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Madrasana’s upcoming stage concert brings together six powerhouse musicians for the first time

The Alliance-Francaise stage has hosted every kind of concert, from European musicians capturing audiences with their signature jazz groove to classical Indian jugalbandis. This weekend, it is contemporary fusion, courtesy Madrasana. Mahesh Venkateswaran, founder of the Chennai-based arts and culture organisation, says, “We’ve always wanted to present the classical arts in a different way, without restricting ourselves to certain performance styles or parameters. With this concert, we’re practically traversing adjacent sides of classical music by including new elements in presentation.”

Twist in the tale

The show, ROOTS, which debuts tonight, is a celebration of the works of saints like Kabirdas, Arunagirinathar and Adishankaracharya, but with a twist. “The musicians will be using familiar elements like classical vocals, infused with the sounds of the cajoun and guitar. It’s a contemporary spin on the classics,” Venkateswaran adds.

The concert brings together the band Poorva, featuring musicians Sean Roldan, Susha Raja, Pradeep Kumar, and Shallu Varun, with artistes Vedanth Bharadwaj and Bindhumalini. “The collaboration capitalises on what the band is built on — innovating and discovering new art by tracing old texts and literature,” Kumar says. It is an exciting prospect for both audience and artistes. “As singers, there’s so much scope for what we can put together and how we can play off of each other,” Raja chimes in.

Bharadwaj says the venture is only one example of the direction Chennai is taking, artistically. “Classical music today isn’t necessarily what it used to be a century ago. Evolution has taken its course, and we’re just happy that we get a chance to explore the art as it evolves and share our discoveries with an audience,” he smiles.

Different strokes

While Madrasana have gained a massive following for their ‘secret-society style’ garden concerts and aesthetically-shot Unplugged videos (released weekly), the stage is where Venkateswaran hopes to branch out. “Our first two concerts, featuring vocalists Bharat Sundar and Ramakrishnan Murthy respectively, were themed classicals. With this, we wanted to experiment with the content,” Venkateswaran adds.

With the show being sold out in only 48 hours, Venkateswaran attributes the hype to the artistes, who, in turn, credit the content, which they say transforms the stage. “We are drawn to the stories that these ancient texts carry,” says Kumar. The music is simply the medium, carrying meaning that is more powerful than any of us know. In conclusion, he says, “We run behind good stories. Our art is simply the mouthpiece through which we interpret and present.”

ROOTS will take place today at Alliance Francaise from 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm. Mail support@madrasana.com for details.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 9:45:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/madrasana-when-genres-collide/article23696141.ece

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