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Highs and lows of Chennai January season
Compiled by Lalitha Venkat

Jan 24, 2007
When I was performing continuously, there were lathi charges for my programs. There were college students, young people, all kinds. That enthusiasm comes only due to an individual. It is not just the power of the dance form.
Yamini Krishnamurthy ('Yours Yamini!' by Anjana Rajan, The Hindu, Dec 22, 2006)

A sound knowledge of music is what makes a dancer complete. Attending kutcheries could do a lot of good. Sometimes, I feel sad that today all of us (artistes) are so engrossed in our own preparation that we hardly take time out to attend kutcheries.
(Meenakshi Chittaranjan in 'My festival,' Music Season, The Hindu, Jan 3, 2007)

A positive suggestion to the sabha organisers. Subtle aesthetic stage decor utilising professional consultancy will certainly enhance the enviable status that Krishna Gana Sabha already enjoys.
(Saraswathi Vasudhevan in 'Scores with facial expressions,' The Hindu, Friday Review, Jan 5, 2007)

Coming to the issue of 'newness,' are we rasikas putting pressure on the artistes? Are we goading them to only think 'new'?
(Rupa Srikanth in 'Margam, Malavika style,' Music Season, The Hindu, Jan 5, 2007)

Sabha tickets are sold as daily tickets. For a dance performance, you buy the ticket in the evening so there is no other performance you can attend. It becomes very expensive, so you find the audience scattered mainly at the back in the hall, while all front rows are empty. What a pity! Will sabhas reduce the last show tickets please?
(V Balasubramanian & Rupa Sriaknath in 'Music Matters,' The Hindu, Music Season, Jan 5, 2007)

Bharatanatyam has taken me round the world, which I never did as a film star, except perhaps to receive awards.
(Vyjayanthimala Bali in 'Screen, stage and beyond' by Anjana Rajan, The Hindu, Metro Plus, Jan 15, 2007)

I think the press covers only certain time slots and certain prominent sabhas. Except at Hamsadhwani, the time slots given to NRIs are usually ignored.
(US based vocalist Rajeswari Satish in 'Birds of the same feather' by Sujatha Vijayaraghavan, Music Season, The Hindu, Jan 2, 2007)

I have enjoyed every moment of my playing, especially during the season. It's like being part of a mega family function. Look around, you will see people brightly attired and happy. Relaxed mind, melody and nice clothes is a healthy combination.

More than all this, the Margazhi Mahotsav is a meeting place for artistes and art lovers from around the world. Friendships are made and ideas are exchanged. With each passing year, we are also learning to look at classical arts from different time and culture zones.

The concert duration has shrunk, audience expectations are changing and the celebration is getting bigger and bigger.
I feel happy thinking about the day when I first picked up the saxophone after seeing it at the Mysore palace.
(Kadri Gopalnath in 'My festival,' Music Season, The Hindu, Jan 2, 2007)

Young mridangist Rohan Krishnamurthy, recipient of the 'Yuva Kala Bharati' from Bharat Kalachar is perplexed that even artistes, whom he regularly accompanies in the US, opt for local accompanists for their concerts in Chennai.
('Birds of the same feather' by Sujatha Vijayaraghavan, Music Season, The Hindu, Jan 2, 2007)

These days, when popular singers perform and the hall is overflowing, the practice is to make the listeners sit on the dais close to the group. But why do the accompanists position themselves so close to the artiste, so much so that it obstructs the view for the audience and more so for the photographers?
- G Swaminathan ('Music Matters,' The Hindu, Music Season, Jan 2, 2007)

Unlike now, you could count the number of sabhas on your fingers and the festival would be on for just few days. The artistes would perform at their own pace. Some kutcheris would stretch to almost 4 or 5 hours. Yet, you could hardly see anybody leaving half way through a concert.

When artistes and organizers get over-ambitious, it spells disaster for the art. Changes are inevitable and there is no cause for panic because satyam is bound to succeed.
(R Vedavalli in 'My festival,' Music Season, The Hindu, Jan 5, 2007)

Art under assault
One often hears that classical arts are under assault from the more popular media like films and television. The Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival at Kamarajar Hall the other day provided a unique example of this phenomenon. As Kathak maestro Birju Maharj took the stage with his accompanists seated to his right, as per tradition, one could discern one more 'artiste' on his left. This was a camera person presumably from one of the numerous TV channels covering the event. He remained glued to his spot throughout the presentation.

But when the Swedish violinist Anna Schulze was playing her solo, the cinematographer in him seems to have leapt out. Like the proverbial bee to the honey, he made his inexorable way towards the centre of the stage. A ripple of laughter turned into a surge in the 1000 strong crowd, as the cameraman crept towards the apple of his eye, who to her credit ignored him and continued playing. One could only imagine her discomfiture at having the audience guffawing while she was playing serious music. If she was unperturbed, so was he.

In what looked like some comic choreography, he retreated to his position, only to start towards her again, crouching dramatically, the camera perched on his shoulder. The second time, he placed himself between the artiste and the audience, swaying to the music. Must have taken some dramatic footage. A few protests arose from the audience, but what were the oganisers doing?
- Anjana Rajan ('Music Matters,' The Hindu, Music Season, Jan 2, 2007)

A mix-up
Given an afternoon slot, the young vocalist promptly arrived with her accompanists and near and dear ones. But on the notice board and the newspapers, the name was different. So the other vocalist also arrived with her pakka vadyam and actually started her recital.
The girl's grandfather, meanwhile, was making frantic efforts to reach the secretary on the phone. One did not know what the response was but the group left after a while.
- G Swaminathan ('Music Matters,' The Hindu, Music Season, Jan 3, 2007)

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