For nine nights, the city transforms into a mega stage for music and dance performances of all kinds. Musicians and music lovers flock from place to place to take part in concerts and listen to devotees and newcomers strike a chord with a discerning audience during Navarathri celebrations.
The sanctified Navarathri Mandapam near the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple has been the hub of these festivities for nearly 200 years. Over time, temples, sabhas, and cultural organizations came into action. Each day, several concerts bring forth the majesty of classical music as the city celebrates its rendezvous with the fine arts. MetroPlus is aimed at young musicians who have enriched their musical vocabulary through these intense musical conversations.
Singer, Masala Coffee
Nine days of unlimited Carnatic music. You can’t ask for more. I used to give concerts during the Navarathri season before I moved to Chennai and traveled through Kerala to perform. I was a regular at most of the music festivals held during Navarathri in the city. I have attended concerts at Navarathri Mandapam and those organized by the sabhas every year. You know there is a different vibe and positive energy about the season. There is something very special, I would say, and it’s not just about singing. And I don’t miss that feeling even though I’m now in Chennai, where you have music all year round. It is an exciting time on a personal level as my wife Anjali Panicker, a ballet dancer, performs in her hometown of Thrissur at the Navarathri Festival.
Music is a truth; it is a part of nature, always in the air, as real and as essential as the air we breathe. My devotion to music is constant and as such I think there is no need for an occasion to “celebrate” it per se. That said, I take the opportunity to listen to the many music concerts in the city during the season and at other times of the year. I am trained in both Hindustani and Carnatic classical music and enjoy going to concerts that I know I will enjoy, especially Hindustani and always end up having a good time. I have heard and been inspired by people like Sanjay Subramanyam, the Wadali brothers, Parveen Sultana, the Manganiyars of Rajasthan … Listening to a concert, even a minor one, is always an inspiring experience. What fascinates me as a singer is the journey that the musician goes through when he explores the nuances of music.
It has always been a special season for me as a musician, whether or not I go to a concert. In fact, this is the time when I invariably get the opportunity to play for top musicians. Countless music festivals are organized by temples and sabhas and therefore there is always a need for accompanists. I have often been called upon to replace when a mridangam accompanist fails to make it to a concert. You get so much satisfaction as a musician and pay is never a priority at Navarathri concerts. There is a divine feeling all around and the ambiance of the places, especially the temples, enhances the ambiance. I remember such a concert in Harippad where I accompanied Maya Varma. There was no stage and the concert was inside the temple with natural lighting provided by traditional lamps. I will miss the festivities this year as I am going to Sweden with my group.
Carnatic singer and playback singer
As a classical music student, I attended several concerts at the Navarathri Mandapam. There is a musical tradition there that instills certain values in you as a singer and a listener and I was able to imbibe it because I was a regular at the Navarathri festival.
Now there are several recitals in the city and each is a lesson for young people like us. Their repertoire, their singing style, the choice of ragas, the pattern of swaras… We learn so much. It all helps me while I’m singing, whether it’s a concert or a movie song. It is this solid foundation in Carnatic music that helps me approach different genres of music.
It’s a busy season for musicians. I must have missed a concert here because I had to go get a recording for Illyaraja monsieur in Chennai. I have had concerts at NSS College and some temples as well. It’s music, music and more music.
Composer and singer, Airplane
While doing my Bachelor of Music, we used to attend almost every classical concert in the city, including Navarathri Mandapam and Kuthiramalika. All this listening is felt while composing or singing. It is not tangible but tangible.
As a child, the only kind of music I listened to were songs from old movies and classical music. This is the basis for me. However, it was the music festivals that really opened my mind and helped me think outside the box and change my outlook. Classical music is therefore the basis on which I developed my genre of music.