Vidwan G. Ravikiran, who inaugurated Ranjani Fine Arts with the first musical concert, also graciously agreed to deliver the first lecture demonstration (LecDem) on the "Art of listening to Carnatic music" at Ranjani Fine Arts on June 29, 2013.
It was an uncharacteristically relaxed evening for RFA volunteers, given that there was less pre-event preparation for the Lec-Dem event. Though the stage was replaced by a small table, instruments by a white board and marker, the stage was nevertheless set for the first ever Lec-Dem at RFA! It was heartening to see the venue filled to capacity for this inaugural 'non-concert' event. Ravikiran's opening remarks immediately grabbed the audience's attention. He said that an artist competes with soaps, weekend activities, cricket etc to keep his/her audience engaged during prime time. Much to the interest of the rasikas he drew parallels between the critical review of a music concert and cricket lovers discussing the fall of a wicket for long after the next batsman is in!
After a brief on the evolution of kutcheri model over the last century, Ravikiran ventured into the main topic for the evening with an interesting poser to the Rasikas viz. "When was the last time you listened to a bad concert and what made you feel so? ". This provoked an highly interactive session with the audience chipping in with various different reasons that included nostalgia, ambience, acoustics, religious sentiment, loudness, melody/lack of it, speed, lack of Shruthi, missing X-factor (!), not enough Bhava and so on.
Ravikiran adeptly built the platform for the rest of the LecDem based on these comments from the helpful Rasikas! From explaining how nostalgia enhances enjoyment of the concert to why a manual Tambura (and not electronic Shruthi box) helps maintain the Shruthi, Ravikiran discussed each of the Rasikas' inputs about the reasons for a bad concert in detail. The audience were rapt in attention and visibly impressed by the confidence and knowledge with which Ravikiran addressed their queries. Like a skilled surgeon, Ravi Kiran carefully handled the sensitivity around the religious emphasis of Carnatic by highlighting the inclusion of Javalis and Thillanas in every concert. He triggered a murmur of amusement by stating the fact that Javalis were actually erotic prose set to traditional music.
In the concluding part of the Lec-Dem, Ravikiran explained, with the eagerly awaited demonstration, the difference between a Varnam and a Kriti and also how/why a Varnam deserves equal respect as a Kriti. Ravi also touched upon some interesting researches in Carnatic music that whetted the appetite of the audience for more. He also exposed the audience to the some interesting facets of the Great Trinity's compositions. We fervently wished that the hands of the clock would stop and we could continue enjoying the interesting insights that a great music lover and passionate student of the art was sharing with us with no reservations. Ravikiran also amply demonstrated his skill with words weaved with the right touch of humor, discretion and candor.
Overall it was a superb learning experience for all rasikas young or old, expert or amateur! We now are looking for an Encore!
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~~ More pictures from this event ~~
Art of listening to Carnatic music