CHENNAI: The biggest musical event of the city is on in full swing, and the elderly carnatic-music lovers have begun flocking to the sabhas almost every day. As the white-haired maamas in dhoti-kurtas and diamond-studded women occupy the seats, a section of the youngsters who are carnatic music loyalists begin the kutcheri rounds.
Adapting with the demands, the concerts have begun changing with the times, with more jugalbandhis and experimental music coming into the season. “Today’s youngsters want to try out different things. Many performers also sing in films and music bands,” says Kamali Kumar, a carnatic music teacher. People keep their options open, and many artistes like the violin duo Ganesh-Kumaresh also play in groups. “Most of the students who I teach are usually caught up with studies, work and other commitments. But when the young artistes perform at the kutcheris, I see a lot of youth crowd,” she adds.
Rama Krishnamurthy, another regular concert goers adds, “Ten to fifteen per cent of audience whom I see are the youth in concerts. The ones who attend kutcheris are musically-inclined,” she says.
“The start of the season is always exciting, and I look forward to the veterans performing. Margazhi is a great platform for youngsters” says Anushka S, a working professional, who has been learning classical music. “But over the years, the season has become more elitist and nothing much has changed about the music,” she adds.
Many grew up with the tradition of watching the special concerts on TV with family, and continuing to do so. “The entire season, we would sit and watch the concerts together as a family. So I don’t have the habit of going to concerts much,” says Revathi T, a young professional.
Ananya D, a college student says, “I like music, but I don’t go to sabhas. I prefer watching them on TV as I can switch channels if the song is drab.”
For some like Akash, a college student, the kutcheri season rekindles the spark of the forgotten tradition despite other priorities.
“This is my first year in Chennai during the music season. The atmosphere makes me want to restart my lessons. Now, I am more interested in fusion music than classical,” says Akash. Although, it may be a small section of the youth who eagerly await a pure classical concert, the promise of more experimental concerts and fusion picking up will give the rest of the youngsters something to look forward to.