He is a popular mridangam player who learnt from Kumbakonam Rajappa Iyer and Umayalpuram Sivaraman. Apart from being a Copeland Fellow, Fulbright Fellow and faculty at Harvard University, he is acknowledged as one of the most accommodative accompanists in the classical music scene and has played with stalwarts like Veena S. Balachandar, Thanjavur S. Kalyanaraman, Flute T. Viswanathan, T. Muktha, Thanjavur Sankara Iyer, Prof. T.N. Seshagopalan Neyveli Santhagopalan. Prof. T.N. Krishnan & M. Chandrasekaran and other reputed names.
He is generous in sharing his knowledge with his students and has taught many popular mridangam players. The tiny village Umayalpuram (Tamil Nadu, India) on the banks of the sacred river Cauvery, in between the holy towns Kumbakonam and Thiruvayaru, has produced many musicians of repute. Krishna Baghavathar and Sundara Bagavathar who belong to this village lived during the 19th century were the direct disciples of Saint Thyagaraja . Several laya vidwans were in the limelight during the yesteryear and now Sri Umayalpuram Sivaraman with his mastery over the art is holding the village flag high.
Mali feels very fortunate to have participated in the programme “Rhythm Spectrum” conceived by his guru Maestro Sivaraman at the Music Academy, Chennai. The other participants were Mannargudi Eswaran, K.V. Prasad and Erode Nagarajan. He also participated in the “Laya Vinyasam” programme in Manamadurai along with the stalwart mridangam vidwans T.K. Murthy, Ramnad Raghavan and Tanjavur Ramadass.
Umayalpuram Mali has toured widely and has visited several countries on concert tours in USA, Canada, Australia, France, Mauritius, Kenya and Singapore. He has also won several awards from premier institutions of India. The Australian Foundation of Canbera awarded him the tittle “Kalamani Mrudangam” when he toured the country, with T.N Seshagopalan.
Mali was invited by the Amherst College (Massachusetts, USA) to be the Scholar in Residence (2003). Mali was awarded the prestigious Copeland Fellowship (2006). Mali, in coordination with Prof David Reck, conducted several workshops and taught the students the art of mridangam playing. He did study on the topic of ‘The Role of Mridangam as an accompaniment in Carnatic Concerts’.
The renowned Harvard University invited him to be “Artiste in Residence” in 2010. Mali was awarded the prestigious FULBRIGHT FELLOWSHIP in 2012 and invited to Harvard University. At Harvard, Mali in coordination with Prof Richard Wolf, conducted study on the ‘The art of Improvisation’. Mali taught Harvard University students the art of mridangam playing.
Umayalpuram Mali has won several prizes and awards (‘Nadha Vallabha’, ‘Kala Acharya Sironmani’, ‘Kalaai Isai Sudaroli’ etc) from esteemed institutions from India and around the world. The Carnatic Association of Canberra, Australia bestowed upon him the title Kalaimani – Mridangam. Mali has released a CD titled ‘Jack wood’ which features Mali on mridangam and H. Subramaniam on the rare instrument Gethu Vadhyam. Prof. David Reck has provided the lead music on the Veena.