Violinists V.S. Narasimhan and Hemanthraj Muliyil, Cellist V.R.
Sekar and B. J. Chandran who plays the viola get together often to
rehearse and give performances in many parts of the country. All
members who are active in their professional life as musicians
playing for the films find time to meet and practice serious music.
Madras during the eighties boasted of two groups which performed
western music regularly. One was the Madras Philharmonic and Choral
Society Orchestra (MPCS) and the other The Madras Chamber Orchestra
(MCO).MCO used to be very active with V.S.Narasimhan as its leader
and performed regularly until (1985) when it ceased to exist due to
crisis that struck the film music industry at that time. With little
options available to play classical music, V.S. Narasimhan, Sekar,
Chandran and later Hemanthraj Muliyil started meeting whenever they
get time to play quartets.
Although all members are full-time film musicians, Sekar who plays
the Cello says it is out of love for western classical music and the
joy of playing chamber music which has made this quartet a dream
come true for us While V.S.Narasimhan feels that - although the main
aim of this group is to establish MSQ as one of the finest in India,
it is also our dream to make this group more experimental. One step
in this direction has been made possible by Narasimhan himself. A
talented composer himself, Narasimhan has written music for the
group using ideas based on Indian classical music and combining it
with Western harmonic principles.
V.S. Narasimhan: Narasimhan belongs to a family of musicians. His
father, a Gottuvadyam (a stringed instrument like the Veena but
without frets) Vidwan, initiated Narasimhan into South Indian
Classical Music on violin. He took his music training in Western
classical style on the violin from Mr. A. L' Armand.
He started working in the films in 1959 and has been acknowledged as
one for the finest in business. His association with the famous
South Indian film composer Ilaiyaraaja has brought many laurels to
him. Particularly in a non-film album called "How to Name it" which
was released in 1987. The music featured solo parts written for the
violin backed by a small orchestra. It featured experimental fusion
music of Carnatic, Folk and Western music.
Narasimhan has also written music for many films and private albums
He is currently working on some new compositions for the quartet.
Hemanthraj Muliyil: Right from his child-hood Hemanthraj had a great
passion for music. He had his early training from a violin teacher
in his hometown Calicut. He became a member of the Calicut Musical
Association and had the opportunity to sing tenor in the choir and
play the violin for many musical programs.
In 1984 he joined the South Indian Film industry in Madras as a
professional violinist and had played for many well known music
directors. He was a member of the Madras Philharmonic Society and
played the violin in the orchestra for a few years.
Hemanthraj is also specially skilled in the repairing of the
instruments. Madras String Quartet is happy to have Hemanthraj as
one of its members since June 2002.
B.J. Chandran: A talented player who plays for movies. His
involvement with the quartet over the years has sharpened his
playing and his perceptions about music and musical interpretations.
Chandran is basically a violinist; but the need to fill in the gap
of a viola player at the time of forming the quartet has made him
take up this new role. When asked about this shift, Chandran felt
that it is the experience of playing ensemble music outweighs other
choices and feels that he is comfortable playing viola.
V.R. Sekar: Son of one of the most popular South Indian classical
musician / composer Kunnakudi R. Vaidyanathan. Besides playing for
films, Sekar also has been involved with many private musical albums
of leading Indian composers like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ilayaraaja, A.
R. Rahman etc.
Sekar's enthusiasm for the Western Classical music has opened up new
areas in music like the beauty of playing ensemble and the dynamism
of the Cello and its deeper sounds that are only heard when one
plays pieces like the Cello sonatas of Bach.
He considers meeting the great Cellist Rostropovich for a "master
class" as one of his finest moments in his musical life. Being a
strong critic of bad technique and expressionless playing, Sekar
plays, listens and talks about music as though he is possessed.