As the young vocalist took a sip from his thermos flask to massage a throat that had just belted out a torrent of notes, the percussionists set off a torrent of their own. All of a sudden, the world ended! To be sure, the lights went out, taking the sound along too. The electricity seemed to have been shorted out by an equally fluid torrent raging outside (this one more familiar to the Met department).

The tiny hall, which had but a moment ago been reverberating with the tumult of competing percussionists, was cast into an opaque blackness, and only a thin, muted rumble indicated that the ensemble on stage was carrying on undeterred.

Even as I began to feel a gnawing sense of discomfiture at a perfectly good concert falling martyr to spoilsport weather, a few pearls of mobile phone light popped into being. They began to drift in mid air as the more intrepid among the audience seemed to be attempting to wade their way through the aisles towards the exit (presumably to go in search of a maintenance man who could switch on a generator, or, perhaps seeking to exploit the shroud of darkness to make good their escape undetected during the thani avarthanam).

A mild glow enveloped the dais as Rithvik Raja appeared to have fished out his trusty iPad. A few calculated swishes and swipes on its surface later, a healthy tambura drone rang out even as a gentle swathe of light draped the performers. There was still no sound amplification and the intrinsically soft-spoken khanjira sounded undernourished, but the show was going on. It was like the advent of fire all over again. The Human Spirit, one; Capricious Nature, zero.


Treble up front with the concert spaceDecember 12, 2012