Indian classical music is not dormant and it’s certainly not dead. But it needs more support from the government, the corporate world and the media.
This was the dominant message at a conference convened jointly by the All India Music Group – a collective of prominent Hindustani and Carnatic musicians – and the NCPA on Friday.
The speakers at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre included eminent Hindustani and Carnatic musicians such as Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, vocalist Sudha Raghunathan, mandolin maestro U. Shrinivas and chitravina specialist, Ravikiran.
The NCPA also presented the musicians of the group with honorary life memberships.
The need to create more awareness about classical music featured prominently on the musicians’ agenda.
“Indian classical music is part of our tradition and creating awareness about it is our responsibility,” said 71-year-old santoor maestro, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. While stressing the media’s role in achieving this, he rued the fact that culture has become synonymous with Page 3. “Culture is being replaced by parties,” he said.
Ustad Zakir Hussain added that media houses should broadcast traditional arts more frequently.
The group, a collective of classical musicians formed in 2007, also plans to petition the government to introduce classical music in the primary school curriculum. “Indian classical music should be a compulsory subject in schools for at least three to four years,” said Sharma. “The music children learn at that impressionable age will stay with them for life.”
The group hopes to work with corporate houses to promote upcoming musicians and provide medical aid and life insurance to needy artists.
Can classical music keep in step with the iPod generation? Surprisingly, the speakers said that the digital format has only expanded the vistas of classical music. “When I sing a new raag, I download renditions of it by gurus and listen on my iPod,” said Sudha Raghunathan. “The iPod is a great gift for lovers of classical music.”