Aruna Sairam
Profiles of Classical Singers

Aruna Sairam is the most sought after vocalist of Carnatic Music today. During the December 2004 Chennai Music festival, Aruna's concerts were sell-outs drawing unprecedented numbers of audiences. In the past few years Aruna's concerts in various cities, - be it Narada Gana Sabha in Chennai or Le Theatre de la Ville in Paris - have attracted record crowds that created "traffic jams around the auditorium".

She straddles the national and international music world with equal ease and popularity. Her panache for innovation has brought her accolades as a trail blazer in Carnatic Music.

She has performed all over India, including the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. Every year as a matter of course she gives several recitals during the celebrated Madras Music Festival in December. Aruna tours frequently in Europe, participating in major festivals, making recordings, teaching workshops, and appearing on TV. In autumn, 1999, she presented opening concerts of the season at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris, for the Opera House of Lyons, and - for Radio France - a live concert broadcast all over the country.

Aruna Sairam collaborated with many Indian artists apart from internationally acclaimed artistes, like Dominique Vellard, the French Gregorian singer. Aruna Sairam has presented her concerts in all major sabhas in India, as well as many destinations across the world, including Carnegie Hall in New York, Le Théâtre de la Ville in Paris and the Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco.
Talking about how she introduced abhang to the concert platform, she said, “I was initially hesitant. Then it struck me that classical music is steeped in devotion. And so are abhangs. That when I decided to add abhangs to my repertoire.” She sang “Theertha vittala,” the first ever abhang she had learnt, much to the audience’s delight. “I had been trained by stalwarts, but when it came to concert presentation, I was a novice. When I came to Chennai in 1973 to perform for the first time in the junior slot at the Music Academy, I was a nervous wreck. I had no clue how to plan a concert. But with sage advice from my gurus and friends, I slowly found my way. What’s more, those days I would only see vacant chairs, no heads. But with time and experience, things got better,” recalled the ever-smiling singer.

It was a concert-cum-felicitation ceremony organised on August 16 by Shri Vari Foundation, an organisation to promote spirituality, music and dance, at Francis Lewis Auditorium in Queens, New York. An array of distinguished personalities showered praise on Aruna Sairam for her yeoman service to India by unifying the different linguistic and regional cultures.

The president of the Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, Sri Gauthamananda, conferred the title. It carried a gold medal, Rs. 5,000, `birudhu patra' and a memento. The citation read out by the sabha secretary, M. Krishnamurthy, said the “Sangeetha kalasarathy” was being presented to the musician for her dedicated and continued service to Carnatic music.

Musical Training

Trained since childhood by her mother, Rajalakshmi. She later received training from prominent vocalists, Madurai Somasundaram and T.Brinda. She also learnt the art of pallavi singing from T. R. Subramaniam. Her ‘training’ under veena vidwan K.S. Narayanaswamy taught Aruna “the logic behind every gamaka.” Her gamaka in Thodi illustrated her point. Then there was T.R. Subramaniam under his guidance that she learnt the nuances of pallavi singing.


Awards & Titles

Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha on Friday conferred the title of "Sangeetha Kalasarathy" on Aruna Sayeeram, vocalist, on the occasion of its 105th year December Music Festival here. Padma Shri from the Government of India.