By V Ramnarayan
Mr RT Chari of the TAG group of companies and his family trust Ramu Endowments have been solid supporters of Carnatic music for a couple of decades now, with their donation and installation of listening archives to Chennnai's Music Academy and several other institutions a prominent and thoughtful contribution to the field. When Mr Chari and the Karnatik Music Forum, another champion of music and other worthy causes (led by Dr S Sundar and ably assisted by Mrs Usha Bharadwaj), approached Sruti with a request to join them in a project to identify five emerging Carnatic voices under the age of 25, we considered a number of aspects before agreeing to take part in the initiative.
It has been our expressed view that there are far too many competitions around us for young Carnatic musicians, with a resultant focus on technique and performance skills rather than on depth of understanding. While there is no change in our stand, we saw an opportunity to stress some core values of our vocal music through the programme, whose aim is to identify five promising voices from among the applications we receive from aspirants from India and abroad, not to turn the young participants into some kind of performing machines. It has been titled Five for the Future. (We had to drop the earlier title Voices for Tomorrow as another event carries the same name).
While an independent jury will select the most promising talent, the proper use of the voice, not merely technical proficiency, will be a fundamental criterion in the selection process, and our judges will keep this essential attribute in mind throughout the search for five voices for the future. And we do hope organisers will take note of our choice and consider these youngsters for performance opportunities.
The talent hunt, proposed as an annual affair, will be held for the first time from 12th to 17th January 2015 at TAG Centre, Alwarpet, Chennai. Only vocalists below age 25, male or female, who have not performed for any of the major sabhas of Chennai during the December season are eligible.
The application accompanied by the applicant’s curriculum vitae and audio recording to Mrs. Usha Bharadwaj, Coordinator, D1/9, Anand Apartments, 50, LB Road, Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai – 41 or electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before 30 November 2014. The recording must contain one classical kriti with raga alapana, niraval and swaras for a maximum duration of 25 minutes, and a light classical song. The total duration should not exceed 30 minutes.
As we said before, proper vocalisation will be an all-important criterion in selecting the top five. Open-mouthed, akaram-oriented singing will be a must.
Out of the applicants, 18 will be selected to perform for an hour each during the January 2015 event. Violin and percussion accompaniment will be provided by us.
During the hour-long performance, the selected applicant is expected to present a mini concert that will include raga alapana, niraval and kalpana swaras.
The top five voices of 2015 to be selected by a panel of experts, will each receive prize money of Rs.5000 and a citation.
Please visit our Facebook pages Sruti Sangeet (www.facebook/srutisangeet) and Srutimag (www.facebook/srutimag) for updates.