Sopanam School of Panchavadyam, the traditional Kerala percussion instruments training and performing centre based at Valayamkulam, near Changaramkulam in Malappuram district (Kerala, India), completed six years of service to the society.
It was on 09 December 2010, the school started functioning at the premise of the Kozhissyamgaadu Bhagavathi temple at Valayamkulam with 15 students. The first course conducted was in traditional orchestration ‘Panchavadyam, using the five types of musical instruments- Thimila, Madhalam, Edakka, Kombu and Elathaalam. Soon, the strength of the school become 100 plus and the debut performance of the students conducted at the same temple premise on 24 Dec 2011. The school organized it as a mega event with a total of 201 artists and the performance of Panchavadyam become a record and entered into the Limca Book of Records.
From the next year onwards the school started new centres at different places with the help of temples and local conventional schools. The school also started giving training in Chenda, the commonly used percussion instrument of Kerala. Now the school has 19 centres spread across 30km radius with a total strength of more than 800 trainees. Sopanam School is giving training in the traditional Kerala orchestras like Panchavadyam, Melam, Thayambaka, Keli and Sopana Sangeetham.
For the conventional school going students, the trainings are given in the holidays and for the employed the trainings are given usually in the evenings. The main master artists who gave trainings in the different centres of the school are Mayannur Mani Asan, Santhosh Alamkode, Sudheesh Alamkode, Kalamandalam Sanoop (all Thimila trainers), Alamkode Manikandan, Kalladathur Manoj, Kalamandalam Hemand (Chenda), Kadavallur Babu, Kattakambaal Biju (Madhalam), Kadavallur Shyam (Edakka), Kadavallur P C Velayudhan (Kombu) and Alamkode Venu (Elathaalam).
Sopanam School of Panchavadyam is promoted and managed by Sopanam Cultural & Educational Trust, a not for profit organization with Santhosh Alamkode as the Managing Trustee and Director of the School. An advisory committee, which consists of eminent personalities from different fields of art and culture like Mattannur Sankarankutty, Kariyannur Narayanan Nambuthiri and Alamkode Leelakrishnan, also functions to support the school activities.
Apart from the training, the school team consists of the master trainers and other artists do performances in Panchavadyam, Melam and Thayambaka in many temple/church festivals and other cultural functions. During the last six years, the Sopanam performing team could perform in many places in Kerala and the cities Coimbatore, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkotha. Sopanam School conducts familiarization lecture-demo classes under the title ‘Vadya Parichayam’ in clubs, schools, organizations and in family meets. For the last two years the school is also conducting interactive lecture- demo sessions to introduce the Kerala temple musical instruments to the foreign tourists at our different training centres. This programme titled ‘Musical trail’ is being supported by The Blue Yonder Holidays Pvt, Ltd., a responsible tourism travel company based at Pondicherry.
In January, 2016, Sopanam School of Panchavadyam in association with INTACH (Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage) Calicut Regional chapter conducted the folk ritual ‘Pallippaana’, for documenting this intangible cultural heritage to the posterity.
In the last year the school started an instrument making unit at Ainkalam, near Thavanur in Malappuram district. Here the instruments like Chenda, Thimila, Edakka etc are assembled and made available to the trainees and other artists, for economical price.
Sopanam Vadyolsavam 2017
Sopanam School is celebrating its anniversary with a festival of percussions and other musical instruments of Kerala, titled ‘Sopanam Vadyolsavam’. Sopanam Vadyolsavam is scheduled to be conducted from 06th to 12th of May 2017 at the premise of Perumparambu Mahadeva temple, near Edappal in Malappuram district. The performance of about 35 traditional musical instruments of Kerala, exhibition of musical instruments, display of costumes and ornaments used in various performing arts of Kerala, Seminars, etc are the highlights.