Young musicians talk about the music season in the city

For nine nights, the city transforms into a mega stage for music and dance performances of different kinds. Musicians and music lovers dash from one venue to the other to participate in concerts and to listen to stalwarts and newcomers strike a chord with discerning audiences during the Navarathri celebrations.

The hallowed Navarathri Mandapam near Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple has been the nerve centre of these festivities for nearly 200 years. As time went by, temples, sabhas and cultural organisations got into the act. Every day, several concerts bring forth the majesty of classical music as the city celebrates its date with the fine arts. MetroPlus speaks to young musicians who have enriched their musical vocabulary from these intense musical conversations.


Lead singer, Masala Coffee

Sooraj Santhosh

Sooraj Santhosh  

Nine days of unlimited Carnatic music. You can’t ask for more. I used to give concerts during the Navarathri season before I shifted to Chennai and have travelled across Kerala to perform. I have been a regular to most of the music festivals held during Navarathri in the city. I have attended concerts at Navarathri Mandapam and those organised by sabhas every year. You know there is a different vibe and positive energy about the season. There is something extra special, I would say and it is not just about singing. And I don’t miss that feeling even though I am now in Chennai, where you have music all through the year. It is an exciting time on the personal front, as my wife, Anjali Panicker, a classical dancer, is performing at her native place in Thrissur at the Navarathri festival.


Lead singer, Vidwan



Music is a truth; it’s a part of nature, always in the air, as true and as essential as the air we breathe. My devotion to music is constant and as such, I feel, there is no need for an occasion to ‘celebrate’ it per se. That said, I make use of the opportunity to listen to the plentiful music concerts in the city during the season and at other times throughout the year. I’m trained in both Hindustani and Carnatic classical music and I enjoy going for concerts that I know I’ll like, particularly Hindustani and always end up having a good time. I’ve heard and been inspired by the likes of Sanjay Subramanyam, Wadali Brothers, Parveen Sultana, the Manganiyars of Rajasthan... Listening to a concert, however minor, is always an inspiring experience. What fascinates me as a singer is the journey the musician goes through as he/she explores the nuances of music.



Charu Hariharan

Charu Hariharan  

The season has always been special for me as a musician, irrespective of whether I am participating in a concert or not. In fact it is the time when I invariably get an opportunity to play for leading musicians. Umpteen music festivals are organised by temples and sabhas and so there is always a need for accompanists. I have often been called to fill in when a mridangam accompanist fails to make it to a concert. You get so much satisfaction as a musician and remuneration is never a priority at Navarathri concerts. There is a divine feeling all around and the ambience at the venues, especially the temples, enhances the mood. I remember one such concert at Harippad where I accompanied Maya Varma. There was no stage and the concert was inside the temple with natural lighting provided by traditional lamps. I am going to miss the festivities this year as I am travelling to Sweden with my band.


Carnatic vocalist and playback singer

K.S. Harishankar

K.S. Harishankar  

As a student of classical music, I have attended several concerts at the Navarathri Mandapam. There is a tradition of music there that instils you in certain values as a singer and listener and I was able to imbibe that because I was a regular there during the Navarathri festival.

Now, there are several recitals in the city and each is a lesson for youngsters like us. Their repertoire, style of singing, choice of ragas, pattern of swaras… You learn so much. All that helps me while I am singing, whether it be a concert or a film song. It is that solid base in Carnatic music that helps me tackle different genres of music.

This is a busy season for musicians. I had to miss one concert here because I had to go for a recording for Illyaraja sir in Chennai. I had concerts at NSS College and in some temples as well. It is music, music and more music.


Composer and female vocalist, Avial

Neha Nair

Neha Nair  

While doing my BA in music, we used to attend almost all the classical concerts in the city, including those at the Navarathri Mandapam and at Kuthiramalika. All that listening makes itself felt while composing or singing. It is not tangible but palpable.

As a child, the only kind of music I used to listen to was old films songs and classical music. That is the base for me. However, it was music festivals that really opened my mind and helped me think out of the box and changed my perspectives. So classical music is the foundation on which I have developed my kind of music.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 2:56:08 AM |

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