India has been home to some of the finest artists in the fields of music, dance and theatre since time immemorial. With a rich heritage in the arts, it is no surprise that India is nothing short of a gold mine of exceptional talent. The Singhal Iyer family foundation (SIFF), a Bangalore based philanthropic organization that was set up with the singular purpose of providing young talents in India, a safe and healthy environment to hone their skills and evolve into the best versions of themselves. It seeks to bring about a common love and respect for the arts and cultivate it with the necessary resources to facilitate a seamless journey.
The seed for Young Artiste was sown decades ago, as the founders Kavita Iyer and Sandeep Singhal realised the significance of cultivating these art forms in children. The arts often tend to take a back seat often as per the academic curriculum. Even in institutes where the arts are taught, students are unable to pursue it further due to the lack of a structured training program. SIFF Young Artiste is a platform that was birthed to fill this gap, with emphasis on both classical and contemporary art forms.
SIFF Young Artiste 2020 is a national level talent hunt, providing scholarships to students between the ages of 11-18, to showcase their skills in the multiple genres of music and dance, ranging from classical to contemporary forms. Receiving over 12,000 entries, the talent hunt has proven to all that there is always a time and place for the arts to flourish, even in the middle of a pandemic! The finals for YA 2020 are set to take place in Summer 2021.
Dr. L Subramaniam, Violin Maestro and YA jury member and mentor says, “I am very happy to be a part of Young Artiste 2020, and to know that they have organised workshops in order to provide advanced facilities and educational opportunities to some of the most talented students whom they have selected. By undergoing this mentorship program, the students can learn several complex techniques, compositional forms, and interpretation, which are the building blocks of music. I wish all the students great luck!”
After several months of a rigorous selection process, SIFF Young Artiste 2020 announced 100 finalists and scholarship recipients who are currently undergoing the Young Artiste Advanced Mentorship Program (YAMP), a series of masterclasses, workshops, and collaborations among fellow young artists. The purpose of the mentorship program is to expose students to world-class maestros in their respective fields and provide them with the rigour and structure of any academic program. The students will be enabled to recognise and build on their strengths, learn advanced techniques and practice methodologies, while also addressing their shortcomings. At the end of the program, these students will come out with a deeper understanding of the discipline and focus required to pursue a career in the arts. The mentorship program, for a duration of nearly six months, will culminate in a grand finale performance in the summer of 2021.
An esteemed panel of judges for SIFF Young Artiste have been involved with YA 2020 from the very beginning and are currently leading the mentorship program for all 20 categories. Music and dance virtuosos such as L Subramaniam, Kavita Krishnamurthy, and Madhavi Mudgal have consented to mentor the participants. Additionally, experts in the field such as Rukmini Vijayakumar (Bharatanatyam), Anupama Bhagwat (Sitar/Sarod), Nikhita Gandhi (Indian & Western Vocal), Sagar Bora (Hip-Hop), among others, will be driving the category specific sessions. The finale, which will be a showcase of the exceptional talent recognized, will be hosted in accordance with the evolving COVID-19 situation and government guidelines issued at the time.
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic is changing the landscape of performing arts and art education. Owing to the digital lifestyle, it is bound to have ramifications on how the arts are taught and absorbed by teachers and students alike. This holds particularly true for complex forms such as dance and instrumental music, as it is best served when the student and teacher share a physical space. According to the organizers, the mentorship program has been challenging to execute and yet the overwhelming response to this initiative has been extremely encouraging.