Season of melody1 min read . Updated: 18 Dec 2009, 08:17 PM IST
Season of melody
Ahead of Chennai’s December music season, a couple of readers wrote in asking me what I was most looking forward to, and what they should watch out for. Here, accordingly, is Raagtime’s gentle guide to four prospective highlights of the season.
Parasala Ponnammal: The standout concert of December 2008, for me, was that of Parasala Ponnammal, about whom I raved, like an awestruck fan, in this space. She is 86 years old, but as I wrote, “her voice has all the burnished richness of advanced age but none of its infirmities". Given her age, Ponnammal does not travel and perform as frequently as we would like, so make every effort to listen to her at the Music Academy on the morning of 20 December.
The out-of-towners: Being in Chennai in December is the ideal way to get a glimpse of the Carnatic music landscape in India as squads of musicians descend on the city—musicians you could otherwise never hear in person unless you visited their hometowns. I have my own small list of musicians I’ve been hearing about and intend finally to hear in live concert: Hemmige Prashanth, a Bangalore-based singer, for instance, and Kottakkal Ranjith Varier, a vocalist from Thrissur. The season also gives you second chances. Mysore A. Chandan Kumar, a flautist and the grandson of the renowned violinist T. Chowdiah, has performed in Chennai before, but I’ve never quite managed to catch him. That will, I hope, change this month.
Sriram’s lecture: Every year, the music historian V. Sriram delivers a talk on a personality of Carnatic music—a composer, a prolific musicologist, an underrated performer—at the intimate TAG Centre auditorium. These talks are billed as lectures, but they hardly deserve the notions of dullness that word carries; they are, instead, sparkling monologues in Sriram’s inimitably genial, humorous manner, always augmented by audio clips and visual presentations. Last year, Sriram’s subject was the composer Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar. This year, he generously gives two talks: on the innovative 19th century composer Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan (on 20 December) and on the veena maestro S. Balachander (on 27 December). The talks are by invitation only, but Sriram informs me that invites can be procured by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
Write to Samanth Subramanian at email@example.com