Madrasana founder Mahesh Venkateshwaran’s Facebook feed is filled with polls: polls about ticket prices, venue choices, and which artistes the organisation should feature next.
It’s a democratic process, one that has allowed him to curate their next live show: an instrumental concert by violinist Charumathi Raghuraman, accompanied by mridangist Anantha R. Krishnan.
“Charumathi’s unplugged video was well-received, which led to many requests of wanting to see her perform solo. The curation of the concert took off from there,” say Mahesh.
Themed around the idea of what she calls ragasutra, Charumathi says it reflects an incredible binary of choice, thought and existence that binds society.
“In music, this binary is reinforced largely by the abstraction in sound and silence. The further we get into this discussion, the more order we begin developing with the structure of the music, especially in terms of melodic and rhythmic components. Within these components, there are stylistic features of Hindustani and Carnatic, the respective compositions and improvisation, and finally, certain philosophies of duality expressed in the nomenclature and lyrics,” Charumathi explains.
The upcoming performance, then, is an attempt to delve into these concepts within the concert framework. Madrasana, she says, was the perfect home for this concept.
“This music benefits in an environment where the audience can get as close as possible to the source of the sound. That ambience can bring out an extra level of sensitivity and creativity in the artistes, which is what we are hoping for in the upcoming concert,” she adds.
While the husband-and-wife duo has often performed together, this marks the first of their collaboration with the organisation. And that’s not the only first — teaming up with IIT Madras as a venue partner for the first time, Mahesh says the partnership has emerged from a joint interest in experimentation within the arts.
“Professor Kamakoti of IIT has been an amazing support, and with the auditorium being small, intimate, and equipped with new audio systems, it fits in perfectly with the sort of ambience that Madrasana likes to promote,” he says.
The first audience-driven venue experiment for the organisation, he hopes that the institution’s captive and enthusiastic audience combined with Madrasana’s vision will open up opportunities for further innovation in the arts in Chennai.
Of course, that brainstorming process has already taken flight as the organisation prepares to launch its own December Season line up this year . Hosted by Sathyam Theatres and featuring vocalists Bharat Sundar, Ramakrishnan Murthy, Amrutha Venkatesh, Sandeep Narayan, and a grand finale by vocal duo Ranjani-Gayatri, the Season is, in a way, Mahesh’s ‘thank you-note’ to the artistes.
“While we want to constantly reinvent ourselves, there is a larger aim at play. The artistes have done so much for the art form. Now, it is our responsibility as organisers to step up the production value and offer a richer experience,” he adds.
Says Charumathi, “The expectation to constantly present something new is a recent phenomenon. It stems from a desire that art needs to be carefully curated for audiences. This isn’t a bad thing. It helps to thematicise concert presentations for these sorts of shows.
“If you think about it, Carnatic music or any sort of improvised music can always be new if the artistes trust each other to take a leap of faith in the music. That’s the best excitement.”
Madrasana’s instrumental concert will be held today (6 p.m.). For tickets, visit http://bit.ly/ MadRasanaCharu.