When her parents named her Apoorva, meaning 'rare', little did they think they would be in awe of her accomplishments.
A teen composing tillanas, sharing the stage with seasoned musicians, being a part of the team that wins the Tarisio Trust Young Artists Grants for 2017, receiving a scholarship from the celebrated Berklee College of Music, and with sagely sagacity, conducting outreach programmes on Carnatic music, this 21-year-old violinist Apoorva Krishna, a resident of Bengaluru, has done it all.
Apoorva attributes all this to her musical family. Her great-grandfather S Rajagopala Iyer was the author of the book Sangeetha Akshara Hridaya, which has been commended by doyens of music like Umayalpuram K Sivaraman and T K Murthy. Her grandmother is a vocal teacher, her father, a mridangist; her mother, a singer, bharatanatyam dancer and voice trainer at the Shankar Mahadevan Academy.
"The sound of enthralling classics wafting in the air from the room where my grandmother teaches her students in the US on Skype, the ricochet of the gentle thud from the room where my father is practising mridangam, and tidbits on voice culture crossing my way as I walk along the room where my mother is doing her training sessions... I am blessed to be in an environment filled with music," she says.
In the groove
Apoorva was inundated with and initiated to music from the time she was born, and like a duck takes to water, she had taken to music. "My grandmother would sing to me in the cradle. No one taught me the piano, but at the age of three, I would play and reproduce on piano whatever I had heard, be it a movie song, a nursery rhyme or nottuswaram. And, at the age of four, I would play the scales of different ragas."
She started learning the violin from Lalgudi Brahmanandam, sister of Lalgudi Jayaraman, and her daughter Anuradha Sridhar, from the age of six; and at the age of 17, she started accompanying veteran artistes like Bombay Jayashri, Cherthala Ranganatha Sharma, Priya Sisters, Mandolin U Rajesh, Aruna Sairam...
Apoorva won several prizes at the regional and national levels and closed the year with a crescendo when she, Vinod Shyam and Sunaad Anoor became the first Indians to bag the Tarisio International Scholarship for 2017-18 for their instrumental track Bahudari, which impressed the jury comprising Grammy awardees.
'Bahudari' means many ways, which embodies Apoorva's spirit of spreading Carnatic music, be it conducting Carnatic music outreach programmes or collaborating with musicians of various genres across the globe to taking the art form to places where it has not been before.
Apoorva wishes to conduct awareness sessions to impart a taste of the art to people from all walks of life; people in corporates, old-age homes, orphanages, students who attend schools in rural areas, and persons with disabilities. "The selection was based on our work, and to what cause we would put to use the $5,000 grant if we win. We told the organisers we would utilise the money to conduct outreach programmes on Carnatic music," she recalls.
The team completed their first music-awareness programme with 1,000 children at Badrikashrama in Madehalli village. "We introduced them to thala through clapping and made them repeat konnakol to the beats. We also exposed them to the emotions the ragas convey," she says.
Notes of another kind
She recently had a session for children with autism at Amaze Foundation in Coimbatore. What inspired Apoorva to do this? "Since my school days, I had seen my peers nodding their head to film songs but shying away from classical music. It always disturbed me. And at Berklee, when I played Carnatic music, people were in awe of the art's intricacies. Carnatic music should not be in obscurity. Complex as it is to master, it is not tough to listen and love," she says. Last December, Apoorva released her maiden album.
She leaves you thinking that Carnatic music is in good hands.