16:30 – 18:00
B. Vijayagopal Trio (India)
Tickets: 100 DKK / stud: 50 dkk
Organised in collaboration with CPH World Music Festival and The Indian Embassy of Denmark.
Copenhagen World Music Festival @ KoncertKirken is supported by Statens Kunstfond, Koncertkirken, Københavns Musikudvalg, Korea Art Management, Dansk Musik Forbund, DJBFA – Composer and Songwriters Production Pool and Kodas Cultural Funds.
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At the age of four when his father asked B. Vijayagopal whether he wanted to learn a musical instrument, he immediately said yes. And when he was given a flute, it was more like a toy for young Vijay. Eventually that toy has taken him to great heights.
Today, he is a name to reckon with among flautists in the country. That’s not all. Even as he is busy with classical performances, he has placed himself comfortably in the world of film music as well, the latest being playing for A.R. Rahman’s composition ‘Rasali’ in Gautham Menon’s upcoming flick, Acham Enbathu Madamaiyada.
Friday Review caught up with the flautist while he was in the capital city to perform at a concert organised by Indian Council of Cultural Relations at Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan. “Music keeps my life interesting. It has been a great journey,” says Vijay.
It was only four years ago that the 35-year-old decided to concentrate on music. “There came a point when I had to take a call between music and dentistry and music was the obvious choice. One reason is that there are a lot of doctors, while there can’t be too many musicians. It is a rare breed, you know. Also I had satisfied myself academically,” says the gold medallist in orthodontics with a chuckle.
Music was all around him while growing up in Kumbakonam. His grandfather G. V. Krishnamoorthy, a musicologist, and his aunt, G.K. Rajeshwari, a vocalist, were his first gurus. “Many great musicians used to frequent our home. So I didn’t have to look elsewhere for inspiration. I started my training as a vocalist and later when my father gave me the flute I got interested in it. I had a wheezing problem as a kid and many advised that playing the flute was the best exercise to deal with it. I am happy that I am the first in my family to take up music as a profession and my family is extremely proud about that,” he adds.
He shifted to Chennai for further training in flute upon the advice of Lalgudi Jayaraman. Vijay has learnt from T. R. Navaneetham, T.S. Sankaran and K.V. Ramanujam.
So how was it to grow up as a child prodigy? “I was never treated like one. There has been a nice blend of music and academics. There was no pressure,” he says.
The turning point was when he played in front of mridangam maestro Umayalpuram Sivaraman and the legend told him ‘I will accompany you.’
“That changed my career. Till then I had never thought about becoming a full-time musician. I have done over 60 concerts with him till now. I also did my first CD, ‘Call of the Bamboo’, with him,” says Vijay. Now that he is fully into music, Vijay says that he can’t afford to be in a comfort zone. There is always the challenge of giving something new to the audience. That is why he has come up with a new style of playing the instrument, especially new kind of blowing and fingering techniques.
He also connects with his audience via social media. “CDs don’t sell these days. They are more like visiting cards. Social media is quite useful in reaching out to music buffs. Although I am not putting it to optimal use, I do post my videos and information about my concerts on my website. Also, during my concerts I make it a point to give an idea about music to the audience. I tell them about Indian classical music, ragas, swaraprastharas…,” he says.
His musical experiments include collaborating with other musicians, especially through jugalbandis. “They are great fun. We don’t plan anything, it is more of an organic process. One artiste I enjoy playing with is flautist Rakesh Chaurasia. There is a lot of difference between how they play flute in North India. It is more on a lower octave compared to Carnatic music. So it makes a nice blend when we play together. Moreover, he is a chilled out person and we share a good musical understanding. I have also played with Ganesh-Kumaresh, my mentors. In fact, it was Ganeshji who introduced me to Rahman and thus I got Acham Enbathu…,” he says.
He has worked with composers such as G. V. Prakash, Iman, Harris Jayaraj and Sean Roldan and has sung and played the flute in ‘Spirit of Chennai’, a flood relief anthem brought out by actor Vikram.
“I enjoy playing film music since it teaches you a lot, helps you discover new things and make yourself different. I do play film music in my concerts, depending on the kind of audience I am playing for,” he says.
His singing has taken a backseat, for he doesn’t “want to get confused.” However, he is looking forward to debuting as a playback singer.
In addition, he is putting together a contemporary music band. He is already part of two bands, Oxygen and DAV Project. His second CD and a series of concerts across the globe too are in the pipeline.
“Exciting times are ahead for me as a flautist. It is a dying art. Singing is fairly easy, whereas playing this instrument is physically demanding. So, I am happy when I find youngsters playing the flute,” he signs off.