flautist Sikkil Kunjumani, the elder of the renowned
'Sikkil Sisters' duo, passed away in Chennai on
Saturday morning. She was 83 and is survived by her
sister Neela, a daughter and a son.
Kunjumani learnt to play the flute as a little girl
from her uncle Azhiyur Narayanaswamy Iyer and,
later, from her father and reputed mridangam vidwan
Azhiyur Natesa Iyer.
Even as a child she showed immense promise. After
rigorous training, she was ready to perform and
begin her career as an artist. In her time, it was
not too often that women chose to be in the public
sphere. However, her love for music and dedication
paved way for a successful career that spanned
nearly seven decades and inspired generations of
musicians, particularly women.
Kunjumani who began giving solo concerts initially
Neela with whom she performed for most of their
career. Adopting a mellifluous style known for its
poise and depth, the sisters won the hearts of fans
in India and abroad. In the recent years, the
sisters, along with Neela's daughter flautist Mala
Chandrasekar, have also been performing as a trio.
The Sikkil Sisters received several prestigious
awards, including the Padma Shri, the Sangeeta
Kalanidhi awarded by The Music Academy, the
President's award conferred by the Sangeet Natak
Akademi and the Sangeetha Choodamani by Sri Krishna