Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar is a noted South Indian musician playing the flute. Mala Chandrasekhar was born to a musical family. Mala Chandrasekhar started learning from her aunt and mother Sikkil Sisters – Kunjumani & Neela. In playing style, Mala combines the strongest aspects of both Aunt Kunjumani’s clear classic lines with Mother Neela’s flair and expressiveness.
Mala imbibed through her mothers the flute artistry of their peternal uncle, Azhiyur Narayanaswamy Iyer and the rigorous rhythmic training given by their mrudungam playing father, Azhiyur Natesa Iyer. Other major influences on Mala’s playing are the expertise and repertoire of noted vocalist and teacher Radha Viswanathan and of Radha’s mother and guru M.S. Subbulakshmi whose family Mala joined by marriage.
Born in a reputed musical family on 23 August 1963, Mala started learning flute at the age of five from her gurus Padmasree Sangeetha Kalanidhi Smt Sikkil Neela (Mother) and Smt. Sikkil Kunjumani (Aunt).
Lessons progressed slowly until her 15th year when her parents decided to do go for her arangetram. This was done at “Sakthivel llam”, Mylapore (spiritual guru’s house Sri Mani Swamigal) in an unconventional manner with Sri. S.D. Sridhar on the violin and Sri Srimushnam.V. Rajarao on the Mridangam. Later Mala passed through auditions in all India radio for youth programme where she performed at regular intervals.
Mala joined the family of the legendary MSS through marriage on 20 June of that year. This indeed provided an additional mileage to attain perfection in her musical career. Besides the VVV ensemble, she also had the opportunity to perform with Sikkil Sisters as flute trio which helped me to improve her repertoire in the concert platform. In this way, Mala was very lucky to get the right kind of encouragement from her inlaws in her musical journey.
She studied in Rosary Matriculation School,Chennai. No one knew that Mala would play flute until she stepped into 7th standard. Mala was very shy and refused to participate in school cultural activities. Later, one of her teachers took the initiative and made her play a solo piece. This became an opening for Mala to participate in inter school music competitions. Mala’s most interesting subject in school was biology and this encouraged her to take up botany as major in Stella Maris College.
During the same period, she started giving concerts in sabhas both in Chennai and outside. After her graduation, she joined Presidency College for post graduation in botany. It was destiny which completely made her a music professional as she was forced to discontinue her M.Sc degree. Thank god for showing this divine path of music for Mala. Her other interests included painting, embroidery and a bit of creative hand work.
Awards & Titles
• 2006 – “Shanmukha Sangeetha Shiromani” Bombay Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha- MR.S.M.KRISHNA, GOVERNOR OF MAHARASHTRA
• 2003 October, Received the title of ” VENUGAANA SIRONMANI” at DUBAI by Dubai Thamizh family.
• 2002 – November 2002 NADAKKANAL From Nadakkanal ( Regd), Chennai Founded by Sri Pathamadai Krishnan.
• 2001 – Received the Music Academy’s MD Ramanathan Award for a senior flautist from Sri RV Vaidyanatha Iyer, Secy. Dept. of Culture, Govt. of India.
• 2000 – Received the Kartik Fine Arts’ Isai Peroli title from Smt Vyjayanthimala Bali.
• 2000 – Received the Kalki Centenary Award, instituted by the Kalki Memorial Trust, from Smt Prabha Sreedevan, Judge, Madras High Court.
• 1996 – Received Bharat Kalachar’s Yuva Kala Bharati from Lalgudi Sri G Jayaraman.
• 1995 – Received the title Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu. Kum. J Jayalalitha gave away the award.
• 1993 – Received the Flute Mali award of the Music Academy, Madras, from Dr Raja Ramanna
• 1990 – Received the Nyapati Ranganayakammal Award for Junior Flautists of the Music Academy, Madras, from Smt ML Vasanthakumari.
• 1990 – Received the Flautist award and Main Artist award of the Youth Association for Classical Music, Madras from Sri DK Jayaraman.