Gopalnath is an Indian saxophonist and one
of the pioneers of Carnatic music on the
Kadri Gopalnath was born in
Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka. He
acquired a taste for music from his father
Thaniappa, a nadhaswaram vidwan. Young
Gopalnath once saw the saxophone being
played in the Mysore palace band set.
Thrilled on hearing the vibrant tone of the
saxophone, Gopalnath decided to master it.
It took him nearly 20 years for him to
conquer the complex western wind instrument
and he was eventually crowned as the
Gopalnath had to make certain
modifications to the conventional alto
saxophone to play Carnatic music. So
successful has this adaptation been that the
great musician Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer,
the doyen of Carnatic music, has
acknowledged Kadri Gopalnath as a true
Carnatic music genius.
Gopalnath learnt the instrument under
Gopalkrishna Iyer of Kalaniketana,
Mangalore. In Madras, Gopalnath came in
contact with the mridangist T.V.
Gopalkrishnan who identified the youngster's
potential and tutored him.
His maiden performance was for the
Chembai Memorial Trust. 1980 Bombay jazz
festival was a turning point for Gopalnath.
John Handy, a jazz musician from California
was present at the festival. Hearing
Gopalnath play, Handy asked if he could go
on stage and perform alongside with him. So
well did the two mesh, Handy in the jazz
style and Gopalnath in the Carnatic style,
that it became an instant hit with the
audience. Gopalnath has participated in the
Jazz Festival in Prague, Berlin Jazz
Festival, International Cervantino Festival
in Mexico, Music Hall Festival in Paris, the
BBC Promenade concert in 1994 at London and
has toured all over the world.
He has cut many albums and has recorded a
number of cassettes and CDs. Together with
jazz flutist James Newton he recorded
Southern Brothers. His production called
'East-West' is an audio-video presentation
that, as the title suggests, is a fusion of
Western and Indian music. This album took 6
months to produce and has compositions from
Saint Tyagaraja, Beethoven and the likes.
Film director K. Balachandar used
Gopalnath's services in his Tamil film Duet.
Titles and honors have come his way, the
most cherished being the Asthana Vidwan of
Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and the
Shringerei Sharada Peetam. He was awarded
the Padma Shri in 2004.