When the car turned left into a muddy pathway, I wondered what kind of a place Nidle would be. Nestled among trees, away from the sound of traffic, “Karunbithil” is the family home of the renowned violinist Sri. Vittal Ramamurthy. Filled with curiosity, I breathed deep and took a whiff of the pure air. We were welcomed most warmly by the children who were attending this shibira (retreat), some of whom were attending this for the last several years. They greeted us with the most adorable songs.
The thatched space housed almost 200 children adjacent to this wonderful 100 year old house. It was filled with aunts, uncles, grandmothers and sisters actively working to get the food and kashayams ready for these children.
The children were all mostly from in and around Mangalore, Udupi, Kasargod, Dharmasthaa, Kateel and as far as New Jersey and Houston. Just 10 kilometers from Dharmasthala in Karnataka, Sri. Vittal Ramamurthy has been providing this excellent gurukulam for a week every year where these students of music are given an opportunity to learn from senior musicians and interact freely with them.
The list of musicians who have been to the shibira in the past is stunning. To think that these young minds have spent days learning from Lalgudi Jayaraman sir, Balamuralikrishna sir, Sivaraaman sir, V.V.S sir is jaw dropping.
It was a refreshing experience, sharing music with these bright and enthusiastic minds. I had the great company of Kumaresh ji, Abhishek Raghuram, Vittal Ramamurthy ji, V.V.Subrahmanyam Sir and many more wonderful musicians. Voice practice, krithi learning, quiz time, listening experiences, concerts, interactions were all interwoven into the activities of the children. All I thought about for the entire time I was there was just music and music! Ragas, krithis, voice techniques, young talents, korvais were all floating in the air along with the aromas of the Mangalore Sambar, Obattus and Kheer. The tasty and timely food for the children, the dedicated music time, the new bonds formed is something one can cherish for a lifetime.
Vittal Ramamurthy’s family has just opened its arms to welcome the music world to its home, thereby wanting to give back to their village what they experience in the world out there. The music, the concerts and the magic! How can we thank this family for giving this experience to the children and the musicians?
For me personally, it was a great learning curve. I was thrilled to see such great talent in that part of the world. I was overwhlemed by the dedicated purpose that the entire family has and the amount of things that can be accomplished in the world if it didn’t matter who got the credit.
The interest among people for classical music, their dedication and thirst for knowledge, which has made them travel for miles was heartwarming. It was a life size proof to show how music can bring people together. The different shades of the 7 notes stood above everything in the sky like a rainbow bringing smiles from within all of us.