A day of
There was an entire day of watching child prodigies perform. And what performances! The little tykes made me sit up, applaud and smile broadly! Read on…
Festival is sponsored by Sundram Finance and takes place every year
in the month of Margazhi, on the eve of the harvest festival of Pongal.
I got an email from a relative in the US to go to the 6.30am concert at
Nageswara Rao Park on Jan 3, where two girls, Sruti aged 13 and her sister
Jayshree aged 11 from San Jose, would be giving a Carnatic vocal concert
for the Mylapore Fest. This was a must attend program as we would be meeting
the kids for the first time. Dozens of people were walking briskly along
the paths, some were doing yoga, others their stretches and a few their
morning laughter exercise. There on the green lawn was a low dais with
beautiful floral decoration and a blanket for the musicians to sit on.
Violinist Karthikeyan and mridangist Ambur Padmanabhan accompanied Sruti
and Jayshree Sarathy in their concert. These are supposed to be mike-less
kutcheris, so one sometimes had to strain to hear the music, especially
when the cuckoos decided to call out to each other and many flights droned
past overhead. The instrumentalists adjusted the volume of playing admirably
so as not to drown out the vocals.
How did they come to perform in the festival in the first place? The parents had read about the festival and called the contact person in Sundram Finance, who told them that selection process was imperative, and requested some audio recordings of the girls. Based on that, Sruti and Jayshree actually ended up being the first act of the Mylapore Festival's Concert in the Park this year! They sang with a lot of confidence because they have performed in the US but this is the first time they are giving a concert in India.
They would have been the envy of any performer because apart from hundreds of photos being taken, 3 television channels interviewed them. It was interesting to overhear what they had to say. Yes, they love to come to Chennai for the December season and feast on the music programs; they learn music to be in touch with Indian culture because this is one way they can identify with India. Their mother is a singer too and they have been interested in music from a young age. It was a unique experience to perform without a mike and in a natural setting. And Sruti was also politically correct in her interviews, never failing to thank Sundram Finance for giving them the lovely opportunity!
I missed the
opening day but managed to attend the second day of Visesha Kala Poshakam,
the II Year International Art Festival of Dance and Music presented by
Sri Sumukhi Rajasekharan Memorial Foundation. The evening started with
Swati Tirunal Samarpanam, a thematic presentation by Sujatha Mohan
and Sardha Sethuraman. One could see the stamp of their guru Padma
Subrahmanyam's style. Blue seems to be the favored costume color this season
and the duo were also clad in blue with chrome yellow border. "Bhavayami
Raghuramam" was rendered beautifully by vocalist Gopa Kumar. It was a change
to see the vocalist actually look at the dancers when singing!
Both the children presented such riveting performances that one's eyes never left the stage at any moment.
The guest of honor Narthaki Nataraj commended the meticulous training by the gurus of Nithya and Janet. As much as the parents have encouraged and supported their daughters, their gurus had meticulously moulded them step by step. Narthaki and many students of guru Kittappa Pillai branched out on their own only after his demise, and she stressed the need to stick to one's guru for guidance as long as possible and learn every single thing from them. Seeing Janet perform, Narthaki said art indeed had no caste and religion barriers. Commenting on Sujatha and Sardha’s performance, Narthaki urged teachers not to get too busy only teaching, but to also perform.
The audience psyche is so puzzling. Why is it that people, who come to watch a particular performer, leave immediately after that artiste's performance? Can't people stay back and enjoy other talents too? Young children show so much dedication to their art form that would put a senior to shame, and encouraging them by your presence will motivate and encourage them to pursue their art despite pressures in studies.
performances by young prodigies, all in one day...a happy day indeed!