Celebrated Carnatic music legend and pioneer in the use of the mandolin in Indian classical music, U. Srinivas, also popularly recognized as 'Mandolin Srinivas' passed away at the young age of 45 in a Chennai hospital.
Mourning his death Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in his condolence message said, “Mandolin maestro's U. Srinivas dedication and long-standing contribution towards music will always be remembered for generations”.
The tragic news of U. Srinivas sent shock waves in the music world. Bharat Ratna and Nightingale of Indian Music, Lata Mangeshkar tweeted, “I was deeply grieved listening the death of Mandolin maestro's U. Srinivas’s death. He was a child prodigy.” She added, “I had the privilege of listening him play mandolin when he was merely 13 or 14 year old on TV. He was truly gifted because playing mandolin so brilliantly at such a tender age is no child’s play. May his soul rest in peace.”
Courteous, soft-spoken, unassuming, Srinivas was a simply man and let his mandolin do the talking. Music wizard A. R. Rahman stunned at the demise of mandolin genius in his tweet wrote, "Emotionally shaken to hear of Carnatic shining star Mandolin Shrinivasji's demise... May God bless him with happiness in the next world..."
Yet another music maestro Zakir Hussain, famed Tabla player pained at the loss of Srinivas tweeted, "Today mother India cries, today a part of Indian music died and we are orphaned, RIP my dear brother Mandolin Srinivas."
Born on Feb 28, 1969 in Palakolu, Andhra Pradesh, Srinivas was a child prodigy. He picked up his father's mandolin at the age of six and started playing it. He made his first public performance at the age of 9 when he played at the Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival in Gudivada. Since then, he performed at several music festivals, both nationally and internationally.
In his long career, he played with Indian greats artists such as Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain, while also collaborating with world music greats like John McLaughlin, Michael Brook, Trey Gunn, Nigel Kennedy, Nana Vasconcelos, and Michael Nyman.
In 1998, he was honoured with the Padma Shri award. He was also nominated for the Padma Bhushan but "grumbled" to his friends that he was not at all interested in the award race. Later in 2010, he was honoured with Sangeet Natak Academy Award.
Few may know that Srinivas was a favourite of the late Tamil Nadu chief minister, MG Ramachandran, who had first heard him perform at a wedding. "When MGR entered, someone told Srinivas to stop playing. But MGR came to the stage and told Srinivas to continue. He then instructed his attendants to make sure Srinivas played at all AIADMK party functions