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Future resonance

Carnatic artistes Srikrishna Mohan, Akkarai S Subhalakshmi and Nisha Rajagopal at the Namma Chennai event. Photo: R. Ragu  

Kamarkats, honey-balls, mango wedges, butter-biscuits, pattani sundal and sukku kaapi were served at the swanky Chamiers Hall, Sheraton Park and Towers, and the three young panellists at the Namma Chennai talk-series “Future of Concerts” were right on cue. We're trained in the rigorous Carnatic music tradition, they said, but fully grasp the changing trends, and are ready to adapt to the tech world.

“Namma Chennai is a perfect host for musicians,” said Srikrishna Mohan of the “Trichur Brothers” opening the conversation with Nisha Rajagopal and Akkarai S Subhalakshmi. It was sweet coincidence that all three of them started elsewhere and gravitated to Chennai for the love of music. “I'm asked how I manage to pursue a traditional art form while practising chartered accountancy,” he said. “Fact is, once this art form touches your heart, it becomes part of your life. My priority is music; the office understands and allows me flexibility.” Finding that balance is hard, agreed Nisha, who had worked for a software company. “Music is a 24x7 passion.” But she was lucky she had the support to invest time and energy in music and chose to give up her job. Violinist Subhalakshmi was spared of the dilemma “as my father and guru, Akkarai S Swamynathan, decided that music would be my only focus from day one.” In Delhi, he would play recordings of great masters and “had me accompany them. I understood the nuances and intricacies of music at a very young age” and could accompany musical greats such as Balamuralikrishna, N. Ravikiran and Flute Ramani.

Music is never an impediment to education, they argued. Proposing inclusion of music in the curriculum, Nisha said, “Music helps to focus on other subjects.” There can be tailor-made courses for children. With opportunities available for youngsters, music is financially viable too. You can travel — in India and abroad. “My name was all over the place after I gave my first concert in Chennai accompanying Abhishek Raghuram at the Mylapore Fine Arts Club,” said Subhalakshmi. “Keep practising, learn something new every day.”

Fusion music is fine, they said. Be open-minded, said Srikrishna, who leads the band Anubhuthi. “Fusion brings different genres together,” said Subhalakshmi, but core classical values must be maintained. Whether it is with Hindustani or Western, knowledge of those streams is a must. “Otherwise it could lead to con-fusion!” Any form of propagating Carnatic music gives people an opportunity to listen to it, added Nisha. “Our music brings musicians together.”

Concert halls now fill with young, involved rasikas. Globalisation of Carnatic music draws non-Indians to concerts and to teachers. Technology makes music and performers accessible. “Music is learned in different ways, we use tech-aids,” said Nisha. Reality shows and competitions propagate music. Great, except it's important to remember performances are part of the journey, not the destination. “Thanks to our parents and gurus, our focus was on music, not public performances,” they said. “Parents should not pressurise children to learn for the sake of appearing in shows.”

The panellists charmed the audience — they sang, shared anecdotes about their gurus, answered questions on the importance of being presentable on stage, taking care of the voice in an era of packed concert schedules, of practicing yoga and pranayama, and keeping fit — since performing is mentally and physically exhausting.



(Namma Chennai is a monthly event that focuses on different aspects of the city and is jointly organised by MetroPlus, The Hindu and Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers)


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 12:32:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/future-resonance/article3006487.ece

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