By Aisiri Amin
There has been a lot of discussion in the past few years about the need to connect younger audiences with classical music, while also promoting emerging talent. HCL Concerts has been working in this sphere for the past 25 years. Sundar Mahalingam, who leads the initiative, spoke to Lounge about the learnings from the two-decade-long journey:
In the last 25 years, how has the interest in Indian classical music evolved?
When we started, the genre was considered niche but over the years, more people have developed a curiosity about it and gradually, an interest. Now even people, who might not understand the intricacies, attend our concerts. In the last decade, there has also been a shift towards fusion. The inclusion of little bit of jazz or other forms of international music, while retaining the core of Indian classical music, has worked well. We have been doing some experimentation, having separate concerts for those who love fusion music, and for people who want to enjoy Indian classical music in its pure form.
Have younger generations' become more interested in Indian classical music in the last decade?
About 15 to 20 years ago, we could see the younger generation's interest in classical music waning. This was mainly due to classical music being perceived as complex, and question marks over how young musicians could make a living, but in in the last decade, there has been more interest. Artists have understood the potential opportunities they now have to enhance their music’s reach and visibility through digital platforms. Additionally, social media has become a way for new artists to grow and the younger generation to discover them. Moreover, schools (especially in urban centres) have started integrating classical music and dance into their curriculum. We also see this trend resulting in a lot of school children attending our concerts with their parents.
Are online concerts a way forward to make concerts more accessible?
Lack of access has been a big issue. When talking about Indian classical music, there is a focus on ragas, alaaps and sur, which make a lot of people feel like it's not for them. Virtual events give an opportunity for people to experience something new without making a lot of effort. In some of our virtual concerts, the viewership has reached 100,000, which is great because it shows people are curious. It also draws different kinds of music lovers who can discover something new about their interests.
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- FIRST PUBLISHED01.12.2023 | 12:30 PM IST