“Cyber” and “online” are the latest catchwords. With no let up in the Covid 19 pandemic and the continuation of restrictions, the resumption of truly live performances, in halls big or small, seems to be quite a distant possibility. We have cyber performers, cyber teachers, cyber speakers, cyber organisers and cyber spaces. Cyber sessions by musicians, dancers and theatre personalities are either streamed “live” (!) or resurrected from the archives. The performance space has shrunk from the large proscenium to the restricted camera area in the artist’s room. So too has the space for the audience who watch performances peering into digital screens—big, medium or small, in the casual comfort of their homes. In the wake of social-distancing, online concerts must have drawn several new enthusiasts into the arts circuit and also kept alive the interest of seasoned rasikas. Online performances are a good makeshift arrangement; cyber can certainly coexist and complement live performances, but cannot really replicate the wholesome live experience. However, artists and several arts curators have risen to the occasion and the cyberspace is buzzing with online arts activities, especially on weekends. There is a mindboggling variety to savour. The spotlight in the July issue continues to be on Covid 19 and the arts: two of our seasoned writers—Sujatha Vijayaraghavan and Shailaja Khanna, who have watched a range of performances have presented interesting reviews of online programmes during the lockdown.
We present a special feature on the debonair sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, his music and his musical lineage. It is a ‘double delight’ as we have also brought to you a rare interview with his father, the late sarod maestro Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan. And what a coincidence that the interviewer is none other than Lalita Khanna—mother of Shailaja Khanna who has penned the profile-interview of the famous son for Sruti! The interviews throw light on their learning, life and approach to the arts.
We are launching two new series in this issue. One is an occasional series on popular choreographers/ teachers in classical dance who are crowd pullers—in an attempt to explore the secrets of their success. The first person to be featured in it is Madurai R. Muralidaran, passionate about laya, Tamil and music, who has been showcasing his mega dance musicals globally and whose compositions are very popular among dance teachers. The second series is on the ‘Saptaswara devatas’ by ace painter, musician and musicologist S. Rajam. We published many of his paintings while he was alive. However, it has been our long standing wish to share with our readers, details about the original paintings of the saptaswara devatas that adorn the walls of Sruti office. We begin the series with S. Rajam’s painting Origin of the Swaras, and hope to present each swara in the next seven issues of the magazine.
The Carnatic music world has lost a stellar artist in the passing away of octogenarian musician T. Rukmini on 31 May 2020. Her good friend, Sujatha Vijayaraghavan pays rich tribute to this versatile violin soloist, accompanist, vocalist and teacher, who charmingly couched her laya prowess in the sheen of melody and bhava.
This year Guru Poornima falls on 5 July—the day to pay respects to the guru, guide and mentors. We have come a long way from gurukulams where disciples spent years with the guru, to home tuitions, group classes, and to impersonal online classes. I recently came across an announcement inviting students to learn nattuvangam online qualifying age three to adults! Now where are we heading for? Take care! Be safe.