U. Srinivas

U. Srinivas is to Indian classical music what Yehudi Menuhin is to Western classical music. Like Menuhin, U. Srinivas was a child prodigy. He started to play the mandolin, a little-known instrument in India, when he was only six years old.

Even though, at the time, the mandolin was an alien instrument in South Indian classical music, Srinivas learnt to play Carnatic ragas on the mandolin with so much ease and dexterity that his name has become synonymous in India with the mandolin and he is popularly called Mandolin Srinivas.

Srinivas uses a five string mandolin as opposed to the usual eight string – it is similar to the Western version, with the addition of a contact microphone to avoid the hollow rat-a-tat of guitar-like instruments.

Srinivas is one of the most popular music performers in India today appealing to a wide-ranging audience. He has performed around the world including Berlin, Paris, London, Barcelona, and Mexico.

On concert tours, Srinivas goes accompanied by his father, two mandolins and a suitcase full of gods. In the case where he keeps his mandolin are photographs of Hindu deities, Hanuman, the monkey-god taking precedence over all others. At the beginning of every concert Srinivas chants a long benedictory prayer to Hanuman, and whether at home or on tour, he will spend at least an hour in meditation and prayer.

Despite the critical accliam Srinivas has won all over the world, he says modestly that he still has a long way to go, “Where is the end to music? The more you learn, the more you want to know.”

U Srinivas passed away in September 2014 following a lung infection.

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