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B'lore's Bandstand gets Japanese singer

It will be another milestone in the history of a grand old venue when a Japanese singer belts out light Kannada numbers in Cubbon Park...

music Updated: Jan 14, 2009 18:00 IST

It will be another milestone in the history of a grand old venue here when a Japanese singer belts out light Kannada numbers this Sunday at the Bandstand in Cubbon Park, whose musical legacy is being slowly but surely revived.

The Bandstand, which was once the hub of the city's musical concerts, mostly classical, went through a lull for almost 20 years before it was reopened Oct 5 last year. <b1>

The reopening happened because of the effort of Prakruthi, a non-profit organisation run by the duo M.S. Prasad and Praveen D. Rao, which has taken upon itself the task of bringing back the lost glory of Bandstand, the hub of cultural activities in Bangalore in the 1960s.

"We're glad that Takashi Takubu, a talented Japanese singer who has been staying in the city for some time, has shown interest to perform at the Bandstand coming Sunday," Prasad told IANS.

"This shows the popularity of Bandstand as a musical stage within a short period of time after it was reopened. He will be singing light Kannada songs."

Prasad said the Bandstand was synonymous with the great musical culture of Bangalore. Musical stalwarts like Ilayaraja too have performed at the Bandstand.

"It would have been a huge mistake if we had not taken upon the task of reviving its lost glory. We are receiving an amazing response from music lovers after we started musical concerts at the Bandstand in October last year," added Prasad.

Since October, every Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m., the Bandstand has been hosting a huge number of musicians and singers, adding magic to the salubrious surroundings of Cubbon Park.

Performances by popular Kannada singers like Mangala Ravi, Archana Udupa and Pallavi S. have been the highlights so far.

"Last month I happened to visit Cubbon Park on a Sunday and was amazed to see the musical performance. As I am also into music and have learnt a few Kannada songs, I approached Prakruthi, which listened to my songs and gave me the green signal to perform. I am excited to be part of the revival programme," smiled Takubu.

The Bandstand, a prominent site inside Cubbon Park, was built in the 1920s. In the days of the British Raj, the Royal Air Force band played at the Bandstand every Saturday.

Old timers of Bangalore still fondly remember their visits to Cubbon Park and how they enjoyed the concerts.

"During our childhood, we often used to visit Cubbon Park on Sundays, accompanied by our elders. While the adults enjoyed the music, we kids used to play and have fun," said Seema Kumar, 55.

The Bandstand, an octagonal structure built in cast iron, is now "booked for the next eight weeks", Rao said. "We are hopeful that within a year it will be able to match its old glory."

An official of Karnataka's department of horticulture, which controls the maintenance and administration of the park, said the number of visitors to the park has increased in the last two months, especially on Sundays, after the Bandstand started hosting music concerts.

"Now the park is choc-a-bloc with visitors, especially on Sundays, to listen to music," said K.G. Jayadev, deputy director of the department of horticulture.

The park gets around 1,500 visitors on weekdays and 2,500 on weekends.

Established in 1870, Cubbon Park is one of the biggest parks of Bangalore city, spread across 300 acres of land with flowering plants, towering trees, shaded groves and a vast expanse of green.

By reviving Bandstand, Prakruthi is also trying to encourage upcoming artistes by providing them a good platform. Along with classical music, Prakruthi is also conducting Western and fusion music shows. Poetry recitals are also hosted at the Bandstand.

"Bandstand is not just a musical platform but a space to spread awareness and many famous people also come here to enjoy music," said Praveen.

"The revival of the Bandstand is welcome. Bangalore has a rich heritage of art, culture and theatre and the Bandstand was a 'star', as a place that hosted the best of singers and musicians. In this present time, when complaints are aplenty about the lack of avenues for live musical performances, the revival of the Bandstand will provide a much needed respite to music aficionados," said theatre veteran Vijay Padaki.