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O S Arun: fond of Hindi bhajans

From Delhi to Chennai

O S Arun, the young vocalist from Delhi, says you must enjoy what you do, and success will follow

"Hard work, perseverance, determination, confidence in oneself, grace of god, and most of all, enjoying what you do", these are the ingredients that go into making a successful Carnatic musician, says O S Arun. He stresses the last quality the most. "I enjoy what I do, and in fact, I would say that these are necessary qualities for success in any field, not just Karnatak music".

Arun, brother of the well-known singer O S Thiagarajan, inherits his commitment to music from his brother and his first guru and father, O V Subramanian.

Perhaps because of spending a good portion of his life in Delhi, Arun specialises in Hindustani bhajans and includes them his concerts.

"I am not trained in Hindustani classical but I sing Hindustani bhajans whenever I can, whether it is here in Chennai or when I am performing in the north," he told The Music Magazine.

"Arun" has a much more cosmopolitan ring to it than the name he was given, the traditional-sounding Vaidyanathan.

Arun qualified as a Visharad Purna from the Gandarva Mahavidyalaya, Delhi. He topped the Sangeetha Shironmani Diploma course in Karnatak music conducted by the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts at Delhi University. He has worked as head of the Department for Music in Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi.

As simple as the boy next door, Arun is one of those who believes in taking the best from different traditions of Karnatak music. After the grounding given by his father, he went to his brother for things like raga alapana. And he has evolved his own style of singing, listening to a lot of cassettes of the stalwarts. "I have my own style of singing. I take the best from other vocalists. I listen to a lot of music", he says.

His talent and sonorous voice combine with his stage presence to make his concerts a good experience. His vitality is there for all to see. It has been said that Arun's music combines sound grammar and warmth of feeling. Having a wide repertoire of kritis, he has developed a following of his own.

Arun has performed widely, both in India and abroad. His first performance was in 1985 at a government youth festival in Delhi. He has sung at many prestigious halls in India, and also at the Sanskrit Festival in London, World Adelaide Festival (Australia), International Delima Festival (Mauritius), and at the United Nations on Human Rights Day. He was one of the performers during the Delhi Qutb Festival, and provoking some surprise, at the 45th Independence Day in Kabul, Afghanistan.

What this list tell us is that he has found acceptance from a crosssection, even crossing barriers of nationality and religion.

His appearance as Kovalan, the character from the Tamil classic Silappadikkaram, in an opera staged at the Singapore Arts Festival, won accolades from the people and the press.

Arun has participated in several fusion performances, something frowned upon by die-hard traditionalists. Refusing to be put off by adverse comments, he travels to Canada every year to collaborate with jazz musicians. Arun also sings for commercial films and has composed music for various private albums, video films, documentaries and ballet productions. His was the first Tamil ghazal album. Arun has also established a choir that he is very proud of. "The choir maintains the pristine grammar of carnatic music," he says.

He has established a fine arts forum called 'Alapana'.

"Music is a fulfilling art. It gives bliss. Singing without sacrificing sanctity elevates the audience. I always give my best and am satisfied with what I do. While I am open to criticism, I would never want to get into a competitive circle", says he.

Ambujam Anantharaman
(with inputs from ark commercials)

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