The Music Academy’s pursuits to foster classical music for more than eight decades now have seen historical events and emergence of excellence especially in Carnatic music. Besides its annual festivals, conferences and competitions for aspiring musicians, the academy honours stalwarts, identifies new talents and helps deserving musicians and scholars. In its relentless attempts to give classical Carnatic music its rightful place, it started a College for Teachers of Music way back in 1921. The college, with recognition from the Director of Public Instruction, Madras, formed syllabi to train music teachers. Many experts of Carnatic music have functioned as principals of the Teachers’ College of Music.
Nevertheless, in recent times the overwhelming desire of the executive committee to develop performing artists of high calibre has prompted it to venture on a new initiative. The genesis of the Advanced School of Carnatic Music is the upshot of extensive deliberations, and discussions with academic experts. It is not going to be just another school to teach music. The programme aims to educate promising musicians in the age group of 18-30, through a rigorous training process employing the expertise of distinguished musicians. Once this idea was mooted and discussed, N. Murali, president, The Music Academy, and other members passed a unanimous resolution to this effect.
Five eminent musicians and musicologists -- all of them from the experts committee of the Music Academy -- have been identified as members of the Academic Council of this new Advanced School of Carnatic Music. Headed by none other than R. Vedavalli, the committee has Dr. S.A.K. Durga, professors N. Ramanathan and Ritha Rajan, and Dr. Pappu Vengugopala Rao, with Dr. Malathi Rangaswamy, secretary of the Academy as the convenor.
How is it going to be different from other regular music schools?
The difference starts right from the selection of the students and the number; applicants have to be performers of manodharma sangeetham of a reasonable level and the number is restricted to 10 students a year so that better attention and more interaction between the teacher and student can be established. A panel of examiners will select promising aspirants from the applications received, based purely on their merit. “We would like to create more kutcheri oriented performing musicians who can appreciate the nuances of aesthetic music,” says Pappu Venugopala Rao. “But at the same time not at the cost of classicism,” adds R. Vedavalli. “The course is meant for grooming the manodharma in aspiring young artists.”
“There will be minimal teaching but maximum learning,” assures Ritha Rajan, as Dr. S.A.K. Durga, who has done extensive research on voice culture and classical music, adds, “Voxology will be part of the training.” Ramanathan feels that this will be a fantastic opportunity for youngsters who are more inclined to perform than go in for research and academic aspects of music. But, Vedavalli confirms that theory will be included with more practical application.
The four-year course covering eight semesters will lead to a diploma from the celebrated Music Academy.
What about the syllabi and classes? Pappu Venugopala Rao smiles: “There will be just two sessions a day with each running to two and a half hours. “The students have full freedom to use the extensive archives and well equipped library of the Music Academy.”
Malathi Rangaswamy adds, “There will be at least 10 events that include guest lectures by visiting faculties, seminars, workshops, exclusive chamber concerts, field trips and guided group interactions.” Initially, the advanced school will have four faculties under the directorship of R. Vedavalli. They are Ritha Rajan, Chingleput Ranganathan and S. Sowmya. However, many expert committee members, Sangeetha Kalanidhis,
Sangeetha Kala Acharyas, veterans and young musicians of our times are expected to come for not less than 10 lectures every semester.
Will it not be demanding for the students as they have to get trained by all senior and illustrious musicians and make progress to their satisfaction? “Well, it will be and it has to be; but, will it not be rewarding,” queries Pappu Venugopala Rao. “Where one can get such an opportunity,” is Vedavalli’s poser.
The advertisement inviting applications for the course will be out shortly. “The objective of the programme is to bring out the excellence of the student.” says Malathi. “This course is sure to bring out good performers,” affirms Durga. “This is a long cherished dream that is coming true,” opines Ritha Rajan. Ramanathan feels that the move will help discover, and experience chaste Carnatic music.
“The seed to promote, preserve and protect the rich tradition of Carnatic music has been sown,” are the prophetic words of Pappu.
“It is a major leap, to nurture and endorse the rich tradition of classical music through The Music Academy. The executive committee has given full autonomy to the Academic Council in this regard,” N. Murali proudly concludes.