December 20, 2012
From the Editor's desk :-
Dear Do..Re..Me..Fa.. browzers,
I salute you guys for your overwhelming response with your most encouraging words to our last month’s sweet chord of Music Lizzy Concessao. Keep posting your great comments and applaud the immense contribution of our Konkani Music artistes to the Konkani world. Your gentle pat on their back will certainly boost their spirit that will encourage them to give their best for Konkani Music.
Although the month of December began with a happy note, we were really distressed and sad to face few bitter incidences this month. Our own Jacintha Saldanha’s tragedy over a prank call in London, the sad and untimely demise of the Son of Mangalorean soil, Papal Nuncio Arch-Bishop Ambrose Madtha in a road-accident in Ivory Coast and the horrendous mass shooting that took place in the U.S. resulted in tragic deaths of 28 people including 20 innocent school-children. Our hearts goes out to all those who mourn and we pray Almighty God to grant them great strength to bear this terrible loss and may the departed souls rest in peace!
Now let me get back to my business. In order to keep up my promise to you guys to present to you the most sensational musical chord, I started gazing at the vast galaxies of stars and I found rare of the rarest dazzling star. This Classical Star of music has reached to the International Standard at a very young age. The stupendous Konkani Singer that I am presenting to you today is none other than one and only The Hindustani Classical Music Prodigy Mahalaxmi Shenoy!
Music has no religion, no cast or creed, yet it is divine! I am all the more glad today for a special reason. This is the first time ever Do..Re..Me..Fa.. has crossed the boundaries to play a super Konkani chord from GSB community. The Konkani Star Mahalaxmi is known for a great talent, hardwork and dedication. Truly Mahalaxmi is a role model not only to all the youth in our Konkani community but also to the entire music world at large!
I wish to extend my very special thanks to my buddy Florine Roche for all her efforts to feature this amazing star for Do..Re..Me..Fa.. She took all the trouble to meet Mahalaxmi in person for an exclusive interview. Also I thank Mahalaxmi’s dad Dr. Prakash Shenoy for being so wonderful and prompt in responding to my emails and all his cooperation in making our dream a reality!
Before playing this sweet musical Chord I take this opportunity to wish each one of you A Very Merry Christmas. I pray that each one of you may experience the birth of Christ our Saviour, in your heart. As we conclude this God-given wonderful year of 2012, I thank God for all His choicest blessings bestowed on each one of us during this entire year. Together with Team Do-Re-Me-Fa I wish you a Happy, Prosperous, Bright, Healthy and Peaceful New Year - 2013.
See you again in the New Year with a spectacular chord and that would be an exciting, melodious and a teenage sensation. Keep waiting… until then, ciao!
Have a great Christmas!
The Hindustani Classical Music Prodigy
Russia’s most loved composer of the romantic era Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky once said “truly there would be a reason to go mad were it not for music”. While talking to young and upcoming Hindustani Classical vocalist Mahalaxmi Shenoy of Karkala, who is creating waves in the music field, I could not help recall this quote of Tchaikovsky. I could gauge what music means to this talented singer who at a young age has attained popularity and recognition, a rarity among youngsters of today. Having conversed with her for more than hour I can only say Mahalaxmi breathes, eats, drinks, sleeps and dreams only music. I must say that the creator has been generous and endowed Mahalaxmi with talent, beauty and an unquenchable thirst for music.
Mahalaxmi Shenoy who hails from Karkala comes from a family of classical music aficionados. Her father Dr Prakash Shenoy is a cardiologist and mother Bharati Shenoy is a homemaker. Both her parents loved listening to classical music, as a result of which Mahalaxmi was exposed to classical music at a young age. First it was her mother’s lullabies which fine-tuned her young mind to music. Dr Prakash Shenoy who was the officer bearer of Shastriya Sangeetha Sabha at Karkala used to organize music concerts and the venue happened to be just opposite their residence. Mahalaxmi was therefore fortunate to listen to the ‘sound of music’ from her own backyard.
It is said that the mother is the first teacher for a child and it proved true in case of Mahalaxmi who began to learn singing Bhajans from her mother at a young age of three to sing them at Kashi Mutt. When children of her age were busy playing with toys and frolicking around Mahalaxmi took to music on her own volition. Of course there was a little bit of enticement from her mother says Mahalaxmi. She recalls that when she first sang her Bhajan at Kashi Mutt her mother had promised to buy her a box full of colourful bangles that were in vogue at the time and the mother was forced to fulfill her promise.
It was her prodigious talent that brought her instant recognition and opportunity came knocking at her door when she was given an opportunity to sing in the presence of the mutt’s spiritual guru Sri Sri Sudheendra Theertha Swamiji. “The Swamiji blessed me on that occasion and I have never looked back since then”, explains Mahalaxmi.
Entry in to Music
Mahalaxmi began to learn Carnatic music from Vidvan late Vyasa Krishna Upadyaya of Karkala at a tender age of 5 and was groomed in the nuances of carnatic music for the next 5 years. Mahalaxmi gave her first classical concert at the age of 10 when girls of her age were still smarting under their childhood pranks. She remembers an incident when she was distracted by the giant wheel which was playing just opposite the venue where she was singing Bhajans in Udupi as a 10 year old. However, it did not affect her performance and she had not allowed herself to be distracted by such incidents after that. Somehow, such distractions were ephemeral for Mahalaxmi and she was back into the familiar terrain practicing music to reach her goal of excelling in it.
Her music journey took a turn for the better when Veena Maestro Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhat came to Karkala to present a Veena Mohana concert in 1997. 11- year old Mahalaxmi who attended the concerted was simply in awe of the maestro and his music and on coming home insisted that she wanted to shift to Hindustani genre and her parents had to yield to her whims. It proved to be a wise decision and Mahalaxmi was able to grasp the rudiments of Hindustani music from her guru Vidwan B Yogish Baliga who trained her in this genre initially, giving a sturdy foundation for her in Hindustani music.
Making Rapid Strides in Music career
Her music career witnessed a major shift when impressed by her rich voice tone and melody Pt Vishwamohan Bhatt took her under his wings as his disciple in 2000. This proved to be a big break for Mahalaxmi who used to attend her school/college and even go to Jaipur during vacations to get her master’s guidance. This association with Pt Vishwamohan Bhatt was instrumental in catapulting her to the top of her dream world in music. Mahalaxmi is also receiving guidance from Hindustani classical musician Pt Ramrao Nayak of Goa to fine-tune her vocal rendering. Mahalaxmi has completed “Sangeet Visharad” from Akhil Bharatiya Gandharv Mahavidyalaya Mandal under his guidance.
Even while pursuing her interests in music Mahalaxmi did not compromise on her academics. She completed her High School and Pre-university education from Karkala and joined Alva’s Education Foundation in Moodbidri for her BA. She went on to do MSW from Manasa Institute of Mental Sciences and did her MS in Counseling and Psychotherapy from Kuvempu University. She says she had no difficulty in balancing her academics and music practice saying “where there is a will there is a way”.
While initially Mahalaxmi had to follow a rigorous schedule of practice she began to listen to more and more music apart from practicing. Apart from her Gurus Mahalaxmi takes inspiration from music legends like Begum Parveen Sultana, Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Rasheed Khan and others. Though she follows Kirana Gharana her gurus have advised her to pick up the positive aspects of every gharana of music. For Mahalaxmi Begum Parveen Sultana of Patiala Gharana, known as the queen of classical vocal, is her mentor and guide and she just loves listening to her singing.
Mahalaxmi gave her first concert of Hindustani music by performing at the Rotary Club in Moodbidri in 1999. In a music career spanning 13 years she has given more than 650 concerts performing in different parts of India and abroad.
While in college her talent came to the fore when she was victorious in the inter-university South Zone Youth Festival in 2006. She shot into national arena when she emerged victorious at the national level youth festival held in Chennai in 2007 in the Hindustani classical music category. From then onwards there have a deluge of achievements to her credit brining her name and fame both at national and international arena.
Since then Mahalaxmi has performed at various venues such as at Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh and Guru Shishya Utsav at Varanasi, Karnataka Sangha Mumbai, Salt Lake Festival and Sutanati Parishat in Kolkotta, Prachina Kala Kendra, Chandighar, Maharana Kumbha Parishat, Ustad Amir Khan Memorial Festival at Amritsar, at Mysore Dasara and has given extensive concerts in different parts of Karnataka.
These concerts have been like a testing ground for her proving her versatility as a young and emerging singer par excellence. The fragrance of her exceptional music talent has transcended the boundaries of India and Mahalaxmi was invited to perform abroad. In 2007 she performed for Sur Hindol and UAE Amchigele Association in Dubai and followed it with a concert at Dosseinheim in Hidelberg Germany in 2009. The crowning glory of her music career was in June/July this year as she was invited to perform at the World Konkani Sammelan 2012 held at New Jersey. Her 3 months of USA tour has earned her international fame and endeared her to her admirers and fans whose number is on the rise each passing day. In USA she gave 20 concerts and in one of the performances Sitar Maestro late Pandit Ravishankar (who was wheel bound) was present throughout the concert saying he wanted to listen to the performance of his disciple’s disciple.
Mahalaxmi has many albums to her credit, one in classical music, two each in Konkani and Kannada Devotional and one album in Hindi Devotional songs. Her classical album “Anagha” was released in 2004. She has composed music for devotional Konkani albums like “Guru Guna Gana” and “Yore Badarayana” and “Eddu Baro Ranga” and “Krishnarpana” albums comprising Kannada dasara padagalu. Recently the latest edition of her Hindi album of Meera Bhajans was released by N A Classical, Mumbai. Mahalaxmi is the youngest artiste to be featured in their list of artistes. She has also sung a few songs for 3 other albums with other singers.
Mahalaxmi has made a name for herself in Hindustani classical music at a young age and there have been awards galore for this young music artiste. They include:
“Surmani” title from Sur Singar Samsad of Mumbai (2007)
“Samskrithi Darshana “ National Youth artist award
“Gowda Saraswat Kogile” from managing committee of Sri Kashi Mutt of Bangalore (2008)
Abinav Kala Samman from Bhopal (2009)
“Young Achiever Award – 2010” from Rotary Club Karkala
“Bhaktidhara” from Bhajanamrutha Chennai (2011)
Recently Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy has honoured her as a ‘young achiever’ for her exploits in Hindustani classical music.
At a young age Mahalaxmi has shown maturity beyond her age and has handled her celebrity status with aplomb. It is not that she has done lot of sacrifices to excel in music, as many of us may tend to believe, she says. She only had to sublimate her talent in a creative way and music was her alley. For some years she did rigorous riyaz getting up early morning doing the balancing act of managing her music and academics.
Mahalaxmi says “music was my only temptation” from childhood and I was passionate about music. I had a normal childhood but a select few friends so there was nothing extraordinary about dedicating my time for music. “I believe in the philosophy of working hard for a few years and that hard work would continue to yield good results in later years”, she justifies.
When asked what is that differentiates Hindustani from Carnatic music she says “Hidustani music is based on the concept of development and ornamentation of ragas. It is imitation and creativity at its best. I pick up some ragas and mull over them and then practice it. It is for the same reason she listens to music by other artistes and embellishes it in her own style. She has also composed nearly 100 songs in Konkani, Kannada, Hindi and Marathi language and says she enjoys composing in different languages.
She recalls gratefully the support she has received from her parents and her older brother Dr Mahesh Shenoy, who is a self-made mimicry artiste, musician and instrumentalist - all rolled into one. “Without my family support I would not have been able to achieve anything. I am grateful to them for their incessant support and encouragement which has made me what I am. It is my parents who saw music in me when young”, she declares.
Mahalaxmi doesn’t have any definite future plans but says she would like to dedicate her life to music all her life and serve goddess Saraswati.
Mahalaxmi Shenoy considers her music talent as god’s gift and she has only nurtured it. She is an inspiration and role model to today’s youngsters who are often accused of (and rightly so) lacking determination and dedication when it comes to classical music. She passionately loves what she does and has been able to continue in the same rhythm from that of a child prodigy into a charismatic young artiste. She has miles to go and in view of her ardor for music she is sure to be among the pantheons in the music field in the years to come.