R K Shriramkumar belongs to a family of eminent Carnatic musicians who hail from Rudrapatna, a little village on the banks of the river Kaveri in Karnataka, South India. His grandfather Vidvan Shri R K Venkatarama Shastry, a veteran violinist, was one of the most respected musicians of the music fraternity. His grand uncles Vidvan R K Narayanaswamy, Vidvan R K Ramanathan, Vidvan R K Srikantan, his uncles the ‘Rudrapatnam Brothers’, Vidvans R N Thyagarajan & R N Tharanathan,Vidvan R S Ramakanth, his aunts Vidushi Ratnamala Prakash and Vidushi R N Srilatha are all musicians of great repute.
Having had his initial lessons in violin playing from Vidushi Smt Savitri Satyamurthy, Shriramkumar was trained in vocal music and violin by his grandfather Shri R K Venkatarama Shastry. He later received guidance in violin from Vidvan Shri V V Subrahmanyam and in vocal music from Vidvan Shri D K Jayaraman. Born in Chennai on 4th October 1966 to Smt Kusuma Krishnamurthy and Shri R V Krishnamurthy, Shriramkumar began his concert career in 1981, performing his debut concert with Vidvan N. Vijay Siva on the auspicious day of Shankara Jayanti, and has since carved a niche for himself gaining much proficiency, acclaim, stature and popularity amongst musicians and music lovers alike. His skills were further honed through the association and learning he gained by accompanying the doyens of Carnatic music like Vidvan Shri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Vidushi Smt M S Subbulakshmi, Vidushi Smt D K Pattammal, Vidvan Shri D K Jayaraman, Vidvan Shri Palghat K V Narayanaswamy, Vidushi Smt T Brinda and others.
Shriramkumar’s concert experience includes performances for all the prestigious organizations in India like the Madras Music Academy, the All India Radio, Doordarshan, Kalakshetra, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the ICCR and other premier sabhas of Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruvanantapuram and other places.
Shriramkumar has traveled far and wide on many concert tours, participating in prestigious festivals and venues. These included performances during the many concert tours to North America (with many musicians – Smt Geetha Rajashekhar, Shri N Vijay Siva, Shri Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Shri K V Narayanaswamy, Shri N Ravikiran, Shri P Unnikrishnan, Shri R Suryaprakash, Rudrapatnam Brothers, Smt Bombay Jayashri, Smt S Sowmya, Smt Sudha Ragunathan, Shri T M Krishna, Smt Sangeetha Sivakumar and Malladi Brothers).
His performances during global tours include ones at:
• Tyagaraja Utsavam at Cleveland, Ohio (with Shri K V Narayanaswamy and others),
• Festival of India in Mauritius (with Shri S Balachander),
• Théâtre de la Ville in Paris (with Shri Sanjay Subrahmanyan),
• Asia festival at Helsinki (with Smt Bombay Jayashri),
• Städtische Musikakademie, Germersheim (with Smt S Sowmya),
• Tropen Theatre in Amsterdam (with Shri T M Krishna),
• SIFAS Festival at the Esplanade, Singapore (with Shri O S Thyagarajan, Smt Bombay Jayashri, Shri T M Krishna and Smt S Sowmya),
• Sydney Tyagaraja Utsavam (with Dr. M Balamuralikrishna and Shri T V Sankaranarayanan and others) and
• Kennedy Center, Washington DC (with Smt Priyadarsini Govind and Shri T M Krishna).
Besides being an accompanist par excellence who elevates the vocalist’s performance, Shriramkumar is also an accomplished soloist. He has extensively performed solo concerts including two concert tours to the United States in Fall 2009 and Spring 2012. These highly successful solo tours of his were hosted by Sankritilaya, Cupertino, CA and Pallavita, Fremont,CA respectively. The tours included highly appreciated and well-attended concerts at venues such as the Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation (Stroudsburg), Sruti (Philadelphia), Silambam (Phoenix), CMANA (New Jersey), SIMA (Los Angeles), SIFA (San Jose), Indian Fine Arts Academy (San Diego), CCMA (Columbus), CMAGA (Atlanta) and ShrI Venkateshvara temple of Greater Chicago (Chicago).
Alongside his busy performing schedule, Shriramkumar makes time to share his wisdom and experience through lecture demonstrations and talks. He has an intuitive grasp of musical, linguistic (particularly Samskrtam) and religious texts and hence a holistic approach to music deriving from all these streams. His lec-dems include panoply of insights encompassing melodic, rhythmic and linguistic highlights of compositions. He is sought after for his lucid and engaging presentations on Carnatic music that span a wide range of topics including “An insight into the sahitya and sangita of Shri Muttusvami Dikshitar’s compositions”, the Guruguha Vibhakti Krtis, Kamalamba Navavarana Krtis, the greatness of the Musical Trinity, the Caturdasha Ragamalika, “Translating vocal music into violin playing” and many more. The appeal of his presentations easily crosses all boundaries as demonstrated in his Fall 2013 lecture demonstrations at the Boyer College of Music and Dance at the Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania to an audience that included world music students and the school faculty.
A combination of musical insight, extensive repertoire, wisdom, and experiences, as well as fresh simplicity and humor draws many an upcoming musician to consider R. K. Shriramkumar as their mentor while they launch their musical career.
R. K. Shriramkumar is also one of the founders of YACM (Youth Association for Classical Music), a premier forum for the promotion of classical music amongst the youth.
R K Shriramkumar directed the music for a special television production on the Sringeri Sharada Pitham and has set to music many compositions of the Jagadgurus of Shri Sharada Pitham. The CDs entitled ‘Bhakti Sudha Tarangini’, Guru Suvarnamala’ (both rendered by Sringeri sisters, Smt Sharada, Smt Srilakshmi & Kum Bharati) and the ‘Sharada Stuti Manjari‘ (rendered by Smt Bombay Jayashri) contain many a collection of stotras and gitams composed by the Jagadgurus of Sringeri .
He has composed music for many dance productions, notable among them being the music to the verses of the Valmiki Ramayana for the production ‘Sita Vishlesha Trayam’ by the renowned Dr. Vyjayantimala Bali, compositions for ‘Sayujya’, a collaborative production by Smt Priyadarsini Govind & Shri T M Krishna, music for compositions in the productions by Silambam, Phoenix, a premier dance school conducted by Smt Srimathy Mohan in Phoenix, AZ and the music for ‘Madhaviya Shankara Digvijayam’, a production on the life and times of Shri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada by the Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation, Stroudsburg PA.
A recipient of many prizes in violin and vocal competitions including the All India Radio Prize, Shriramkumar has to his credit the ‘Yuva Kala Bharati’ award from Bharat Kalachar, Chennai, the ‘Kalki Krishnamurthy Memorial Award’ from the Kalki Krishnamurthy Trust, the ‘Nada Oli’ from Nada Inbam, Chennai, the ‘Vani Kala Sudhakara’ from Shri Tyagabrahma Gana Sabha, Vani Mahal, Chennai and the ‘Isai Peroli’ from Kartik Fine Arts, Chennai.
Shriramkumar has provided violin accompaniment in several commercial recordings and has had the blessed opportunity of participating in a very unique recording entitled ‘Divine Unison’ featuring the great veterans Shri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Smt M S Subbulakshmi. His commercial solo recording “Trividha” (produced by Charsur) is a mellifluous, thematic recording featuring the krtis of the Trinity on the Mother Goddess.
An alumnus of Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Senior Secondary School, Chennai, Shriramkumar graduated from the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, Chennai with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics.
Family & Friends
Value-based upbringing by his parents and the artistic ambiance that his home provided has kept Shriramkumar in good stead. His mother, an exemplary homemaker, played a pivotal role in shaping Shriramkumar’s endearing personality and career. His father, an engineer by profession, is an immense source of encouragement to Shriramkumar. His grandfather’s wisdom, musical insights and dignity have had a lasting influence on Shriramkumar, his music and his life.
Shriramkumar is happily married to Smt Akila Ganesan, an optometrist and a connoisseur of the arts whose meticulous care and unflinching support is the inspiring lifeline of his career. She presently works as the Senior General Manager at Sankara Nethralaya, a world-renowned center for eye care. Shriramkumar’s sisters Smt Srimathi Mani, Smt Srilakshmi Venkateshwaran, Smt Srimatangi Rajeevi, and their families continue to extend him their whole-hearted support and encouragement.
Shriramkumar has earned the goodwill and friendship of many people across the globe. The warmth of their affection continues to strengthen his motivation.