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Destination music, an expedition for this
Los Angles lad
CHENNAI, January 4: From Los Angles, he has moved to "Bay Area" to study Computer Science at Stanford University. In the midst of his serious academic pursuit, he steals time to visit the capital of Carnatic music every December. While in Chennai, he spends quality time learning music and giving concerts. After giving half-a-dozen concerts this season, Anirudh Venkatesh has returned to his home in the U.S.

"A lot of things have come together in a very special way for me,’’ says this 21-year-old lad. He is determined to pursue Carnatic music to experience inner joy. "If I can provide joy to others in the process, I will be doubly happy,’’ articulates Anirudh, in a chat here on January 3, 2013 before heading back home. Six concerts (including one at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha) during the season – quite a plateful, indeed! If it reveals his passionate pursuit of this art form, it also indicates the underlying stuff he is made of.

No kid(ding) this
Even as his sister practised Bharathanatyam at their Los Angles home to the beats of Mridangam, the sound had caught kid Anirudh’s attention. Thus, began his musical quest without anybody’s prodding. Thanks to his parents (while his father is a mortgage broker, his mother practices Ayurveda medicine) and teacher Padma Kutty, Anirudh got into learning vocal music very early as a kid. A grown up lad, he has now come under the tutelage of P.S. Naraynaswamy. When Anirudh is in Chennai during December, he goes for intensive sessions with Narayanaswamy. Nevertheless, his un-diminishing liking for layam has taken him to A.S. Krishnan, an acclaimed Morsing artiste, to learn Mridangam! "It’s more like a side hobby,’’ he explains.

No too many other things
Practice, more practice and still more practice. That is what his emphasis at the moment, it appears. Given that Computer Science is a bit heavy in terms of course load, "it is little difficult to do the juggling,’’ he admits, and goes on to add, "I don’t do too many others things besides studies and music.’’
How tough is it for him to pursue an art form, which encompasses multiple languages? He has no difficulty since his gurus have always laid greater emphasis on pronunciation. "This discipline is enforced at early stage of learning,’’ he points out. "I make it a point to read the overall meaning of a song,’’ he says. For him, Carnatic music is a spiritual art form. "The ultimate goal is to uplift the spirit, go into meditative mood, and transport the listeners to a new experience,’’ he reasons. While considering himself to be lucky to get involved in this art form, Anirudh asserts, "I pursue it for my own inner joy, and for the sake of art.’’

Can Carnatic music be his profession? He isn’t sure at the moment. "I am still trying to figure that out. I am also pretty deep into my computer science degree course. Perhaps, I may do a master’s degree as well,’’ he says. Even as he is facing a critical dilemma, he does not rule out anchoring himself in Chennai for music sake!

For him, being a part of the December season in Chennai "is a unique experience’’, and a refreshing one at that. For an aspiring musician, it is an important opportunity to gain experience, he adds.

Hand-holding youngsters
Young Anirudh feels Carnatic music has potential to attract youngsters. "However, they need guidance to understand and appreciate the richness of this art form,’’ he argues. In his own way, he is helping the cause of Carnatic music by organising sessions on "introduction to Indian classical music’’ back home in the U.S. to help non-Indians to understand the basic blocks of Indian music. "It is important to be sincere and adopt a humble approach to this art form,’’ he argues. As his teachers say, Anirudh is out to take a "loving approach to Carnatic music’’.
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