Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Concert at Madurai



Yesterday I was in Madurai singing a concert for the annual festival of Ragapriya. This is a very interesting sabha that started in the early seventies if I am right. Mr Rajam, A grand uncle of mine was involved with this sabha for a long time and I remember going to Madurai to sing there for the first time in 1988. The concerts were always held at the ball room in the Pandyan Hotel. The audience was highly appreciative and had some interesting rules that they followed. Firstly concerts were of minimum 3 hours duration. Except for a few chairs at the end of the hall, the people predominantly sat on the floor. There were no microphones and they prided themselves as a chamber concert audience in the true sense of the word. Finally the audience never clapped for any song! At the end of the concert they would all clap together once for the concert as a whole.

All this changed over time. Back then it was still only monthly concerts until they started having an annual series in 1993 to coincide with their 20th ( or was it their silver jubilee) anniversary. I still remember the occasion because Shri Krishnaswamy of Narada Gana Sabha presided over the function and my concert followed. Since then I have enjoyed going to Madurai every year to sing in their annual festival. The year I missed was when my son was born in August 2000. Since then microphones had entered the hall upon insistence from one particular star artiste specifically according to well informed sources! The said artiste also protested against the non clapping and got it changed. With the result things are as they are everywhere else.Years later Shri Kamalam Thyagarajan, former President of the sabha, flautist and designer of an electronic sruti box, came to me after my concert and said "Do you know that your grand mother never needed a mic to sing when she performed here." I quietly replied "Sir, I did not need one either, if you remember!"