September 22, 2012

Classical music in Madras

When a musician completes 81 years of his musical journey and the maestro celebrating it is violinist Parur M. S. Anantharaman I take a closer look at the invite.

It is Vinayaka Chathurthi evening and though I have seen less of the giant sized images of the Lord and more of clay images at street corners across the city, Pondy Bazaar is as always abuzz.

What makes news in Pondy Bazaar today is the opening of Nalli Jewellers, just metres away from the Nalli Silks' art deco store around Panagal Park. Nalli Kuppuswami must have had a good reason to launch into jewellery had not the fever of this silks and gold bazaar got to him late in his career and as my auto swings past this new store I see scores of shoppers streaming in.

My destination is Sri Krishna Gana Sabha. A cup of coffee at the restaurant on the sabha campus and it is time to sink into the most comfortable cane chairs a sabha can offer.

On stage, Anantharaman looks more a rishi than a celebrated violinist. At the formal felicitation, guests extol the maestro's talents and his character.

He smiles, he acknowledges the warm words about him. And when it is his turn to speak, he has a few words of thanks.

Then, it is concert time.

It has been a long time since I heard the trio - the guru and his sons, with J. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and Karthik on the ghatam.

The music cascades effortlessly. But Anantharaman is very much in his own world. His eyes flit from son to son and to the accompanists. He smiles, internally. One son cues him, even waves his hand to ask him to play on.

To me, it appears that he wants to just keep playing without a break. He in is own world.

I slip into mine. Amazed at the limitless Carnatic music that is available to all who wish to listen to and soak in it. Available at so many places in the neighbourhoods of Mambalam and Mylapore and now, in the suburbs of Valasarawakkam and Nanganallur.

Provided freely by these great musicians. Year after year.

Organised time after time by the sabhas.

1 comment:

Leela Soma said...

I didn't know that the musicians were not paid for their concerts! How do they make a living? Surely the sabhas will be paying them a fee? I hope so. I'm sure rasikars will be happy to pay for each concert. I used to go to Vani Mahal, Thyga Brahma Gana sabha when I was a wee girl, wonderful imbibing all the music to my soul.