Chennai stays pitch-perfect – The Hindu


Whereas they bravely tailored to the digital world, singers and audiences returned to dwell live shows with open reduction

Whereas they bravely tailored to the digital world, singers and audiences returned to dwell live shows with open reduction

After two years of Covid-induced interruption when the Chennai music season briefly returned to dwell live shows on the finish of 2021, what was on show was placing resilience and the town’s age-old dedication to its favorite artwork — from musicians, the sabhas, and the music lovers. It noticed all of them seamlessly shifting between the digital and actual worlds in what might be referred to as Chennai’s first hybrid season.

Probably the most outstanding characteristic was definitely the resilience, and its demonstration got here primarily from the musicians, the life-force behind the decades-long custom. Since March-April 2020, they’d been denied their profession, livelihood, and the crucial join that they get pleasure from with their followers. Musicians, extra so classical musicians, are unanimous of their opinion that acting on stage is what retains them going. Beneath regular circumstances, denying that chance for such an extended interval ought to make them unsure and downcast, however Chennai’s Carnatic singers saved singing and exploring, not caring if they’d a stage to carry out or not.

After they lastly got here again to the massive stage, all of them had been raring to go. Some had improved on their voice vary, some on their methods, some on the aesthetics and expressions, some on their repertoire and most of them on all these components. Their threat urge for food too appeared to have gone up. Clearly, the diligence and integrity that Carnatic music calls for from its practitioners had influenced them in different methods too.

The break “gave me time to introspect, be taught, revise, pay attention and observe,” says Amrita Murali, who was fairly busy each with dwell and digital live shows whereas Ramakrishnan Murthy discovered the additional observe and listening time “wonderful”. “Practising and listening only for the sake of musical enrichment, somewhat than goal-oriented studying; I actually cherished all that point.”

Naturally, the dedication with which the musicians persevered with their artwork was unmissable on stage. Though many main sabhas organised dwell live shows, each ticketed and free, the attendance was a lot thinner in all probability due to Covid fears amongst senior residents, the absence of outstation music lovers, and the flash floods in some components of the town.

 K. Bharat Sundar

Okay. Bharat Sundar

Nevertheless, the sight of sparsely occupied halls because the curtains went up didn’t appear to faze the musicians or make them carry out beneath par or for shorter durations. If something, some regarded extra spirited. “In as a lot as it’s at all times incredible and gratifying to sing to a full home, I’ve at all times revered the viewers I’ve had. The quantity doesn’t pull down my spirits or the standard that I wish to keep,” says Amrita. In keeping with the Akkarai Sisters, the recommendation of their father-guru Akkarai S. Swamynathan — ”Do your work with devotion and dedication with out worrying about outcomes” — saved them focussed.

An auditorium with limited rasikas enjoying a concert.

An auditorium with restricted rasikas having fun with a live performance.

Though a number of sabha-hopping older regulars had been lacking, it was compensated to a small extent by different, youthful age teams. Bharath Sundar mentioned he observed a number of younger folks within the viewers, a really encouraging signal. Amrita did “miss seeing sure die-hard elder rasikas,” but in addition discovered it gladdening to see extra younger folks. S. Saketharaman additionally observed this modification. “I noticed fairly just a few first-timers together with kids who attended the previous few dwell live shows.”

All musicians had been, expectedly, unsettled by the extended clamp-down on performances and, extra importantly, on earnings, however seem to have shortly gathered the power to maneuver on. “Professionally, it was certainly a setback. It’s our bread and butter. However when you concentrate on it, it was like a sabbatical. Now once I sing at a live performance, the best way I have a look at it itself could be very completely different,” says Bharath Sundar. “For any performing artiste, it has not been very simple to come back to phrases with the impossible state of affairs of those final two years,” say the Akkarai Sisters. As S. Saketharaman says, “The dwell expertise is in our DNA.”

Improved on aesthetics

If necessity compelled the town’s music ecosystem to go digital final season, this 12 months they significantly improved on manufacturing values and aesthetics. One downside, nevertheless, was that common live performance goers, who had been initially gung-ho about digital live shows, appeared slightly fatigued by the extreme provide — there was an excessive amount of content material, each free and paid, during the last two years. For the musician, nevertheless, it didn’t matter in the event that they had been doing a digital or dwell live performance. “As soon as the music begins, it is solely concerning the music. To not say that I did not miss dwell live shows; I undoubtedly did, however the focus adjustments after these few preliminary moments,” says Ramakrishnan Murthy.

Regardless of issues about digital fatigue, Mahesh Venkateswaran of MadRasana, a pioneer in progressive presentation of Carnatic music, believes digital is right here to remain. “In case you current the digital format as a alternative to the stage, then you aren’t actually leveraging it to the fullest. However in case you current it in a approach that can’t be replicated in dwell stage exhibits, then you could have one thing particular to indicate to the viewers that’s completely different.”

Saketharaman agrees. “Digital content material needs to be curated rigorously, offered utilizing state-of-the-art expertise and marketed appropriately,” he says.

If digital was the innovation final time, this 12 months it was the broader use of on-line ticketing, which pushed the sabha ecosystem ahead. Though metropolis entrepreneurs have needed to collaborate with the sabhas to promote tickets through the years, there was resistance previously. This time, the lobby of most halls welcomed folks with bar-codes.

Regardless of every little thing, digital stays an afterthought. As the subsequent wave of the pandemic tightens its grip, Chennai’s musicians hope dwell live shows will proceed. Sandeep Narayan summarises it succinctly: “It was exhilarating to return to the live performance stage and see dwell faces. In the long run, it’s the dwell live performance expertise that provides me what I’m in search of.”

The author is a journalist-turned-UN official-turned-columnist primarily based in Travancore.


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