Keeping the traditional arts alive

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Prominent members of South Asian music schools promote the fusion of yoga and classical Indian music

 Shobha Shekhar, the director of the music school Kalakruti ran a program, ‘Kala Kiran’, in late March at the Peacock Room of the Shiva Vishnu Temple at Carrum Downs.

It was a new and innovative step, and was an attempt to bring together yoga, Indian classical musicians and art academics to brainstorm a way to take Indian fine arts forward in Australia.

Rajendra Yenkannamoole, founder and director of the Vasudeva Kriya Yoga centres around Melbourne, demonstrated the concept of Nada Yoga and how the power of yoga can be harnessed by musicians to enhance their musical abilities.

This was followed by a panel discussion on the future of Indian classical performing arts in Australia. The panel included eminent Melbourne musicians and dance choreographers such as Tara Rajkumar, M Ravichandhira, Jayshree Ramachandran, Sridhar Chari and Murali Kumar, and an arts academic Priya Srinivasan.

There was an honest examination of why many Indian classical music teachers were struggling to retain students after high school, and also about the difficulties of attracting audiences to concerts.

Many ideas were exchanged on making Carnatic music and Indian arts relevant and popular in Australia and keeping them alive; how to keep young people engaged and interested in the art form, ways of making it accessible; and reaching out to non- Indian audiences.

R.T Chari, the Vice President of the prestigious Madras Music Academy, spoke about his efforts at promoting Carnatic music appreciation, promoting budding and talented young musicians, and archiving his collection of Carnatic music concert recordings and lecture demonstrations which had brought him to Melbourne.

Of particular significance was his seminal work in producing a set of raga-recognition musical CDs which are a wonderful way of immersing oneself in music while learning to tune oneself to the subtle differences between ragas and have fun recognising them: he fervently believes – something that has been proved through experience- that this enhances one’s appreciation of music, and is a way in which more people can become life-long rasikas of music.

This was followed by a rendering of bhajans by several music schools of Melbourne, supported by students of instrumental music as well: they included Radhey Shyam Gupta and his sitar students; Pandurang Torvi and his pupils on the tabla, Uthra Vijayaraghavan, Sundari Saripalle, Shobha Shekhar, Murali Kumar, Narmatha and Ravichandhira, Jayshree Ramachandran and their students in a grand gala finale.

Proceeds of the evening’s event went towards the Monash Children’s Hospital.