Many years ago my revered Guru Late Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar told me that there is a young talented boy, S/o. Kumbakonam Dr. Kasi Iyer and disciple of Vaithanna and Mani Iyer, who is bound to make a name for himself in the near future.
I had the first opportunity to meet him when he accompanied Shri. T.K. Rangachari for the now extinct Bharathi Gana Sabha, Mylapore, When he played a scintillating thani in the three Kalai Tisra Triputa. Later on we have had a long association in the profession and beyond the barriers of the same for over four decades (early 1950s to date)
It is my own opinion that he is one of the most outstanding percussionists of this century, an ideal accompanist well versed in vocal music, nuisance of the instrument and a soloist par excellence. His approach towards Mridangam playing is totally attuned to the aesthetics of song and rhythm, aesthetics of the Sabha and Sakha (of the audience and from the point of view of the co artists) and the ultimate effect of the concert.
He has toiled hard to attain the absolute mastery that he always has over the instrument. Whether it may be vocal or instrumental public concert or radio or T.V. concerts, he has the repertoire and expertise to make an ideal presentation of his percussion art. He takes care to present all aspects of the mridangam in any given context of a solo, the tonal graces on the right and left, the various nuances in pattern making (Nadai & Sollukkattu), the electrifying parans, compelling and spectacular forays in the realm of Korvai and climatical conclusions.
He is a highly conscientious teacher and has brought to the fore many talented disciples. He is highly aware of his social responsibilities to the musician fraternity and the society in general and always contributed his valuable services to the causes.
I am very happy to say that we had a very long enjoyable association on the stage and otherwise. Many a memorable concerts of mine with his mellifluous and beautiful accompaniment vouch for this.
On this occasion of celebrating the Golden Jubilee of his career, I convey my best compliments and wishes for a very long and successful life and career with all the honours befitting his greatness.
(Article written on Dr. Umayalpuram K Sivaraman’s completion of 50 Years of service to Carnatic Music)