Actually Maha, in short, to friends and acquaintances! So why am I here? Well, to answer in one word I'd say 'passion'. Music is my passion and having appreciated, enjoyed, studied and analyzed Carnatic music, I'd say that a venture such as this seemed a natural calling.After doing English literature, I started my career as a print journalist, and worked in publications such as Midday, The Sunday Observer and The Times of India, with a short stint on the new media bandwagon. But it wasn't long before I found my feet – or should I say my voice – in the medium of radio. I joined WorldSpace as programme director for Shruti, the 24-hour Carnatic music channel. I was instrumental in launching this channel and for close to seven years I was handling all content-related aspects of this channel, including programming, hosting, editing, etc. The experience has not only given me a better understanding of the nuances of radio programming, but also some cherished memories of reputed musical artistes whom I have been fortunate enough to interact with professionally and with whom I have spent some wonderful moments discussing their art.So what do I do apart from making Carnatic music programmes online? Well, I listen to music – virtually all kinds and quite a lot of it – and I am a film junkie. And oh, I can also say I'm a self-taught photographer, flirting with the lenses whenever the mood takes over.I'd like to dedicate this venture to all those doyens of music who have deeply enriched millions of lives.
Radio Host, ardent reader, music lover, foodie, chef and once-upon-a-time software engineer – that more or less sums me up, professionally and personally.Books are my lifeline. I love English literature, Golden Age mysteries and several other types of books. Sunny day, rainy day, any day, I can read for hours on end. My love for music is overshadowed by my love of books. I admire Urdu poetry and Ghazals, and am a big fan of Mehdi Hassan and other singers who sing Ghazals in the traditional classical/semi-classical form. Carnatic Music has also been a constant presence in my life. I am a die-hard foodie, albeit vegetarian. I love cooking for family and friends. I frequently try out new recipes and read cookbooks like novels.I love to travel, and try to experience local colours and flavours wherever I go. Train journeys fascinate me and one day I hope to be able to traverse the whole of Europe by train, and also travel aboard famous trains like the Venince-Simplon Orient Express.
If one is naturally drawn to something , then one is not even conscious of being in it. It is only when I started working with Sruti, the 24 Hour Carnatic music radio station on World Space radio that I realised how immersed I had been in Carnatic music.Suddenly everything seemed to fall into place . The daily 1 hour radio programs broadcast from Chennai AIR that my grandparents religiously tuned in to, the painstaking efforts my mother took to find good teachers, entire summer evenings spent with my parents at the Fort High school Pandal that hosted and still hosts concert by top artistes, long sessions of music and talk on music with my earlier teacher Vidushi Sugandha Raman – everything seemed to have conspired to make me feel completely at home in this new space that I was plummeted into.This was 4 years ago. That little domain has spiralled into a Universe now – enthusiastic students of Carnatic music,friends passionate about this art form, kind mentors and large hearted gurus each inhabiting a galactic space. The Lalgudi family is an exclusive galaxy among them. There is obviously nothing new that I can say about a legendary musician like my present guru Padmabhushan Lalgudi Jayaraman whom the world already knows about,except that his large heartedness in imparting knowledge has been like a torchlight in my music endeavour for the past 10 years.At home my mother in law Vid. Vijaya Murthy willingly shares with me the knowledge that she has picked up from her guru, the very respected musician Late Prof. Mysore V Ramaratnam .My husband Karthik who is a performing vocalist himself is his most obliging self when it comes to music.It would have come as a surprise to me first if not anyone else if I did not join Radio Web Carnatic. It is almost like anchoring oneself to delve deeper into the Carnatic ocean. There is so much happening in Carnatic music today and consequently so many exciting possibilities!
Professional life so far has been a lot of OJT or on-the-job training for me. After a drilling 5 years of dentistry, radio was where I landed in. Thanks to Carnatic music blaring from my dad's music system early morning, noon and night, not to mention other forms of music that would blast during the times he was at work, my musical diet has mostly been of this nature. In addition to this, there would be my mum's share of non-Carnatic music, mostly Hindi and Kannada, and you can see what my musical palette basically is made of. May be that's what made me choose music over medicine. After having worked with WorldSpace's Kannada station handling its content and programming and also being an RJ for a short while on Shruti, I feel, to enjoy music, you must first learn to appreciate it.
I must admit I never got around to learning music the way dad wanted me to, was never religious in practicing it. On hindsight I think I felt intimidated by the sheer expanse and the dedication it required. If singing pure classical music scares me, having a sibling who is a Carnatic violinist doesn't help matters, does it? But I have always been in awe of it. I greatly admire the masters and the students who learn and perform classical music. Maybe it is this strange liking that has been the underlying reason for me to have been associated with it for so long.
When people still ask what made me throw away my 5 years of professional education, I smile benignly while my folks including my husband say maybe this was where I was meant to be. I feel extremely lucky when I think of my chosen area of work today. When I was asked to be a part of the Radioweb Carnatic team, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew I loved Carnatic music, understood the basic nuances, but it's a whole wide Carnatic world out there. Trust me, the dread is back.
Carnatic music has been a part of me ever since I can remember. Growing up in the middle of music classes and rehearsals thanks to my mother who is a music teacher, there was not a time when I was not exposed to music. Thanks to my parents and grandparents, that exposure soon translated into violin lessons and my experience today as a performing violinist and keen musician are drawn directly from those days. Meeting the Lalgudi family at the right time in my musical journey has resulted in me learning from some of the field’s finest musicians and deepening my experience and appreciation of music in a way I would have never thought possible. Coming to Radioweb has been like coming home because it has been an awaited dream for me to build a catalogued music library allowing one to listen to just the right composer or performer as the moment demands. As an RJ, I’m soon discovering that the combinations of themes are so many, and weaving a common thread through the myriad compositions is very much like creating an alapana of my own. I also love travelling, cooking, writing, teaching, and any activity which facilitiates an expression of who I really am..
Priyanka C Prakash
I’m a Carnatic music student, CA aspirant, Finance buff, and die-hard foodie. I love reading (both fiction, and about Carnatic Music History- I do my own bit of research as well), I love listening to music, and have an affinity towards chaste classical music – my most favourite musicians being my Guru Sangita Kala Acharya Neela Ramgopal, KV Narayanaswamy, T Brinda, MS Subbalakshmi, Ramnad Krishnan and the Alathur Brothers. I’m happiest when I’m signing – whether its intensive practice at home, or at a concert. I’m overwhelmed and ecstatic when I learn from my Guru. She teaches me not just music, but also values – the values of chaste classicism, uncompromising adherence to pathantharam, discipline and proportion.
I’m completely emotional when I listen to KVN’s ‘Varugalamo’ or Brindamma’s ‘Dalachinavaru’ or ‘Sukhi Evvaro’. The joy that I get out of discovering a nuance in the music, is inexplicable. I love the ‘aesthetic mathematics’ and the incredible depth of our music.
It is this passion and love that has prompted me to promote Carnatic Music in my own small way, to international audiences including those from Japan and Europe, as well as non-traditional Indian audiences.
I love travelling, experimenting with new cuisines, and having interesting conversations!
I’m the youngest member of the team, but Radioweb Carnatic is an extension of everything I believe in – the team here is truly awesome, and it is a fabulous place to be!