Saturday, 16 December 2017

A surprise for N. Ravikiran

One brother surprised another on the opening evening of a music and dance festival that is now on in Thiruvanmiyur, south Chennai.
K. N. Shashikiran's Carnatica has partnered Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha to host a music fest at the auditorium of a school campus.
The consul-general of the USA in Chennai was the chief guest at the inauguration. It was here that Shashikiran announced the award and initiated the presentation. There was a big cheque too. Ravikiran expressed his surprise; his reaction said it all but he gladly accepted the honour on stage.
Watching it all from the front row was the brothers' father, Narasimhan.
Later, Ravikiran was joined by Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, S. Karthick and Anantha R. Krishnan for the opening concert.
The Global Heritage Music Fest is on till Dec.28 at Sri Sankara School, Thiruvanmiyur and is open to all. 
From Malladi Brothers to Vijay Siva, Srekala Bharat and her dancers to Sheela Unnikrishnan's dance team, the fest has an impressive lineup of artistes at concerts here. There are some Tamil plays too.
This then is another opportunity for rasikas of the Adyar zone to attend concerts in their backyard this season.

Call 94440 18269.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

T M Krishna's comments on MS triggers debates, social media roll

Early in the 'season', rasikas and artistes are getting into a heated debate that has not died down for a week now.

It has to do with remarks that vocalist T M Krishna made at the release of the Telugu translation of a book written many years ago by T J S George on M S Subbulakshmi - at an event in the city of Hyderabad.

Would they (rasikas/artistes) have adored and liked Subbulakshmi's songs if she had been dark skinned and dressed differently? - Krishna is supposed to have posed to the audience at the book release.

Krishna was, one assumes trying to touch on the role of caste-communities and their relationship to art and culture in this part of the country and chose to touch on the life and times of Subbulakshmi.

The comments brought forth hundreds of comments, social media notes and media reports on the issue.

Many Carnatic music artistes have been sharing their thoughts too, mostly on social media - something they rarely do when it comes to socio-political issues.

The debate is gathering steam. As are the potshots at Krishna, some saying he continues 'to seek cheap publicity' and others considering his remarks as 'tasteless'.

The issue has also encouraged some artistes to re-post arguments on how a law which banned artistes 'dedicated' to temples and exploited had led to the doom of communities which had nurtured and nourished the performing arts. And the fallout of that development in the arts world in this region.

One guesses that the TMK remarks will remain good fodder for small talk in the sabha canteens through December.

Here is the weblink to a report on the event T M Krishna was a guest at and where he made the 'MS remarks' - 

The time-pass rasikas!

There are a set of rasikas who keep off Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mylapore. And they will do so this 'season' too.
Because, as some of them put it, the auditorium is treated like a come-and-go place for people who don't have much to do every evening.

They do have a point. 
A good number of people who drop in at this hyperactive campus are really not serious about the music or the dance. For them this is what locals would call ' time-pass'.
They walk in at any time of a concert, shuffle in for a good seat, stay for about 20/30 minutes, some chat on the side and then leave.
They certainly do not make for an involved audience.

All programs of the Bhavan are free admission. So the doors keep swinging all through the evening.

And this section certainly spoils the mood of a festival that the Bhavan works hard to host here ( its festival of music started in late November).

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

First menu card


The first taste of 'tiffin' from the canteen side.
Brahma Gana Sabha has finally got a decent catering service located on the western side of the Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, Alwarpet.

Featured here is the current menu card.

Two big dance productions . . .

Two back-to-back dance productions on top of a sabha's schedule may well have been a well timed warmup for the dancers and the folks behind the production.

Under the Kartik Fine Arts banner, first guru Sheela Unnikrishnan presented some 40-plus dancers in 'Sri Krishna Vaibhavam' at the Narada Gana Sabha stage.

The next evening it was guru Anitha Guha's turn. 'Vijayathe Gopala Chudamani', its first part went on stage at the same venue. Again, close to 40 young dancers performing.

This production was produced in alliance with Cleveland Aradhana for the USA festival-aradhana and has been re-aligned for the December Seaosn here. ( it also has a second part to it).

Anitha, like Sheela has a way of working with young dancers in such productions. She says that she now has seniors, juniors and freshers in her production.


You can catch their shows at various venues this season. Make sure you go for the ones at venues with a large stage.

Nalli's Reckoner for this Season; helps you navigate

Rasikas are quick to grab this Season's Music Concerts Reckoner.

This small, thick pocket-sized guide which lists all the concerts at all the sabhas and private venues across Chennai.
Nalli's, that world famous clothes brand funds this effort. The man who sweats it hard to put it all together goes by the name of Kannan.

You will see him carrying a big bag with copies of the Reckoner in the early part of December at some auditoria and giving out copies to rasikas he knows well. Or those who value the Reckoner.

The seniors love this guide. But the tech-savvy ones now have many options on their smartphones, what with a few efforts to post all sabha schedules online and offer apps for easy access.


If you use any of these apps, share your experience as a comment on this blog!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Season tickets at Music Academy sell fast

Season tickets to concerts at The Music Academy got sold out the day the counter opened - on December 2.
A goodly number queued up at dawn to count themselves lucky - it took time for the large team of staff and volunteers to issue the tickets.
The buzz was that about 250 tickets were on offer.


Rasikas are hoping that the Academy has a better system for sale of daily tickets; the sale on the morning of a concert 'double' for every evening's show irks everybody.

A rasika's opening remarks on Season 2017

As the 'Season' unfolds, a regular at the festival, N. Srikumar jots a few thoughts; on the irritating system at sabhas to book tickets, the condition of washrooms at some venues and on promoting music/dance students to attend concerts.

Here are excerpts from Srikumar's jottings ; in his own words - you may want to comment on them!

- A few things are status quo though one wished this was not! The long-pending wish of rasikas to source tickets on-line may still remain a distant dream, barring just one or two sabhas. Despite the government's push for cashless transactions, sabhas simply refuse to oblige. The only thing a few are willing to offer is credit card payment and that too only for season tickets. 

- The condition of washrooms at sabhas has considerably improved over the years, though it's still a far cry from even the minimum standards at fests where concerts are held in schools or marriage halls.


- Is there an effort to admit students of music who may not afford the high-priced tickets to main concerts at sabhas? There appears to be no concession or free admission to main concerts for students in general and music students in particular. Sabhas can offer concessional rates at least to students.

Friday, 1 December 2017

T. M. Krishna sings verses at poetry fest in city

Is T. M. Krishna singing this season? Queries keep coming in. No, he isn't.
As has been his practice the past few years, Krishna will not be performing any concerts for the December Season at any sabhas.
One sabha though is honoring him with a title - that is Tamil Isai Sangam.

But you can catch this artiste at an event of ‘Poetry with Prakriti’, an annual festival in the city featuring eminent and emerging poets, each presenting readings of their poems to small audiences at several venues across the city. This year's fest happens from Dec 3 - 17.

Two Carnatic music vocalists are featured at this fest.

On Dec 3, writer-poet-teacher Perumal Murugan recites his works and Krishna will perform some of those verses - at TAG Center, TTK Road, Alwarpet. 6.30 p.m.


On Dec. 16, the poetry event is titled Lullabies and Laments - Experiments in Music and Poetry featuring vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan and poet Archana Venkatesan. At TAG Center, Alwarpet. 6.30 p.m.

Little promoter of music!

Music promoter Lalitha Ramachandran, based in Bangalore continues what the Parivadini banner set out to do - put great talent music on stage and beam the concerts to the world, via YouTube.
Those concerts make great archival music material if you choose to listen to them now.
The Parivadini banner is back this 'season'. With concerts at Raga Sudha Hall, Luz.

But this year, a bunch of young artistes are going on stage. They will perform only for an hour. But the recital will showcase some new talent; chosen from many who applied to be chosen specially for the concert series.
If you cannot be at the concerts, do go online and listen live. or when time permits.
And if you like what Parivadini is doing, loosen your purse and make a donation.

Such small, passionate efforts run on donations!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Why are not sabhas offering online tickets booking?

We received this e-mail from the Thavasodys from England. And the note reflects the frustration that rasikas, even those who reside in Chennai express on the issue of booking tickets for concerts.
Here is a section of the e-mail -
Every year, when we arrive in Chennai for the music festival, we get disappointed as most of the best tickets for top artistes are sold out.
Please advise as to whether it would be possible to buy the tickets on line from abroad (England) . . .

In our conversation with sabha managers we have not been able to fathom the reluctance to sign up well known ticket booking sites to get the job done.


For all those who must get tickets to the Music Academy concerts, it calls for spending a few hours at the Academy on the morning the box-office opens for season tickets.

<< You have a suggestion to make on this issue? Post it here!

Intimate settings for concerts

If the sabhas mostly stick to their five-concerts-a-day in the auditoria, there are a few creative ideas that pop up during the 'season'
Arts promoter Ramanathan Iyer has just put out on social media a concert promo that his 'The ARTery' organization hosts from time to time in the city - a series of music concerts held without any amplification and in an intimate setting, often lit up by candles.
Ramanathan now has a 1940s Madras house in the heart of Royapettah as the venue for concerts and this Sunday, ( Nov.26 evening) legendary violinist 'mahavidwan' Prof. T. N. Krishnan is scheduled to mesmerise guests with Carnatic music.

The guests must sign up in advance because seating is limited; perhaps 25 or 30.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Kalakshetra fest: is it on? Nothing official yet.

Will Kalakshetra host a fest this season?
There is no clear answer. Officially.

This famed performing arts campus draws a steady stream of people - well-wishers, alumni, artistes and rasikas.Kalakshetra's legendary dance drama series based on the Ramayana gets a full house: one season, tickets were sold out in the week the booking opened.

On campus, the second auditorium, Rukmini Arangham was affected by Cyclone Vardah late last year. This place is still being repaired, we hear.Nobody picks up calls to the office. Nor has Kalakshetra issued a public statement.

Hopefully, there will be some definite info from Kalakshetra we will be able to share with you in the days ahead.

Get your fix of pop dramas!

If you are visiting Chennai and must get your fix of popular Tamil theatre, then look out for a festival to be held at R. R. Sabha. Mylapore. 

Sabhas do include a few dramas during the 'season'; those of Crazy Mohan and S. V. Shekher and Y. G. Mahendra top this list.  Yes, there are a few '100-laughs-in-100 minutes' plays too.

Plays got into the season schedule to make the best of a captive stream of rasikas at the auditoria. Over the recent past, Harikatha / musical discourses have also become a part of some sabha schedules.

Welcome to Season 2017

It is good to be back for yet another December Season. Season 2017.

The season of music and dance here in Chennai we once called Madras!

This season begins on the cusp of this city being given the tag of Creative Cities by UNESCO and included in a long list of such cities around the world.

There have been some light debates on social media and a few opinion pieces in the city's dailies on whether the city deserves the new crown.

What convinced UNESCO to give this recognition to Chennai?
Some voices say much must be attributed to the throbbing, year-round Carnatic music and classical dance world here. There is no other city like this which has such a live classical concerts calendar, they say.
Other voices say that Carnatic music defines a small world of the city and there is more on the creative front that needs greater space in the public.
And still other voices want to recognise film, gaana and kuthu music which say much more about this metro. Add these to Carnatic music, they opine.

The debate is welcome. And necessary. 
Hopefully, it will extend into the December Season. Perhaps on a platform at a sabha.

Meanwhile, what is the weather going to be this December?
The first season of the monsoon is done: more rains are expected.  The season of cyclonic systems has also begun but Chennai has not been affected.
But do expect the city to be chill - sub-22 / 21 degrees at night.

So rasikas who love to stay on till the end of the final concerts of the day may want to bring along their warm clothes!