Founded and Managed by IYER BROTHERS (Ramnath & Gopinath) the Pichumani School of Carnatic Music, named after their Guru, specialises in the teaching of the ancient south indian instrument “the Veena” in Melbourne. It is said that each of the frets on the veena represents each disc of a human spinal cord. Contact Details: E: iyerbrothers at gmail dot com; Ramnath Iyer: Tel: 61-3-98868406; Gopinath Iyer: Tel: 61-3-9885 7671
Melbourne-based twin brothers Ramnath Iyer and Gopinath Iyer are disciples of veena maestros Shri R. Pichumani and Trivandrum Shri R.Venkataraman. They have been undergoing rigorous advanced training from Shri. Venkataraman for the last eight years. Australia’s leading exponents of the veena, the Iyer Brothers have made a name for themselves in Australia and overseas as a unique duo in Carnatic (South Indian) classical music. Their music is both exciting and complex, beautiful and challenging. The brothers are ‘A’ graded artists of All India Radio, Chennai.
Ramnath has been a resident of Melbourne since 1986. He has worked with visiting professional musicians from India, including the famous flute maestro Dr. N.Ramani. Ramnath has been serving as a peer specialist in Indian Music for the Australia Council since 1996. In 2002 Ramnath served as an adjudicator for veena at the third biennial Indian music competition held in Singapore by the National Arts Coucil of Singapore. Before immigrating to Australia in October 1993, Gopinath was a resident of New Zealand where he performed extensively. A few notable performances being Wellington Access Radio, Victoria University of Wellington and the NZ Academy of Bharatanatyam. He has participated with the renowned violin maestro Dr. L Subramaniam in a workshop during the Asia Pacific Festival in Wellington, in 1992.
Since 1994, the brothers have been performing together and have been very well received in various centres around Australia and overseas, including the Four Winds Festival at Bermagui (1995), Australian Institute of Eastern Music in Sydney (1997, 1999), Port Fairy Folk Festival (1999), Womadelaide (2001), The Boite (1999 to 2007), SIFAS, Singapore (1998), ACT National Multicultural Festival in Canberra (1998), Australian National Folk Festival (2004) and their own performance projects which have been funded by Australia Council and Arts Victoria (1994, 1995, 1997) . The brothers have released a number of audiocassettes and CDs with the help of a grant from the Australia Council. Their latest CD titled ‘Soulful Strings’ was featured in ‘The Planet’ program of Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National channel.
Since 1994, the brothers are annually featured in the December music festival in Chennai, India and have received rave reviews from the press. In 2003 the brothers were adjudged as the best veena artists in the junior category at the Music Academy (Lakshmi Sundaram award for Veena) and senior category at the Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai.
In 1990 the brothers established the Pichumani School of Carnatic Music in Melbourne and have been teaching the art of veena playing and vocal music. The school has grown considerably in the last decade with a dedicated group of about fifty students. They have also presented five of their senior students in full length solo veena recitals and two senior students in vocal recitals.
Iyer Brothers – Quotes from the press
Ramnath and Gopinath Iyer from Melbourne performed at NadaBrahma Gana Sabha recently.. Their hardwork and sincerity has resulted in an unmistakable uniformity in their playing. What appealed more than that was the divinity of veena which ws unraveled with all its sonorities, deep and strong musical thoughts with a frill of perfect gamakas… Nadasoukya was the hallmark of their playing
- Dr Rama V Bennur, Deccan Herald, Mysore, December 27, 2008
The Ravindranath Tagore Cultural Association, by organising the veena duet by Ramnath and Gopinath, has strengthened its arts-patronage credo. Had you been listening from outside the auditorium without seeing the artistes, you would have been forgiven for thinking there was just the one veena being played-such was the perfect unison in which the brothers played. The experience of hearing a pair of veena-s in such perfect shruti and naada synchronism was a first for me. They began with a Varnam in Bhairavi followed by the Nattai obeisance to Mahaganapathi. ‘Aparadhamula-RasaaLi’ was an excellent selection. The splendid alapana to Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘HiraNmayeem Lakshmi’ had a profound effect on me, as did ‘Bhajarere’ in KalyaNi. The selection and execution of the main item of ‘O Rangashayee’ in Kambhoji was splendid.
- N.Venkatesh, Udaya Vani, Bangalore, Decmber 2008
“Perfect co-ordination, robust presentation, strict adherence to vadya-dharma (with no unnecessary gimmicks or swara manipulations) and appreciable technique derived after long years of joint practice assure the veena duo, the Iyer Brothers (Gopinath and Ramnath) from Australia, success.”
- KSR, The Hindu, 31/12/2004
“What’s note worthy in the Iyer Brothers recital is that they did not strain themselves, not strained the listens cars (!) with unnecessary things going in recent years in carnatic music concerts – all in the name of innovative approach as if this is something new to carnatic music.”
- VR, www.carnaticmusic.com
The Chennai-based rasika generally feels justice to Carnatic music in its true and pure form can emanate only from South Indian and outsiders have no great role in promoting this art form. Soon, I found my apprehensions were misplaced. In their concert for Sruthilaya on the evening of December 18, 2003, the Iyer brothers displayed excellent virtuosity and control over veena. The raga `Ananda Bhairavai’ was etched by Gopinath with grace and old-world charm full of bhava. The Shyama Shastri kriti “Mari vere’’ was rendered by the duo in an equally evocative fashion, the sangathis flowing in a pure and clear manner. Ramnath Iyer developed Shankarabaranam raga, brining out its full variety, range and beauty. There was vigour and vibrancy as well as their velvette touch while exploring the various phases of the raga. Veenai Kuppaiyar’s composition, `Bagu meera’, was played in an eloquent fashion and the swara patterns were handled with delicacy and deftness. This was followed by an expansive but brilliantly conceived `Thodi’ raga by Gopinath Iyer, doing full justice to the scope of the raga. Especially effective was the resonating sancharas in the middle-range and `manthira sthai.’
- Excellent virtuosity by Iyer brothers – T.M. Anantharaman (sify.com) Dec 2003
“Iyer Brothers’ veena duet was a study in synchronised harmony. There was no separate compartmentalised version: One starts and the other takes over after a while. Their conceptualised expression of Kalyani was just fluent. They played Gopalakrishna Bharati’s “Sabhapathikku” in Abhogi, with swara avatis on the pallavi line, Tyagaraja’s “Nagumomu” in Aberi and a brief in Karaharapriya after raga vinyasam.”
- TPR, The Hindu, 4/1/2002
“The veena recital of Ramnath Iyer and Gopinath Iyer had an enjoyable progression with classical substance of an impressive quality. The thanams form a significantly fitting facet of Carnatic music on the veena. The duo’s representation of aptly oscillated thanams in the phase of Todi gave much satisfaction. The piece, “Emijeseethe’ of Tyagaraja was played in a tasteful diction. “
- R.V., The Hindu, 28/12/2001
“The brothers’ playing of the compositions of the Carnatic trinity and their improvisation of traditional ragas such as Natai, Yadukulakambodhi, Karaharapriya, Kambodhi, Poorvi Kalyani and Chenjuti received a standing ovation from a vast audience drawn from various parts of Australia and overseas. The brothers’ lucid explanation of their music and instruments at the workshop received rave comments from the receptive audience.”
- Indian Link, March 2001.
“The larger stages of Womadelaide tend to be very loud, this year featuring heavily amplified bass and disturbingly frequent feedback. As a lover of soft and subtle, I escaped as often as possible to the far-flung outer reaches of Botanic Park, where such gems as the eerily synchronous Iyer twins playing twin veenas.…can be enjoyed without risking permanent hearing loss.”
- Stephen Whittington, The Advertiser, Adelaide, Monday, February 19, 2001.
“A pleasing veena recital by Ramnath and Gopinath (Iyer Brothers)… The piece de resistance was an evocative alapana in Mohana by Ramnath and the duo played a telling thanam before rendering Tiruvarur Ramaswami Pillai’s Jagadeeswari….. What was noteworthy in their recital was the perfect co- ordination and discipline.”
- K.S., The Hindu, December 22, 2000
“Pleasing Strains… The veena duo, Ramnath and Gopinath Iyer have good imagination and musicianship”
- The Hindu, December 31, 1999
“Truly reflecting the spirit of the occasion, the veena duet by Iyer Brothers, Ramnath and Gopinath Iyer, came off rich in Carnatic classical flavour. 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”
- The Hindu, India, December 24, 1999
“The Iyer brothers…perfect corordination between them….a concert offered in pure traditional style…gave an ear full of bliss..”
- Valuthoor Raga Rasikan, Season 99, SatyamOnline.com
“When sound and fury generally dominate in present day Carnatic instrumental concerts, the dignified and sober approach by the Iyer brothers to their cutcheris is indeed praiseworthy…the facile fingering technique of both the veena players was a pleasure to watch and listen..”
- P.V.K., December 99, ChennaiOnline.com
“Abogi was played by the brothers, each playing one phrase alternately. They not only look alike but even think alike, so that they can do this effortlessly. In fact, they have such perfect synchronisation that it is difficult to make out that two instruments are being played simultaneously..”
- Lakshmi Venkatraman, The Hindu , India, January 1, 1999
“Iyer brothers (Ramnath and Gopinath), making their third appearance, lived up to their reputation, tranquility marks their music. Of course there is perfect unison…”
- K.S., The Hindu, India, January 1, 1999
“…Ramnath and Gopinath from Australia known as Iyer Brothers…When they play on their veena they sound like a single instrument; when one takes off from where the other leaves, even when playing short phrases of a raga, the continuity is so perfect and smooth, that one would not know unless one is actually witnessing their performance…it was on the whole an aesthetically pleasing concert..”
- The Hindu, India, January 1998
“Veena is an instrument that needs more caressing than aggressive treatment. In fact this instrument comes nearest to the human voice….By long and assiduous practice their veena almost ‘spoke’…It was genuine and authetic veena play.”
- K.Sundar Rajan, Trinity Mirror, India, December 1997
“…flawless rendering…that is packed with vim and vitality….The splendour of Sankarabharanam has been focussed convincingly and makes for welcome listening, while the tanam in traditional style has all the requisites to please….Vyasaraya’s ‘Krishna Nee Begene’ has an aesthetic luminescence, while Lalgudi’s Desh Tillana executed with perfection would be an istant runaway success.”
- S.P., The Hindu, India, November 1997
“….having two veenas playing together increases the beauty of the sound in much the same way as a 12 string guitar is an improvement over the 6 string guitar….What is so interesting about the music is the communication between the brothers, something that seems only possible between twins. They seem to follow each other’s thoughts in a way only dreamed of in other collaborations. The standard of the performers is very high….”
- Australian Institute of Eastern Music, Newsletter, October 1996.
“Some Indian sceptics have classified veena as the ‘endangered species’. But with the efforts of Ramnath and Gopinath, I am sure, veena will have an enduring legacy here in Australia.”
- Shobha Sekhar, Indian Voice, July 1996.
“Two brothers, Ramnath and Gopinath Iyer were the central performers, assisted by Mathiaparanam Ravichandhira, on the mrdangam and Brindha Jeremiah maintaining the essential string drone on the tampura. Musicians who have mastered this style of music are awe-inspiring to watch. No matter how much or how little you understand of what is going on – the subtle imitations and elaborations, the complex (to Western ears) rhythmic interplay, the endless chain of semi-improvised and totally formed melodies that emanate from a given raga – there are passages of performance that never fail to dazzle even the non-initiate. This quartet delighted the packed audience with their humility, calm assurance and a convincing realisation of that inimitable fusion of mystical and plaintive in which resides so much of the appeal to be relished..”
- Clive O’Connell, The Age, Melbourne, July 18, 1995.
“Gopinath, a Wellington resident and performer and teacher of the veena, displayed his virtuosity of this extremely difficult stringed instrument, which is similar to the sitar”
- Ann Hunt, The Dominion, Wellington, NZ, July 1992
“Ramnath’s handling of the veena shows his intense training (under R.Pichumani), sound technique and musical sensitivity. An important characteristic of his playing is the bell-like clarity and distinguishability of the svaras (notes). It is a pity that this cassette is not available for sale in India”
- Jaya Bharadwaj, Sruti, India, March 1989
“The deep tones of Ramnath’s veena blended with the soft and sweet sound of Gopinath’s. Ramnath’s saveri and Gopinath’s karaharapriya were nicely delineated with the logical flow of lines offset by rasa laden niceties”
- Ranjani Swaminathan, Indian Express, India, August 1982