Why Carnatic music is in a crisis of context and curation
Music and entertainment

Why Carnatic music is in a crisis of context and curation

System of selection
The most popular venues and festivals have invested time and resources to curating the artistes list and constantly tweaking the quality of the whole experience from the audience’s perspective. Sandeep Virdi, artistic director of the Darbar Festival, UK, says there are things that traditional organisers ignore at their own peril. “The feel and touch of the marketing materials, the choice of venues for performances, the production values of the performance — staging, lighting and vitally the sound of the music, all go a long way in making an evening special,” he stresses.

By Aparna Sridhar

A Carnatic vocalist visiting Coimbatore is shocked to find that as she sings music, marketing slogans of the sponsors are scrolled on screens behind her.

A Carnatic vocalist visiting Coimbatore is shocked to find that as she sings, advertising and marketing slogans of the sponsors are being scrolled on screens behind her. She gets up and walks out…

A generation’s old music festival in Bengaluru regretfully tells aspiring young musicians…. “Maybe you are really good, but there are many like you for the junior slots. Difficult to choose. But if you can bring a sponsor we will give you a slot.”

A young violinist in Hyderabad, winner of several youth awards, is finally given a solo concert — for a sum of Rs 500. Then he is told he has to pay any accompanists he brings in himself.

Prestigious music festivals in Bengaluru, with varying government and private sponsorship, field top artistes after paying them lakhs — often to poorly attended halls.
For any art form to flourish, the system has to promote and sustain high levels of quality at its apex — both intrinsic quality and quality of presentation, appeal, and access and engagement, in order to thrive. The platforms matter, the spaces matter, the impresario’s matter.

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