Multicultural Award for Veena Artists

-Multi Cultural Awards for Excellence 2010 By Pathmapriya


Melbourne based Veena exponents, Shri Ramnath Iyer and Shri Gopinath Iyer, popularly known as the Iyer Brothers were presented with a Service Delivery to Multicultural Victoria Award in the category of Arts at the annual ceremony organised by the Victorian Multi Cultural Commission held on 21 Tuesday 2010 at the Government House.

The well organised and well attended event was honoured by the presence of Premier of Victoria and the Minister for Multi-cultural Affairs, Hon. John Brumby and Governor of Victoria Prof. David de Kretser.

Ramnath and Gopinath are twin brothers, born in India moved to Melbourne nearly 20 years ago. They are Australia’s leading exponents of the Veena, a traditional ancient stringed instrument and have made a name for themselves in Australia and overseas as a unique duo in Carnatic (South Indian classical) music. Their music is exciting and complex, beautiful and challenging. Ramnath and Gopinath are disciples of Veena maestros Shri R. Pichumani Iyer and Trivandrum Late Shri R.Venkataraman.

Ramnath and Gopinath established the Pichumani School of Carnatic Music in 1990. They have been teaching veena and vocal music to a dedicated group of 40 plus students. The brothers are outstanding teachers, reliable, enthusiastic and committed to the cause of their chosen art form. Ramnath and Gopinath have presented 5 students on the Veena and 2 students on the vocal in full length solo recitals so far. Their students Shri Mohan Sridhar and Miss. Ramya Madhavan have received the most prestigious M.L.Vasanthakumari award at the annual competition held in Sydney in the year 2007 and 2010 respectively.

The brothers have performed in various overseas countries such as India, New Zealand, Singapore, U.S.A, U.A.E and Malaysia. Since 1994, the brothers are annually featured in the December Music Festival in Chennai, India and have received rave reviews from the press. In 1999, The Hindu reported “A noteworthy factor in this Melbourne based duo is the interplay between the two which sounds very intimate and is totally free of any distortion….”  In 2003 the brothers were adjudged as the best Veena artists by the Music Academy and the Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai. The brothers have been invited to perform at the prestigious Chennai Music Academy, during December 2010.

Iyer brothers have also been performing in Australia widely, to name a few;

They performed at various music festivals and concerts including the ABC Music Deli, Asian Music Festival, The Piccolo-Spoletto Fringe Festival, The Castlemaine State Festival, The Nataraj Cultural Centre, Australian Institute of Eastern Music in Sydney, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Womadelaide, The Boite, SIFAS, Singapore, National Folk Festival, Carnatic Music Circle, Australia Council and Arts Victoria, Annual Multi faith concert, ‘Shared cultures – Mirrors in the Horizon’ at the ACT National Multicultural Festival along with Australian musicians in Canberra (1998)and others.

They have performed with visiting professional musicians from India, including the famous flute maestro, Dr. N.Ramani, the renowned Indian Chitravina exponent Shri. N. Ravikiran in a 12-hour music performance titled ‘Music for Peace’ at Melbourne Town Hall in June 1998.

They released of a number of audiocassettes and CDs with the help of a grant from the Australia Council. Their CD titled ‘Soulful Strings’ was featured in ‘The Planet’ program of Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National channel.

Performed at various temples including at the Murugan Temple in Sunshine, Vinayagar Temple in The Basin and Shiva-Vishnu temple in Carrum downs.

The brothers have been classified into ‘A’ graded artists of All India Radio, Chennai since 2009. This is a rare privilege endorsed onto oversees residing artists. Melbournians are truly fortunate to have the brothers amongst us to impart the highest quality teaching, performing, mentoring of this very old and vibrant music form, allowing the community to feel at home with their service to music and music lovers.

In memory of their beloved Guru Trivandrum R. Venkataraman who passed away early this year, the Iyer Brothers in association with the Laya Vidya Centre held a well attended full length (3.5 hours) Veena recital on the 25 April 2010 of which a DVD is made available too.

Nearly 180 individuals and organisations received awards in various categories at the ceremony on Tuesday. Several Indian and Sri Lankan origin individuals and organisations were among those recognised. Melbourne based Violinist, Shri S. Murali Kumar (Indian Community), Dance teacher Mrs. Meena Ilankumaran (Tamil Community), Mr. Eliyathamby Elankumaran (Tamil Community), Mr. Subra Ramachandran (Indian Community), Mr. Dinesh Srivastava (Indian Community), Victorian Tamil Cultural Association Inc., Sanganaatham Tamil Community Radio (Service Delivery) to name some of them.

We shall appreciate the tolerant, friendly environment, the state of Victoria provides to diverse cultural activities and platform for musicians of various genres to develop and practice their artistic skills and therefore continue to nourish the multi-cultural environment.

-Pathmapriya

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