Thiruvaarur Bakthavathsalam (or Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam) (born 25 November 1956) is a Mridanga Vidwan from a family of traditional musicians in the Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu, India. He is currently staying in Chennai.
Bakthavathsalam had his initial tutelage from his maternal uncle Thiruvarur Krishnamurthy and was further groomed by his mother T. R. Anandavalli, herself a talented musician. He has been played in prestigious Jugalbandhi concerts featuring Carnatic and Hindustani maestros.
He has been on concert tours in the US, UK, Europe, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, accompanying a galaxy of musicians on the mridangam for musicians of three generations. He has also travelled to Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and the U.A.E. He has represented India in many music festivals held abroad, some of which were organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi. Some of his notable performances are Tala Vadhya Kutcheri at the festival of India, Paris in June 1985, flute and violin Jugalbandis in Australia in February 1987, the Olympic music festival held in Barcelona in Spain in 1992, a festival of Indian Music in U.S.S.R. in 1997, the fund-raising programme organised by the Bay Area Tamil Mandram and Sankara eye foundation at Hayward, California, US in 2003. He has been performing for the last FOUR decades, accompanying a galaxy of musicians of THREE generations. For his aesthetic and embellished accompaniment on the Mrudangam, he has been bestowed with awards like Sangeet Natak Akademi award by Govt. of India, Kalaimamani by State Govt of Tamil Nadu, Vishwakalabharati, Mrudanga Chudaroli, Lifetime achievement award by Shanti Arts Foundation. He is also Asthana vidwan of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Mutt
He has accompanied many well-known artists like M. L. Vasanthakumari, K. J. Yesudas, Madurai Somu, N. Ramani, V. G. Jog, Bhimsen Joshi, Maharajapuram Santhanam, K. V. Narayanaswamy, T. N. Krishnan, T. V. Sankaranarayanan, M. Balamuralikrishna, Mysore Manjunath and U. Srinivas
On the divine occasion of the 68th birthday celebrations of Parama Pujya Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji on May, 2010 the first ever of its kind musical presentation “ Laya Madhura Mridanga Yagna” led by mridanga maestro Thiruvarur Bakthavathsalam will be organized at the Avadhoota Datta Peetham in Mysore. This concept devised by Swamiji will have 108 mridangam artists from all over India participating in it. Based on a new raga “Sachchidananda” dedicated to Swamiji, it will explore the concept of four in melody and rhythm. The number four has a special significance – we have Brahma, the creator having four faces, the four vedas, the seasons are four, the most common beat in classical music is made of four units and so on. This unique musical offering will also be based on the concept of four. The 108 mridangam artists will be divided into four groups, representing the four varieties of rhythm namely – Chatusram, Tisram, Khandam and Misram. The raga “Sachchidananda” is woven around the four notes – Sa, Ga, Pa and Dha and the mrudangam will also be tuned to each of these notes by the four groups. Apart from playing intrinsic patterns, the four groups will also present four Korvais.
With the blessings of Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji and ably led by maestro Thiruvarur Bhakthavatsalam, “Laya Madhura Mridanga Yagna” will explore the multihued colours of melody and rhythm in the most exquisite manner and transport the listeners to a totally meditative plane. He also did one more mridhanga yagna in kanchi kamakoti peetam, kanchipuram with 76 mridangam artists recently.
Sri Thiruvaarur Bakthavathsalam is the founder, director of the "Laya Madhuraa" School of music, which has its headquarters at Chennai,coimbatore and Toronto, Canada. Laya Madhuraa School of Music was inaugurated in the year 2000 with the aim to nurture and train young talents in Mrudangam, the mother of percussion in the field of South Indian Carnatic Music. The school has evolved systematic training methodologies and has been successful in producing numerous Mrudangam artists all over the world. It is also presently working on conceptualizing innovative percussion ideologies and introducing the nuances of Layam and Nadhaam of the Mrudangam even to a common man to realize the values of our traditional art.
Laya Madhuraa School of Music also actively organizes the "LAYA MADHURAA SANGEETHOTHSAVAM" every year at Aarkay Convention Hall, Chennai from just before the onset of the Margazhi season. Every year during this festival, one Carnatic music veteran and one staunch promoter of Carnatic music are honored for their contribution to music. Further, the festival also features a series of concerts on all five days by eminent musicians and through this event, promotes talented disciples of Laya Madhuraa School of music.
He has created his own troupe of music ensemble named "LayaMadhura". In this ensemble he has named it as a divine ensemble by including instruments like the nadaswaram, violin, and flute as melodic instruments and the mridangam, kanjira, ghatam, morsing, and tabla as percussion. All the artists in his group are of a high caliber.
He has to his credit two solo audio albums viz."LayaMadhuraa" and "ThalaBhakthi", and has also provided accompaniment in numerous cassettes and CDs for top ranking artistes. He has also released a CD "rhythmic symphony", a percussion jugalbandi with Pandit Anindo Chatterjee on the tabla. The latest twin CD album is the "divine ensemble" which is the new novel instrumental ensemble he has evolved with instruments like the nadaswaram, violin, flute, ghatam, kanjira, morsing and tabla.Isai Chelvam from Muthmizh Peravai
Mridhanga Vadhya mani
Mridhanga Nadha mani
Mridhanga kala bharathi gana shabha, amalpuram, Andhra Pradesh
Laya Vadhya, Samarat Indian Classical Musicians Federation, Kumbakonam
Mridhanga Chakravathi by Nemili Bala Thirupruasundari Bala Peetam
Thala Vidhyadhara Sudha by Sakthi Arul Koodam Narpavi, Tambaram
Lifetime achievement award by the Santhi arts foundation, Chennai
Bakthavathsalam married Rajam on 22 May 1985.His wife Rajam is the daughter of Vazhuvoor Samraj and is the grand daughter of Vazhuvoor B.Ramaiah Pillai .They have three daughters Harini,Mahalakshmi and Lavanya. Harini and Lavanya are learning vocal and Dr.Mahalakshmi is a Bharatanatyam dancer and a dental surgeon .