An Indian classical music fest for children by children starting today
If the name doesn’t grab your immediate attention the focus of the festival certainly will. Jackfruit — a music fiesta shines the spotlight on young performers ( under 19) from across India, coming together on a single platform. The action packed agenda is spread over three venues and two weekends. Curated by The Bhoomija Trust, a city-based organisation which supports performing arts in India and abroad they promise us some stellar perfor mances rooted in Indian classical genres from budding talents in vocal and instrumental music and a host of interesting workshops in the line up.
Well-known veena and violin exponents, Jayanthi Kumaresh and R Kumaresh, curators of the event, narrowed their search for participants through “talent scouts from different parts of India,” says Jayanthi. At first, they were not sure of the response but later it became difficult to limit the line-up to the final 30 based on skill, posture, body language, feel and content. Why Jackfruit? “Because the timber is used in making musical instruments and the fruit itself epitomises classical music – sometimes hard on the outside, soft and tender on the inside,” clarifies Gayathri Krishna, managing trustee, Bhoomija. Events of May 31 and June 1 will be at MLR Convention Centre. At Chowdiah Memorial Hall, events will be held on June 6, and Jagriti Theatre on June 7 and 8.
The festival kicks off with the world premiere of The Manganiyar Classroom, a vibrant theatre-based musical performance with 35 boys by Delhi-based playwright Roysten Abel. He is known for his other dazzling show – The Manganiyar Seduction, that was staged worldwide to rave reviews and featuring Manganiya folk musicians from Rajasthan with set elements from Amsterdam’s red light district. The Manganiyar Classroom, an offshoot of the hit show, features children from the community with ‘remarkable musical talent’ and yet forced to turn carpenters and drivers for lack of opportunity. This stage is set in a classroom where a uniform educational system taught by uninspired teachers replaces creativity and individuality. Expect plenty of lively folk music accompanied by the harmonium, dholak and kartal. Apparently it is Abel’s dream come true to work with children of this community. “The children sing like they were born breaking into a song. They have stunned me with their talent,” says the theatre director. The 50-minute show will be followed by songs by Shadaj Iyer, an 11-year-old Hindustani singer, accompanied by Madhusudhan Bhat on the harmonium and Pravin Shinde on the tabla.
Tricks of the trade
Workshops on associated arts will be conducted at these centres
MLR Convention Centre
Anantha R Krishnan: Mridangam
Nathulal Solanki: Nagara
Anil Srinivasan: Classical piano
Ambi Subramaniam: Classical violin
Ranjani-Gayatri: Carnatic music
Pravin Godkhindi: Flute
Warsi Brothers: Qawali
Smita Bellur: Hindustani and Sufi
Anupama Bhagwat: Classical sitar
P Unni Krishnan: Playback singing
Fazal Qureshi: Tabla
Lalgudi Rajalakshmi: Violin
Padmavathy Ananthagopalan: Veena
Carnatic music buffs should enjoy a lively group performance on the nadaswaram and the thavil lead by Vidwan Kalyanaraman G
Srinivasan. This ‘director’s favourite’ will be followed by city-based Carnatic vocalist, Uttara Swaminathan and a Hindustani flute piece by 11-year-old Suleiman, a protegee of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.
Don’t miss Padma Bhushan and Grammy award-winning percussionist, Vidwan Vikku Vinayakram lead a talented group of seven boys (8-14 years) through a taala vaadya or percussion ensemble. And the master of thaalam or beat has high praise for his group of students who have been training under the maestro for weeks and have learned to play like pros. “Because they were so good already, I was able to introduce them to more complex beats and rhythms, incorporated in the performance,” he tells us. Expect an enthusiastic recital with technical movements yet enjoyable for every music lover.
Catch a repeat of The Manganiyar Classroom if you missed it, with two back-to-back shows at 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm. The rest of the country will have to wait for months to catch it as Abel will be touring Europe for a while, after this city premiere.
The fun starts at 4.30 pm with another performance by Vidwan Kalyanaraman and his shishyas – Krishnagiri T Ganesan, Pochampalli M Vijay, SK Ramakrishnan and Virudanagar M Manikandan. The highlight of the evening however, is the jugalbandhi of Mehtab Ali Khan, the 15-year-old sitar player from New Delhi, and his 10-year-old brother Khurram Ali Khan on the tabla. End the evening with Vaibhav Ramani’s Carnatic violin piece which includes complex melodies and raagas.
Chennai-based Ramya Raghavan will keep you enthralled with her skills on the veena as will Karthik Iyer’s Carnatic vocal performance before the festival closes with a repeat of maestro Vidwan Vikku Vinayakram’s taala vaadya ensemble.
Tickets (Rs. 200 upwards) on bookmyshow.com