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By B. Parvathi

Dr. Premeela Gurumurthy, the Vice Chancellor of Tamilnadu Music and Fine Arts University, R. A. Puram, has been conferred with the Musicologist award of the Music Academy. She will receive the award on Jan.1, 2019. Dr. Premeela, a resident of Thiruvalluvar Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur is a performing artiste in Carnatic, Hindustani and devotional music. She is also a distinguished scholar, academician and a guru.

To commemorate the 50th year of her concert performance, N. Murali, president, The Music Academy released the golden jubilee special souvenir on Dec.3, 2017. Well versed in Hindustani music and Harikatha, she has been promoting and contributing to Indian music.

She has been honoured with several awards. She was the professor and head of the department of Indian Music, chairperson and president, School of Fine and Performing Arts, University of Madras from 2003 to June 2015.
She holds a post graduate degree in Indian Philosophy and Indian music and a doctorate degree in Kathakalakshepa.

What does this award mean to you?

This is an award close to my heart. I have been associated with Music Academy even as a child. My mother brought me to Music Academy to witness M. S. Subbulakshmi, being honoured with the Sangita Kalanidhi award in 1968. My music journey also started in the Music Academy in 1975, when I gave my first Carnatic music concert. Till day I have not missed a single season.

What has been your noteworthy contribution?

As the head of the department of Indian music, University of Madras, I promoted music of various genres. I introduced M. A. Bharatanatyam in the University of Madras . Earlier young Bharatanatyam aspirants had to go all the way to Baroda in Gujarat to pursue post graduation degree. I also introduced M. A. in Rhythmolgy. It is a course for training in percussion instruments like mridangam, thavil, ghatam, kanjira and so on. Yet another course is M. A. in Natya. This is a 5-year integrated course with 3 majors in Carnatic music, theatre and nritya (nritta and abhinaya).

My other introductions are a 6-month certificate course in music that includes Carnatic music, Hindustani , Harikatha and Bhajans. And also a 3-month Appreciation course with options like Western music, Carnatic and Hindustani. These courses come under the UICIC (University Industry Community Interaction Centre).

How does Musicology help in your work as the Vice Chancellor of Tamilnadu Music and Fine Arts University?

My in-depth study of Carnatic music, Hindustani music and Harikatha comes handy to me to serve for the cause of music. This university was started in Nov. 2013 by Dr. Jayalalithaa, the then Chief Minister of Tamilnadu to foster and propagate the traditional performing arts. I am in charge of academic affairs. There are 22 colleges teaching music, dance, fine arts and sculpture affiliated to this University. This University offers post graduate courses in Music and Fine Arts (Painting and visual communication). Now I have introduced M. Phil. in Music, Bharatanatyam and Fine Arts with the approval of the Syndicate. The University also offers doctorate degree courses.

What do you think is the job prospects for those who take up music and classical dance as main subjects.

With the technological development, there is plenty of scope. They can take up teaching. They can teach over skype too. They can be professional musicians or dancers. With experience they can review performances.

What is your advice to young artistes?

My advice is that they should do a short course in stage management, costume designing, recording, lighting, make-up and other allied subjects to performing arts. The students should have knowledge of this to become more professional.

Dr. Premeela Gurumurthy can be reached at 98411 15382 or at 24629031.