Creating a world of music

Creating a world of music

He is the grand old man of the classical music scene in the twin cities. Ananda Mohan Voruganti can be seen in the front row at most Carnatic music concerts, as an honoured guest and respected connoisseur of the fine arts.

He is the grand old man of the classical music scene in the twin cities. Ananda Mohan Voruganti can be seen in the front row at most Carnatic music concerts, as an honoured guest and respected connoisseur of the fine arts.

Ananda Mohan Voruganti, one of the busiest and most hands-on music-patrons in Hyderabad, is the founder and director of Sangeeta Ksheerasagaram. He is involved in organising classical-music concerts which provide platform to meritorious artistes, spotting new talent, and encouraging them through his own sabha or finding platforms for these artistes elsewhere. He also attends every concert he can and offers valuable feedback to both the performers and organisers. His energy and productivity belie his 84 years!

"I was interested in music from the age of six. I especially liked light-music, devotional songs, patriotic songs, and film songs in Telugu and Hindi. I was an ardent fan and follower of the iconic singer Ghantasala and legendary film-music director S. Rajeswara Rao."

Later, he trained in Carnatic music under the renowned musician and guru Sangeetha KsheeraSagaraUppalapatiAnkaiah for three years- between 1956 and 1958. He also gained knowledge of the classical-music scene thanks to the several great artistes who interacted with his guru.

"Also, during those days, I was a casual artiste in All India Radio (AIR), Hyderabad, in light music, Telugu drama and folk music. This also gave me opportunity to get in touch with many talented artistes especially classical musicians that came to AIR, Hyderabad to perform."

Naturally, he became an avid concertgoer. One observation resulted from all the events he attended---that local artistes were not receiving adequate opportunities to perform. Most of the major events by leading sabhas of the featured artistes brought in from neighbouring states.

This pained him especially because several of them also conveyed their unhappiness to him and also because he was aware that they were musicians of good calibre. Moreover, several local artists also conveyed their unhappiness to him about this. "So, I decided to set up a sabha, which would give due prominence to the local artistes without discrimination based on their lineage.

Also, without discriminating on the basis of mother tongue---so Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada....local artistes from any linguistic category would be encouraged and given performance opportunities as long as they had the talent and skills."

Several like-minded friends and music-lovers collaborated with him. However, they realised that setting up a Sabha and making it function involved investing a lot of time, having sound finances and many other logistics.

So, Ananda Mohan Voruganti told all artists that they must perform free of cost for the Sabha until it was fully financially viable and well-established. "Many artistes agreed as they were convinced about the sincerity of our purpose."

Finally, a group of twenty members with a contribution of Rs 20 eachgot together to establish Sri ThyagarayaGana Sabha on June 4, 1966. Ananda Mohan Voruganti was the Founder-Secretary. Thus, began the sabha with a corpus fund of a grand amount of Rs 400.

After 13 months, he handed over his duties to a friend S. Narayana, as he himself had begun to go out on tours for work. "I was away from Hyderabad till 1993." On return to the city, he realised he had to renew his contacts and re-establish a network. He did so, patiently and conscientiously. Finally, he established Sangeeta Ksheerasagaram in 2002, in Hyderabad.

"The inaugural concert was a programme in memory of my revered guru UppalapatiAnkaiahgaru and chaired by eminent guru and musician NookalaChinna Satyanarayana. So far, and as of today, I have organised 440 Carnatic music concerts.

Until January, 2016, the venue for all mySangeeta Ksheerasagaram events was Sri ThyagarayaGana Sabha but since then it has been Saptaparni given the graciousness of Anuradha Gunupati. All these events are sponsored almost entirely by me; from my own pension and savings."

Where does he find the energy to accomplish so much even years after retirement from government service? He replies with a smile: "It is purely the result of the grace of God, the blessings of my guru, and the abundant love and goodwill of the music fraternity of the twin Telugu states as well as many artistes from the rest of south India."

Does he follow a strict diet and exercise routine to stay so fit and productive at his age? "I am a strict vegetarian. I am constantly listening to music and even singing to myself whenever I am free. My six children and several grandchildren give me a lot of moral support and joy. Finally, music sustains me! God willing, I want to continue my music activities till I am a 100 years old!" We say amen to that.

By Aruna Chandraraju

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