Rama Ravi - Uncompromising Traditionalist

Rama showed glimpses of her musical talent even as a child, possibly inheriting them from her mother Thulasi, an extraordinary musician and a disciple of Parur Sundaram Iyer. Rama's formative years were spent at Kalakshetra. Her exposure to and training under musicians of the calibre of Mysore Vasudevacharya, Budalur Krishnamurthi Sastrigal, M.D. Ramanathan and T.K. Ramaswami Iyengar played a decisive role in her development later as a musician. Subsequently, she also learnt from the late D.K. Jayaraman. Simultaneously, she learnt Bharata Natyam from Sarada Hoffman, "Periya" Sarada and Rukmini Arundale. Kalakshetra regarded her as a danseuse of great promise. In fact, Rama acted as Sita, a pivotal role, in the ballet "Sita Swayamvaram".

Rama got her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Indian Music from the Stella Maris College, following it up with a dissertation entitled "Graces Figuring in South Indian Music", which won her an M.Litt. degree. Her thesis adviser was Dr.T.Viswanathan, then a Reader and Head of the Department at Madras University. She worked as Head of the Dept. of Music at Sitalakshmi Ramaswamy College, Tiruchirappalli, for two years.

During her student days Rama Ravi won numerous prizes, including the coveted Tambura prizes, from organisations like the Music Academy and the Tamil Isai Sangam. In the annual AIR music competitions of 1964, she received the first prize in Classical Carnatic Music (Vocal) and the second prize in Light Classical Music (Vocal). The Ravi Verma Memorial Prize, awarded by Madras University marked the culmination of a very distinguished academic career.

In 1975, the Sangeet Natak Academy awarded her the Muthuswamy Dikshitar Bicentenary Fellowship. This fellowship enabled her to specialize in Dikshitar Kritis under the guidance of B. Rajam Iyer.

As a Musician:
She has figured in Sangeet Sammelan recitals and has performed on Doordarshan, including the National Programme. AIR presented her in a special programme of 'padams' jointly with D.K. Pattammal and Balamuralikrishna (1972). AIR Vijayawada invited her to perform before an invited audience and also for a special recording and broadcast of 'javalis ' (1981).

A concert musician for some three decades, she has performed under the auspices of the Music Academy, the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, several prestigious organisations in New Delhi, Calcutta, Lucknow, Hyderabad and elsewhere. She received the M.D. Ramanathan award for 'Best Musician' from the Music Academy in 1984.

Performing at the Paris Autumn Festival with T.Rukmini and (the late) Tanjore Upendran as accompanists, her uncompromising classicism won the approbation of the discerning Parisian audience. The concerts were broadcast over the National Channel of the French Radio (1981).

As Musicologist:
Rama Ravi's training as a musicologist has given her a deep insight into the grammar of music and sharpened her analytical skills. These qualities came to the fore in her presentations at the Music Academy, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha and elsewhere. Her paper on "gamakas" was adjudged the best at the Academy in 1988.

Regarded as one of the leading exponents of the Dhanammal School, she has imbibed from T.Viswanathan ("Viswa") the subtleties, nuances and modes of expression characteristic of this school. In addition, she has also gained considerably from the guidance given by the late T. Brinda, T. Mukta and T. Sankaran (formerly of the AIR). Unswerving adherence to tradition, dignity and refinement are cardinal elements of her style of singing. Musical Titans like Semmangudi, MS and DKP hold Rama in great esteem precisely for these attributes.

Into Other Realms:
Rama's curiosity took her to the realms of Hindustani music. Studying under the guidance of the late Pt. Vinay Chandra Maudgalya of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi, she earned the Visharad degree with distinction and served there has a Head of the Carnatic Music Division for four years. Rama is also conversant with playing techniques of the veena and the mridangam.

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