Noted vocalist Pemmaraju Surya Rao passed away in the city on Wednesday. He is survived by a daughter and a son. Born on August 20, 1934 in Machilipatnam of Krishna district, he achieved command on the theory and practice of classical Carnatic music under the guidance of his guru Maddulapalli Lakshmi Narisimha Sastri who was a close disciple of ‘Gayaka Sarwabhowma’ Parupalli Ramakrishnaiah Pantulu.
In his distinguished career as a performing musician, Surya Rao had won recognition and acclaim from various quarters. He was honoured with ‘Suvarna Ghanta Kankanam’ in 2006. He was honoured with ‘Ugadi Puraskaram-2012’ in combined Andhra Pradesh. He received the prestigious ‘Hamsa Award’ in 2018 from the State government. He also received ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by Sama Gana Lahari Cultural Trust in October 2019.
In 2010, Surya Rao was presented the prestigious Siddhartha Kala Peetham Annual Award instituted by Mummaneni Subba Rao Siddhartha Kala Peetham. A few of his titles are ‘Sangeeta Ratna’, ‘Sunada Sudhanidhi’ and ‘Lakshya Lakshana Geya Swarakartagresara’.
‘A’ grade artiste of AIR
He was an ‘A’ grade artiste of All India Radio and Doordarshan and broadcast innumerable concerts, Bhakthiranjani programmes and composed many musical plays and ‘yakshaganas’. He had also taken part in south zone concerts of Akashvani several times. In 1961, he joined the G.V.R. Government College of Music and Dance and retired as its principal in 1992.
Along with Sri Andavilli Satyanarayana, an eminent educationist and columnist, Surya Rao had authored the biography of Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam titled ‘Vempati – the Maestro with a Mission’.
Surya Rao had been the cultural reporter for The Hindu in Vijayawada since 1975.