Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Chennai Music Season

Another Music season has come and gone (almost) in Chennai and my 'to-do' is still in the pending list. I wanted to attend several concerts and learn to appreciate carnatic music better. But then, I attended only two concerts and is miles away from learning to appreciate carnatic music and identify ragas. The annual music season in Chennai is like none other in the world and here is why.

Nowhere else in the world would you get to attend the concerts of 'who is who' in the Carnatic music world in such a short span of time. Hundreds of concerts were held in the last two weeks in Chennai and I attended just two of them.

Visaka Hari - Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru - Dec 21, 2008
First one was a 'Katha kalakshepam' by Visaka Hari at Kamarajar Arangam on Dec 21, 2008. She started a little late as the earlier programs stretched and ate in to her time. I have heard about Mrs. Hari's unique style of combining the traditional story telling with Carnatic music and got to hear it first hand on that day.
Dressed in the traditional 'madisar', she kept her audience engaged for about 90 minutes with a story about Krishna's birth. It takes guts to take on what some people would call as a vanishing art and carve out a place. Visaka Hari, a qualified charted accountant has taken to the traditional story telling method and has created a place for herself. Till a few years, 'Katha kalakshepam' was not part of the music season, but thanks to Mrs. Hari, it is now.


Second was a concert by Sudha Raghunathan @ Narada Gana Sabha on Dec 30, 2008. This one started right on time at 4:30 PM. Mrs. Raghunathan kept the audience engrossed and eating out of hers hands for the next 135 minutes. She sang in multiple languages in a rapid fire succession with absolutely no break in between. Wonder how she does that.. I would have liked her to introduce each song and announce the raga, but then I hear that it is not a practice in these types of concerts. (it perhaps should be.. then only folks like me can follow and appreciate better!!!!).
Narada Gana Sabha has this neat way of making a few additional bucks by seating 'excess' audience on the dias for a small fee. (Rs. 50 as compared to the 'seats' which cost from Rs. 100 to 500.). I actually enjoyed sitting in the dias close to the artists. We got to observer them up close and get to observe the backstage happenings. The only downside was that we had to squat down and it becomes uncomfortable after a while.. but I am not complaining.

Next year, I would like to go for more concerts. But before that I do want to 'develop / learn' about ragas and be able to identify at least some of them. This will be in to my 'new year resolution' bucket list. Now only time will tell as to how much I empty out the bucket !!.

This is perhaps my last post for 2008 with a wish that I be 'more' consistent with my posts in 2009.

Before I sign off, Let me wish you and your family all the very best in the coming year and beyond. God Bless & God Speed...