Sangita Kalanidhi to T.M. Krishna | The Music Academy replies to vocalist duo Ranjani-Gayathri after they withdraw scheduled performance

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Photo: musicacademymadras.in

Photo: musicacademymadras.in

The latest development in a sequence of events in the world of Carnatic music that has set social media abuzz is a strongly-worded response from The Music Academy, to the vocalist duo Ranjani and Gayathri, who declared their intention to withdraw from participating in the Academy’s 2024 conference, opposing the selection of vocalist T.M. Krishna as this year’s Sangita Kalanidhi. In a letter that was sent to them, the Academy’s president N. Murali said he was shocked by “its vituperative content, which is replete with unwarranted and slanderous assertions and insinuations verging on defamation, and its vicious tone against a respected senior fellow musician”.

“The choice of Sangita Kalanidhi made year after year is a prerogative of The Music Academy and has always been made after careful deliberation, with the sole criterion being musical excellence demonstrated over a significant and sustained career. This year the Executive Committee of the Academy chose T.M. Krishna for this accolade based on his excellence in music over a long career, with no extraneous factors influencing our choice,” Mr. Murali said.

“We regard your decision to withdraw from the upcoming annual conference because the Academy has chosen for the award a musician you dislike and malign as unbecoming of artistes and in poor taste. I note that you have shared your letter addressed to me and the Academy on the social media, which apart from being discourteous, raises doubts about the intentions behind and the purpose of your letter,” Mr. Murali said in the note.

“Normally, a missive of the kind you have addressed to me and the Academy posted on the social media before you have received a reply would not warrant a response. But I would not like to deny you the courtesy of a response in consideration of your contributions to the field of Carnatic music,” he added.

“It looks like they are upset because they have not received the award,” he said later, speaking to The Hindu.

Since Wednesday night, a flurry of activity on social media followed the public announcement by Ms. Ranjani and Ms. Gayathri, who also took objection to what they called “Mr. Krishna’s glorification of a figure like EVR aka Periyar” to make the case that he was undeserving of the award. They heaped accusations on Mr. Krishna for vilifying the Carnatic music fraternity, while declining to participate in the Academy’s conference this year.

Others, including Harikatha exponent Dushyanth Sridhar and vocalists Trichur Brothers, also declared their intention to skip this year’s conference for the same reasons. Vishaka Hari, Harikatha exponent, also issued a statement questioning the selection of the Sangita Kalanidhi candidate. Chitravina Ravikiran, who was the Sangita Kalanidhi in 2017, put out a note saying he would return his award. The family of the late Palghat Mani, in a missive addressed to Mr. Murali, also publicised on social media late on Thursday evening, said they would return his award (conferred in 1966), in opposition to this year’s choice, and sought to be informed of the process to do so.

The announcement that the Sangita Kalanidhi would go to Mr. Krishna came on Sunday, when the other awards conferred by the institution were also unveiled.

CPI(M) supports Krishna

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) State secretary K. Balakrishnan on Thursday backed Mr. Krishna, strongly condemning certain vocalists’ announcement to withdraw from The Music Academy’s 2024 conference.

Mr. Balakrishnan also lauded The Music Academy for standing by its decision.

“Mr. Krishna has been raising his voice against caste discrimination and condemning brahminical dominance in the Carnatic music world, and has been taking initiatives to take music to all sections of the society. He has been facing various threats from Sangh Parivar,” Mr. Balakrishnan said.

“Suppressing alternative opinions is happening in a planned manner in the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) BJP regime. Mr. Krishna would overcome this firmly and boldly and the CPM would stand with him. Democratic forces should come forward and support him,” Mr. Balakrishnan said.

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