Born on June 26, 1964, Kannan hails from
a family with an artistic background and achievements. His father
V. Balakrishnan is a reputed Documentary Film maker. His mother
Shyamala Balakrishnan was a well-known singer and research scholar
in music. His paternal grandfather Director K. Subrahmanyam was
a veteran pioneer in films and a parental personality in the cultural
field. His paternal grandmother Meenakshi Subrahmanyam was a noted
music composer and lyricist in Sanskrit and Tamil languages. His
maternal grandmother Soundaram was one of the prime disciples of
the musical giant Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar. Kannan is the nephew
of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, the reputed dancer and research scholar.
Kannan had a flair for handling quite
a few instruments even from his childhood. But his serious training
was in "Veena" in which he graduated under Gurus Vasantha
Krishnamurthy and Pichumani Iyer. He also underwent advanced training
in "Raga rendering" under the musical genius and Veena
maestro Dr. S. Balachander.
His strength lies in his charming creativity.
He won many prizes at several Inter-Collegiate Cultural Festivals
and competitions (1981-84). He has also won the prizes for Veena
from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (1981) and Music Academy, Chennai (1987).
He received the "Young Veena Artiste Award" from Narada
Gana Sabha in 1995. He has performed for the Yuva Utsavs conducted
by Sangeet Natak Akademi (New Delhi) at Bhubhaneswar and Chennai.
He is the only Veena artiste who has performed "Jugalbandhis"
with Santoor, Sitar and Sarod separately.
A Commerce Graduate from Vivekananda
College, Chennai, Kannan was also its Cultural Secretary; this fostered
his organisational capabilities in the cultural field which further
blossomed in full during his tenure as the Founder-President of
Youth Association for Classical Music (YACM). He is one of the earliest
recipients of the title of "Yuva Kala Bharati" awarded
by Bharat Kalachar, Chennai (1988). Kannan was also awarded the
Fellowship of the Department of Culture, Government of India for
an advanced research project in Veena.
Apart from his concerts in India, he
has given several solo recitals in Canada, USA, UK, Japan, Malaysia,
Singapore, Dubai and Kuwait. In 1987, on invitation from the Indian
Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Government of India, Kannan
toured the then Soviet Union to give his solo concerts for the Festival
of India in USSR. Besides this, he has been accompanying on the
Veena, Vocal, Suddha Maddalam, Mridangam and Ganjira, for his aunt
Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam's dance concerts in India and abroad including
Greece, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Mauritius,
Srilanka, Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Indonesia and Thailand,
in addition to the countries mentioned above.
Kannan is also a music composer; his
compositions include quite a few Tillanas. He assisted his aunt
in her music direction for the TV Documentary Serial "Bharatiya
Natya Sastra" which has been widely acclaimed as a "Magnum
Opus"; he was also the Production and Financial Controller
for the above said film. He also assisted his aunt in composing
music for the dance programme "Ritu Mahatmiyam" involving
a multi-national orchestra with Indian, Chinese and Indonesian musicians.
This programme, was sponsored by the National Arts Council, Government
of Singapore as part of the Singapore Arts Festival (1992). He composed
music alongwith his aunt and handled the entire production of the
Documentary Film "Sage of Kanchi" devotionally directed
by his father V. Balakrishnan. He composed music for two full-length
dance dramas titled "Kartavyam" and "Abhayam"
produced by Bharat Kalachar, which was highly acclaimed by the press
and public alike. He also conducted a Quiz on Indian Classical Music
in Vijay TV (15 episodes) which received tremendous response from
the viewers for its being both informative and educative in nature.
He hosted a special programme on folk-based film music for Doordarshan
"Pothigai". He has also performed in Sun TV and Raj TV.
Kannan is deeply interested in Sanskrit
and Vedic studies. He had the unique privilege and honour of representing
the Jagadguru Sankaracharyas of the illustrious Kanchi Kamakoti
Peetam at the World Hindu Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 1993.
He was the Honorary Cultural Secretary of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan,
Chennai where the Bhavan's Cultural Centre was started during his
tenure. He also served in the Executive Committee of the All India
Carnatic Musicians' Forum (AICMF).
Kannan is the Secretary of Nrithyodaya,
Chennai (which is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee) and also a Trustee
of the Director K. Subrahmanyam Memorial Trust.