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January 2, 2002

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Kunnakudi R Vaidhynathan

  IN FIRST PERSON
   Semmangudi
    Sreenivasa Iyer
   Rajkumar Bharti
   Soumya
   Nityashree
    Mahadevan
   Unnikrishnan


'The rise in the number of sabhas has helped the art tremendously'

Kunnakudi R Vaidhynathan

Kunnakudi R Vaidyanthan is one of the most noted violinists in the Carnatic music scene. Even now, people talk about how he made it rain in a village in Tamil Nadu after playing the raga Amrutha Varshini. Here, he talks about how the Margazhi season has changed over the years.

I still remember my first kacheri during the Margazhi Utsavam. It was the year 1972 and the venue was the Tamil Isai Sangham. What a knowledgeable crowd it was! The concert started at 9.30 at night and went on for a very long time.

In those days, All India Radio broadcast the concert live and rasikas living all over India looked forward listening in. Today, we donít get to see such rasikas.

Although Margazhi is celebrated as the month of bhakti and music all over Tamil Nadu, a festival of this magnitude can be seen only in Chennai. This is true for as far back as I can remember.

When I first started participating in the Margazhi Utsavam, there were only a few sabhas in Chennai -- maybe 10 or so. But now you see at least 40 sabhas in and around the city and the same musicians hop from one sabha to another and give kacheris.

As there are sabhas in almost all the areas in Chennai, you see difference in the class of rasikas too. The good part is that those who live in a particular area need not travel to another area to listen to a singer. But what can you say about the situation when a singer performs in 15-18 sabhas in a month?

When you look at this phenomenon from another angle, I feel the rise in the number of sabhas and the entry of sponsors have helped the art tremendously. See, a film may run in many theatres at the same time. Likewise, there are at least 40 kacheris at the same time in various sabhas in the city. It will only help the art grow.

One thing that has not changed in the last 30 years is that you hear only music everywhere in December. Come Margazhi, the people of Chennai think only music. When I say people of Chennai, I mean those who reside here and all those who come here even from the United States of America to only listen to Carnatic music and be a part of the Margazhi festival. That is the beauty of the festival.

Also in first person:
Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer
Rajkumar Bharti
Soumya
Nityashree Mahadevan
Unnikrishnan
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