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Music happens

Chennai has the unique reputation of getting immersed in music during December. Close to 500 sabhas and institutions in different parts of the metro vie with one another to organise discour-ses, demonstrations, presentation of research papers and music concerts throughout the day. These draw experts, musicians and rasikas from across the globe. This year there was a special recognition: UNESCO included Chennai in its list of creative cities network for its rich music tradition.  A postal cover with the picture of Music Academy in it was released at the inauguration of the Academy’s 91st annual conference and concerts by the reputed music composer Ilayaraja. 

The event also marked a departure from the convention: presenting for the first time one from the film world who shot to fame initially through his film music. Several of his compositions had a strong carnatic music base. The convention so far had been to present a renowned politician from the Centre or the state, a governor or a business tycoon. Ilayaraja, the Isai Gnani, is globally renowned for his rich contribution for composing music across several genres. For thousands, several of his creations have been classic treasures. In his address, he said: “music happens. It cannot be made.”

Raja presented this year’s MS Subbulakshmi Sangita Kalanidhi award instituted by The Hindu to the chitra veena prodigy Ravikiran.  Making effective use of Skype and other communication cum education tools, Ravikiran has a legion of disciples across the world. Of particular interest to me is his efforts in popularising the rich repertoire of Mahakavi Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyar (I hail from this village!) Venkata Kavi (1700-32) had composed hundreds of soul-stirring compositions in Tamil and Sanskrit. Several of these resemble Subramania Bharathi’s simple, elegant Tamil poems. Needamangalam Krishnamurthy Bhagavatar brought these out with great dedication and effort. 

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