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Is Adyar emerging as a cultural hub?

T. S. Atul Swaminathan
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A concert at Hamsadhwani.
A concert at Hamsadhwani.

T. S. Atul Swaminathan

Going by the growth of music festivals in Adyar and its neighbouring areas this year, one wonders whether it was developing into a Carnatic hub on the lines of T. Nagar and Mylapore. This writer spoke to a cross-section of people.

“There are some cultural organisations, which conduct Music and Dance festival only during the Madras Music Season (December-January), but institutions like The Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha, Krishna Gana Sabha, Indian Fine Arts, Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Kartik Fine Arts and Hamsadhwani conduct programmes throughout the year. These have been possible by the members and the organisers, “R. Sundar, Secretary, Hamsadhwani, said.

There is a need to improve the infrastructure in the Sabhas. The government support is lacking in building auditoriums in Adyar and growing suburbs. Most of the institutions are located in Mylapore and T. Nagar. However, the growing rasika population in Adyar will make the large neighbourhood in south Chennai on par with Mylapore and T. Nagar in the coming years, Mr. Sundar pointed out.

“The Sabhas are located in the central part of Mylapore and T. Nagar. They are well-connected by trains and buses. Nayaki, a cultural association was started in 1994 to cater to the needs of Carnatic music lovers residing in Kotturpuram, “ S.G. Rajagopalan, founder-secretary, Nayaki, said.

However, S. Venugopalan, a resident of Besant Nagar, differs. He feels Adyar will become a Carnatic hub like Mylapore and T. Nagar.

No big sabhas

“Adyar will become like Mylapore and T. Nagar as the prominent neighbourhood is home to legends - Padma Subrahmanyam, Adyar K. Lakshmanan, V. P. Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan.

But, it is strange that Adyar does not have big sabhas except Hamsadhwani and Nayaki. Kalakshetra, of course is an institution. Aura and habit induce rasikas to travel out of Adyar in search of quality cultural programmes,” he added.

“Adyar, definitely is an important centre for Carnatic music, as there is a good mix of young and old people for classical concerts. Adyar has a cosmopolitan population that favours different genres of music including Carnatic,” T. Ramakrishnan, a resident of Adyar, said.

“Listeners have their own choice. They want to socialise with relatives and friends, and want to catch up with sabha menus, “ Mr. Sundar says.

He pointed out that Sabhas in suburban areas have drawn inspiration from the successful Hamsadhwani model pioneered by founder-secretary R. Ramachandran, who had the vision to cater to the rasikas of Adyar and its neighbouring areas.

It is worthwhile to conduct festivals to encourage larger audience. But, programmes with quality and variety is the need of the hour, he added.

“That Carnatic music is for older people is a misconception. Nowadays, many youngsters throng the sabhas in the city. Most of the youngsters come from Adyar, Mylapore, and T. Nagar. Be it jazz, pop or Hindustani concert in the city, there is a sizeable number of young and old people from Adyar for the concert, " R. Vishwanathan said.

To sum up, Adyar has immense potential to develop a la Mylapore and T. Nagar but it will take time. What with traffic bottlenecks and rising fuel prices, lovers of music and dance will be happy if this happens sooner than later.

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