Early this year, in February, at the annual Spring Festival of Music organised by Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira, Bangalore, he was unusually missing at the entrance of the auditorium. He always stood there, ushering listeners in with his characteristic warmth. It was a surprise to see him seated in the first row, even before the audience had filled into the auditorium. The man who had dedicated his life to music for over six decades, said: “my heart has become weak, I don’t have energy like before.” Three months later, on May 13, 2023, Krishna Prasad had passed away.
Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira (SRLKM) came into existence on January 15, 1955 on Sannidhi Road in Bangalore. Vedanta Iyengar, Krishna Prasad’s father, passionate about music, was a respected teacher and scholar. A man who believed in serving the people, he won the Public Service Medal from the Maharaja of Mysore in 1949.
After Vedanta Iyengar passed away, his children continued to serve the cause of music. As a result, Krishna Prasad and his two sisters, G.V. Ranganayakamma and G.V. Neela, took charge of running the institution established by their father. While Krishna Prasad had a day job at the Town Planning department and dedicated all his evenings to music, his sisters taught music and performed concerts. They spent all they earned to music.
Krishna Prasad brought the best artistes of Carnatic music to Bangalore. Apart from the Spring festival, SRLKM conducts a host of other programmes which include regular concerts and lecdems. From Semmangudi Srinivas Iyer to Maharajapuram Santhanam and from M.S. Subbulaksmi to the present day musicians, the Institution has hosted them all. SRLKM instituted an award for young musicians, Raga Laya Prabha and Sangeeta Vedanta Dhureena for senior artistes. Krishna Prasad also organised Tyagaraja Aradhane on January 26 every year and invited veteran and young artistes.
Ten years ago, Krishna Prasad launched a music magazine, Lalitha Kala Tharangini, and hoped to create a rich source of information for the future generations. . And rightly so, the painstakingly well-produced magazine has made its way to the archives of important institutions, including the Music Academy in Chennai. “I had casually mentioned to Krishna Prasad that I quit my job and was hoping to spend my time in music,” recalls Anand, little knowing that Krishna Prasad would come to his home the following day and make him the editor of the magazine. “I have learnt a lot in this journey,” he says. In the last ten years, the magazine has produced special editions on legendary musicians. Krishna Prasad made valuable suggestions and proofread every issue before it went to print. “He was very particular about quality and expenditure hardly mattered to him,” says Anand.
“Each time I came to visit him and left for home, he would say, ‘you must take care of the Mandira’. It rings in my ears,” says M.R. Yoganand, Krishna Prasad’s nephew, and treasurer of SRLKM.
Krishna Prasad could go to any lengths to connect people and music. Hope Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira continues to promote Carnatic music.