BENGALURU: The expansive Chowdiah Memorial Hall began filling up rapidly the moment the doors opened. True, it was not a ticketed programme. But, many organizers shy away from holding an event in this auditorium because of its sheer size. A full house at Chowdiah is a reflection of an audience with a refined taste and the popularity of the artiste(s).
The event there, on January 10, was the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival. It is an annual collaborative programme of world music conceived by legendary violinist Dr L Subramaniam.
The excitement was palpable. Not because the outings of Dr. Subramaniam are rare in Bengaluru or that he brings world-class musicians to the local stage. The packed auditorium was both a tribute to LS, as he is known worldwide, and an occasion to revel in global music that has no parallel anywhere in the country. The Lakshminarayana festival is a celebration of music which transcends geographical borders, languages and genres, and offers a star-spangled orchestral fusion.
The most heartening aspect of the music event was the audience profile. There was no divide that usually runs between lovers of Indian classical music and the western; there was fusion here too, of lovers of different music genres. This year’s festival marked the 25th edition, having cultivated a loyal audience over the years. Yet it was not confined to a niche group, the appeal lay in its universality.
Former Chief Justice of India, M N Venkatachalaiah, lit the inaugural lamp. The octogenarian legal luminary sitting spell-bound through the show, provided an excellent contrast to the young and groovy members of the audience. Everyone was tapping their feet.
Dr Subramanian, closely associated with conductor and violinist Yehudi Menuhin, one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, has also meant for the festival to be a tribute to him in his birth centenary year. If the cross-section of audience covered a breath-taking age range of 8 to 90, the musicians too ran into three generations-the invocatory piece, in pure Carnatic style (Abhogi raga), was by children on both violin and vocal. This composition of LS was a professional offering by the wards of the Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts-SAPA-the dream project of LS.
The lineup of acclaimed international artistes made for an aural feast-- Audun Sandvik, the primary cellist of the prestigious Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Vadim Repin (Russia), a child prodigy and a titan in the world of violinists, Svetlana Smolina, critically acclaimed pianist of Russia and violinist Sanjeev Nayak of Swaratma, who is also Bindu Subramaniam’s husband.
Sharing stage with LS’ children, young Bindu and Ambi, were Deva (percussion), VV Ramamurthy (mridangam), Satya Sai G. (morsing), Alwyn Fernandes (guitar), and Frijo Francis (keyboard), and lead by LS himself, the evening was a symphony of many musical styles, merging into a soulful yet luxurious crescendo.
Yet again, it was a mesmerized and reluctant audience that witnessed curtains down on this most sought -after music festival. The media partner for the event was The New Indian Express.