Excerpts from Press Clippings and Interviews....
N Sahana Arooran, News Today, Dec 12, 2013
One tends to believe that God is indeed partial, while coming across a multi-talented personality like Vidya Subramanian. A recipient of several awards and a sought-after online music teacher, Vidya is also a gold medalist in Chartered Accountancy and an MBA from Boston College in the US. Not to mention of her down-to-earth demeanour which adds to her glowing persona.
A disciple of music maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman, Vidya took her baby steps in Carnatic music at the age of three.
'My first Guru was Smt Rukmini Rajgopalan', she says. Coming under the tutelage of Lalgudi in 1993, Vidya attributes her keen music sense to her Guru. 'He was extremely good at articulating his knowledge. He would encourage his students to think, developing their swara nyanam. His years of experience would effortlessly translate in class', she recollects.
It was the need to stay with her young kids and her inherent passion for teaching, which encouraged Vidya to leave behind a lucrative career abroad and return to India. The result was 'vidyasubramanian.com', a digital teaching portal which offers Carnatic vocal classes over internet (Skype) / phone, catering to all levels of learners.
'The huge scope in the field of online teaching was an important factor', she explains. In addition to the website, Vidya also co-owns 'raagarasika.com', a series of free podcasts, with each episode covering a specific topic of interest such as a raaga, composition, composer, place, or a musical term.
So has her academic excellence helped in her musical career? 'Certainly. It is also the vice-versa', she says.'Communication skills which are essential in teaching, are enhanced with academic knowledge. It helps you to tackle issues which might crop up during online teaching, such as time lag and the like. A creative art form like carnatic music, requires a disciplined approach, which can be imbibed by studying for a strenuous course like chartered accountancy. Also, the soothing nature of music helps to relieve the stress associated with academics'.
'Every concert is a learning experience', asserts Vidya whose first concert was at the age of 12. 'It was at the Srinivasa Sastri Hall in Mylapore', she smiles. For each of her concert, she reads up about the composition, identifying its unique features and have it presented to the audience, a practice relatively new to Chennai rasikas. 'If we want the art form to reach out to a larger section, then musicians should share a good rapport with their audience. Sharing tidbits and answering their queries are small steps in that direction. One should remember that everyone is a rasika in their own right', she affirms.
Truly living up to the 'cultural capital' tag, Chennai is the only city which celebrates an event like the December music season, as a festival of sorts. 'It is only here that all the stakeholders: the musicians, audience and organisations have come together, to create a conducive platform for artistes. The December music season rejuvenates musicians. With the right kind of marketing and support, the festival can be made as an international event of global standards', she says.
Is networking essential to build a musician's profile? 'Connections might only provide you the initial recognition, but it is talent which will ultimately help to cement oneself in the industry. It is the responsibility of the sabhas to provide equal opportunities to everyone. There should be transparency in the selection process of the candidates, as followed by art organisations abroad. Rotation system can be put to practice and the websites of the sabhas should have clarity on whom/where to approach', she points out.
'We should be thankful to the older generation of singers for having inspired many to follow suit', adds Vidya whose personal favourite yesteryear singers, besides her legendary Guru, include M S Subbulakshmi, M L Vasantha Kumari, D K Pattamal and K V Narayanaswamy and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.
G. Srinivasan, T Nagar Talk, May 19 2013
BBC News, Zubair Ahmed, May 13 2013
....Online tuition through live video chat devices is becoming a popular medium of learning Indian classical dance, music and instruments in the Western world and beyond...
Many foreign students are either professional musicians in their own countries, or trying to establish themselves in the world of music and dance.
A French woman, who was learning classical southern Indian ragas from her teacher, Vidya Subramanian, is a jazz player in her country.
She says she is learning ragas "from Vidya with a view to improvising and using it whenever I can in jazz. It'll give me an edge".
Youthful Vidya Subramnian returned to her home town Chennai three years ago having lived and worked in the US for 15 years, to raise her children in India.
She left a lucrative career as a chartered accountant but quickly re-established herself in Chennai in classical singing.
Today she is a leading online teacher of classical singing. She works alongside a group of teachers to impart training to eager students overseas.
"I have no regrets. I had to look after my family. So, I decided to take up online teaching from home."
Teaching online means that Vidya Subramanian can also look after her children at home
Vidya Subramanian says working from home allows her to look after her children, and gives her the freedom to choose what time she wants to take classes.
...India once had a great tradition of disciples learning at the feet of their gurus. That tradition seems to have been revived - in virtual world - thanks to technology.
INDIA TODAY, Tamizh Edition, Apr 2013
KALKI Tamizh Weekly, Dec 2012
The Star of Mysore, Nov 2012
The Hindu, Fri, Aug 17, 2012
Vidya Subramanian began with a pada varnam and ended her concert with a thillana, both by her guru, Lalgudi Jayaraman.
Sri Guruguha Gana saba, Srirangam, organised a vocal concert by Vidya Subramanian, disciple of Lalgudi Jayaraman, at the Sri Raghavendra Mutt, Srirangam, Tiruchi.
Vidya, a Chartered Accountant and an MBA, has spent about eight years in the U.S., where she was involved in spreading the knowledge of Carnatic music using the medium of Internet, apart from giving concerts. After returning to Chennai two years ago, she is now busy in the concert circuit.
Vidya started her concert with a pada varnam of Lalgudi Jayaraman in Shanmukhapriya. She then rendered Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Mahaganapathim’ (Gowla) followed by Tyagaraja’s ‘Joothamurare’ (Aarabhi). Sri Purandaradasa’s ‘Narayana’ (Suddha Dhanyasi) was the next piece taken up. At the request of the audience, she took up ‘Kana Kana Ruchi’ (Varali - Pancharatnam of Tyagaraja). Arunachala Kavi’s composition ‘En Pallikondeer Iyya’ (Mohanam) was sung with bhakti. The main piece of the concert was Dikshitar’s ‘Balagopala’ (Bhairavi), after an elaborate raga alapana bringing out the beauty of the raga. This was followed by the tani avartanam, where Sri Koppu Nagarajan (mridangam) and Ranganathan (ghatam) exhibited their talents fully. A paasuram by Thiruppanazhwar in Sahana and Brindavani ragas followed by a Lalgudi Thillana again in ragam Brindavani marked the end of the concert. Sri Govindarajan, the violinist, gave able support and his raga alapana and swara exchanges enhanced the concert value.
The notable feature was that Vidya, did not refer to any written material. Her confidence, born out of her excellent grooming, and ‘saadaka’ was so high that she had no hesitation while rendering the Pancharatnam piece in Varali, which most artists are not comfortable with. Vidya explained the salient features of the kritis and the ragas and it was educative and well appreciated by the audience.
Mon, May 22, 2012
Deccan Herald, Bangalore, Karnataka
There are many in the City who like to learn Carnatic music but don’t get time to go for classes. For such enthusiasts, the Bangalore International Centre recently organised an appreciation programme by Vidya Subramanian, in which she demonstrated the ragas and explained how they are performed...Presided over by Vidya, herself a well-known Carnatic vocalist, the event largely revolved around raga identification, improvisation on stage, tala and rhythmic aspects. She discussed compositional format and styles of Carnatic music. Vidya also explained to the audience how artistes approach creative aspects such as alpana, neraval, kalpanaswarams, viruttam and ragam tanam pallavi...
This event drew a good crowd, mostly comprising elderly folk. The evening was an informative one and the audience members actively took part in the question-and-answer session.
Keeping the interaction with the audience casual, Vidya gave some important tips which helped the audience understand classical music better....Throughout the event, Vidya stressed the difficulties of learning raga. She says, “If people perform only notes, the raga won’t sound good. They have to get themselves well-versed with the ragas as well.” She carefully demonstrated each raga and told the audience about it’s importance.
With the growing inclination towards Western music, this Carnatic music appreciation was an event which will hopefully instigate a sense of liking towards traditional Indian music. A few members of the audience were also seen singing along with Vidya. Complementing her skillful performance was the beautiful combination of mridangam and violin by Meera and A Rajkumar.
CNN-IBN, Tue, May 22, 2012
A Carnatic Music Appreciation Concert was held at the Bangalore International Centre recently. The lecture-demonstration by Vidya Subramanian titled How to be an educated Rasika. Vidya Subramanian spoke on varnams and their significance, and also covered kritis in Carnatic music. She also talked about the similarities between Hindustani and Carnatic music. “Never pit one against the other, or call one greater than the other,” she said. Raga identification and how the art of improvisation were given special emphasis.
“Concert planning is like a grand wedding. It is a wonderful blend of compositions and creativity,” said Vidya Subramanian. In concerts, the manodharma (creativity) unfolds in the form of varnams, kritis and ragas. “Each raga is a melodic entity with its own identity, and dimensions, and the gamakas are integral to our music,” added Vidya. She was ably supported on the violin by Meera and mridangam by Raja. “Mere scale cannot make a raga; embellishments and minute ornamentations are required to bring out the bhava of a raga.”
After explaining the arohana-avarohana and a few sancharas, she went on to sing one full song and rendered the pallavi or a part of several songs - to bring home the variety of moods the raga offers.
It was an interactive session as Vidya demonstrated different ragas and asked
the audience to identify them. She stressed on the importance of regular listening as it makes one enjoy the music better and internalise the raga and the kriti.
Though familiar, the raga expositions take a new dimension every time, for both the artiste and the listener.
The programme provided a different feel to the audience in the packed auditorium of the Bangalore International Centre, possibly giving the rasikas a chance to listen to many kritis and develop a better understanding for the art. The session culminated in a question and answer round.
After a short invocation to Lord Ganesha Vidya Subramanian proceeded with Swati Tirunal's "Pannagendra Sayana", an Ashta Ragamalika, starting with Ragam Shankarabharanam. The bhavam of ragas such as Thodi, Bhairavi, Neelambari and Surutti were brought out beautifully while singing the sahityam...The short and crisp raga sketch of Dhanyasi was followed by a rare kriti "Dalachina Varu" of Subbaraya Shastri...The raga alapana of Kedaragowla...was etched out carefully, replete with all its beautiful sancharas....
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Abimanyu Nagarajan, The Telegraph - Calcutta
“I’ve got students from all over the world,” says Vidya Subramanian, a Carnatic musician based in Chennai, who has been giving online lessons for the past six years. “I have students in Africa, the US, the UK and Australia.” .....Indeed, the practice has so many takers now that many music teachers, who once taught online only as part time exercise, have now opted to do it full time. For example, Subramanian, who is a Chartered accountant with an MBA degree, has switched careers to focus solely on online teaching. She has even developed an extensive online network where aspiring music students can get in touch with the right teachers....
“Usually, I give a few free lessons to gauge the student, and then put him or her in touch with someone who would make a good teacher. We also have regular teacher training sessions.” ....
“There are a lot of factors that go into deciding the fees, though,” clarifies Subramanian. “For example, we wouldn’t want to turn away talented students just because they can’t pay the usual rate. Other factors include the standard of the student, whether it’s a one-on-one session, the standard of the teacher, and so on.”.......
MUSIC CONCERT AT POWAI
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Bhanu Kumar, Times of India - Mumbai
... It was a unique presentation completely in synchronisation with the listeners. Vidya not only sang well but reached across to the audience with a lot of data... Vidya exuded huge confidence that comes from years of training and practice... "She had included rare ragas like Rasikapriya, Durga and Bindu malini in her presentation and rendered them very well", says Dr. G Ramakrishnan, President of PFA (Powai Fine Arts)...
POISED WITH ELEGANCE
Friday, August 12, 2011
Friday Review, The Hindu, Karnataka Edition
The young singer's authoritative progressions deserved appreciation and the confidently propelled articulations attracted the audience. Scholarly alapana in Kalyani ("Ethavunara" - Thyagaraja) featured imaginative improvisations. Meaningful neraval at "Shrikarudagu" and energetic kalpana swaras beautified the composition...
OPEN THROATED ARTICULATION
Friday, July 23, 2010
Friday Review, The Hindu, Chennai
The vocal concert of Vidya Subramaniam at the Tirumalai Tirupathi Devasthanam was interesting as she provided a brief prologue or epilogue to each kriti she rendered highlighting some special aspects of the content in addition to the information on the composer, ragam and talam.‘Aganitha mahimadputha leela’, the Gowla ragam composition from the Sapataratna Collection of Oothukadu Venkatakavi in Adi talam was the opening item of her concert. The composition was set in the pattern of the Pancharatna kritis with a charanam followed by swara-sahitya suite. Vidya pointed out a few noteworthy aspects of the kriti like the ‘Namo Namasthe’ the refrain after each charanam and also the famous and favourite reference from the composer about the ‘Kalinga Nartana’ of Sri Krishna as ‘Bhujanga
sirasi natanam’ in this kriti. Kedaragowla known for its strong melodic and majestic qualities was chosen for Ragam-Tanam- Pallavi. Offering the raga in two installments, Vidya gave extra accent on the raga’s dominant swaras and phrases. The pallavi that followed the tanam was set to Adi Talam went as ‘Sri Venkatesam Smarami Seshachala Nayakam’.
CARNATIC MUSIC - AN EASTERN CLASSIC
Thursday, January 14, 2010
By Phil Drew
The Record, Troy, NY
Vocalist Vidya Subramanian, a Clifton Park resident, will lead her Carnatic Music Ensemble in a free concert and pre-concert talk at Troy’s Arts Center for the Capital Region on Sunday.
Subramanian moved to the area a decade ago. She is a native of the Indian city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras, who left a full-time position with General Electric to "focus full-time on carnatic music." She says. "It’s a very interesting and challenging art form. There really is no end to the learning." Subramanian moved to the area a decade ago. She is a native of the Indian city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras, who left a full-time position with General Electric to "focus full-time on carnatic music." She says. "It’s a very interesting and challenging art form. There really is no end to the learning." Her stated goal is "reaching out to new audiences for this musical form. One of my challenges is to communicate effectively to local community about carnatic music as an art form audiences are not familiar with."
To that end, says Jill Rafferty-Weiisch, the Arts Center’s Director of Performing Arts and Outreach, Subramanian has recently secured a Strategic Opportunity Stipend from the not-for-profit New York Foundation for the Arts to help promote her efforts. "She’s interested in running a class here in carnatic singing," says Rafferty-Wieinisch. "She’s really interested in introducing this form to people beyond those for whom this is their culture."
"A very important difference between carnatic music and Western classical music is we don’t emphasize harmony," she says. "You don’t use chords or other harmonic elements familiar in Western music."
Subramanian recently received a grant through the Saratoga County Arts Council to begin a free training course that will be offered at the Clifton Park Public Library. "I hope such outreach efforts, and our performance in Troy, will help bring this music to new audiences," she says. "The local public response is growing, particularly in the last year or so, but there is still a lot of work to be done."
THE ART OF SHARING
By Tom Keyser, Staff Writer
The Times Union, Friday, January 8, 2010
ANCIENT VOICEVidya Subramanian sings and teaches Indian classical music
SAM BRADEN SPECIAL TO THE TIMES UNIONSection: Preview, Page: PV6
Date: Thursday, April 23, 2009
On April 25 Clifton Park library will be home to the music of Southern India when a local woman brings a trio of musicians for an informative performance of an unusual and exotic art form. The dominant language used in the music, Sanskrit, may be a dead language, but the music still thrives.
Vidya Subramanian lives in Clifton Park now, but it was in her birthplace of Chennai, India, that she was exposed to the type of Indian classical called Carnatic music. It uses a blend of structure and improvisation that demands improvisational ability along with encyclopedic knowledge of the many compositions available. Subramanian likened the style to jazz, where standards are often reinterpreted by musicians. So what would someone unacquainted with Carnatic music look for in a performance?
"It's going to be interesting to see how we perform improvisation without sacrificing the natural harmony that flows in the music," said Subramanian in a recent phone interview. As the singer in a trio, she will be improvising on top of the melodies already provided in the composition, which can range from the 13th century to today. Her accompaniment of a violin and a mridangam, an Indian drum, will take turns improvising both rhythmically with the tala component and harmonically with the raga.
Sound complicated? It is. "The Raga system is best studied under an expert," said Subramanian, before mentioning her own noteworthy mentor, guru and composer Lalgudi Jayaraman. She began advanced level instructions from him in 1993 in Chennai. And now she's a teacher herself.
She doesn't just teach face-to-face. "After moving to the United States, I found that I was getting inquiries from people who live all around the country who were interested in getting instruction in this style of music," she explained, so she decided to take advantage of modern technology to teach students.
Although she received an MBA in finance from Boston College, she decided to dedicate her life to the music that she loves. "I've always been pursuing my passion in music in a very serious way, but I decided in 2004 to devote my energy full time to my pursuit of learning and teaching Carnatic
music," she said.
She developed a podcast, Raagarasika, where she interacts with a colleague in Seattle who acts as a student by asking her questions. "There's a lot of terminology that we use that a Western listener may not be familiar with," she explained, but it's not just the unacquainted who are served by the free podcast. She also uses Skype, an instant messaging program with phone and webcam capability, to instruct students while they look at notes electronically.
"With people traveling out of the country to study or work, a lot of people are interested in keeping links to the roots," said Subramanian. "Through the Internet and online teaching and podcasting, we are able to bridge the barriers of distance."
- Courtesy: Albany Times Union, Thursday Preview, April 23, 2009.
Vidya Subramaniam’s theme based concert revealed skill and ingenuity.
G. SWAMINATHAN, The Hindu
Friday Review, May 25, 2007
Melody in perfect proportion: Vidya Subramaniam.
Thematic concerts, mostly based on a single composer, are in vogue. Vidya Subramaniam’s vocal recital for Karthik Fine Arts, at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mini Hall was based on the compositions of Sadasiva Brahmendrar, a 17th century poet who took to an austere life at a very early age.
Vidya Subramaniam has to be credited for her sound articulation and choice of songs and for managing the task neatly in a concert format. She set her concert rolling with ‘Tungathirange Dheere’ in Hamsadhwani with a dash of kalpanaswaras. ‘Kelathi Mama Hrudaye’ in Atana preceded the Poorvikalyani exposition in detail. Subramaniam’s vocal chords are sharp and clear; she had planned the phrases with competence and progressed well with her ingenuity.
To the practised ear, ‘Maanasa Sanchara Re’ (Sama), ‘Bhajare Gopalam’ (Hindolam) and ‘Bruhi Mukundethi’ (Chenchuruti) came as fine fillers.
Tuning into the podcast wave
By: Bhairavi Jhaveri, Hindusthan Times, Mumbai, India
Dec 21, 2009
Podcasts can also be stored and archived and hence, double as great reference material. One reason why podcasts of Indian classical music flourish in the US. New York-based Carnatic vocalist Vidya Subramanian and Devesh Satyavolu have been co-producing a podcast called ‘Raagarasika’ since June 2008.
Indian Classical Music Rocks
By: Andrew Adler, Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY
Sep 4, 2009
There are few cultural traditions as old or as intriguing as classical Indian music, which is a whole lot more than shades of Ravi Shankar playing the sitar.
And there's a fine opportunity to sample this diverse body of music during a concert Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Hindu Temple of Kentucky, 4213 Accomack Drive, Louisville, KY.
Three artists are slated to perform: vocalist Vidya Subramanian, violinist Prashanth Gururaja and Vasudevan Namboodiri, who plays the mridangam, a double-sided drum.
Review of ICC Summer Classical Events-- Temple Moderator
June 16, 2009
Newsletter of India Cultural Center, Utah
...Aficionados of pure classical as well as novices to the music enjoyed Vidya Subramanian who gave pertinent explanations and details on how to appreciate carnatic music as well as historical background on the compositions. Her concert was remarkable for the rare ragas that she presented along with Priya Hariharan on Violin and Venkat on Mridangam...
|Indian concert offers insight to culture |
|By: Glenn Griffith , Community News |
CLIFTON PARK - A Clifton Park-based vocalist with roots in the classical music of India brought her cultural heritage to life recently with a performance at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library.
|From left, Ganesh Sankaranarayanan, Vidya Subramanian and Ravi Srinivasan perform at teh Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library. (Glenn Griffith/Community News) |
Indian vocalist Vidya Subramanian was joined by fellow performers Ravi Srinivasan on violin and Ganesh Sankaranarayanan on drum for the April 25 performance in the library's second floor conference room.
The 90 minute peek into the historic, melodic, and harmonic nature of south Indian classical music was a fragrant bouquet to the eyes, ears, and mind. Subramanian gives vocal lessons to students throughout the world from her Clifton Park home using Internet podcasts.
She also gives lessons to students one on one using specialized programs available from several Internet sources.
The free library performance was part workshop, part lecture, and part concert. To increase appreciation of what her audience was about to hear Subramanian first described the differences between northern and southern Indian classical music. Carnatic music, she said, is the name given to the classical music of south India. Most of the compositions in this style played today were composed in the 18th century. Much of the work being performed was written by three major Indian composers.
For her performance Subramanian and her accompanists played only Carnatic music though her vocals were performed in several different languages, Teluga, Kanada, and Tamil. As they performed the compositions Subramanian, Srinivasan, and Sankaranarayanan sat cross legged on pillows placed on a small riser at one end of the room. Subramanian's vocals rose and fell in the centuries old Indian vocal patterns as Srinivasan and Sankaranarayanan at first followed and then improvised individual variations off the counted beats.
As the two musicians strayed from the tune's structured composition some audience members kept syncopated time along with Subramanian counting out the beats using their hands on their thighs, first a fore hand, then the back hand, a thumb, and finally the ring finger.
"I enjoyed it," said Bernie Gorowitz afterward. "I have several CDs of Indian music at home." Gorowitz's wife Alice gave Subramanian's vocals a rave review. "I thought she was wonderful," she said. "The music is very complex."
Indian Carnatic music sounds unusual to a Western ear trained in simple melodies with a repetitious vocal chorus. The Indian music puts less emphasis on harmony, a feature in Western music. Indian vocalists also use gamakams, micro tones that embellish one note. This is the familiar wavering notes heard in Indian vocal music.
To accompany the vocalists more closely many Indian musicians have gravitated to the violin. The use of the violin has become so prevalent a traditional native Indian instrument has fallen out of favor and is now nearly an historic artifact. "It's lack of frets and its similarity to the human voice has made (the violin) indispensable to a classical concert," Subramanian said.
Subramanian said the Indian community in the Capital District is expanding and that includes Saratoga County and southern Saratoga County. She viewed performances like this one in addition to her podcasts as a possible bridge between Western culture and Indian music.
- Courtesy: Saratoga County Community News, www.cnweekly.com, May 7, 2009.