Sanjay Subrahmanyan

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Not to be confused with Sanjay Subrahmanyam.
Sanjay Subrahmanyan
Sanjay Subrahmanyan.jpg
Background information
Born (1968-01-21) 21 January 1968 (age 48)
Origin Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Genres Carnatic music – Indian Classical Music
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1987–

Sanjay Subrahmanyan (born 21 January 1968) is a Carnatic vocalist from India. He was awarded the title of Sangita Kalanidhi by the Madras Music Academy in December 2015. This is the highest honour that can be bestowed on a Carnatic musician and Sanjay Subrahmanyan is one of ten musicians who have been bestowed this honour before they turned 50 years of age.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu (India).

Music Career: Early Life[edit]

Sanjay Subrahmanyan began learning music in the year 1976, when he was just eight years old. After learning to play the violin from V. Lakshminarayana, he proceeded to learn Carnatic vocal music from Rukmini Rajagopalan for a period of almost eight years, until 1988. From the year 1989, his skills were further sharpened by the renowned guru, Calcutta K. S. Krishnamurthi (KSK). It is during this phase, which lasted until KSK’s demise in 1999, that he started first developing and then mastering an innovative style of singing that blended tradition and modernity.[1]

In this phase of his musical journey, Sanjay Subrahmanyan continued to pursue two parallel careers; as a musician and as a Chartered Accountant and a Cost Accountant. However, in the year 2000, he decided to step back from these parallel careers and chose, instead, to focus fully on establishing himself as a professional musician.

It was during this period that Sanjay Subrahamanyan, along with several of his young contemporaries founded the Youth Association of Carnatic Music (YACM). YACM was created for the purpose of promoting Carnatic music amongst the youth, and provided a platform for young Carnatic musicians to showcase their talents.

Music Career: Middle Years[edit]

Sanjay Subrahmanyan continued to study from the nadaswaram (or, nagaswaram) maestro Semponarkoil S. R. D. Vaidyanathan from the year 2002, until the latter's demise in 2013.

In this period, Sanjay Subrahmanyan started to explore vivadi (dissonant) ragas. He sang ragam-tanam-pallavis in Hindusthani ragas. He explored several rare raga-s that are not often sung in concerts.

Music Career: Today[edit]

Today, Sangita Kalanidhi Sanjay Subrahmanyan has created a unique style of his own

He has toured countries such as Malaysia, Australia, USA, Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, Switzerland, Europe, Dubai, Spain, France and Oman.

Personal life[edit]

Sanjay Subrahmanyan was born on 21 January 1968 in Chennai to S. Sankaran and Aruna Sankaran (who learned music from Rukmini Rajagopalan, Flute Rajaram Iyer, Maruthuvakudi Rajagopala Iyer and Mayavaram Saraswati). His father S. Sankaran, popularly known as Burma Sankaran, was a member of the drama troupe led by Cho Ramaswamy.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s grandaunt, and one of his earlier guru-s, Smt. Rukmini Rajagopalan, was a musician of repute. She was trained by several guru-s including Parur Sundaram Iyer, the legendary composer Papanasam Sivan and several others. She was a graded artist of the All India Radio (AIR) since its inception in the 1930s, and was also a performer and teacher of note.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan is married to Aarthi Sanjay (who learned music from Smt Lakshmi Raja and Smt Sulochana Pattabhiraman). They were married in August 1993 in Chennai, India. They have two children, Shreyasi Sanjay and Sushanth Sanjay.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan was the first Carnatic musician to use the internet as a medium to engage and interact with his fans and the Carnatic music fraternity. Along with his long time friend, V. Sriram, he established a Carnatic music portal, called Sangeetham.Com. Sanjay Subrahmanyan also maintains a blog and has, in the past, produced podcasts in which he talks about music and musicians.

However, he has given a few interviews to TV networks and print-media.

Sangita Kalanidhi[edit]

Sanjay Subrahmanyan received the title of Sangita Kalanidhi from the Madras Music Academy in December 2015. This is the highest award that can be bestowed on a Carnatic musician. By receiving this award before he turned 50 years, Sanjay Subrahmanyan joined a select band of legendary musicians. The set of musicians to have been bestowed the title of Sangita Kalanidhi before they were 50y includes: Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (39y), Musiri Subramaniya Iyer (40y), Sanjay Subrahmanyan (47), Madurai Mani Iyer (47y), G. N Balasubramniam (48y), M Balamurali Krishna (48y), Alathur Sivasubramaniya Iyer (one half of the Alathur Brothers) (48y), Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar (49y), Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer (49y) and M. L. Vasanthakumari (49y).

With this, Sanjay Subrahmanyan joined this set of senior musicians who influenced a whole generation or two of musicians who followed the style, the form, the structure, the content and the aesthetic firmament they practised, performed and created.

Note: Musicologists T. V. Subba Rao (37y) and Ponniah Pillai (44y) also received the Sangita Kalanidhi title, but they were Carnatic musicologists/composers and not performers.

Artistic Influences[edit]

In his early/formative years, apart from his guru-s, Sanjay Subrahmanyan was strongly influenced by the music of G. N. Balasubramaniam, S. Kalyanaraman, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Tiger Varadachari, M. L. Vasanthakumari, Ramnad Krishnan, Alathur Brothers, Musiri Subramaniya Iyer and T. N. Seshagopalan. Each of the above performed stylised, intellectual, raga music and their musical idiom was filled with a very high improvisation (manodharma) quotient.

Several other musicians and musicologists including Seethalapathy Balu, T. K. Govinda Rao, T. M. Thiagarajan, Madurai Somu, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, and M. D. Ramanathan have influenced his style of singing over the years.

Awards & titles[edit]

  1. Jan 2016: The Sangeetha Sampoorna title from Sree Poornathrayeesa Sangeetha Sabha, Trippunittura.
  2. Feb 2016: The Sangeetha Vedanta Dhureena title from Sree Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira, Bengaluru.
  3. Jan 2016: Madhurakala Praveena title from Sri Sathguru Sangeetha Samajam, Madurai.
  4. Jan 2016: The prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi award (for the year 2015, and rececived on 1 Jan 2016) from the Music Academy, Chennai.[2]
  5. Dec 2014: The National Eminence Award from the Shanmukhananda Sabha, Mumbai.
  6. Nov 2014: The Sangeetha Chakravarthy title from South Indian Cultural Association (SICA), Hyderabad.
  7. Sep 2014: The Isai Mani Makutam title from Rajalakshmi Fine Arts, Coimbatore.
  8. Jan 2014: The Gaana Kalanidhi title from Sagitha Vidwath Sabha, Kakinada.
  9. Dec 2013: The title of Gaana Padhmam from the Brahma Gana Sabha, Chennai.[3]
  10. Mar 2013: The Naadha Kalanidhi title from Shanmukhananda Sabha, New Delhi.
  11. Jan 2013: The Sangeetha Kala Visharad title from Dombivli Fine Arts, Mumbai.
  12. Jan 2013: The Nada Vallabha title from Nadasudha, Velachery, Chennai.
  13. Jan 2012: The Isai Chelvam award from Mutthamizh Peravai, Chennai.
  14. Dec 2011: Sangeetha Kala Bharathi award frin Bharath Kalachar, Chennai, on the occasion of their Silver Jubilee.
  15. Oct 2011: The Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal from the Indira Sivasailam Foundation and Music Academy, Chennai.
  16. Oct 2012: GIMA Award for the Best Album in Carnatic Vocal Music by the Global Indian Music Awards Foundation.
  17. Oct 2011: GIMA Award for the Best Album in Carnatic Vocal Music by the Global Indian Music Awards Foundation.
  18. Jun 2011: SKR Award of Excellence from the Tanjore S. Kalyanaraman Trust and Shanmukhapriya Sabha, Chennai.
  19. Dec 2010: Best Concert of the Music Academy Annual Conference.
  20. Dec 2010: The title of Vani Kala Sudhakara from the Tyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Chennai.
  21. Dec 2009: Best Concert of the Music Academy Annual Conference.
  22. Oct 2008: The Sivanisai Selvar title from the Papanasam Sivan Rasigar Sangam, Chennai.
  23. Dec 2007: Best Male Singer award (polled by IRC Wide Vision) during the Music Academy’s Annual Conference.
  24. Dec 2006: Best Male Singer award (polled by IRC Wide Vision) during the Music Academy’s Annual Conference.
  25. Dec 2006: The Sangeetha Kalasarathy title from Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Chennai. Sanjay Subrahmanyan was the youngest recipient of this title.
  26. Jun 2006: The prestigious Kalaimamani award from the Tamil Nadu Government.
  27. Dec 2005: The Sangeetha Sapta Sagara award from SAFE, Chennai
  28. Dec 2005: Best Concert of the Music Academy Annual Conference.
  29. Dec 2003: Yogam Nagaswamy Award for Best Senior Vocalist, Music Academy Annual Conference.
  30. Dec 2002: The (inaugural recipient of the) Sangeetha Shiromani award from the Shanmukhananda Sabha, Mumbai. This was during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Shanmukhananda Sabha, Mumbai.
  31. Dec 2001: Naada Oli tile from the Naada Inbam Sabha, Chennai.
  32. Oct 2001: Naadakkanal from Naadakkanal, Chennai.
  33. Dec 2000: The Isai Peroli title from Karthik Fine Arts, Chennai.
  34. Dec 1998: Yogam Nagaswamy Award for Best Senior Vocalist, Music Academy Annual Conference.
  35. Sep 1999: Kalki Krishnamurthy Memorial Award from The Kalki Krishnamurthy Trust, Chennai
  36. Feb 1999: Nada Bhushanam from The Shanmukhananda Sabha, Delhi
  37. Jun 1997: The Sanskriti Award from the Sanskriti Prathishthan for Performing Arts.
  38. Dec 1991: Yuva Kala Bharathi title from Bharat Kalachar, Chennai.
  39. Jun 1986: First prize in the All India Radio Music Competition.

In addition, he has been the recipient of many awards and prizes from the Madras Music Academy, Chennai on the concluding day of their Annual Music Conference every year. These include Yogam Nagaswamy prize for the best vocalist of the music season (for several years), the outstanding junior musician award and several others.

He received the Spirit of Youth Award for Outstanding Performance from Krishna Gana Sabha under its talent promotion scheme. He won first prize in the AIR competition held in 1985. For the period 1987–1988, Sanjay was the recipient of the Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer Trust Scholarship for advanced musical training.

Filmography and Discography[edit]

Sanjay Subrahmanyan was the subject of the documentary film "Aaraar aasaippadaar" by filmmaker Prasanna Ramaswamy; the documentary film was screened in November 2006 in Chennai.

His albums are also available for download on iTunes, Amazon, Gumroad and other popular digital distribution portals.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s discography is presented below:

Year Album Title Accompanists Contents
1984 Neerajakshi R. K. Shriramkumar - Violin, K Arun Prakash - Mrdangam, N. Ganesh Kumar - Kanjira Sri Kanchi (Asaveri), Kantajoodumi (Vachaspati), Neerajakshi (Hindolam), Sri Venugopala (Durbar), Thiruvadi Charanam (Kambodhi)
1990 Classical Moods - Varnam (Saveri), O Rajeevaksha (Arabhi), Ramanatham (Pantuvarali), Edayya Gathi (Chalanatai), Bhuvinidasudane (Sriranjani), Thyagarajaya (Begada)
1994 Carnatic Vocal Vittal Ramamurthy - Violin; K. Arun Prakash - Mrdangam Varnam (Kanada), Sobillu (Jaganmohini), Seethapathe (Khamas), Maayamma (Aahiri), Sri Dakshinamurthe (Sankarabharanam), Aravinda (Kapi)
1994 Ganamrutham - Vanajakshi Varnam (Kalyani), Sankari (Saveri), Ramanamapayasake (Anandabhairavi), Brocheva (Sriranjani), Aadum deivam (Kambodhi), Chinnanchiru Kiliye (Ragamalika)
1995 Rasanubhavam Vittal Ramamurthy - Violin, K. Arun Prakash - Mrdangam, Neyveli Venkatesh - Kanjira Thulasidalamulache (Mayamalavagowla), Parama Pavani (Atana), Ammaravamma (Kalyani), Gaanaamudapaanam (Jyothiswaroopini), Saraguna Palimpa (Kedaragowla), Thillana (Kamas), Thirupugazh (Bagesri), Vidajaaladura (Janaranjani), Thikutheriyada (Ragamalika)
1997 Live Waves From Melbourne R. K. Shriramkumar - Violin; K. Arun Prakash - Mrdangam Varnam (Kalyani), Korinavara (Ramapriya), Sri Kalamambikayam (Sahana), Emani Pogadathura (Veera Vasantham), Male Manivanna (Kuntalavarali), Ragam Thanam Pallavi in Bhairavi. (2-CD set).
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