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T. S. Nandakumar – A well known Indian versatile carnatic music percussionist.

He is primarily adept at playing the mridangam.


T. S. Nandakumar

T. Shankaranaryanan Nandakumar (T S Nandakumar) was born on 17 March 1958 in Ambalappuzha, Kerala, India. He is the son of Shri Balakrishna Panicker and Shrimati Saraswati. He comes from the family of the well-known nadaswaram exponents, the Ambalapuzha Brothers. A child prodigy, Nandakumar had the only talent with which he conquered the world of music with his beats on the mridangam. He learned mridangam under the guidance of Shri Kaithavana Madhavdas in the gurukula samprada tradition and acquired proficiency as Laya Vidwan.

Nandakumar developed a strong interest in music when he was four years old. He gained a reputation as an accompanist to some well-known names in Carnatic music such as Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M. D. Ramanathan, S. Ramanathan, R. K. Srikantan, V. Dakshinamoorthy, Bhimsen Joshi, M. Balamuralikrishna, T. N. Krishnan, L. Subramaniam, N. Ramani, K. J. Yesudas, N. Rajam, T. K. Govinda Rao, Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, T. V. Gopalakrishnan, Parassala B. Ponnammal, A. Kanyakumari and several others. He has taken up his life mission to perpetuate Indian ancient art form and has dedicated himself to teaching the same to hundreds of students worldwide. He was quoted as “Guru of all musical things”, “King of percussion in suburbs” and “The Master Of Rhythm” by The Times of India.

Besides being an amiable accompanist, Nandakumar has shown a flair for teaching and training students in a number of music institutions and fine arts sabhas in Mumbai. Not content with just training, he has found a medium for the students to hone their skills and play in unison. TSN’s percussive Arts Centre which is a composite unit drawn from talented teenagers. He trained his students in instruments like mridangam, konnakol, thavil, ghatam, kanjira, and morsing used in playing for the ensemble. Under his tutelage, the ensemble has been performing with excellence. Having performed all over Mumbai and in the south of India, he came out with Jewels Of Rhythm album which was a commercial success. It turned to be a ‘prized possessions’ for all aspirants, young and old, learning the arts of percussion.

Nandakumar has been promoting Indian Carnatic music both as a teacher and a performer. He had the privilege of performing for various festivals all over the country, besides giving performances for All India Radio and Doordarshan.

He has conducted several musical concerts, lectures cum demonstrations, and workshops in India as well as abroad like the Lamar University of Houston, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and several others to train students and build their rapport with artists by accompanying them. Nandakumar has adapted to the modern world to take in students of any age, and bring them to the performance stage in an ensemble format. In return, he achieves intense dedication and exceptional results from pupils who otherwise would not have participated in the traditional teaching model. Most of his students are graded artists in All India Radio and are full-time professionals in this field. They are also following the new path trail marked by their guru by spreading the knowledge of Carnatic percussion to their own ever-growing number of students around the world. Another of his important contributions of major significance to Carnatic percussion music is his willingness to teach older students based outside of India who begin their training with him without any background in Carnatic percussion or Indian culture.

Nandakumar has earned several awards. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Shanti Foundation, Chennai for his contributions to the field of Indian classical music. He was honored by the Cleveland Tyagaraja group with the ‘Best Teacher Award’ where M. Balamuralikrishna and Nirupama Rao, Indian Ambassador to the United States was the guest of honor, and the Bharat Ratna M. S. Subbulakshmi Best Teacher Award from the Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha, Mumbai. He was also felicitated and honored by Shri R. K. Laxman the cartoonist.

Pittsburgh University in America conducts special classes in percussive arts for which they have enlisted Nandakumar. He used to conduct classes in the Venkateswara Temple, Pittsburgh, Academy of Indian Music, New Jersey, Switzerland and several places in other countries. He also conducted 24 hours non stop Akanda Seva Bhajan with his students in Mumbai for the tsunami-affected victims of India.

Discography

  • Jewels Of Rhythm Vol 1 
  • Jewels Of Rhythm Vol 2 
  • Jewels Of Rhythm Vol 3 
  • Vibrative Rhythms 
  • Vibrative Rhythms 2 
  • Sruti Sandhya (with T N Krishnan
  • Sruti Sandhya 2 (with T N Krishnan)
  • Vibrations (with A. Kanyakumari
  • South Indian Percussion 
  • Mridangam Solo 
  • Demonstration on Talas and Rhythms 
  • Konnakol 
  • Classical Treat by Nedunuri Krishnamurthy (with Nedunuri Krishnamurthy
  • Jugalbandi Duet Series (with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Dr. Balamuralikrishna
  • A Duet On Strings (with T N Krishnan and Dr. N Rajam
  • Classical Instrumental Moods (with Narayan Mani) 
  • Matunga Sisters  
  • Swati Tirunal Kritis (with Radha Warrier) 
  • Divine Expressions (with Narayan Mani) 
  • Surabhi (with Mangalam Muthuswamy

TSN’s Percussive Arts Centre

TSN’s Percussive Arts Centre was founded in response to demand from students for higher learning in the art of percussion in the year 1998 and was inaugurated by Dr V Subramanium, Former Maharashtra minister and staunch Congressman in India, Mumbai. Since inception, the center has presented several annual events that included performances by well-known artists in Carnatic music, amongst others by N. Rajam, N. Ramani, A. Kanyakumari, L. Subramaniam and several others at the Shanmukhananda Hall, Chembur Fine Arts Hall and other different places. Such events organized under the banner of TSN’s Percussive Arts Centre serve as an inspiration to young students and encourage them to take to the stage. Nandakumar has Indian students as well as non-Indian students all over the globe. He conducted the decennary function of the center with a performance by ninety-six students on stage.

Hard work was put in by Nandakumar for rehearsals and special training to students in percussion instruments and in Konnakol ‘singing’ for their stage performances. His students are also popularizing the same art given to them by teaching other students. His center is also in Zurich, Switzerland and also runs ‘TSN’s Percussive Arts Centre.Inc’ in New Jersey, the United States  with the motive of promoting Indian classical music all over the world.

Titles, awards, and honours

  • Title – SwaraSadhana Ratna
  • Title – Gurushikhamani
  • Title – Sruthilaya Sudhakara
  • Life Time Achievement Award by Shanti Foundation, Chennai
  • Cleveland Thygaraja Aradhana Committee awarded him as the Best Teacher Award at Ohio, United States
  • Bharat Ratna Dr. M. S. Subbulakshmi Best Teacher Award (Bharat Ratna Dr. M. S. Subbulakshmi Sangeetha Pracharya Award)
  • Excellence Award by Namam Inc from New Jersey Senate at New Jersey, United States
  • Awarded from Soorya Dance Festival
  • Honoured by Shanmukhananda Fine Arts & Sangeetha Sabha, Mumbai
  • Honoured by Padam, Mumbai
  • Honoured by Music Triangle, Mumbai
  • Honoured by Naadalaya, Mumbai
  • Honoured by Swara Sadhana Samithi, Mumbai
  • Honoured by Mudra, Chennai
  • Honoured by TVG Academy, Chennai

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