Music Composer, Flautist and Art Administrator Sri GS Rajan Reminiscences about Kerala and his Musical Journey

Category: Kerala Sangeetham
Published on Sunday, 03 May 2015 23:10
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GS Rajan is an accomplished classical flautist and World music composer. This Globe-trotting musician has been residing in United States since 2013. On a visit to Kerala recently, he shared some of his thoughts on Kerala and his music.


Memories of Kerala:

GS Rajan's School days were in Calicut. He grew up amidst great personalities like Uroob, Thikkodiyan, K Raghavan master, Chidabaranath and many others. They were all working with Rajan's parents Gayathri and Srikrishnan in All India Radio Calicut in the late 60s. Rajan started composing and creating songs for Baalalogam, Yuvavani etc for All India Radio right from his school days.  Rajan remembers spending time with his musician friends: Joy Vincent-Guitar, Sunil Bhaskar-Composer and Keyboard; David Simon-Guitar, Azzeez-Drums and many others.  Eating out and occasional visits to Cochin, to his mother's house were his vacation.


“People of Calicut were like one family, friendly and caring. Now it has changed but I still love Malabar for its people and culture and that is the reason that I named my band 'Malabarians' and my website,”: said Rajan.


Kerala Music and Art forms:

In Rajan's words; Kerala developed its own style of music for Kathakali and other traditional arts based on Carnatic music. Not much variation from Carnatic music but dedicated maestros came out with a suitable flavour and approach to Kathakali music and also developed a few unique ragaas like 'Puraneeru' etc.


It’s unfortunate that all those great maestros who lived and practiced traditional arts never got the kind of support from Government or local organisers. Instead most of the organisers imported artists from outside Kerala. Nothing wrong in bringing practitioners of arts from outside Kerala, but some respect should have been given to our own people who have dedicated their life for arts in Kerala, feels Rajan


Journey as a Musician, from Kerala to round the globe

Rajan shares: I was very lucky that after my school days in Calicut I could join Kalakshetra in Chennai while the great Rukmini Devi was still at the helm of affairs. Close association with personalities such as Rukmini Devi, K Sankara Menon, D. VK Narayana Menon, P.V. Krishnamurthy, K.S. Kothari and innumerable other people in the world of arts gave me a feeling of responsibility in the field of arts and administration. Moving to Delhi in the eighties and joining the National Academy further opened up my vision about arts administration in general.


Though musical journey started off during my school days, there was a complete shift to Raaga Music in the early eighties learning from maestros MD Ramanathan, Puthukode Krishnamurthy and H Ramachandra Shastri. I must also acknowledge that before joining Kalakshetra I had a brief training in vocal under Palai CK Ramachandran in Calicut.


My Arangetram in flute happened in 1985 with VV Subramanyam, TV Gopalakrishnan and TV Vaasan accompanying. Then there was no looking back. Had the fortune of playing concerts with Umayalpuram K Sivaraman, Karaikudi Mani and innumerable other maestros. Invitations came from Europe and Europeans who liked my approach to music (I call my music 'Raaga music' instead of 'Carnatic' or 'Hindustani') and for developing my own style in Bamboo flute playing which gave me opportunity to present concerts in almost all the best performing spaces in India and Europe for almost 15 years till I decided one day to stop travelling career and concentrate on music and spirituality. Moving to Atlanta was a total surprise for me. When I met some wonderful musicians working on spiritual music from Jazz and Blues and also Indian music I decided to stay back in Atlanta since 2013 to experience something new that gave me a sort of artistic satisfaction to my mind and body.


Plans to return to Kerala

"Yes I do have plans to come back to Kerala not to experiment with music but to stay with my aged parents and also to leave this world from where I was born"!

Advice for artistes in Kerala

"I am no one to advise anyone. I am still a student and rasika of Music". 


GS Rajan was at Sattva Cultural Space, Angamally, Kerala for an Interactive Raaga Music concert organised jointly by Nrityasree Foundation, Palakkad and Aswadanam. Fore more information about Sri GS Rajan visit his website .


Photos by: Santu Brahma