India Immersion With Strings

Waking up to the sound of veenas, relishing homecooked vegetarian meals and enjoying the always adventurous auto ride...fiddle virtuoso Martin Hayes gives us a glimpse of his time in Chennai

Published: 24th December 2014 06:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th December 2014 06:02 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Martin Hayes is a simple man. As a world famous fiddler player, who’s played for presidents just as easily as he played for students during a recent trip to Chennai — he tells us with a smile, “I don’t really have any plans, because you never see what’s going to come around the corner.” Music and musical greats seem to find their way into his life one way or another. “Just recently, I got to play with Sting in New York,” says the musician, who is known for his traditional Irish repertoire. And it wasn’t on his calendar, we are told. It just was.

At 53, things are not much different today than they were for Hayes at the age of 7 when he first picked up a fiddle. “The dream,” he tells us, “is to play the deepest music possible before I die.”

And his recent Indian tour — again a travel plan that came together quite seamlessly through musician friend Mattu Noone who plays the sarod, turned out to be another fascinating piece on his musical soul search. You would imagine that a musician who has filled the likes of the Sydney Opera House and Royal Albert Hall would be staying at a five-star hotel. This 53-year-old, however, chose to wake up every morning to the sounds of veenas playing, just outside his bedroom door.

“I stayed at Dr Karaikudi Subramanian’s Brhaddhvani institute in RA Puram,” he relates about his stay in the city last week. “And most days, my meals (mostly vegetarian) would be brought by parents of the students there. It was beautiful,” he shares. Incidentally, one of the many firsts that the Irishman enjoyed on his Indian adventure was his first ever auto ride. “I wish I could take a rickshaw back to Ireland,” he jokes. Turns out while most foreigners find the sharp swerves and unending  honking far from pleasant, Hayes sees it all as “harmonious choreography” with a music of its if you take a moment to listen. Perspective eh?

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