Come December and there is one violinist who makes it to the news. This artiste who is brilliant when it comes to mastery over the fiddle has a problem, or maybe I should say problems. Each December there will be talk of how this person commits to more than one artiste on certain days and then invariably dumps one for the other. The organiser/artiste for whom this person deigns to turn up is delighted while the other lot curse him bitterly. All of them then promote the sale of hypertension medications no doubt. This year too has apparently not been different and the first double-crossing act happened a couple of days back they say. But such is the quality of violin play that artistes would give anything to have this bow-person. Still, that such a gifted artiste could be so prone to making errors in accepting engagements is something of a mystery. Maybe geniuses are like that.

A couple of years ago P Unnikrishnan was the chosen victim. The venue was Chennayil Thiruvaiyaru. Now Unni, my dear friend, is always a tad distracted as a person and on days of a concert is even more so. What happened next is best described in his own words:

“I reached the venue on time and right from then till I sat on stage I had this lingering feeling that something was missing. I just could not place what it was. It was just before the curtains went up that I realised there was no violinist.”

There was a desperate scramble to find someone else. Unni called Raghavendra Rao over the phone and though he had just returned from a performance, he gamely agreed to stand in (or should I say sit in?). Unni even now laughs over the incident though at that time the stress was terrible. A happy outcome is that ever since Unni has had Raghavendra Rao accompany him each year for Chennayil Thiruvaiyaru.

This article is part of an irregular series on incidents that happened during various December Music Seasons. You can read the earlier episodes here:

The Mridangam artiste has a malaise

A Hairy Tale

The Tambura artiste vanishes

When Kannan stormed the Music Academy

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