Does the name Aathira Krishna sound familiar? If you have the ear for Indian classical music, and your preference is the Indian violin, you must have heard her name at least if not the golden notes that her violin produces. For those who have not heard her name, she is a prodigy of the current generation, a sensational violinist from India, who has been acclaimed internationally.
Great achievements at a tender age
L. Aathira hails from Kerala, is the daughter of Shri K. C. Krishna Pillai, a noted Veena Vidwan and vocalist himself, is the granddaughter of the illustrious Vidwan Shri Gopala Pillai, a noted musician associated with the Tanjore tradition of Carnatic music. With such an enviable lineage, no wonder the child flowered and matured in playing the violin from a very young age and her fame today has reached new heights.
Aathira Krishna has played the Carnatic violin non-stop solo for 32 hours in an international concert and this feat has got her into the Guinesss Book of World Records. Playing across foreign shores in numerous concerts, she automatically became the cultural ambassador for India, involving herself in lec-dems and violin solo concerts.
Aathira’s early life
Born to the Sri K. C. Krishna Pillai and Smt. S. Leela Kurup, Athira started by singing vocal Carnatic music at a very tender age by hearing her maestro father’s singing and repeating the musical phrases that came from his mouth. The toddler was encouraged further by her illustrious grandfather who noting her inherent leanings and the intricacies of South Indian classical music that she had somehow inherited from her father, gave her intensive training at a very young age, that soon enough paid rich dividends.
Genius knows no age
An environment that created her interest in classical music and nurtured her inborn talent, Aathira switched over to playing the Indian violin at the age of eight. Naturally she was hailed a child prodigy, whose acquired skills would soon take her on a journey of fame and fortune. At age nine with the tutelage of her grandfather under her belt, the classical training in singing and music in addition from her father, she embarked upon a career in solo-playing of the Indian violin. A confidence almost unheard of, a maturity beyond her years she started her violin concerts, playing to international audiences.
The extraordinary feats of Aathira across time
- Soon after she started playing solo violin, she acquired the title “Princess of the violin” for her immaculate playing, that fetched her the rare honour of being invited to perform at the Rashtrapathi Bhawan, twice. Once by the ex-first Lady, Smt. Usha Narayanan, wife of the late President, K.R.Narayanan, while he was in office, and who termed her as “The Musical Gem of India”. The other time she was invited, was by the then President, Dr. Abdul Kalam, on his 74th birthday celebration, which caused him to say that “it was the best birthday present he had ever received”.
- In 2001, as a child prodigy representing Indian classical music, Aathira presented a paper presentation on “Violin in South Indian Classical Music” for the prestigious International Children’s Assemblyheld at New Delhi.
- In 2002, Aathira once again had a rare honour of presenting a unique thematic ‘World Music Night’ incorporating music genres of more than 20 nations for the year-long Millennium Celebrations in Kazakizhtan, aiming at integration through music in the new millennium.
- In 2003, Aathira achieved the prestigious title of Guinness World Record Holder for the longest non-stop South Indian classical violin playing at a concert. She mesmerized the audience with her flawless playing at the concert dedicated to global peace and harmony for 32 long hours. Titled ‘Nadhabrahma’, this rendition was also a tribute to her eminent grandfather. The same feat additionally fetched her a title in the acclaimed Limca Book of Records as well.
- Aathira was among the youngest of speakers for the Lecture Demonstration Section of Internal Music Festival in Russia on the topic “VIOLIN IN INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC”.
- In 2005, Aathira was specially invited by the Mayor of Menden, Germany to perform at the prestigious international music festival Jazz Meets Classics.
Athira also became the first Indian classical musician ever to perform at the famed 1000-year-old church at Kaiserwerth, Germany.
The immense stature of a young Aathira
Aathira has had the rare fortune of exchanging musical notes with the likes of musical giants like Yehudi Menuhin, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Balamurali Krishna, Pandit Jasraj etc. The legendary Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna has conferred the title ‘Violin Queen’ on her.
Her playing is enjoyed by layman and connoisseur alike and lauded for its divine qualities as unique, sublime, mesmerizingly beautiful to hear. Her command over the strings with bow and fingers is so very complete that each and every performance is replete with meaningful melody, sweetness and depth. In fact the swiftness with which she plays and the flawless tunes that she strings are simply astounding for a girl so young. Blending of her knowledge of western classical violin techniques to her Indian classical playing, she is also known for her highly advanced skills in playing the violin in a spiritual and virtuoso manner. A virtuoso despite her young age, she has entertained and enthralled audiences across the world including performances for prestigious International Music Festivals in India and abroad including Russia, Muscat, Doha, the Middle East, Germany, Behrin, Kirgiztan, Singapore, Kazakhstan etc.
Aathira has also given numerous concerts and lecture demonstrations on Indian classical music at numerous World Music festivals.
Her list of awards and recognitions is long and well-deserved. But for one who has achieved so much by way of prestige and honour, they pale into insignificance. She has travelled far and wide and achieved so many laurels, that they would put even an accomplished professional musician in the shade. The media has followed her since the day she has first performed on stage, but there is only good to write about her.
“Heart warming Concert by Indian Child Prodigy steals the show”, “Athira, a sensation in Violin”, “Violin Queen” are just a few of numerous headlines or warm comments made about her.
An endearing Aathira
Aathira is a firm believer and advocate of music being used in therapy. Some time back she gave a three hour performance for the mentally challenged in Thiruvananthapuram. The psychiatrists observed that the patients were calm and the pulse rates were normal. Such was the choice of compositions and the manner in which it was executed that the audience relished it mentally.
The genius that is Aathira, loves reading, writes poetry and also listens to music when she can. But playing on her violin takes precedence over everything else.
An Aathira is born once in one’s life time. A rarity, a phenomenon, a creation that the Lord has blessed specially. Blessed are her parents and kin who have the fortune to have her in their midst. Blessed are we when we are able to hear the golden notes of her violin, experience the divinity in her compositions. For Aathira, it is a life to be lived, a devotion in music to be nurtured, the fulfillment of a dream to be accomplished.