A lecture-demo on Carnatic music, an interaction with a writer and a collaboration with a transgender musical community. These myriad activities are unlikely accompaniments to a programme with focus on Carnatic music. But renowned musician of the genre, TM Krishna, believes that it is important to look beyond the form, in order to break the barriers that our approach towards art can sometimes build.
“There’s something very incestuous about the way we deal with art,” says the renowned Carnatic musician, in an interview with First Edition Arts, an organisation that curates and promotes Indian music, theatre, and dance. “Art builds closed communities based on caste, gender, race, or religion; we are always inclined to create chambers in which we feel secure. But the chamber itself is a limiting construction. It creates barriers, and stops people from engaging in the music,” he adds.
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In an attempt to break those barriers, First Edition Arts is holding the Carnatic Modern Series, where Krishna will interact with musicians and audiences outside of the sphere of Carnatic music. He will be in conversation with author Jerry Pinto about the intersection of society and music today, at SCM Sophia, Bhulabhai Desai Road, and on the same day, participate in a lec-demo with Hindustani classical musicians at G5A, Laxmi Mills. On December 3, Krishna will have a concert at Swatantraveer Savarkar Auditorium, Dadar, and on December 4, he will collaborate with the Jogappas, a transgender musical community, at Sitara Studio, also in Dadar.
“We’ve specifically chosen venues that are not typical sites of Carnatic music, such as Sion or Chembur, to draw a more varied audience,” says Devina Dutt, founder of First Edition Arts. “We want to push the city beyond its existing zones and preferences. Moreover, Mumbai is the heartland of Hindustani music, and therefore, it’s important to us that we expand the base of people listening to Carnatic music. There needs to be mixed audience for the arts, and who better than Krishna to help us achieve that?”
Dutt believes there’s a misconception about Carnatic music in Mumbai; people think it is rigid and lacks creativity as compared to Hindustani music. “Every musical culture has different ways of being creative. The lec-demo that Krishna is holding with Hindustani classical musicians is a very unusual encounter, where the two forms will engage with each other deeply in the spirit of wanting to learn about the other,” she says.
Such unconventional views on the arts and society have augmented Krishna’s popularity. “But at the heart of it all, he is a brilliant and dynamic classical musician. The Carnatic Modern Series tour will be a testament to that,” adds Dutt.