UN stamp, A.R. Rahman concert to honor Subbulakshmi

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Subbulakshmi: M.S. Subbulakshmi performing at the General Assembly Hall, on Oct. 23, 1966, as part of the United Nations Day celebrations. Photo credit: United Nations/IANS

United Nations–The UN is honoring M.S. Subbulakshmi by issuing a stamp on Independence Day to mark the birth centenary of the “Queen of Music”.

This year is also the 50th anniversary of Subbulakshmi’s legendary concert in 1966 at the UN and A.R. Rahman will perform here as a tribute to her on August 15.

Uthant: After M S Subbulakshmi\'s historic concert at the United Nations on Oct. 23, 1966, seen with her are Secretary-General U Thant (centre); Abdul Rahman Pazhwak of Afgahanistan, who was the President of the 21st session of the General Assembly (third from left, second row); G. Parthasarath, India\'s Permanent Representative (second from right, second row); and C.V. Narasimhan, Under-Secretary for General Assembly Affairs and Chef de cabinet (right, second row). Photo credit: United Nations/IANS
Uthant: After M S Subbulakshmi\’s historic concert at the United Nations on Oct. 23, 1966, seen with her are Secretary-General U Thant (centre); Abdul Rahman Pazhwak of Afgahanistan, who was the President of the 21st session of the General Assembly (third from left, second row); G. Parthasarath, India\’s Permanent Representative (second from right, second row); and C.V. Narasimhan, Under-Secretary for General Assembly Affairs and Chef de cabinet (right, second row). Photo credit: United Nations/IANS

“As India celebrates its 70th Independence Day, the event will emphasize that the wisdom of Indian traditions remains relevant to current global thinking,” the Indian Mission to the UN said in a statement on Thursday.

“The musical evening will provide a glimpse of gaiety and dynamism of India on the occasion of India@70.”

AR Rahman (Photo: Mike Ritter)
AR Rahman (Photo: Mike Ritter)

During the Independence Day celebrations here, an exhibition on the life and music of Subbulakshmi is also to be held.

Subbulakshmi, hailed by Jawaharlal Nehru as “The Queen of Music”, was the first Indian to perform here when she was invited by then Secretary General U Thant to give the UN Day concert on October 23, 1966.

Her visit, which also included a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall, was arranged at the initiative of C.V. Narasimhan, who was a UN Under Secretary General then.

The highlight of the UN concert was Subbulakshmi singing a hymn in English — a rare occurence. It was written by C. Rajagopalachari, the freedom fighter and the first Governor General of independent India.

 Subbulakshmi: M.S. Subbulakshmi performing at the General Assembly Hall, on Oct. 23, 1966, as part of the United Nations Day celebrations. Photo credit: United Nations/IANS
Subbulakshmi: M.S. Subbulakshmi performing at the General Assembly Hall, on Oct. 23, 1966, as part of the United Nations Day celebrations. Photo credit: United Nations/IANS

It was set to music by Handel Manuel of All India Radio. It was a prayer for gathering all nations “under this Uniting roof”, the General Assembly, and it was accompanied on the piano.

Monday’s events are being organised with the support of Sankara Nethralaya, an India-based civil society organisation, the Indian Mission said.

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