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By K. Manjula

Multifaceted VVS Murari is an acclaimed violinist, a renowned composer, viola artiste, a teacher and also the Founder and Director of VVS Foundation. He was a child prodigy who had his violin arangetram at the tender age of 10 in front of the ace musician M. Balamuralikrishna. He is from the prestigious VVS School of Music and his father is none other than the legendary violinist VV Subrahmanyam. This Adyarite’s recent production ‘Carnatic Philharmonic Orchestra’ has won accolades in the US.

Becoming a violinist; was it a choice or a compulsion?

Both! It was difficult to train under my father. I had to practice at least 4 hours a day during weekdays and about 8 hours during holidays. I used to long to play with my friends. Later, I wanted to become an Air Force Pilot and even took the NDA exam, but eventually gave in to my family’s wishes. These days I fly a lot for my performances abroad, hence no regrets.

Throw us some light on your Carnatic Philharmonic Orchestra?

It is actually a blend of carnatic music with western orchestration. There is no compromise made in both carnatic and western music and its base is carnatic vocal. I wanted to present this idea on a stage in a grand manner and it happened in the 2015 Cleveland Thiagaraja Festival in US. About 75 artistes from North America participated in the event after 6 months of practice.

Have you performed your Philharmonic Orchestra in Chennai?

Not yet! It needs a lot of time to bring in different genre of musicians and train them; the cost involved is also high. I am definitely planning to do a show in Chennai after finding the right team here.

Brief us about your duets with Vittal Ramamurthy?

I play viola along with violinist Vittal. I started playing viola since 2016, it is 1/5th of an octave lower than the violin and the placement is bigger. I am playing a 17 inch viola and to handle it sitting down is a challenge. The objective of the duet is to show the audience the beauty of the differences between the two instruments. In fact we don’t even practice together for our duets.

You are a soloist as well as an accompanist; can you share some of your experiences?

I have played many violin duets with my father and have accompanied several eminent carnatic vocalists as well, but I felt privileged when playing for maestro Ilayaraja. According to me, he is the modern age St. Thiagaraja. Another interesting experience was working along with Bharatanatyam exponent late Chandralekha for her national award winning production ‘Sri’ in 1991.The music for the production was composed by my father. She was an extraordinary visionary; far ahead of her times and was a great inspiration.

Have you ever felt that you are being overshadowed by your father?

Many times! The moment I go on stage to perform, the element of comparison comes immediately. The credit or the criticism directly goes to my father. I have got additional responsibility while performing as VVS Murari than as Murari.

Can you tell us about the activities of VVS Foundation?

VVS Foundation is one of the key organisations working with the US Govt. in terms of mentoring and molding students who come with the prestigious Fulbright scholarship from US to learn music and our culture. My mother, VVS Janaki takes music and violin classes in Adyar. I mostly take classes on Skype and Facetime to students from US and Canada. Our foundation hosts during Margazhi the ‘Naadhaarpanaa’ event for promising talents in carnatic music from US. It also bestows the ‘Yuva Pratiba’ award for deserving NRI students.

VVS Murari can be reached at vvsmurari@gmail.com