Chennai Music Festival Nov 29, 2014 7:16:31 GMT 5.5
Post by Amritha Varshini on Nov 29, 2014 7:16:31 GMT 5.5
Chennai Music Festival: Celebrating the raga and more!
A celebration of one of the traditional music gharanas of India, the Madras Music Season showcasing the mellifluous compositions of Carnatic music is one of the world’s biggest cultural events.
Chennai Music festival is considered larger than the Woodstock festival. Celebrated over six weeks, the Madras Music Season sees highly accomplished musicians performing in various concerts across the city. The traditional role of the music season is to allow connoisseurs of Carnatic music to enjoy and appreciate renditions by distinguished artists, and to provide a platform to promising young artists. Audience and performers travel from all over India and abroad to be a part of this historic event.
Audience and performers travel from all over India and abroad to be a part of the festival. The Madras Music Festival was started way back in 1927 to commemorate the anniversary of the Madras Music Academy every December, and was later joined by various other music academies, who organize art festivals in different parts of the city.
The All India Music Conference was held in 1927 concurrently with the annual session of Indian National Congress in Madras. A resolution was passed at the conference to establish the Madras Music Academy. From 1928, the academy started organizing the music season every year during December.
Previously it was a traditional month-long Carnatic music festival consisting of Carnatic music concerts, harikathas, lecture demonstrations and award/title ceremonies. However, over the years it has also diversified into dance and drama, as well as non-Carnatic art forms.
The Chennai festival has grown over the years and is considered larger than the Woodstock festival in Edinburgh, though an overwhelming majority of the population of India seems hardly conscious of its proportion and size.
Over the years, the festival has diversified into dance and drama as well as non-Carnatic art forms. A possible explanation is that the social base of Indian classical arts generally, and Carnatic music in particular, continues to be rather narrow and the current generation lacks exposure in these arts. Another reason could be as the performances are conducted in multiple, perhaps too many locations; this could be one of the reasons for the festival not having the feel of a mass event. The city comes alive with the sounds of music and the festival assumes proportions of a cultural extravaganza with more than 2000 artists performing in over 300 concerts.
The concerts usually take place in the afternoons and nights, and consist of all sorts of Carnatic music compositions and improvisations. In 2004-2005, there were over 1200 performances by about 600 artists (about 700 vocal, 250 instrumental, 200 dance, 50 drama and others). The performances are typically organized by sabhās.
A Carnatic music sabha is an organization that helps conduct concerts and bestow titles and awards to artists in recognition of their talent. Most sabhas own atleast one concert hall, while some smaller sabhas rent a hall during the season. The performances are held in these halls.
Performances include vocal and instrumental music both by junior and senior artists. On this platform, upcoming artists getan opportunity to perform with the legends of the music world. The music includes songs in various South Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu and Kannada and instruments like flute, veena (a large string instrument), nadhaswaram (pipe), thavil (percussion instrument), mridangam (drum), and even ghatam (a mud pot).
Chennai comes alive with the sounds of music during the month long cultural extravaganza
The Madras Music Season has been hailed all over the world as the ideal vehicle to popularize Carnatic music and spread awareness about Indian classical music in general. Well known Carnatic music legends like M S Subbulakshmi and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer have carried their music to different corners of the world and have been successful in imbibing classical music as a way of life for generations to come.
In recent times, concerns have been raised about the declining quality of performances owing to an excessive number of concerts being scheduled during the peak season. Whatever be the reality of the declining quality in the renditions, volume ensures wide exposure that younger artistes need.
Volume also contributes to the unique brand value of the festival in its entirety, which has grown to be a cultural festival embracing all performing art forms and is not only limited to music anymore. The music season is now spread over almost two months with a growing number of music sabhas seeking to accommodate a large pool of upcoming musicians and ensure continuous patronage by audiences.
Article By Arpita Mukherjee
Courtesy - carnaticdarbar.com/