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Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna

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Biography

Dr. Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna is one of southern India's most influential vocalists and composers. Known for the optimism and clarity of his three-octave vocals, Balamuralikrishna has consistently displayed a mastery of classical musical traditions of India and has composed more than 400 pieces. In addition to performing more than 18,000 concerts throughout the world, Balamuralikrishna has released more than 250 cassettes in his native country. According to Swarmi Chimayanda, when you listen to Balamuralikrishna's music, "you can realize what the crazy groupies felt in their ecstasy of divine love."

A native of Sankaraguptan, a small village in Rojolu Taluk in the East Godvari District of Andhra Prodesh, Balamuralikrishna inherited his musical skills from his parents. His father, Pattabiramayya, played flute, violin, and veena, and, his mother, Suryakantamma, played veena. His mother died when he was just 15 days old, however, and he was raised as an infant by his maternal aunt, Subhamma. Relocating to Vijayawada at the age of two, he began to study music with his father. When he showed an aptitude for music, his father sent him to study with Parupalli Ramakrishna Pantulu. Balamuralikrishna made his public debut when he performed during Sadguru Arandhana Utsava at the age of eight, a felicitation to Ramakrishna's guru, Sri Susarla Dakshinamoorthy, in Vijayawada. Leaving school during the sixth grade, Balamuralikrishna began to pursue music full-time. By the age of 15, he was known throughout India and had composed 72 Melakarta ragas.

Balamuralikrishna has worked extensively with India's radio stations. In the late '60s, he served as music producer for the Vijayawada and Hyderabad All-India radio station and launched an early morning show of devotional readings, "Bhakthi Ranjani." He served, simultaneously, as the principal of the Government Music college in Vijayawada. Transferring to the All-India radio station in Madras, he settled in the city where he continues to reside.

A score of awards and titles have been bestowed upon Balamuralikrishna throughout his career. These include an honorary Ph.D., D.Sc., and D.Lit. certificates from Andhra University, Jawaharial Nehru Technological University, and Sri Verkateswara University and an honorary "first citizen" award from Vijayawad. In 1978, Balamuralikrishna was named "Sangeetha Kalanidhi." He received the award as "Wisdom man of the year" in 1992. Four years later, he was named "Naada Maharishi" by the Nrityala Aesthetics Society.

Balamuralikrishna has been equally successful with film. He received a national award as "best playback singer" for his participation in the film Hamsageeth and as "best music director" for the film Madhvacharya. Balamuralikrishna has used his influence as a musician to start several institutes including the Academy of Performing Arts and Research in Switzerland. He established the MBK Trust as a vehicle for fostering art and research in music theory. A dance and music school is operated by the MBK Trust in Vipanchee.

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