The musicians, J.B. Sruthisagar (flute), S.H. Raaghav (veena) and R. Raghul (violin), regaled the audience with a very well-prepared repertoire that relied more on swara–based improvisation (and hence "beyond words") and good showmanship.

Sometimes, you can walk in to a concert and be taken in by such delightful surprise that you forget all else and immerse yourself in pure joy. The third day’s outdoor walk-in concert organised by the The Hindu Friday Review November Fest was one such. Featuring the young and immensely gifted J.B. Sruthisagar (flute), S.H. Raaghav (veena), R. Raghul (violin), N.C. Bharadwaj (mridangam) and S. Hariharasubramaniam (ghatam), ‘Music Beyond Words’, certainly did live up to its title.

Starting punctually like consummate professionals, the musicians regaled the audience with a very well-prepared repertoire that relied more on swara–based improvisation (and hence “beyond words”) and good showmanship. The main piece on offer, set in Raga Kaapi, was presented with tremendous poise and elan. With balanced rhythms and adequate variety, the young group seems to be well on its way to greater successes in the future.

I spoke to flautist Sruthi Sagar to understand the process behind his creativity.

Anil Srinivasan (AS): How did you feel about your concert yesterday?

Sruthi Sagar (SS):  It was very well received, and we felt happy to be a part of the Friday Review November Fest experience. It was the first time we played in a format where the audience could just walk in, food or beverage in hand, and enjoy the music on offer. The pressure on us in such a format is high, given that the audience can get easily distracted and restless if we failed to satisfy. I believe we did well.

AS: Your rationale for the theme?

SS: We wanted to allow the audience to experience pure music, sans words or lyrical contexts. This allows us also to be highly spontaneous and creative and exhibit our training and musicality. The main piece followed simple swara-based motifs (in Kaapi) that all of us worked on and sculpted. We sincerely hope that it was liked.

AS: Would you look at more collaborative projects like this in the future?

SS: Frankly, I would like to focus on a career as a soloist, establish myself and learn more. Collaborations require a different model of learning, having to work with other styles and genres and approach concerts with far greater maturity than I possess right now. I think that too many artistes get into this model of performances before they have a chance to explore their own independent strengths and potential. Further, I think that the instrument of my choice, the flute, requires a lot more attention in the concert scenario and I have a responsibility towards doing my bit towards that end.

AS: So you are becoming a full-time musician?

SS: Yes. I have finished my engineering but my heart and mind are firmly set on a career in classical music. I have had the opportunity to learn from the best and it is now time that I contributed some of it back.