The Piano Man Music

Crystal gazing into 2022

I started the New Year as always performing with Jayanthi Kumaresh at Kalakshetra in Chennai. And, as always, the concert saw a large turn-out, including WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan. We seized the opportunity and asked her how this wave was going to play out and what we ought to be prepared for.

Her response was — don’t fret and fear.

I paused to reflect on how the two earlier waves had impacted the artiste community. Many losses have been irreplaceable, including the loss to a whole generation of young creators of being introduced on a live stage. Their worldviews have been altered forever. Given the plethora of problems that everyone has faced, the problems of performers or visual artists do not strike me as the most severe or disturbing.

In my columns through the pandemic, I focused on platforms and technologies that have dominated the hybrid landscape. I have highlighted trends in the performing arts including the blurring of boundaries in collaborative endeavours and creations.

In the coming year, we will see leaps in technology and the arrival of more platforms that commoditise art and commercialise its value. There will be some winners and some losers, with many in the latter category being valuable creators in the real world but befuddled by the new technological normal.

We will see more untrained but potent talent make it to the centre stage and, of course, the ever-pervasive effect of social media and fame-crazy celebrities in creating content that acquires virality for questionable reasons.

The next generation of music creators are here. Many of them got here with hard and inventive work, while some others have benefited by making good choices.

Content will become even more diversified — more productions, films, musicals and stage shows will emerge from the mists of the pandemic. The era of the ‘big star’ is over. Every talent will have its share of the spotlight but should learn to focus on the journey and the craft and not on validation.

It will be a more confusing world to navigate, and technology will get even more entrenched and demanding. It is up to each one of us to learn where to draw the line, what to share, how to moderate and conduct ourselves. Sadly this is easier said than done.

Hybrid living

Stress and psychological distress will definitely rise among creative individuals, given the hybrid reality we have to confront, and the resetting that will inevitably occur.

Content collaboratives will emerge — more syndicates will form that bring together multimedia and live art. Definitions of ‘classicism’ will continue to be debated and reshaped as they have been in the past.

There is no more a denial of the notion that we have changed. As a race. As humankind. The generations emerging out of the pandemic have a different learning trajectory, thanks to missing out on crucial years of live learning. Their expectations are different, along with a more pixelated worldview, and validation metrics that seem to be set on quantifiable metrics available on social platforms.

We need more patience with ourselves as creators. We will need more compassion in evaluating ourselves as well as others in our networks. We have to embrace change, and be gracious about it. We will have to accept that it is perhaps time for some of us to bow out or take a sidestep and allow a bright young world to thrive and add its signature to the ever-changing patterns of creative oeuvres.

To have lived through this is a triumph in itself. To have created despite it is even bigger. For now, let us take a pause. And breathe. This is an achievement in itself.

The writer is a well-known pianist, educator and associate professor at Krea University.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 8:37:36 pm |