Amidst the swirl of swaras, thumps of talam, frothy filter coffee and wafer-thin dosas, the curious Carnatic rasika muses over the Season's three Ws — What next? When next? Who next? Loosely defined, ‘What next' refers to sabha-hopping, ‘When next' is about catching up with a favourite artiste's performance at the various venues and ‘Who next' — the focus of this story — signifies the gifted Gen Next whose soundscape is orchestrated by tradition and technology, academics and hard training, and influences and inheritance. Some of these rising stars, who have grown up outside the city or abroad, have made this classical arts hub their home and have given up lucrative jobs to pursue music full-time. To know more about their creative dreams and dynamics, Chitra Swaminathan talks to five promising young performers, who have become a permanent fixture in the Margazhi line-up and made the not-so-prime-time slots popular.
Name: Trichur Brothers – Srikrishna and Ramkumar Mohan
Training: Father and mridangam artiste Trichur R. Mohan, Balamani Eswar and P.S. Narayanaswamy.
Academic qualification: Chartered Accountants
Career jottings: With legendary artistes such as Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and M.S. Subbulakshmi as guests at home in Trichur, we couldn't have escaped early musical influences. The contemporary classical scene is as challenging as it is inviting. The avenues to broaden your horizons are diverse and opportunities to showcase your competence are many. You can Google search answers to your doubts, download rare compositions, enter a virtual gurukulam on Skype, blog your achievements and experiences and be in touch with music-lovers on Twitter and Facebook. Technology can teach a lot, yet, nothing can substitute the guidance of a committed guru. Besides Carnatic cutcheris, we have formed a multi-genre band Anubhuti to make space for both the old and the new in our repertoire.
Name: Sandeep Narayan
Training: Mother Shubha Narayan, Calcutta K.S. Krishnamurthy and Sanjay Subramaniam
Academic qualification: Bachelor's in Law and Society
Career jottings: Holiday lessons turned into a full-time obsession when my guru Sanjay Subramaniam helped me take the decision to follow my heart and shift base from Los Angeles to Chennai. For the past five years, life has been all about attending concerts, practice and performance. Looking back, I think I would have been miserable in an office atmosphere. You cannot get into art to make money. That is a huge risk because you would be disappointed with the almost nil returns. May be you could have a comfortable life once you are counted among the top artistes but, till then, you need to keep investing in your art through perseverance, patience and loads of hard work. From my guru's successful career, I have realised it's tough to reach there and tougher to stay there.
Name: Amritha Murali
Training: K.R. Kedaranathan and Meera Kedaranathan, Rama Ravi and P.S. Narayanaswamy in vocal and
T. Rukmini in violin
Academic qualification: Masters in Financial Management
Career jottings: Though my grandmother, an AIR artiste, was an early influence, I am the first generation from my family to perform on stage. What began as an after-school extra-curricular activity turned into a passion. The appreciation of seasoned listeners and young rasikas boosted my confidence. Through my intense training I have experienced the freedom this art form allows to rediscover the artiste in you and reinterpret the nuances. So you can be contemporary without crossing the classical boundaries. What is important though is to learn presentation skills to suit the changing times and have a knowledge of other genres too.
Name: Nisha Rajagopal
Training: Mother, Vasundhara Rajagopal, T.R. Subramaniam, Calcutta K.S. Krishnamoorthy, Suguna Varadachary, and P.S. Narayanswamy.
Academic qualification: Electronic Engineer
Career jottings: When I decided as a 15-year-old to continue my training I never imagined a day would come when I would give 10 concerts in December. A deep connect with the art has to be the driving force. Family support is equally important. My grandparents, parents, sister and now, my fiancé, share the joy I derive from being on stage. For two years, I tried balancing music and office work but soon realised I had to make a choice and obviously it was music. This is the time and age I can assimilate and absorb as much as I can by listening to stalwarts and seeking guidance from experts. I am happy youngsters are considering Carnatic music as a career option though there is no guarantee of a monthly pay cheque! It is also heartening to see young faces in the audience. If music appreciation is introduced in schools and homes we will have more youngsters enjoying the arts.
Keywords: Carnatic music