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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 background?

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 in Violin?

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 Mary’s 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 officer.   

What are your experiences as an established Violin accompanist?

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 played?

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 artistes.



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