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Concert at Ayyappa Temple and Shri MSG

Yesterday was a concert at the Ayyappa temple in Anna Nagar, Chennai. The organisers had decided to honour Shri MSG, with a title and it was my good fortune because he stayed on to listen to about half an hour of the concert. Shri MSG was one of my childhood heros. Almost every student of the violin cannot ignore or not be affected by MSG and his extraordinary technique and playing. He is one of the most revolutionaryy violinists in Carnatic music ever and has taken violin playing to completely new heights with his clean bowing and crisply starched fingering.

If there is one regret in my life it is that I never shared the stage with Shri MSG and this was partly fulfilled yesterday when I sat with him on stage during the felicitation function! In August 1993, my grand aunt Rukmini Rajagopalan, who was also a student of Parur Sundaram Iyer MSG’s father) wanted me to sing with MSG. So she took me to his house and requested. For my grand aunt’s sake he agreed to play for me in a family wedding concert with Shri Umayalpuram Sivaraman on the mrudangam. I even have the wedding invitation with me, but he could not make it to the concert and his daughter Narmada played instead.

After that on a couple of occasions he did take the trouble to come and listen to my concert and bless me. Especially moving was the year he got the Sangeetha Kalanidhi. He had a concert that evening but he specifically told the Academy that he wanted to listen to me, came in, sat for an hour, and then left. Yesterday also he called me aside and told me that he has been listening to me and was very happy with the progress I have been making. What more do I want? Blessings from one of the modern greats of Carnatic music. Just the positive energy he generated as he sat listening to the yesterday was enough for me. Thank you MSG sir!

The other thing about yesterday’s concert was the stage arrangements. They had decided to be very creative and made separate islands for all of us to sit. Each was a small squarish platform the size of a large cushion. This cushion would have been the best advertisement for “U foam,’ a company that makes soft mattresses, and it was so soft that it was very difficult to sit in a balanced manner. I had to ask them to remove the cushion and below was just a plywood sheet! These squarish islands made us feel like parties in a political coalition! And each of these island stages were also decked with jasmine flowers like the cots in a film ‘first night’ scene!!

Organisers sometime do not understand our comforts or needs and in their enthusiasm cause all this! Personally though I do manage with what is there but now a blog is a good forum to rant rather than ‘specify’ what I want on stage.

Anna Nagar had a great audience yesterday. It would be nice if they can develop a bigger and nicer auditorium and organise regular concerts there. But for the annual Kartik Fine Arts festival in December nothing much is happening there. It is great that the organizers like yesterday’s YACD who have been doing this same series of concerts in Mylapore have shifted base. Suburbs need better facilities and more organised activity because there is a huge audience that is willing to support carnatic music. Download this concert


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