Music

Musical bond

Gayathri Venkatraghavan performing in Latvia

Gayathri Venkatraghavan performing in Latvia  

Gayathri Venkatraghavan on the experience of performing in Latvia

I was seeing them after almost a fortnight. I would usually meet them during my early morning walk. So I stopped to enquire why they were not to be seen. “I was away at Latvia for a music festival,” said Carnatic vocalist GayathriVenkatraghavan as I looked quizzically at her husband. He laughed and said, “Yes, you heard it right.” A rather unusual destination for a Carnatic musician, I thought and decided to catch up with her for details.

When we met later in the day, Gayathri spoke of singing classical Carnatic music in a country on the Baltic sea. “Sandra Zanberga, a Latvian, has been the force behind the festival, ‘Introvert ART Ad Lucem,” she informed. “For many decades, Latvia had been reeling under the impact of constant invasions,” she continued. In order to bring their culture back to glory, Sandra has been organising this festival where musicians from various parts of the world perform,” explained Gayathri.

But how did they connect? Sandra, who often is in Chennai during the December Season, heard Gayathri at one of her concerts and invited her to be a part of the festival. The two-hour concert, held in a beautiful 16thcentury church, was well attended by Latvians and Europeans belonging to different age groups. “The moment I started the concert with the Guru sloka, most of them got up from their chairs and sat on the floor in Padmasana (meditative posture) and remained like that till the end. It was a moving experience,” said Gayathri, who could feel the bond that her music had created.

The positive response was a pleasant surprise to the entire team — Gayathri’s disciple, Aliza Kirshna from Moscow who strummed the tambura, and the accompanists, Mysore Srikanth and Manoj Siva. “It was a totally new experience. None of them knew about our music yet they enjoyed it thoroughly. I realised that if presented in the right way, our music can be a great way to connect cultures,” pointed out Srikanth in a phone conversation.

Audience wanted more

“I knew little about Latvia when Gayathri invited me to join her for this concert. I was not sure how it would be received. But we found that the audience wanted more of it,” said Manoj Siva. Gayathri presented ‘Sri Dakshinamurthim,’ an RTP in Keeravani, a few Surdasbhajans and verses from Thevaram. “The performance reiterated the truth that music is beyond language and geographical barriers. The medieval church provided the perfect ambience,” she said.

Performances such this, according to Gayathri, broadens the musician’s vision. “I was prompted to rise above techniques and touch the core of music. In the process, I realised how the divinity in it connected souls,” she summed up.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 3:35:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/gayathri-on-a-swara-trip/article19553046.ece

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