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Two routes, one destination
Jan 4, 2013 10:15 AM , By K.T. Jagannathan
T.R. Mahalingam, for all his genius, is believed to have lived a tormented life. “I have a thousand arrows shooting in my head,” Mali would say. — Photo: Samudri Archives
T.R. Mahalingam, for all his genius, is believed to have lived a tormented life. “I have a thousand arrows shooting in my head,” Mali would say. — Photo: Samudri Archives
They have a common desire, and quietly embarked on a creditable mission. How to take the highly traditional Carnatic music to modern youth?

These two gentlemen represent two well-known groups in the city of Chennai, which is the Mecca of Carnatic music. If Sundaram Finance of TVS and Shriram Group are known for their value system and connection to common people, these two gentlemen have played no small role in furthering and protecting this attributes of their respective organizations.

They have a common desire, and quietly embarked on a creditable mission. How to take the highly traditional Carnatic music to modern youth? T.T. Srinivasaraghavan, Managing Director of Sundaram Finance Ltd. (SFL), and R. Sridhar, Managing Director of Shriram Capital Ltd., have taken different routes to the same goal. Srinivasaraghavan-led SFL has been holding mike-less concerts at a city park on the first Sunday of every month for over six years now. Children in the below 15-year age category are carefully chosen after audition tests, and are given concert opportunity. They perform in an open environment, where no mike is used.

Sunday park concerts

The ``Sunday Mike-less Monthly Park Kutcheri’’ of Sundaram Finance has seen kids not just from the Mylapore locality but even from afar, including from abroad, give their concerts. According to Srinivasaraghavan, this round-the-year initiative helps SFL contribute in its own little way to the promotion of this traditional art form by providing kids a launch pad to showcase their musical acumen. A laudable effort, this sort of initiative needs to be replicated. With the State Government too laying much emphasis on providing ``park’’ space for citizens to do their morning walks, why can’t these parks be put to multiple good use?

Music in the air

The air in Chennai is virtually filled with music in December, with everybody falling head over heals to organize Carnatic music concert. So much so, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Ms. J. Jayalalitha, offered her support to make this a global event when she inaugurated the latest festival of The Music Academy. Turning the December season into a global event will, no doubt, trigger huge positive fall-outs on the economic front as well. This requires a concerted macro-level initiative from different stake-holders. At the micro-level, why can’t the SFL model be followed by others? Parks across the city can be similarly used by responsible corporate citizens to promote Carnatic music. It could prove win-win for many.

Soft access

If SFL does its bit through such mike-less park concerts to bring youngsters on board Carnatic music, Mr. Sridhar has taken a different approach. He is convinced that tech-savvy modern youth must be provided a 24X7 anytime access in a friendly way if he/she were to appreciate and enjoy Carnatic music. He is spending his time, money and effort in collecting concert recordings of yester-year Carnatic musicians (in CDs, audio cassettes, spools et al) from known and unknown sources. He wants to digitise them and offer in an easy-to-access and ready to enjoy format to modern youth. ```They have (youth) no time to visit a place and listen,’’ says Mr. Sridhar, who is associated with leading sabhas in Chennai and Mumbai. It’s a time-consuming task, and money-pinching effort. But Mr. Sridhar is game for it. The cause is worth spending money and the effort.

Small initiatives, these are, however, a giant step forward. And, we need more such articulations in an institutional way to keep this traditional art form going from strength to strength.


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