Everything has to be perfect
“This is our first visit to Coimbatore,” says Srinivasa Murthy. The violinist has trained, mentored and conducted the youngsters who comprise the Sunshine Orchestra, a project of the AR Rahman Foundation.
On May 1, nine members of the orchestra led by Srinivasa Murthy will perform along with mandolin player Aravind Bhargav. “It is a strings section — violin, viola, cello, and bass — and the children are all between 19 and 21 years.”
The orchestra was established around eight years ago to provide children from underprivileged backgrounds with an education in and exposure to music. Srinivasa Murthy, who has been with the initiative from the beginning, explains, “Students join us when they are in Std VII or VIII. Till they complete Std XII, they have an hour’s training every day; like a pre-foundation course. It’s getting them ready for the next day. After they finish school, those interested in pursuing a career in music join the orchestra. The training is rigorous; every day from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.” It takes 2-3 years of learning and practice before they step on to the performing stage. “Practice makes perfect,” is Srinivasa Murthy’s adage. “Everything has to be perfect,” he exclaims. “Achieving perfection takes time and constant practice is the only way to do it.”
- When: May 1; 6.00 pm
- Where Kumaraguru College of Technology Auditorium, Saravanampatti
- Pay-as-you-wish passes available at Annalakshmi, 41, Government Arts College Road (9894947810); Lavanya Craft Shop, Maruthamalai Road (9994494992); Temple of Fine Arts, Maruthamalai Road (9944954789)
For Jaalam , the orchestra will perform with mandolin player Aravind Bhargav. Apart from presenting its pieces, the orchestra will also infuse Western symphonies into Aravind’s Carnatic melodies. “Of course we have to rehearse,” exclaims Srinivasa Murthy when I ask if they are meeting with Aravind. “A Carnatic kutcheri is different. They will say manodharma (improvisation) and play what they want. Inga manodharmam ellam kedayadhu (no manodharma here)! Everything has to be written down and everyone needs to know their parts.”
He has asked for one rehearsal with the “rhythm section” (he means the percussionists). “They need time for the tani avartanam too,” he explains. “We’ve not met them yet but it’s okay. Once we’re on stage, it will all fall into place.”
A tribute to the guru
Aravind Bhargav grew up in an atmosphere of music. His mother was a disciple of the renowned Vidwan M Balamuralikrishna but his “musical journey”, as he calls it, began when she took him to Mandolin U Shrinivas. “Though a vocalist, she wanted me to learn an instrument.” He was six when he began classes with the maestro. “My first class was on my birthday,” he recalls, “and I was captivated by the sound of the mandolin and the way he played.” Ask if he has an any special memories, “so many,” he says wistfully. “Once he had taught me a piece and I had practised very hard. When I performed for him, he praised me but I asked, ‘Did I play it like you?’ He smiled and said, ‘Keep practising like this and you will play even better than me’.” Aravind made his kutcheri début in 2008 and has been performing since 2009.
For Jaalam , Aravind has a unique presentation as a tribute to his guru. “This year is his 50th birth anniversary and the concept was suggested by veena vidwan Kannan Balakrishnan. I will perform a special composition of 50 ragas in 20 minutes.” Aravind agrees that he had to adapt to be able to perform with the orchestra. “The basic approach to performance is very different,” he says, “I couldnt let my mind or fingers wander, as I would in a kutcheri ”, and and laughs when I mention Srinivasa Murthy’s comment on manodharma . “It’s a great honour to perform with him. He has been doing this with so many artistes that working it out was quite easy. He was very open to and receptive of ideas despite being such a senior musician.”
Having performed with the orchestra earlier – he released a video in September for his guru's death anniversary – Aravind says the main thing was to ensure that the orchestra got its space. Percussion support will be provided by vidwans Patri Satish Kumar on the mridangam and Harihara Subramanian on the ghatam .