Silver celebration

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Melbourne’s Pichumani School of Carnatic Music celebrates its 25th anniversary

The Veena, said to be the Maanushya Veena, complements the Daiva Veena or the Human body. As the human spine has 24 vertebrae, so has the Veena the same number of frets. The human spine is said to house the Pranava mantra ‘Om’. Indeed, hearing its strains, one feels the Veena is possessed of godly music.

Melbourne is fortunate to have a school teaching this divine instrument.

The Pichumani School of Carnatic Music, run by the indefatigable Iyer brothers, Ramnath and Gopinath, celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015 and is one of the pre-eminent schools of this demanding instrument.

Early references to the Veena include the Tamil compendium ‘Tirumurai’, dating back to around the 6th Century and the Ramayana. It is also the attendant instrument of the Goddess of Learning, Saraswati.

The Hindu scriptures hold Vidyadaanam, or the dissemination of knowledge, to be one of the highest edicts. The teacher is accordingly placed on the same pedestal as an ecclesiast.

It must be said the Iyer brothers discharge their teaching responsibilities admirably.

This was best articulated by a student at her arangetram where the young lady spoke about the overarching influence of the Iyer brothers not just as teachers but also as examples of upholding personal values.

Outstanding custodians of an ancient art form, the Iyer brothers themselves are true embodiments of Guru-Bhakti, paying respect to their Gurus, Sri Pichumani Iyer and Trivandrum Sri Venkataraman.

Having observed the passage of several students from wide-eyed novices, clutching at their about-to-fall-off veshtis, to polished performers, the Iyer brothers are exemplar imparters of the Sanskrit syllogism ‘Adhyayanam’, adhi and ayanam, that which is within, combined with a journey or movement.

Most reviews of Melbourne’s Iyer Brothers’ concerts refer to their astonishing synchrony. The analogy is often made of a telepathic connection between the twins who make the complex art form seem effortless.

The lines of the Kannada minstrel Kanakadasa encapsulates the eternal appeal of Carnatic music:

Hari SharaNara pecchu

Budha Janara Mecchu

KaeLvarige bellada acchu

The acclaim of devotees

The approbation of the learned

The sweetness of jaggery to listeners.

To mark the Pichumani School’s silver anniversary, throughout the year they are holding a series of concerts. The Annual School concert held at the end of May featured all the students of the School, from beginners to senior students rendering centuries-old classics, in full adherence to tradition. The event also included an audio-visual presentation drawing on the nostalgia of the quarter century the brothers have enjoyed thus far.

Here’s hoping the Pichumani School of Carnatic Music continues to endure and the Iyer brothers attain even greater laurels.

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