People making a beeline before auditoriums to hear great masters is certainly good news for those promoting classical music. But for Arif Husain,a young Agra gharana vocalist,this is the primary reason why he and his elder brother Asif Husain,a noted sitarist,formed such an organisation 17 years ago. They named the Society after their father and doyen of the gharana,Ustad Yunus Husain Khan.
Classical music concerts are attended by people only when theres a big name performing. Often,if the programme has one or two so-called lesser known or junior artistes performing before the recital of an established artiste,the audience trickles in only during the senior artistes performance. Dismissing a performers efforts without even hearing him is insensitive. Yet,a large number of people in our audience have no qualms doing that. And sponsors too put in their money only when theres a maestro performing, says Arif.
Who will promote those countless musicians who have not been blessed with fame but are no less talented? Who will provide a platform for the young musicians who dare to take up music as profession instead of a financially lucrative occupation? What will happen to those musicians who are living in penury just because they never got an opportunity to showcase their skills and none promoted their talent? he asks.
It was precisely these queries that prompted the brothers to form the Ustan Yunus Husain Khan Memorial Society in 1991,a couple of months after the death of their father.
Seventeen years and performances by as many as 80 artistes later,the Society holds lecture-demonstrations in Delhis schools and colleges to initiate students into the nuances of Indian classical music. In all these years,the brothers claim they have never deviated from their aim of providing a platform for artistesboth young and oldwho have otherwise not figured in popular music festivals.
Well,we have also featured well-known musicians,but our focus is definitely those who are not regularly asked to perform in big concerts and festivals,but are nevertheless extremely gifted, says Arif,who has been awarded a fellowship by the Ministry of Culture to do a research on old compositions of the maestros of yesteryears.
Needless to say,getting financial help and sponsorship is not easy for the Society and initially,the brothers had to spend from their own pockets and depend on well-wishers to organise concerts. But if we feature only well-known performers and sell tickets for the programme,the sole purpose of this organisation will be defeated. Initially,it was only one show a year that we could afford. Now,with sponsorship trickling in we are able to organise four shows every year, says Arif,who hopes that the efforts put in by the organisation will bear fruits with youngsters evolving as connoisseurs of music irrespective of the fact whether the performer is a star or not.
Next week,the Society will be ready with yet another performance this time in one of the colleges of Delhi University.