Prapancham Sitaram is many personalities rolled into one. As an administrator, he had served as Station Director, Chief Producer and Director of Programmes in the IBS cadre, AIR, controlling broadcasts throughout India. As an academician, he was an expert member in the UGC and retains his association with various Universities — Mysore, Delhi, Madras, Tamil, Telugu, and Ravindra Bharathi — as an evaluator, resource person and judge at viva sessions. The musicologist in him felt happiness when he got his doctorate from the Bangalore University by taking the measure of the flute, to use his own words ‘horizontally and vertically’, thus tracing its evolution.
Prapancham, the musician has ‘unrivalled breath control, sensitive tonal chastity, perfect intonation and mediating phrases on the flute’ – to mention the words of Subbudu. The Kalaimamani Award came to him in 1983.
He performed his first full-fledged kutcheri (three hours) even before he was 10, and mridangam maestros Mani Iyer and Palani were among some of his listeners. He remembers their blessings. His grand-uncle, who was 86 then, was not in favour of his learning at home anymore and so, Prapancham was introduced to the genius Mali, who accepted him as his disciple.
His other gurus Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, Sandhyavandhanam Srinivasa Rao and violinist Annavarappu Ramasamy played a vital role in shaping Prapancham musically. 'Learning vocal music is a must for all instrumentalists, in order to absorb the meaning of the lyrics.' Prapancham’s study of the flute made him comprehend the universal nature of the flute. It is known and played the world over…in Congo, Alaska, New York and Tokyo.