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Nationwide contest to hunt for best talent in music

Idea Jalsa, a new, nationwide contest aims to identify and hone the best talent in different genres of Indian music. Vidya Balachander reports.

india Updated: Oct 30, 2009 02:51 IST
Vidya Balachander

Idea Jalsa, a new, nationwide contest aims to identify and hone the best talent in different genres of Indian music.

Unlike other talent shows that focus on Bollywood music, Idea Jalsa aims to showcase Hindustani and Carnatic vocal, instrumental and percussion genres, bhajans, qawwali, sufi music, folk forms and ghazals. Auditions in these categories started on September 26 in Chandigarh and finalists have been chosen from four regions across India. Three finalists will be chosen after the auditions for the western region.

The contest is backed by the Indian Music Academy, a collective of musicians working to promote Indian music. The IMA, which was founded by Hindustani vocalist Pandit Jasraj in 2006, counts eminent musicians such as Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Dr Lalgudi Jayraman and Lata Mangeshkar, among its patrons.

According to Durga Jasraj, co-founder of the IMA, Jalsa differs from other talent hunts because there will not be just one winner. A total of eighteen finalists from six regions across the country will battle it out in the mega-finals to be held in Mumbai in December. Six finalists will be awarded a minimum of a year’s scholarship, worth Rs 60,000, to study music under their respective teachers.

“We will just give them the resources, the impetus and the confidence to believe that they can perform at the national level,” says Jasraj. Their progress will also be evaluated every six months by a panel of IMA patrons.

Naysayers may believe that interest in Indian music is steadily decreasing. But Jasraj says the auditions have proved otherwise so far.

The finalists include an 11-year-old Akash, a Hindustani classical flautist from Bangalore and Naval Mehta, a 22-year-old ghazal singer from Chandigarh.