Neyyattinkara Vasudevan - A Profile

The late Mudikondan Venkitarama Iyer, one of the greatest grammarians in the realm of Carnatic music used to maintain that the future of Carnatic Classical Music depended upon a musician's capacity to attract young listeners day by day. For achieving this the musician should be competent enough to present his wares in a highly polished format. It is the innate flair in Neyyatinkara Vasudevan to draw in more and more young music lovers to his fold by presenting his music in a novel form, that has helped him to carve a niche of his own, even at the very outset of his career.

Training and Music Career
Vasudevan was born in 1940 in humble surroundings and after finishing his high school studies, his ardent love towards Carnatic music prompted him to join the Swathi Thirunal Music College at Thiruvananthapuram. He passed Ganabhushanam in 1960 and Sangeetha Vidwan in 1962 with colours. His skills were honed in the College by a bunch of reputed musicians under the leadership of the illustrious Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer. Later Vasudevan imbibed the esoteric subtleties from a rigorous training meted out by Ramnad Krishnan in Chennai.
Vasudevan's career graph soared upwards with his arrival to Tripunithura to serve as Assistant Professor in RLV College of music there. This hoary royal town has ever provided a fecund soil for any aspiring musician to bloom and Vasudevan was no exception. With his charming disposition and a positive approach to his chosen vocation, he became immensely popular. In 1974, he joined the All India Radio, Trivandrum as 'A Grade' Staff artist in Vocal Music from where he retired in 2000. The AIR honoured him with 'A Top Rank' - the highest rank in Carnatic Classical Music.
He has been to American countries and Canada in 1983, 1984 and 1994 respectively for giving public performances and for imparting music to music lovers. He has also given public performances in Abudhabi, Dubai, and Muscat during his tour in 1992.

Rendition Style
His strict adherence to tradition and yet innovating within it, unique style of raga elaboration, inimitable style of rendering rakthi ragas, rendering of compositions in appropriate tempo, compact swaraprasthara and above all his capacity to build up a rapport with the accompanying artists as well as his listeners brought him encomiums even in a place like Chennai where the audiences are fastidious by nature. When he secured the prize for the best sub-junior vocalist in 1971, at the Music Academy, roaring reviews had appeared in the leading newspapers. Vasudevan's gift for voice modulations and flourishes are always enviable. He comes out always with a clean diction and his format during a concert is evenly distributed among our Sahajavaggeyakaras. He has taken a lot of pains in popularising, Swathi Thirunal compositions throughout the country and abroad.

Honours and Awards
Vasudevan has been given the Indian President's Award in the A.I.R. Music competition in 1960.
He has been given music concerts regularly in Madras Music Academy ever since 1972. He has been given awards for Best Vocalist in the years 1972, 1978, 1982 and 1988 by the same institution. In 1993 he was given award for Best Musician in Raga rendering.
He has been giving public performances throughout India and abroad. Almost all top ranking violinists and mridangists have accompanied him in his concerts. He has also been featured in the National Programme of Music and Radio Sangeetha Sammelan concerts.
The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award was given to him in the year 1982 and the prestigious Sangeetha Nataka Academy Fellowship in 1989. He received the Tulasivanam Award of Kerala in 1992.
The title "Asthana Vidwan" was conferred on him in 1984 by the Sri. Venkateswara Temple Trust, Pittsburgh, U.S.A.
The Govt. of India's Sangeeth Natak Academy, National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama honoured him with the Academy award for Carnatic Music in 2000. The prestigious Padmasree came in search of him in 2004 and the Swathi Puraskaram in 2007.
That apart, several organisations and music lovers associations have honoured him with innumerable awards.
Whatever Vasudevan has attained in his long career as a vocalist and trainer, has always been against heavy odds. His modesty on and off the stage is a rare trait and his geniality, a great asset. Vasudevan is known to the world as "Neyyattinkara" - his place of birth and when one hears the word 'Neyyattinkara' one is reminded only of this great musician!

Albums and Recordings
The A.V.M Studios has released a cassette of Swathi Thirunal Krithis sung by Vasudevan. The C.B.S has produced two cassette volumes, sung by him, containing Krithis of different composers. The HMV & Manorama Music have also produced a volume of krithis rendered by him.
For the film "Swathi Thirunal", Sri.Vasudevan served as consultant for music aspects. He has also sung in films (Classical Music only) such as "ENIPADIKAL (1968)", "SWATHI THIRUNAL (1987)", "CHITHRAM (1988)", "VACHANAM (1990)" & "MAZHA (2000)".