In 1971, York University invited Trichy Sankaran, a top-ranking percussionist in India, to come to Canada to co-found Indian Music Studies at the university with Jon Higgins (scholar and exponent of Carnatic music, honoured with the title Bhagvatar).
Today, the program is one of the most reputable in performance and theory in the country, and owes much to the celebrated music scholar and composer.
Professor Sankaran has bridged eastern and western styles and has influenced generations of musicians. He has made valuable contributions to many scholarly conferences across North America and has published two books on music.
He has accompanied top artistes of India and performed in jugalbandis and been honoured with prestigious awards in India and the west, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
Yet, the pioneer responsible for making South Indian music a university course in Canada himself holds a Masters in Economics from Madras University.
“Those days, a degree in music was not available at the university level!” he explains. He tells his students that it is up to them to immerse themselves in the music.
“I impart knowledge as I learned from my guru. My doors are open for them to gain from me. God placed me in a position to be able to share my knowledge. The legacy continues.”