traffic cop(the crowd was not that big!!). Now Vairamangalam Laxminarayanan passes by on a bicycle on Lloyds Road going East towards Royapettah--seeing the small crowd gathered in front of Semmangudi Mama's house, he assumed that it was Mama who passed away(he did not know about PA) and immediately steps down from the bike and starts walking towards the house. rolling the cycle along. He had hardly entered the street when PSN frantically waves to him and says in Tamil-- Neengal Ninaikkira Madiri Onrum Illai --poyinde Irungo!!( Translation: It is not what you think it is Keep going and Viaramangalam beat a retreat!! What is the joke in this.

PSN knew that Vairamangalam did not know PA at all and so he must have assumed wrongly that Mama had passed away and wanted to save him the embarassment of coming to the house and finding out that mama had not died!!
That was vintage PSN in terms of quickness of grasp,perceptiveness.
He was also very free with Mama(his father and Mama--they belonged to the same Vathima Brahmin subsect and as such he could take liberties with Mama. Once when I was visiting Mama(by this time PSN had established himself as a teacher but was not getting many concert opportunities). Mama was singing(as every one knows Mama sang till in his mid eighties) and when PSN visited him as a courtesy call Mama asked him about his availability to accompany him on a particular date-- PSN did not have any engagement that day but quickly refused point blank and when Mama presuming he had a concert enquired when and where -- PSN said in Tamil"Unga kooda padinde irunda ellorum nan thania pada mudiyadu enru ninaichuppa(If I keep doing pin Pattu for you people will think that I am not capable of singing by myself!!--Mama was stunned but appreciated PSN's forthrightness.

Seriously though PSN used to tell me about Mama's excellent Tunesmithing capabilities and how he will take up a krithi of the trinity(example the Kumudakriya Krithi of MD-Ardhanareeswaram) would have formed a broad sketch or outline and when the sishya comes he will encourage them to help him polish the kriti--no teacher-pupil hierarchy there. One thing PSN always said was that before launching the krithi Mama would ensure that he and the sishyas are in perfect unison--no hasty presentation--if he is not satisfied or feels something lacking that krithi will not be presented no matter where the concert was --be it in a village in Tanjore or Chennai.

mahavishnu
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#12 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by mahavishnu »

MKR-sir, Great story!

rajeshnat
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#13 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by rajeshnat »

http://www.thehindu.com/arts/history-an ... epage=true
The article says wrote: The Rs. 75 we were paid after our 3 o'clock concert at The Music Academy would be immediately spent on buying tiffin for friends at Mani Iyer's canteen in the Academy. A dosa cost one anna and an idli half-an-anna.
Just extrapolating this interesting data , 75 Rs were paid for the afternoon concert , but dosa just cost one anna --> 16 annas make 1 Rupee --> that means 75 rupees equlas 1200 annas --> 1200 dosas then can be bought for an afternoon concert renumeration of 75rupees.

Extrapolating as of today if a dosa cost 40Rs --> Are artists paid 48,000 Rs for an afternoon 3 O clock slot so that they could buy 1200 dosas .

In 1940's to 60's certainly musicians had earned quite a bit :D , compared to today's musician who is only (y)earning tv appearances ;)

mahavishnu
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#14 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by mahavishnu »

Rajesh, or there has been an massive inflation in dosa prices :)
On a more solemn note, I was thinking about the group of Mylapore musician friends that Sri PSN talks about. It is unfortunate how many of them we have lost in recent years.

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#15 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

Folks: As one who has known PSN and his family over 60 years--and naturally biased--there are many facets to PSN that most people may not be aware of-his wicked sense of humor,his "seemingly-irreverent-responses" to his Guru's queries(anecdote later)!!
I have known him since he joined the SSI household--his Father a Doctor in Vishnupuram in Tanjore district belongs to the same vathima subcaste as SSI. His younger brother--unfortunately now deceased--was my classmate in Engng School--brilliant student very successful in running his own independent software Co--so I had lots of opportunities to interact with the family. PSN was very good in studies and yet despite the fact that his Dad was a Doctor,his sister a Doctor he chose Music of his own volition(my sense was that had he taken to academics he would have been an IAS officer or IIT Engineer). Because he was independently wealthy,he never looked to the profession for making a living--whatever opportunities he has got he has gotten them all of his own efforts. An anecdote re: his wicked sense of humor: To be continued--having trouble with the computer!!

Nick H
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#16 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by Nick H »

Oh, master of the cliff hanger! :D

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#17 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

Nick--far from it- just a digital neanderthal's pregnant pause or hiccup if you will!!!
Anecdote: In the early eighties I was visiting SSI @ his house in Lloyds Road(it is called Avvai Salai now).In comes PSN.

SSI: Pichai(PSN's pet name),are you free on xx date? Normally nine out of ten disciples --dictated by then prevalent standards of Guru-Sishya protocol--- will say Yes or No. But PSN counters WHY do you ask? SSI by now used to PSN's feigned insouciance,calmly mentions a concert engagement @ a private concert in Chennai itself. PSN says NO with a half-whisper/half loud enough for SSI to hear says in Tamil translated in English--If I keep singing as backstage accompaniment,people will assume I cannot perform solo and would not offer me a chance("Nan Pinnadiye Padindu irundal Munnadi Padarathukku Chance kidaikkadu(mind you PSN was in his fifties at that time and there was an element of truth in that SSI was gobbling up in his(SSI) eighties opportunities that would have normally gone to youngsters!!. SSI--the practical man that he was
understood PSN's point and did not take umbrage. It must be mentioned that of all of SSI's disciples PSN had the least amount of overt support from SSI for concerts--nothing malicious at all--just could not wave his magic wand and have Sabha secretaries genuflect!!!
But SSI was steadfast in pushing for the Padma Shri award-- in the mid or late nineties(my father helped in the write-up and I typed it!!!) after initially being rejected the first time he recommended to the SN Academy.SSI was one of the recommending committee-considering his seniority and made recommendations upto Padma Vibushan level despite bureaucratic apathy on the part of the minions in New Delhi who would not even as a matter of courtesy explain to him why they rejected his recommendations. SSI used to be miffed--understandably.My father would suggest WHY NOT RESIGN FROM THE COMMITTEE--SSI' response--as a practical matter never antagonise Govt--the cause itself however genuine will suffer for later aspirants. Back to PSN..

Seriously though,PSN was head and shoulders above when teaching pupils at various levels of musical maturity and also the first amongst the audience when the pupils perform--whether it is Ranjani Gayathri or Shankar Srinivas or Shyamala Satish. The pedagogy itself will be very supportive--not critical or discouraging--an occasional leg-pulling--. His demeanour before Sabha Secretaries,organisers et al would be dignified--no obsequiosness no double talk-platform speeches straight shooting.

Another anecdote re: his presence of mind and sense of humor to follow--NICK I am not teasing--just digital paralysis!!!

semmu86
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#18 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by semmu86 »

Brilliant stuff MKR Sir, Pl keep em coming

Nick H
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#19 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by Nick H »

...not teasing--just digital paralysis!!!
Anyway, it is better not to serve up all the rich food at one sitting. Maybe this is the message the technology, in its infinite wisdom is sending, like when the "telecom gods" decide I've been talking too long and cut the call. It's just unfair that it never happens to my wife, whose conversations are many times the length of mine! Still, who am I to question these "high authorities?" ;) :lol:

Looking forward to more...

CRama
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#20 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by CRama »

About a month back, one day night in FM Gold there was a very good concert of PSN. I do not remember the songs. There was Konnakkol also in that concert. If anybody has recorded and can share that concert, I will be thankful.

anandasangeetham
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#21 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by anandasangeetham »

another anecdote;

Sri PSN was felicitating a young mrudangam artist on his arangetram. The artist was Adithya Prakash sishya of Sri Neyveli narayanan and Sri UKS was also present being Neyveli's guru. the vocal concert was by Sikkil Gurucharan. UKS commented that Neyveli is conducting at least 2 arangetrams every month. since he (neyveli) himself is undergoing advanced training from him he has no complaints as long these new arangetram artists come tho him for advanced training....Sri PSN opened his remark like this (Adithay Prakash was undergoing vocal training under him)...intha madhiri arangetramla pesumbothu ellarum neraya pugazhva. romba nanna vasichan..palakad mani iyer kooda avoroda arangetrathala ipdi vasichuruparanu theriyadhu..adpi ipdinu pesuva...naan apdi ellam solla porathu illa...at this moment the he had the audience in splits...(generally in arangetram speakers will extol the artist in exagerration even going to the extent of wondering if the the great PMI would have played like that in his arangetram..but I am not going to say like that)

CRama
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#22 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by CRama »

I have heard many concerts of Shri PSN in the Navarathri Mandapom for years reminding of his Guru. He used to present a wide variety of ST kritis in the Navarathri Mandapom.

CRama
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#23 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by CRama »

Today morning in Madras A, there was the concert of PSN which I had referred to earlier. The accompaniments were CN Chandrasekhar, Ramesh and Trichy Tayumanavan on the Konnakkol. It was an Excellent concert. It started with Sobillu, O Jagadamba, Anandamrithakarshini. I could not hear afterwards. I am hoping that TVG will upload the concert.

ganeshkant
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#24 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by ganeshkant »

In today's AIR concert of PSN ( must have been recorded around 2 decades ago )the main was 'kaligiunde' in keeravAni.A neat presentation.CNC's reply also was v.g.

mahavishnu
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#25 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by mahavishnu »

Article on PSN in the Hindu http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday ... 709588.ece
He is to be given an award for his teaching excellence in Bangalore later this week.

RaviSri
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#26 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by RaviSri »

For many years now, PSN has been leading the Sivaratri akhaNDam at the Thyagaraja Samadhi at Tiruvaiyyaru. This year it will be on Thursday 27th February from morning 9 to next day 9 a.m.

mkal
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#27 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by mkal »

Smt. Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam's blog contains a transcript of an interview with Sri. PSN. Some humorous anecdotes!

http://www.vijayalakshmysubramaniam.com/musings.html

kvchellappa
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#28 Interview with Sri PSN

Post by kvchellappa »


rajeshnat
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#29 P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by rajeshnat »

What a lovely write up of PSN . His appa being a doctor left his son and his amma to learn from nagaswara vidwan . For the sake of music , how much he has done ? Lovely anecdotes of semmangudi . WHile a lot of musicians have been trained by him in different , certain equal count get trained elsewhere and seek his support - all said a fine guru who really has built a fine legacy for the next 50 years. Let me also add there are lovely performers of PSN second generation who are also making a mark.

rajeshnat
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#30 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by rajeshnat »

Another lovely write up on shri PSN
http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday ... 661735.ece

rajeshnat
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#31 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by rajeshnat »

Shri PSN says "However, the ‘kottagai’ concerts offered immense creative freedom, with no time restrictions. Vidwans were not interrupted when in full flow. "
Dec 01,2016 THE HINDU writeup of shri psn
http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/m ... 736358.ece

shankarank
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#32 Re: Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy

Post by shankarank »

A concert of SrI PSN (video included!) came up on youtube - seems to be recent upload! With veteran accompanists VVS and KRM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBmGLR5lnHU

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