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Destiny's child

He is just eight, yet he composes music and plays the keyboard and the violin like a veteran. Meet K. Sathyanarayanan, whose debut album was released recently


Destiny's LIKE MOST eight-yearolds, K. Sathyanarayanan cannot sit still for more than a minute. He's a bundle of energy, his twinkling eyes darting here and there, as he fidgets with his hands. Well, he is eight all right, but there is something more to him. He composes music and plays the keyboard and the violin like a veteran.

The Standard III student of the Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan exudes confidence unusual for his age, just an hour before a concert, which marks the release of his first album, "Carnatic on Keyboards - Vol-I". His accompanists are Embar S. Kannan, his maternal uncle, on the violin, B. Ganapathiram on the mridangam and S. Karthick on the ghatam.

"Sathya started playing when he was just four," say his proud parents, Krishnababu and Lalitha. "In fact, he figures in the Limca Book of Records, 2003, for being the youngest Indian to pass the Grade IV Electronic Keyboard Examination of the Trinity College, London." Satya also heads Rhythm and Raga, a troupe comprising talented children, which specialises in instrumental, devotional and light music.

The boy, however, is oblivious to fame and records. "I love music," he says, a little shyly. But soon the shyness disappears and he animatedly tells you that he loves Mathematics, Tom and Jerry, paneer butter masala and gobi manchurian (not necessarily in that order), and Madhavan and Jyothika are his favourite stars. He reveals with the same zest that the songs he enjoys playing most are "Want to Buy My Pretty Flower" and Ilaiyaraja's "Poomalai". Trained under various tutors on the violin, piano and keyboard, Sathya was just five when he took his Grade II exam of the Trinity College, skipping his Grade I. He recounts his experience during his first exam. "I remember it was a large room and it was very cold. I could not understand what the examiner was telling me. I just played. When it was over, the man thanked me and I replied, `Welcome!'" Well, for the record, Sathya also skipped the Grade III.

The kid presented his first Carnatic concert when he was six, and been performing ever since. How many hours do you practise everyday, you ask him. "Good question." He nods wisely and turns to his mother, who replies for him, "Half an hour." "Actually, if I listen to any song three times, I can play it fully. Of course, my mother also teaches me. I remember the night when I first heard `Nagumomo'. It was eight o'clock. By nine, I could play the piece," says Sathya in a matter-of-fact manner, without a trace of pride.

As for the album, it is the first project of Serendipity Music Productions, part of South Africa-based Serendipity Tours and Travels, headed by Dinesh Naidoo. It was he who spotted Sathya's talent and decided to produce the album. "Many talented musicians go unnoticed because they do not have a proper platform. My aim is to discover and promote new talent," says Naidoo. He plans to present Sathya to audiences abroad and also promote his album in the West. Other projects with the young musician include an album dedicated to The Mother, Pondicherry, and a fusion between Carnatic and Western classical styles.

As for Sathyanarayanan, his future seems shaped. "Just like Shrinivas is identified with the mandolin, I want to be identi- fied with the keyboard," he tells you as you take leave.

SAVITHA GAUTAM

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