Amjad Ali Khan says
Every state capital in India should have a cultural complex
Like London’s South bank Centre or Carnegie Hall, New York

One can’t say it any better! One can’t excel also the Western countries when it comes to culture and what it means culture promotion. Amjad Ali Khan is a great Indian musician, a great sword player with an illustrious leneage. Perhaps, he is only next to the great Ravi Sankar and the other great Kahan, son of the legendary Alaudin Khan of the Maihar gharna.

Only those who have listened in a sustained manner to the strings of the Sitar and Sarod could appreciate the greatness of these two streams, of course the vocal music of the Hindustani is another unbeatable genre.

India is home to these great traditions, both the Hindustan and Carnatic music streams have evolved in their own two distinct manner.

I would divide the history and evolution of the Indian music as that what we had before independence and what we have after independence. Even here, it is very useful to take note of the recent developments, just after we have been witnessing the globalisation spin-offs in the culture field, in the music in particular.

There is so much music traffic from the West and so too in a way from the East, from India to the West. Now, we hear too many times the music celebrations in Celeaveland, USA, than from Indian cities! So too the music masters, from rock to what have you, the classical musicians and instrumentalists are travelling from the West to perform in India.

Bangalore for instance is witnessing a new trend in presenting these many streams in an increasing manner.

The other day there was this six day festival of Indian and African music, at the sangeetha sabha near our home. Yes, the greats were all here, the Madras Music Academy president was there and so too the others like S.A.K.Durga, the musicologist, in fact, the lady is called ethno-musicologist, so much the better! That brings to our understanding of music something more than the particular music stream. Such an expression raises our imagination to a higher level, I felt.

I also read with interest that as for promotion of Carnatic music, of course there is much to write about promotion of Hindustani music, the Madras Music Academy comes to mind often. But now, I learn that in Bangalore, the Gayana Samaja was the first to take up the promotion of Carnatic music in the country. This was news for me, at any rate. It was for the serious ‘gayana’ the Gayana Samaj was established in 1905!This was much earlier than the Madras Music Academy, which came into being ,I think, in 1927,soon after the   session of the Indian National Congress in Chennai. I also think it was Satyamurthy, the first Congress leader with an interest in theatre who must have taken up the project for the  Congress session had surplus funds and the funds were utilised by the enthusiasts, among whom was also, I also guess rightly, the founder of the Hindu newspaper, may be Rangaswamy Iyerngar.

The Gayana Samaj, the Madras music Academy and now the Indira Nagar-based Sangeetha Sabha have all been doing the promotion of classical Carnatic music and dance. The origins of these sabhas read very humble beginnings. Always very middle class, in fact, very lower middle class, often government clerks in some unglamorous depts. like railways or chartered accountants and others like teachers and others. But for some unexplained (or unasked reasons?) the very many sabhas tend to migrate towards Chennai and that too to the Music Academy to claim some legitimacy and recognition!

I don’t know why?
And it is always some orthodox, (god-fearing of course!)and very pro-government, small time professional persons only become music sabha presidents. In Chennai, lately, after the scandal of the court cases and resolving the same, it is Mr.N.Murali, the Hindu editor and owner who lords it over the Music Academy. The once severely contested post for the president of the Academy went to Mr.Murali only and the once who didn’t make it, namely, the redoubtable, Mr.Nalli Kuppusamy Chetty of the Saris fame of the same name, emerged as a the alternative centre of music promotion. But somehow, it is Chennai with all its orthodoxy and its own middle class mentality that doesn’t see music and dance beyond the purview of this very same god-fearing small time class and its existence!

Thus, I find music promotion in the South and perhaps for the North too remain as a small-time profession and entertainment.

It is at this time, I find the writing of Amjad Ali Khan about the high status of music promotion in the Western countries.

I was glad to find that as he says that in London there is the Royal Albert Hall, Southbank Centre which are gigantic, beautifully architecture and also a beautiful ambience. For that matter, the very many private and public halls and music and theatre buildings, like the Barbican Centre and also at Shakespeare town of Stratford upon Avon are all halls that are in themselves as an aesthetic experience and also the productions and performances inside are a lifetime experience.

I was lucky to have visited these halls and enjoyed the very many plays and concerts, also on the Continent, in Paris and Berlin and Bonn and I used to wonder often: why in India there is no realisation that we too must have such big and comfortable music and culture halls and complexes.

Amjad Ali Khan has much to say about the need in India for such Western-type, Western-scale halls and complexes. I can’t but endorse his plea in all this seriousness.
I am glad Amjad Ali Khan has thought of speaking out his mind. If only more of our senior artistes start talking only we can hope that such efforts would bear fruit.
This is not a job that can be done by private efforts or private corporate sector efforts.
The state must play a role and a decisive role at that.

State governments have now depts. to promote languages and culture. But they seem to be doing some small-time parochial things.

It is time our Chief Ministers and at the Centre our Central Ministers wake up. They should really be doing much more than what is being done now. Our tourist promotion work is also very weak and hesitant.

We don’t understand our heritage’s worth.
In TN I have much grievance how they have neglected the culture potential. From Tanjore to Tranquebar, it is long culture corridor that cries for development and promotion. So, I can go on and on…!

Anyway, the point is that promotion of serious Carnatic music started earlier in Karnataka capital and the 103 year old organisation is now going strong and it plans to celebrate its centenary in a grand manner. Semmangudi, D.K.Pattammal and many other greats are household names in Bangalore music sections. Though I have now lived in Bangalore for over a decade I regret I had never been to the Gayana Samar premises and I should take the earliest opportunity to get to know things in a more systematic manner.

I know that localities like Malleswaram and Rajaji Nagar and Basavangudi are the predominantly Brahmin localities and it is these localities where you see regular classical music programmes.

Anyway, after listening for a very long time Balamurali Krishna during my regular morning regime of treadmill sessions, I have now turned to discovering new talents in Carnatic music. Some of my new discoveries are: Vasanatha Madhavi, a rare new discovery. Her rendering of Thyagaraja kritis, Endaro mahanubavalu, Nagumogu have me endless pleasure. The others, Gayathri Girish, Gayathri Venkataraghavan are other new discoveries. Of course, when it comes to rendering Abheri Raga and the Nagumogu set in that raga, there is no match for Balamurali!

May be there wont be another singer to ever rise upon to Bala, the great! Long live the great musician!

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