One of the oldest sabhas in the State, the Rasika Ranjana Sabha’s tech-savvy efforts to reach young Carnatic music artistes have paid off, with its annual music competitions attracting upcoming artistes from across India this year.

Every June, the sabha, which is nearing its centenary year, switches to competition mode. Apart from conducting cultural programmes, the sabha promotes young talent in vocal, veena, mridangam, and violin through the annual competition. This year 210 candidates have turned up, with participants hailing from Mumbai, Kolkata, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Thrissur, and Bangalore, says N. Sekar, secretary of the sabha.

The stream of candidates from across the country has only upped the quality of the competition.

“We have had overwhelming response for the vocal competition at the junior level alone, with 101 candidates,” says Mr. Sekar. The coveted “Sangeetha Sri” title which requires vocal artistes in the senior category to go through a regimen of 35 rounds will see seven contestants in the fray this time, which is twice the usual number. The rigorousness of the competition demands a participant must have mastered at least 100 compositions to contend.

Snail mail to e-mail

The sabha, which had followed the conventional method by sending postal applications on request, has gone digital — by sending e-mail applications to candidates outside Tiruchi — and allowed them to return completed forms by e-mail. “This has been an advantage to participants from other States and helped a number of last-minute applicants meet the deadline on time,” says Mr. Sekar. The sabha is experimenting with a website with facility for aspirants to upload their applications online. It provides free accommodation for the participant and parents from outside Tamil Nadu, which enthuses them.

High standards

The sabha which holds competitions under the sub-junior (5-10 years), junior (below 15) and senior (above 15) categories has a reputation for maintaining high standards. Prizes are awarded only if the participants meet a certain percentage of the total evaluation score, which has led to some contests not having a first prize winner. Vocalists in the junior category participate in 12 rounds respectively to contend for the L.V. Memorial Shield. “The competition also provides an opportunity for young artistes to compare their mettle with someone of the same age group,” says the secretary.

While vocal singing accounts for more than four-fifths of the total competition, patronage for instruments like veena and violin have not been enthusiastic, has as been the trend in recent years. The exception has been the mridangam contest for which participants have swelled. The vocal contest for junior category would be held between June 14 and 16 and for senior category between June 20 and 23.

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