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Kalaimamani Guruvayur Dorai


A mridangist par excellence, attributes his inspiration to his sister Guruvayur Ponnammal who was a famous singer. He started his training at the age of 6 under the eminent mridangam vidwans Sri. Palghat Subba Iyer, Sri. E. P. Narayana Pisharody of Eranallur and later under Sri. Palani Subramaniam Pillai. The legendary Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar was the person Dorai was privileged to accompany at his arangetram at the age of 8. He started playing for concerts in Bangalore and Mysore and met Sri. Muthiah Bhagavathar at Mysore and got his blessings. He has accompanied all the eminent artists of the carnatic stage and very few others have had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with all the stalwarts in Carnatic including the rare combination of Nadaswaram and Mridangam when Dorai accompanied Nadaswara Chakravarthi T. N. Rajaratnam Pillai.

Dorai has played all over the world, received several honours, served as visiting faculty to institutions abroad. Performances at the Festivals of India in USA and USSR, the Tansen Festival, the Indian Music Festivals in France and West Germany are a few among the many concerts he has played, including most memorably, the first Festival of India in which he accompanied Bharat Ratna M. S. Subbulakshmi.

Dorai is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Kalaimamani title conferred by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu in 1990 and the title of Asthana Vidwan in 1991 from the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam to name a few. Several universities have had him as part of their visiting faculty: University of Washington (Seattle), Sydney University (Australia) and Western Michigan University-Kalamazoo, USA. He was Dean of the Temple of Arts, an international organization for the promotion of music and dance.