By V Ramnarayan
Yet another music season has come and gone. Strangely, another new season seems to be already upon us, if we look at the engagements page of the newspaper. There are at least three concerts on everyday, sometimes more.
Be that as it may, the conclusion of the December festival gives us a breather. Personally, my experience of it was restricted to concerts at the Madras Music Academy, with the rare exception or two. As I have said elsewhere, many of the senior vidwans and vidushis disappointed, some of them to such an extent that it made you angry that the listening public was being shortchanged. Thankfully, the craze for some of these stars as recently as a couple of years ago has apparently diminished. I say this with much feeling, not because I enjoy the fall in their popularity, but because this year plastic chairs were no longer dragged to and fro in the auditorium to accommodate star-gazing crowds to the annoyance of regular supporters of quality music.
(The practice destroys the listening experience during concerts that precede those of our superstars, as people troop in fifteen minutes before the end, in order to clinch seats for the concerts that follow. I have been advocating a change in the programme schedule to feature the concerts of the superstars before those of lesser mortals, not after, but no sabha or organiser will pay any heed).
Some of our young musicians made a special mark this season with their sterling performances at the Academy, obviously fighting the nerves inevitable on such occasions. A more detailed account of some of the better concerts I attended will follow in a later blogpost.
The arrangements at the Academy were excellent as always, with the whole auditorium and facilities maintained in tip top condition, the seating arrangements very comfortable, the service at the canteen and parking lot excellent, and it offered quite possibly the best acoustics in the city, though there were a few complaints this time about slightly overloud amplification during some concerts.
While the Music Academy deserves an A plus rating for the conduct of the season, it may be time to take a serious look at the selection of performers. A few of the regulars seem past their best, and they are keeping deserving artists out. Parallelly, one reform that strikes me as being due is to offer shorter duration recitals in the nine am slot in keeping with the veterans' age. Instead of regular full-length concerts, these can be tailored to heighten interest in the vidwan's stylistics and manodharma excellence.