S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Saturday, 1 June 2019


Now that the general elections are over and the Bharatiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has romped home with a thumping majority in Parliament, the new government should soon take up the threads of good governance. Apart from focussing on infrastructural development equal importance must be given to India’s culture and heritage which is our country’s USP. The Ministry of Culture, Government of India, is charged with preservation and promotion of art and culture. Headed by a Minister of State with Independent Charge, we hope it will pay greater attention to implementing different facets of the national cultural policy, increase funding for the traditional arts, release financial assistance to its nodal agencies, and support deserving artists with grants and welfare schemes.

There is greater awareness now among the arts fraternity too about the need for a representative body to put forth its aspirations and grievances. ABHAI—the Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India—is now an active player in the field of classical dance. A long-felt need for such an organisation in the field of Carnatic music has been addressed with the formation of the Global Carnatic Musicians Association (GCMA) in April this year, with star Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan as its President and a host of top musicians from the four southern states as office bearers and committee members. Many organisations have constituted their Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to receive and redress complaints in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Hope it will encourage affected parties to fearlessly lodge complaints so that necessary action can be taken to cleanse the system.

Come June, several sabhanayakas will be putting their heads together to select artists for their coveted awards. There are several senior artists—highly deserving vocalists and instrumentalists—in and outside Tamil Nadu who could be considered for the top awards of the sabhas of Chennai. In this issue, we feature M.S. Sheela of Karnataka—a senior versatile vocalist, teacher and organiser with style, substance and impeccable musical pedigree. Many have suggested that she deserves the Padma Bhushan on the national level; yes but why not also the top awards closer home? Some food for thought!

We launch a new series on pioneers—dancers and musicians—in the Indian diaspora who were responsible for popularising and propagating Indian art and culture in the land where they accompanied the spouse to set up a home and family. Unconsciously, they set a trend and went on to become cultural ambassadors. The first artist to be featured in this series is senior Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher Viji Prakash settled in Los Angeles, U.S.A. We hope to write about such illustrious personalities from time to time.

Another interesting story is about the Musiri Chamber concerts held at Mylapore in Chennai. It has reached the milestone of 25 years and you can read about the “secrets of its success”. The family members of Musiri Subramania Iyer, who initiated this series, are self-effacing to the extent that they refused to give us their photograph. Undeterred we searched the net and managed to locate one on social media.

Rich tributes have been paid to Manakkal Rangarajan and D. Pasupathi who passed away recently, by famous personalities who were associated with them. Amshan Kumar, who directed a documentary on Manakkal, presents a crisp overview of his life and music. Dr. N. Ramanathan and natyacharya V.P. Dhananjayan paint a poignant picture of Pasupathi as a true torchbearer of Kalakshetra values.

We also have reports of several music and dance events from across the country and abroad.

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