Ramana Balachandhran is a Veena player in the Carnatic tradition. Son of Carnatic music practitioners Balachandhran and Sharanya, his talent for music was noticed when at a young age he could identify ragas and point out nuances.
Considered a prodigious talent, he was directly awarded an A grade by All India Radio (AIR, the only grading authority in India) after auditioning at the age of sixteen. This is an honor that has been bestowed on very few musicians in AIR’s history of more than seventy-five years. Madras Music Academy, the iconic and venerated music institution in Chennai waived age requirements to invite him to be part of its annual concert series when he was sixteen.
Ramana started learning vocal and Veena under his mother and then pursued Veena under Vidushi B Nagalakshmi (granddaughter of Karaikudi Sri Subbarama Iyer). He also took his initial Mridangam lessons under Vid Satyakumar and Vid Nagendra. He learnt vocal music from Sangita Kala Acharya, Smt Neela Ramgopal, Mridangam from Laya Kala Pratibha Mani, Sri Ranganatha Chakravarthy; he currently learns from his father Sri Balachandhran.
style or bani
Ramana’s bani or style is now acknowledged to be unique and his own adaptation.
He brings on the veena, considered a tough instrument, exceptional phrasal clarity that exposes microtonal and curvy nuances that characterize a deeper interpretation of raga-centric music; he discovers deeper structures of traditional and contemporary ragas as he interprets them spontaneously. Ragas are interpreted in a variety of different moods & structures, as he explores them in alapana and swaraprasthara. He has also discovered a number of playing techniques that help him stretch the boundaries of clarity and precision; his renditions that involve heightened repose while retaining phrasal richness are looked forward to by keen music lovers.
Being a trained percussionist too, he brings in laya or percussive complexities into his elaborations and is adept at Ragam Thanam Pallavi (RTP, a structure that epitomises simultaneous melody and rhythm complexities in Carnatic music) renditions; also, the possibilities of musicality that come at very high tempos are an acknowledged contribution.
His thanams follow several unique structures, and their expressive richness is a highlight in his RTPs.
Performances and compositions
Ramana is one of the most sought after instrumentalists in the country now. He has performed nearly four hundred solo veena concerts in many of the leading concert halls,chambers and music festivals across the country. At the age of sixteen, he completed a 24-concert spring tour of the USA in 2018. He has also been the youngest vainika to have performed on many of the stages in India and abroad. He is a regular performer in various sabhas part of the Chennai December Music Festival.
At the age of fourteen, he was invited to perform at Rashtrapathi Bhavan (official residence of the Honorable President of India), in the presence of the Honorable President, Honorable Prime minister, Cabinet and African Heads of state. He has performed for a number of prestigious institutions throughout the country.
He has also performed a number of jugalbandis/duets with various leading artists.
Ramana’s thillana compositions have been well received by contemporary musicians. He also tunes lyrics of other composers and publishes those periodically; furthermore, he’s sought after by dancers that look for unique musical tastes.
awards and recognitions
Invited to perform at Rashtrapathi Bhavan, New Delhi in the presence of Honorable President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Honorable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, the Heads of African nations and the Indian Cabinet in October 2015.
Awarded “Smt Lalitha Padmanabhan Endowment” award for Veena from Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai in December 2015
Granted age waiver (when aged fourteen), by Prasar Bharati and Director General of AIR for audition appearance in AIR
Awarded “Prof G T Narayana Rao” award instituted by Bhramara Trust of Y.T and Madhuri Thathachari, Mysore on the 26th of March, 2016
Awarded “Kalavanta 2016” by Karnataka Fine Arts Council for winning the Best Main artist (Instrumental) in Kalavanta International Youth Festival for artists under age thirty on the 29 th of May, 2016. He’s the youngest winner of this award
Awarded “Raga Laya Prabha” by Sri Rama Lalitha Kalamandira, Bangalore, in June 2016
Awarded “Emani Sankara Sastri Sashtiyapthapoorthi Award” by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai in August 2016
Awarded Dr. M S Subbulakshmi Fellowship grant by Shanmukhananda Sabha, Mumbai in September 2016
Awarded “Annapurna Ravindran Endowment Award” by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai in April 2017
Youngest after Mandolin Shrinivas and Flute Shashank to be invited to perform at Madras Music Academy in 2018
Auditioned by All India Radio at age sixteen and awarded ‘A’ grade directly,an honour last bestowed on Mandolin U Shrinivas
Chosen as one of the 20 change-makers for the year 2020 by the Deccan Herald