TM Krishna: The man who took elitist music to less privileged

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Chennai, Jul 28: Before Thodur Madabusi Krishna did it, no one could even think that it was feasible. An eminent Carnatic vocalist Krishna, who was today named for the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, conducted for the first time "Margazhi Vizha" (Urur Olcott Margazhi Vizha), a music festival unique in every sense of it in a fishing hamlet here.

The festival had a unique idea of not only taking Carnatic music to the common man and communities who had no exposure to it, but also to introduce folk music, like 'Villupattu', to people who had no understanding of it. Perceived as "elitist", Carnatic music concerts usually were being held in big music sabhas with a fat entry fee.

TM Krishna

But courtesy Krishna's efforts, the "elitist music" began reverberating in previously unthinkable locales like a fishing colony near the seashore. The festival, whose inaugural was held in 2014, has become an annual event.

"The idea (for holding the music festival in fishing hamlet) was to break barriers between art forms, music and the people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds," noted environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman, who colloborates with Krishna for such events, said.

"Taking Carnatic music to people who had no idea about it and similarly folk music like 'Parai isai' to sections of people who had little exposure to it were all elements aimed at breaking barries to ensure inclusiveness," Jayaraman told PTI.

He said there were several reasons why Carnatic music had not reached the less privileged and socio-economic reasons were among them. Initiatives like the music festival in a fishing hamlet strive for a sense of balance in giving access to all types of art forms to all sections of people, he added. Divya N, who was part of the inaugural edition, recalled that the festival drew huge crowds.

"We were happy to see such huge crowds. It definitely provided a new opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to understand a form of music new to them." 40-year-old Krishna has been hailed in the Ramon Magsaysay citation as "showing that music can indeed be a deeply transformative force in personal lives and society itself."

No wonder, a recent event organised by Krishna has a slogan "parai isaikku baratham aadu, kalaigal ondrey athai kondaadu" (Dance Bharathanatyam for Parai music, arts forms are all the same, celebrate it) written as promo for it, said Divya. While Bharathanatyam is generally patronised by sections of middle and upper middle classes, 'Parai isai' is (folk music) is associated largely with oppressed communities, she added.


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