Chitravina N. Ravikiran
Chitravina N. Ravikiran - Profiles of Classical Music Composer

Chitravina N. Ravikiran (born February 12, 1967) is an Indian Carnatic music musician and composer. He gives both vocal concerts and concerts in the instrument chitravina (gottuvadyam). He is the grandson of famous musician gottuvadyam Narayan Iyengar.

Ravikiran was born in Mysore, Karnataka, India. At the age of two, he impressed scholars with his knowledge in Carnatic music. In 1969, he made his first appearance in the Malleshwaram Sangeeta Sabha, Bangalore. Soon after that he was presented in The Madras Music Academy, Krishna Ghana Sabha he was able to identify and render about 325 ragas (melodic scales) and 175 talas (rhythmic cycles). He was quizzed by famous musicians such as Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Pandit Ravi Shankar, M S Subbulakshmi and others.

The Music Academy, Madras, awarded the two-year-old, a monthly scholarship for the next few years. Ravikiran trained in Carnatic music under the guidance of his father, Narasimhan. Ravikiran debuted as a vocalist in 1972, at Coimbatore at the age of five years.[3] At the age of 10, he switched over to the 21-stringed chitravina.[3] However, he resumed his vocal recitals in 1999 and now presents both vocal and instrumental concerts.

Ravikiran is the author of several books, Appreciating Carnatic Music and Perfecting Carnatic Music Level I and II. He is also the founder of the International Foundation for Carnatic Music. ‘Chitraveena' Ravikiran was extremely sensitive in his playing and at no juncture did he try to go overboard either in the musical form or in exhibiting his creativity. The entire programme was well thought out and every artist contributed his share without much ado. More than the main Ragam Tanam Pallavi suite in Khambodi, Lalitha, the first raga taken up for expansion and delivery, walked away with all honours for its melody and Ravikiran's mastery. Lalitha always offers good scope for the artist who approaches it with a vision; Ravikiran's interpretation was simply inspiring with ample gamakam at the appropriate phrases thus unfolding the exceptional magnetism of the raga. Dikshitar's ‘Hiranmayeem Lakshmim' is another gem that touches the principal prayogas in many ways colourfully.

Ravikiran has been hailed as a true instrumental virtuoso in world music today. His accomplishments on the exquisite 20/21-string-slide instrument, the chitravina, have made a striking impact in the arena of slide instruments as a whole. The distinctiveness of his style stems from his vocal training, which have enabled him to forge new techniques - especially the microtonal oscillations and fast phrases that combine grace and force - that have extended the overall scope of slide instruments. His unique manner of playing even 3-5 minute long phrases without using his right hand have left musicians as well as music lovers speechless the worldover. In a strictly Indian context, his handling of the chitravina has enabled him to project the minutest aspects of Carnatic music in a singular manner that blends the best aspects of vocal and instrumental techniques.

Awards & Titles

Ravikiran received his first title in 1973, at the age of six and has since been the first or youngest to receive many awards. Mentioned below are some of those.

Millennium Festival Award (Millennium Commission, Government of UK) - 2000 (first Indian)

Best Contemporary World Album (New Age Voice Awards, USA) - 2001 (first Indian)

Star of India Award (Wisdom International) - 1985

Sanskriti Award (Sanskriti Foundation) - 1990

Kalaimamani (Tamil Nadu State Award) - 1985

Kumar Gandharva Samman (Madhya Pradesh State Award) - 1996

Arul Isai Selvan - 1973

Music Academy Senior Awards - several, since 1979

Lion's International Award - 1979

Nada Sudharnava - 1980

Tantri Gana Visharada - 1983

Sangeet Samraat (Wisdom International) - 1985

Rotary Vocational Award - 1985

Madhura Naada Mannar - 1986

Isai Peroli (Kartik Fine Arts) - 1991

Sangeeta Choodamani (Krishna Gana Sabha) - 1995

Chitravina Vidya Varidhi (Yarl Society, Perth, Australia) - 1996

Kumar Gandharva Award (Kumar Gandharva Foundation, Bombay) - 2000

Vadya Ratnakara (India Fine Arts, Austin, TX), 2002

Lifetime Achievement Award (Kanchi Foundation, India), 2003

Harvard Sangeet Award (Harvard University, USA), 2005

TTK Award (Music Academy, Madras, India), 2003

Sangeeta Sapta Saagara (Shanti Fine Arts, Chennai, India), 2005

Nalli Season Award (Nalli Foundation, Chennai, India), 2006

Ragalaya Sagara by Ragalaya Foundation, London, Jan 2008