His clear, sonorous voice belies his age. At 29, S Saketharaman has already impressed leaders in the Carnatic music fraternity with his renditions of compositions. This fortnight, the vocalist will perform after the Sri Shanmukhananda National Eminence Award ceremony. In its thirteenth year, the awards will honour leading Carnatic vocalist M Balamuralikrishna who will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement in Carnatic Music. Three other musicians, Saketharaman for Carnatic vocal, Varadarajan for Carnatic violin and Aditya Mohan Khandwe for Hindustani vocal, will be conferred with Shanmukha Sangeetha Shiromani Awards.
When Saketharaman was just a six-year-old, his parents introduced him to the world of music through his first guru Srirangam Krishnamurthy Rao. At the same time, inspiration to pursue music came from his older sister Vishaka Hari, a well-known exponent of Harikatha (religious discourse) who was learning music under Carnatic violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman at the time. “I was fascinated with Carnatic vocals. I used to listen to vocalists GN Balasubramaniam, Madurai Mani Iyer and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer,” he said. To understand rhythm and perform better, Saketharaman went a step further and learned the Carnatic mridangam, a percussion instrument.
For several years, even during his school and college, Saketharaman followed a rigorous daily schedule of four hours of training. “After a four-hour session my mind was so sharp that I could finish my studies in a very short time,” said Saketharaman. Despite his dedication to music, the vocalist has managed to obtain a master’s degree in software engineering and has taken up a full-time position at an investment bank.
According to Saketharaman, a journey into the world of classical music goes through many phases. During the formative years, one follows the guru completely. Then exposure to other musicians follows. “I am currently in the third phase where I am creating my individual style,” said Saketharaman, adding that his guru’s training is the main reference point. He has recently been working on composing bhajans and developing the Ragam Tanam Pallavi in several ragas.
A resident of Bengaluru, Saketharaman believes in innovation and yet adheres by the grammar of the ragas. Some of his collaborations include mridangam player Umayalpuram Sivaraman and pianist Anil Srinivasan. He has also worked with vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan and flautist Mysore Chandan Kumar. Saketharaman has also recorded albums like Vandhan Raghuraman, Aatma Nivedhanam and Nadha Geetham among others. For his upcoming concert, Saketharaman will perform the multi-raga Pallavi and will be accompanied by S Varadarajan on the violin and S Shankaranarayanan on the mridangam.
By Latha Venkatraman on December 21 2012