CHENNAI: It’s a general perception that instruments like violin, nadaswaram, veena and flute don’t get their due during the Margazhi season, compared to vocal recitals. Sabhas include only a small percentage of instrument recitals in the kutcheri slots. City Express talks to versatile instrumentalists and here’s what they have to say.
Nandini Muthuswamy, violin artiste
They say audiences prefer vocal concerts to instruments because of the lyrical appeal, but I disagree with that. I don’t understand how many of them know Telugu to enjoy a Thyagaraja composition? Leave violin apart, I would say at least here and there, the instrument (violin) is being recognised but many sabhas have forgotten nadaswaram. Moreover, I don’t blame anybody except the prevailing trend for this situation. When you take magazines or newspapers, they give more preference only to vocal artistes. Be it review or anything for that matter. Even on television or reality shows, programmes for vocal talent are predominant. Instrument-based programmes take a backseat.
Jayanthi Kumaresh, veena artiste
I get hurt when somebody refers to veena as a dying instrument. It dates back to the Vedic era and the instrument is praised even now. I guess instrument recitals are more challenging to present because of the stereotyped mindset we have. But can a vocalist perform without accompanists? Don’t you think accompanying instruments enhance the quality of a concert? Be it mridangam or kanjira, there’s no dearth of talented instrumentalists, only that they don’t get a platform to display their skills.
R Parthasarathy, veena artiste
Sabha secretaries should not allot kutcheris based on the gate collection or crowd, and fix slots. Unless organisers try something different, how can they unearth fresh talent? The general opinion is that encouragement from parents, organisers and the audience is essential to make youngsters take to learning string and percussion instruments. Instruments have no barriers and act as bridges of culture. Organisers should get this very fact right. Also, it is disheartening to see that recitals are being presented to empty halls these days. How does a sabha decide which young instrumentalist can move up the ladder is what I wonder! (Laughs)
Umashankar, ghatam artiste
I don’t understand why sabhas are being blamed for this. Percussion artistes need to develop the skill to present concerts in an enjoyable way. Now, everything has become technology-driven. The present day artistes are lucky to get direct coaching as well as listen to recorded recitals of veterans.
There are talented performers, but very few can train the younger generation. With so many diversions like Facebook, malls and so on, when rasikas come to sabhas, it is the duty of the artistes to ensure that they get an enriching kutcheri experience.