Song of Surrender

Monday, 19 March 2012

A memorable mikeless concert

As told to S. Janaki in 2011

A violin solo presented by vidwan Lalgudi Jayaraman in 1983 in Chennai at the Rani Seethai Hall, was one of the most memorable concerts I have heard. It had many distinctions to its credit.

It was a farewell function for Dr. Thomas, who was the Director of the Alliance Francaise at Chennai. Dr. Thomas and Mrs. Nhung Thomas, were ardent connoisseurs of Carnatic music. Closely known to both the parties, I was actively involved in the programme as facilitator and organiser.

In the Western musical tradition, from which the violin has been adapted, it occupies the pride of place as the ‘king of instruments’. The soloist stands and holds the violin on his shoulders and wields the bow in full range. There is an air of majesty about it. The practice in India has been different, to suit the gamaka requirements of our system.

As we planned a mikeless concert in deference to the wishes of the couple and as a special tribute on the occasion, we had a rehearsal earlier, to check the acoustics of the hall, with Jayaraman playing from different positions on the stage. We then decided to place the platform, not in the centre of the stage as is usually done, but more to the front – closer to the edge of the stage near the orchestra pit. It worked out exceedingly well. The desired effect was achieved to full satisfaction.

The hall was packed with an elite audience, which was treated to a sumptuous feast of violin music – without mikes.

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