U. Shrinivas was a trailblazer who not only adapted the mandolin for the Carnatic genre, he gradually criss-crossed all genres on this foreign instrument for his global audiences on world music platforms.
It is unfortunate that Bangaloreans had just missed his concert slated to be held at Sri Venugopala Krishna Temple at Malleswaram on Thursday. It was cancelled a week back due to his ill health, said the Temple authorities who conduct the 18-day Gokulashtami Cultural series every year.
Born February 28, 1969, Mandolin U. Shrinivas, who hailed from Palakol in Andhra Pradesh, was living in Chennai. As a toddler, he would tap incessantly on his father Sathyanarayana’s mandolin at home. Taking the cue, Sathyanarayana had started teaching him. “I never had formal lessons, while my father’s guru Rudraraju Subbaraju sang a song, I used to simultaneously produce it on my mandolin. It was something pleasurable for me to discover the instrument day after day. I changed the strings and gradually switched to an electric mandolin,” U. Srinivas had once told this writer.
Who will fill the void
Said vainika Suma Sudhindra, who was constantly in touch with Shrinivas over the years, Mandolin Shrinivas was to inaugurate one of the ongoing series in the Bangalore International Arts Fest but he had said the dates clashed as he had already accepted the Venugopalaswamy Temple call. “I will inaugurate your Fest in 2015 surely,” he had told Ms. Suma. “I can’t believe this, it sounds unreal and unfair to the world of music,” she added.
Pay your tributes to Mandolin U. Shrinivas here
Two years ago when he played at the Delhi International Arts Fest with just a drummer and bass guitarist, audiences were astonished to see how effortlessly he singlehandedly led the world music presentation. She said, “He has done some pathbreaking work with his instrument, who will fill the void?”
This evening (Friday), during the BIAF-Chowdiah Cultural programme, musicians and music aficionados will hold a one-minute silence at 6-30 p.m. to pay homage, tribute and affection to the young mandolin expert, she said.
Invented mandolin afresh
Says senior musicologist Prof. Mysore V. Subramanya, he invented the mandolin afresh to suit Carnatic music and that trailblazing effort shall be etched in music history. “Who could have imagined that the mandolin would occupy such a prime place on Carnatic platforms? Mr. Subramanya spoke of Mandolin Shrinivas’ command over the instrument, his impeccable laya-gnana, the swara-prathara where the audience would join in, clapping en masse, in tandem with his music.
“His Mandolin had a voice that could be manoeuvred to any style, what can you forget about this man whose humbleness was as pristine as his music,” he said.
From Barcelona to Kanyakumari
Art consultant Usha R.K. says, from Barcelona to Kanyakumari, he was the first Indian musician to be part of Olympics Arts Fest in Barcelona. “I remember he was excited about being invited to the fest,” she said. Mandolin Shrinivas not just straddled genres, he was the only one to have played at every occasion, be it playing for several dignitaries including Bill Clinton.
Usha recalls that the eight-year-old mandolin expert had once received a standing ovation at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall when Karnataka’s veteran vainika Doraswamy Iyengar heard him. “You are a musical adult in the garb of a young boy!” he had exclaimed.
Kids, youth and the old came together for his concerts
Mandolin Shrinivas was a regular at the Chamarajpet Ram Seva Mandali’s Ramanavami series. “For nearly 35 years we had Mandolin Shrinivas on our Ramanavami concert dais. It is most unfortunate that he will not be there for us in 2015,” said an emotional S.N. Varadaraj of the Mandali. “Even this year during the Ramothsava Shrinivas had requested for a good hotel where he would get the right kind of food for his sensitive stomach.
“Can we ever have a more humble artiste than Shrinivas, he never charged a pie for all his concerts here. He said his cutcheris were his prayers to Lord Rama!” he said.