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A musical journey

RITHVIK RAJA
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SILVER JUBILEE For 25 years. The Youth Association of Classical Music has given young artists a platform to show their talent while using innovative methods to getthe young intereted in Carnatic music. RITHVIK RAJAtraces YACM's growth and its impact on the Carnatic music scene.

Today we know the Youth Association for Classical Music (YACM) as an association for young musicians. But it was quite novel when it began in 1985. It was formed when a few youngsters from the Vivekananda College felt the need for a forum dedicated exclusively to Carnatic Music.

Encouraging young talent

It was a very different atmosphere back then. There were few opportunities for young musicians; no festivals to showcase their talent; Even the music season did not feature many slots fro juniors, unlike today when youngsters are getting many openings to catch the eye.

Enter YACM. The organisation started with the objective of providing more concert opportunities to deserving youth. Apparently there was a time when every sabha would ask an applicant (for a concert) if he or she had performed in YACM events. Such was the benchmark of quality that the association set.

Almost every top Carnatic musician today had their first few performances thanks to YACM.It did not stop with providing concert opportunities. Its innovative methods to reach out to more rasikas led to many turning up for youth concerts resulting in a new kind of concert culture that did not compromise on tradition: one that we know as the contemporary concert experience.

Popularising Carnatic music

YACM brought out a four-page-magazine, Dhwani, to be distributed to the rasikas. It contained information about the artists, small games and puzzles related to Carnatic music to keep the audience engaged before and after the concerts. It also had many interesting anecdotes, tidbits, small notes and articles to help the rasikas understand the nuances of music better.

Every concert of YACM was presided over by a senior artiste who would give their comments and views on the concert, which would be printed in the next day's Dhwani. This constructive criticism highlighted both positive and negative aspects. Even the artistes had to wait with the rasikas to open the Dhwani to know what the feedback was.

The tremendous increase in the number of demonstrations and workshops after the launch of YACM is probably one of its biggest contributions.The fact that an organisation of such enormity was being run so efficiently, not by the highly experienced, but by growing musicians was encouraged with great fondness by great vidvans and vidushis.

In addition, YACM also designed a number of games: Akshara Andadhi, Thala Tharangini, Svara Jam... all designed to promote the learning, understanding and assimilating of Carnatic Music in a casual and relaxed manner. The forum provided a platform for musicians to exchange cassettes, share thoughts and ideas and sometimes even for heated arguments, all stemming from their passion for music. It gave students the freedom to ask questions and clear their doubts with senior musicians.

Innovative programmes

BAR (Build-a-Rasika) was one of the programmes introduced to spread awareness about Carnatic Music among the youth. This programme aims to impart basic knowledge of the system and to get people involved in the art form and has reached more than 100 schools across Tamil Nadu .

Another mega event that caught people's attention was YACM's Millennium show. A grand event organised to welcome the new millennium, it saw six generations of musicians coming together to pay tribute to Carnatic Music.

The event included artistes like the great Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer who inaugurated the show to about 500 school students singing Maithreem Bhajatha as the grand finale.

This event saw many new elements in Carnatic music world: a big screen showing the programmes outside the overflowing venue, powerPoint presentations , professional lighting, stage and sound set up, a professional and aggressive approach towards advertising and media, publicity. This event also saw tickets being sold in black for the first time!

YACM is celebrating its 25 {+t} {+h} anniversary this year and the celebrations will be held at the Music Academy from the August 21-29.

Rithvik Raja is the current president of YACM

Every concert of YACM was presided over by a senior artiste who would give their comments and views on the concert, which would be printed in the next day's Dhwani



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