Here’s a look at Coimbatore's emerging musical talent this Margazhi season
Even as Chennai grabs the attention of music lovers with its Margazhi concerts and kutcheris that are organised on a mammoth scale, the city’s youngsters are spotlighting Coimbatore’s artistic legacy that has managed to slip under the radar. From outsourcing their talent to the state capital to being part of a larger initiative attempting to revive the city’s music culture, we talk to eight emerging musicians, as the season enters its final week, about the growing interest for Margazhi among youngsters and why music is not seasonal and all-inclusive.
Having sung at 500 concerts, Vittal Sathya Narayanan says he still is a student of music. Along with a troupe of eight young musicians, all below the age of 30, the 23-year-old singer has performed in various Nama Sankeerthanam programmes at Coimbatore and Chennai this season. A revenue control analyst by profession, he also conducts classes in different cities on the origin and essence of south Indian bhajans. “In Coimbatore, Margazhi music is not reserved only to public performances. It has become all pervasive and with each passing season, it is making its way into our homes. ”
Art and soul
Dedicating her life to music, Padmapriya Natarajan, a performer since 2009 was a part of Chennaiyil Udayaloor this Margazhi. Inspired by Bhagavadha Sironmani Kovai S Jayaraman, this singer from Podanur strongly believes that she was right by choosing her passion as her profession. Saying that music is not bound by any season and does not fade away, she continues, “For me, Margazhi is also about dedication and emotion. You don’t have to belong to a musical family to enjoy music. Music is a form of devotion and there is no religious connotation attached to an art form,” says the singer, who is currently pursuing her bachelors in music.
Twinning ’n’ winning
Brothers Ajeesh and Aneesh Menon love performing Muthuswami Dikshitar’s composition for its lyrical beauty and tonal quality. Talking about Margazhi in the city Aneesh says, “Though Coimbatore has been hosting concerts this season, the music scene here lacks enthusiasm when compared to Chennai. Most artistes prefer the Chennai season because it helps them expand their knowledge by listening to senior artistes.” Part of 250 concerts over the past 12 years, the Menon twins also make it a point to keep a track of their musical graph to improve for their forthcoming performances. “We hope to see better initiatives in Coimbatore to help musicians reach their patrons,” says Ajeesh, who is 27.
All in the family
Hailing from a family of music, Amritha Sekhar has been inclined towards this art form since her childhood. “My parents are strict disciplinarians and they make sure I practise every day, just the way I would prepare for my exams,” says the 23-year-old. Having sung nine concerts this season at Trichy and Coimbatore, Amritha earlier performed at Vani Mahal, Chennai. Talking about the audiences, she says, “A minimum of 60 concerts take place in a day at Chennai where the listeners are more technically sound, whereas Coimbatore’s list of concerts are few and far.” Crediting the number of performances in Chennai with celebrity patronage, the singer believes that audience of a concert also matters. A month of festivity, rangolis, and traditional outfits, Amritha says, “Margazhi is not only about music but is also about dressing up. Traditional silk saris with antique jewellery are my pick any day.”
For the love of music
Aparna Gopalakrishnan, who recently stepped out of school, knows how to strike a balance between education and her passion having performed over 50 concerts across the state. “I didn’t give up music even during my high school. It helped me relax and gain confidence in myself.” A Carnatic singer, the 18-year-old also performed thiruppaavai in her concerts this season. “Age has no say in music. I am happy to see a lot of youngsters showing their interest in classical music. With technology’s assistance, virtual music classes are also possible, nowadays. Currently, I am taking lessons from my Chennai-based guru Suguna Varadhachari through Skype,” says Aparna.
Inspired by Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar, Gowtham Kannan’s list of concerts goes up to 500. Playing the mridangam and dholki, he has performed at Coimbatore, Erode and Madurai this season. Talking about Nama Sankeerthanam’s relevance to Margazhi in the city, the 23-year-old food entrepreneur says, “I feel that Coimbatore is more inclined towards Nama Sankeerthanam because it is upbeat, whereas Carnatic concerts are purely technical and do require a sound knowledge. Lack of exposure towards Carnatic music is why the Margazhi season is below expectation here.”
A class act
"Unlike Coimbatore, Chennai is packed with music academies and sabhas at every nook and corner, where a wide range of musicians perform,” says Pozhakudi G R Praveen, who sang as a part of 19 dance performances this season in Chennai. Being a Carnatic vocalist for over 20 years, the singer is looking forward to more concerts and art houses in the city. With classical music and dance making a comeback in Coimbatore, the 31-year-old singer hopes for acoustically-treated auditoriums, which will provide a better platform for artistes. “The music scene is changing for the better and spotlighting young talents. This will ultimately widen opportunities and transform the musical landscape of the city.”
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is hosting its Pongal Music Festival as part of the season’s celebrations. A five-day concert, the first day of the event will be a Carnatic performance by Nithyashree Mahadevan with shows by Carnatic singers Sahana Samraj, Ramakrishnan Moorthy, Elavasar Ram Varma and a jugalbandi performance by B Vijaya Gopal and chitraveena artist P Ganesh. From January 12 to 16. 9 am and 6 pm. Details: 254-2481.