The Chennai Global Music festival showcased musical variations and multiple genres

The three-day Chennai Global Music Festival featured local and international musicians in an attempt to, as stated by its compère, “put to rest complaints that Chennai does not have enough live music”. But for a city home to several prominent musicians, music enthusiasts and a thriving number of music industries, it was quite sad to see that the Festival did not manage to attract a sizeable audience.

The reasons for this may be numerous, but we noticed several individuals creasing their eyebrows on passing the festival grounds, which was hidden away in a mess of tarpaulin and wires adjacent to the Express Avenue. However, amidst this vast cluttered expanse drifted the lovely music of George Brooks and Lalitha (of the Lalitha-Nandini duo). Their violin and saxophone fusion was beautiful — so beautiful that you didn't quite want it to end. But there's something a little depressing about seeing enthusiastic and passionate musicians playing to a wasteland — where human members of the audience are outnumbered by remnants such as a rusty briefcase or stray toothbrush embedded in the ground.

The performances, which together spanned over 21 hours, were a mixed bag, ranging from the excellent to the bizarre. Réunion band Ziskakan, fronted by the endlessly energetic Gilbert Pounia, managed to strike a chord with most members of the audience, Indian and foreign alike, melding Creole beats with Indian instruments to create a stunning, hauntingly romantic sound. French band Moongai was led by a ballerina, who pranced across the stage in a black tutu, whilst the Swedish Matias took pains to repeatedly assert that he is from Sweden — a place, he said is much colder than Chennai. The appeal of other musicians such as Piano Chat, while amusing and interesting in their own right, could perhaps be somewhat lost on an audience not accustomed to this particular genre of live music — but were surprisingly well received.

Still, amidst the rubble and emptiness, the sincere and noble intentions of the organisers were evident — to bring good music to Chennai and give people a good time. There were admirable efforts from the compère who valiantly filled in the gaps between sound malfunctions, and the artistes themselves, who didn't allow their enthusiasm to be doused by the lack of crowd.

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012