CHENNAI: Noted Carnatic singer TM Krishna, whose progression over the years took him to the realm of activism and commentary, will not be a part of the biggest celebration of Carnatic music, the prestigious Margazhi music festival in December.
“Unfortunately at the place I am today, I am unable to reconcile my musical journey with that of the December season,” Krishna announced on social media late on Friday, much to the shock of music aficionados here.
The 39-year-old has been part of the music circuit since the time he was a young child of five of six, and acknowledged having “learnt so much from musicians, musicologists, scholars and rasikas (fans of Carnatic music)”.
Krishna added that the decision has been communicated to the concert organisers. To stress the importance of the announcement, it may be noted that December festival is the circuit that all aspiring musicians here look at, a league that not one musician has quit in its last nearly a century of existence.
In the land of Carnatic maestros and rasikas who can match them in knowledge of all things sa re ga ma, Krishna stood out with his social commentaries, on the recent IIT-Madras controversy over the derecognition of a students group, on the last Lok Sabha session, on what he called the 'slow death of the Periyar atheist' among other things. Most importantly, Krishna, an insider, questioned the inherent elitism in Carnatic music.
Last 'season', he went a step ahead. Along with a few activists and artistes, Krishna organised 'Urur Olcott Margazhi Vizha', a parallel two-day music festival at Urur Olcott Kuppam (slum) near the beach front in Besant Nagar. The idea was to break the barriers of Carnatic Classical and take it to those who have never heard it performed live before; to those who live in the same city but don't live the same life. Those who know Chennai would know that the boundaries of the December Season was being pushed, modestly but firmly.
“It’s generally considered normal, that Carnatic music is only for an elite few, that it is highbrow. I have written and spoken about it, but being an insider and part of the system, I decided to do something about it,” Krishna had explained the idea behind the two-day festival.
During December, Chennai gets buzzing with hundreds of Carnatic classical music concerts. There are stars and prime-times and stages, but often alleged to be limited to the elite and the upper caste. This year, there will be one less star inside the air conditioned stages.