(Last Updated on : 23/09/2014)
Uppalapu Srinivas was a legendary mandolin
player and composer who represented the Carnatic
musical tradition of Southern India. He debuted as a child prodigy in the year 1978 and earned recognition as Mandolin Srinivas. He performed extensively over the next four decades throughout the world in collaboration with noted artists like Michael Brook, Michael Nyman and John McLaughlin. His contributions in the musical arena of India were honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri
by the Government of India
in 1998 and with the Sangeet Natak Akademi
Award in 2009. He was an ardent devotee and follower of Sri Sathya Sai Baba
and on many occasions had performed before him.
Early Life of Uppalapu Srinivas
Uppalapu Srinivas was born in Palakol in Andhra Pradesh
on 28th February 1969. When he heard the mandolin being played at a concert that he attended along with his father, U. Satyanarayana, at the age of six, he developed a penchant for mandolin and tried hands on his fathers mandolin. His father soon realised his talent being trained in classical music himself, and thus began imparting training to his son with a new mandolin for him. In the year 1976, at the age of seven, he was introduced to the western music by Guitarist Vasu Rao. He also received training from Rudraraju Subbaraju who had also imparted training to Shrinivas father and Vasu Rao. Rudraraju Subbaraju did not know the nuances of mandolin, so he just used to sing and Srinivas accompanied him on mandolin. Subsequently Uppalapu Srinivas shifted to with his family to Chennai
, the city of a number of Carnatic musicians. U. Rajesh, his younger brother is also a noted mandolin player who often used to accompany him at concerts.
Career of Uppalapu Srinivas
Uppalapu Srinivas made his public debut in 1978 in the Thyagaraja Aradhana festival at Gudivada in Andhra Pradesh. Following this, at the age of 12, in 1981 he performed in a public concert in Chennai which took place during the December music season of the Indian Fine Arts Society. He began his ventures with acoustic mandolin and later shifted his focus to the electric mandolin. In his conception, the latter made the long notes clearly audible. Uppalapu Srinivas was credited to be the first musician who used electric mandolin in Carnatic music. He was also known to modify a difficult electric western instrument in which he replaced the traditional eight strings with five strings for suiting the Carnatic pitch along with the gamakas and raaga
Although initially he faced a little reluctance on the part of audiences, he later received extensive acclamations from critics and masses alike. He started performing on a regular basis during December season of prestigious Madras Music Academy. In the year 1983 he performed at the Berlin Jazz Festival while in 1992 he played at the Olympic Arts Festival, Barcelona. He released a fusion album with Michael Brook in 1995 which became very successful. John McLaughlin got impressed when he met with this 14-year old child prodigy in the Berlin Jazz Fest. In 1997 he thus asked Uppalapu Srinivas to join him as he revived his group Shakti as Remember Shakti, on a tour along with acclaimed artists like the percussionist V. Selvaganesh, Shankar Mahadevan
and Zakir Hussain
. As he toured throughout the world with his performances, his name became synonymous with the instrument and he became popular as Mandolin Srinivas.
Uppalapu Srinivas had also composed music along with his brother and had also worked on the fusion of Carnatic and western music. The brothers had also played with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, pianist from Kerala
Stephen Devassy and French electric bass player Dominique Di Piazza. They together collaborated with John Mclaughlin for the recording of the album titled Samjanitha, also featuring George Brook, Sivamani and Zakir Hussain. Uppalapu Srinivas had recorded more than 40 albums encompassing varied genres like world music, jugalbandis
with Hindustani musicians, Carnatic music solos and many more. He also recorded CD of Carnatic compositions called Ilaiyaraajas Classics in Mandolin, composed by Illayaraja
. He had performed with revered artists of the world. He had also established a music school known as the Srinivas Institute of World Music (SIOWM) in Chennai.
Achievements of Uppalapu Srinivas
Uppalapu Srinivas had received a number of awards for his contributions. In addition to Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, he received Sangeeta Ratna; Sanatan Sangeet Puraskar from Sangeet Sanskriti; Raja-Lakshmi Award from Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation, Chennai in 1985; Mysore
T. Chowdiah Memorial National Award; Sangeetha Bala Bhaskara by Sangeetha Kalanidhi M. S. Subbulakshmi
; National Citizens Award, 1991 by The President of India; Special TTK Award and Best Artist Award by the Madras Music Academy in 1983 and 1993; and Rajiv Gandhi
National Integration Award.
Personal Life of Uppalapu Srinivas
Uppalapu Srinivas was married to U. Sree, the daughter of an IAS officer, since 1994 but they got divorced in 2012. The couple was blessed with a son, Sai Krishna.
Death of Uppalapu Srinivas
Uppalapu Srinivas underwent a liver transplant and was recovering. On 18th of September 2014 complications arose and he died on 19th September 2014 at Apollo Hospital, Chennai owing to liver failure.