Among the Laya Vadyas of South India, Mridangam occupies the leading position. It has become a very important instrument in a music concert. Its contribution to the success of a concert can never be minimized. Eminent Mridangam Players in each generation have contributed their might to raise its stature and importance. The technique and the presentation of the art of playing are becoming more and more sophisticated from generation to generation.

In the present generation artists like Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman have greatly contributed to its popularity and importance. Sivaraman is now one of the most sought after Mridangam players. He was introduced to Karnataka for the first time nearly 40 years back by the late Violin Maestro Shri Chowdaiah. How his prophecy that Sivaraman would soon raise to the top of his profession has come true!

If I remember right, he accompanied me for the first time when I gave a concert with Chowdiah at the Rasika Ranjani Sabha, Calcutta, in the early 1960’s. He has provided Mridangam accompaniment to 3 generations of artists-his senior stalwarts, his contemporaries and his juniors. The reasons for his success are not far to seek. He had the good fortune of having the blessings and training of great gurus like Thanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer, Kumbakonam Rangu Iyengar and the legendary Palghat Mani Iyer. His knowledge of vocal music has given him the capacity to stimulate the main musician to come out with his best. Clarity of ideas, form and the ease with which he puts across the most complicated Theermanams, are the hall-marks of his Mridangam Artistry.

Once he was asked impertinently by someone why he chose to be a mere Mridangam Player though he was Law graduate. Sivaraman at once retorted by saying that he deliberately chose to be a Mridangam player and he was proud of his profession. He was teamed with many eminent Tabla players of the North in Jugalbandhi concerts and established the supremacy of Mridangam. Amidst a busy schedule of concerts, he finds time to train a number of students some of whom have already become concert artists.

In 1980 we were together for 3 months in a concert tour of Canada. U.S.A. England and France. The success of the tour was in no small measure due to his hearty co-operation and support. His Mridangam artistry and lecture demonstration were greatly appreciated by both connoisseurs and laymen alike. During this tour I came to understand more of his personal qualities. I found in him a most enviable person and quite an interesting conversationalist with a fine sense of humor.

I am very happy that admirers and disciples of Sivaraman have come together to felicitate him on the memorable occasion of his completion of 50 years of service to Carnatic Music. Many prestigious honors have come to him and many are yet to come.

I pray God that he may bless Sivaraman with many more years of service to Carnatic music. May he, continue to thrill the music lovers with his art for a long long time to come.

(Article written on Dr. Umayalpuram K Sivaraman’s completion of 50 Years of service to Carnatic Music)