Behind the veneer of simplicity, is a woman endowed with immense
talent, determined to make a mark as a solo violinist. A. Kanyakumari
is also endowed with a strong will to introduce novelty into the
common forms of stage music without compromising on traditional
classicism. Over the years she has enthralled music connoisseurs
both at home and abroad with her silken touch and high tonal quality.
In 1991, the Government of Tamil Nadu conferred upon her the title
of Kalaimamani. She has received several other titles, like
the Ugadi Puraskar given by the Madras Telugu
Academy, Vayuleena Viwanmani, Nadakkanal,
Tingalchudar, Sangeetha Ratna, Isai
Vani and Dhaurveena Vadhini conferred
by none other than M. S. Subbulakshmi. She is also the recipient
of awards like the Tantri Shiromani award by
Kanchi Mutt, For the sake of Honour and Vocational
Excellence award from the Rotary and has been conferred the Honorary
Citizenship of the State of Maryland, USA.
Kanyakumari has also been given the status of Asthana Vidhushi
of Dakshinamnaya Sri. Sarada Peetham of Sringeri Math, the Ahobila
Mutt and the Dharma Paripalana Sabha.
Could you tell us briefly about your family
My native place is in Andhra Pradesh. I was born in Guntur but
brought up in Vijayanagaram. My father retired as a Police officer.
I have a sister who lives in the U.S.
Where did you start your initial training
I learnt the nuances of Carnatic music under the guidance of Ivaturi
Vijayeswara Rao, a product of the Dwaram School of music.
I also developed an interest in learning and playing the Violin.
From the age of fourteen, I used to play for small concerts, in
my town. I came to Chennai in 1969, after being awarded the Central
Cultural Scholarship to further my study in Violin. At the same
time I also completed B.A. from Queen Marys College.
My first Guru in Violin was Violin exponent M. Chandrasekaran.
How supportive were your parents?
My parents were very supportive. My family shifted to Chennai for
my sake, while my father was in Andhra Pradesh, serving as a Police
What are your experiences as an established
I started my career as an accompanist under the able guidance of
Dr. M. L. Vasanthakumari, for whom I played for nineteen
years. It was a truly memorable period. These days, I have found
in my experience, that for some reason, many male vocalists do not
prefer a female Violin accompanist. It does not affect us, as there
are a number of leading female vocal artistes for whom we play.
Who are the leading vidwans for whom you have
I have played for Dr. M. L. Vasanthakumari, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna,
Dr. N. Ramani, T. R. Mahalingam, U. Srinivas, Kadri Gopalnath, Sikkil
Sisters, Bombay Sisters, T. V. Gopalakrishnan and many other