Teachers: Smt. Madhubala Chawla, Pt. Vasantrao Kulkarni, Pt. Babanrao Haldankar, Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande.
Scholarships: Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre’s Guru Shishya scholarship (1989-94) and Ganavardhan, Pune (1993), Sajan Milap (1994-1996), Special Prize by the Music Academy, Chennai for her performance during the Annual Festival of 1998.
Performances: Highlights of her performance career – National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai, Dadar MAtunga Cultural Centre, Sangeet Samrat Alladiya Khan Mahotsav, (All Mumbai), ITC-SRA (Kolkata), India International Centre, New Delhi, Saptak Archives (Ahmedabad)
In her words…
My first teacher was the well known singer, Smt. Madhubala Chawla. I went to her in my early teens to learn bhajans and ended up getting initiated into the beauteous world of Khayal. People like her are almost impossible to get in our lives. I was immensely lucky to have had her pushing me gently like a mother would. Since she was not my mother, I also listened to her!
Under her guidance, I passed the Visharad exam (equivalent to a B.A. degree) of the Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Maavidyalaya exam with a first class.Coming under the tutelage of Pt. Vasantrao Kulkarni was another turning point in my life. A beloved and prolific teacher who taught from his 2nd floor room in Shivaji Park, Dadar, Mumbai and whom Pt Bhimsen Joshi called Dadar ka Dada, Pt Kulkarni was among the most highly regarded Gurus. He himself had enviable taleem (training) under Pt. Anant Manohar Joshi of Gwalior Gharana and later from Pt. Jagannath Buwa Purohit and Ustad Khadim Hussain Khan both of Agra. His approach to teaching was student specific and he let me develop my style that I had already gained under Madhuji’s guidance. I also won prestigious scholarships of the Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre and Gaanvardhan while his student.
Later I had the immense fortune of learning from Pt Babanrao Haldankar, a doyen of the Agra and Jaipur gharanas. A highly respected guru, he had an amazing collection of traditional compositions some of which he taught me. I continue to interact with Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande, disciple of Pt Kumar Gandharva, for extending my repertoire and knowledge of Khayal.
Thus I have been moulded by gurus from Agra, Gwalior and to some extent Jaipur gharanas and have been encouraged by them to craft my own style.
Awards and Recognition
- Prestigious scholarships for advanced training in Khyal from Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre, Mumbai (1990-95), Sajan Milap, Mumbai (1994-96) Gaanavardhan, Pune (1993)
- University Gold Medal, University of Mumbai, for ranking first at the M.A exam
- First class in Sangeet Visharad of Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya
- Citation from Ganavardhan, Pune
- Special committee award during her concert at The Music Academy, Chennai, during the December season 1998, a rare gesture by an institution dominated by Carnatic music
- Press and audience appreciation for command over form, during a concert of the Amrut Mahotsav, 1993, where she sang before an audience of 5000 people just before the great Pt. Bhimsen Joshi performed.
- Special word of appreciation by the legendary Pt. Bhimsen Joshi at the Sawai Gandharva festival: Lakshmi had provided vocal accompaniment to renowned dancer– actor Shobana and had sung in both styles of Carnatic and Hindustani during the concert. The great musician told her “you sang well” – words that she cherishes.
Concerts and Recordings
A seasoned performer with many acclaimed concerts to her credit, Lakshmi has performed at various prestigious forums in India and the US, an illustrative list being:
- National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai
- Dadar Matunga Cultural Center, Mumbai
- ITC-Sangeet Research Academy (SRA), Kolkata
- India International Centre, New Delhi
- Gaanavardhan, Abhijnana Mandal, Pune
- Sangeet Samrat Alladiya Khan Sangeet Samaroh, Mumbai
- The Music Academy, Chennai
- Fundraising concert at Somasala, San Fransisco
- Collaborated with renowned dancer/actress Sobhana Natarajan, for a thematic fusion of Hindustani music and Bharatanatyam. The endeavour was specially appreciated by the legendary Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, who also complimented Lakshmi on her singing in this thematic program
She has given private performances in memorable mehfils such as the annual soiree of the Maharaja of Dungarpur
“Inspiring Styles : Dr. Lakshmi Sriram’s expertise in and love for both Hindustani and Carnatic systems, underscored their beauty.”
(P.S. Krishnamurti, The Hindu)
“Lakshmi Sreeram is one of the few vocalists to have mastered both Hindustani and Carnatic traditions…Lakshmi Sreeram is a shining example of National Harmony”
(Amarendra Dhaneshwar, Time Out Mumbai)
“Lakshmi made a good presentation of the ragas Miyan ki Sarang and Bhairav Bhatiyar. She has found sound moorings in classical music. Her style of singing (gayaki) is the result of considerable thinking…Her swaras are leisurely and soft while her taan-s are forceful.”
(Alka Joglekar, Maharashtra Times)
“Lakshmi’s Khayal renditions…provided ample evidence of her fruitful studentship…she sang them all in a sonorous, well trained voice and with much aplomb and unction… showed a good awareness of design and proportion with the right emphasis on the vadi and samvadi awaras and precision of taala and laya.”
(Mohan Nadkarni, The Times of India)
“Lakshmi’s singing is not bound within the constraints of any one gharana and has its own stylistic speciality…. She has a well-trained voice and in her delineation of raga-s there is authenticity of swaras and a balanced use of words. Besides, her singing has a serene and tranquil quality.”
(Madanlal Vyas, Navabharat Times)
“The second one was two compositions in Nand, a rarely heard raag in this part of the country…. Her voice control, particularly in the drut was simply astonishing. That she could infuse melody even in that segment only went to prove her capability….The toast of the evening was Bageshri. Lakshmi did not spare any effort to showcase its intrinsic beauty. The cascading phrases were an aural treat….. Laced with intricate swaras, sometimes delicately poised, Lakshmi proved that she was adept at sargam too.”
(V. Balasubramanian, The Hindu.)