The Pluses and Minuses of a Conference

ISSSome years ago, the Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha is Bangalore decided to seriously consider what the late India president, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam had told them when he was a guest here - go beyond concerts and focus also on academic study and research.

That is how the Conferences were born.

ISS1This June, the Sabha which sits in a  quiet neighbourhood of the Garden City but is now a hub for bars, lifestyle stores and shopping complexes held the 4th edition of its Conference, June 24 onwards. The theme - Harmonic and Melodic World Music.

Alongside, was the 13th edition of music and dance fest.

ISS2The academic sessions were held in the mornings, the music and dance in the evening across 5 days.

Though it is not air-conditioned, the sabha auditorium design and layout makes it a communicative space for the arts.

On Day One, it was time to award dance guru Padma Subrahmanyam and young artistes vocalists Ramakrishnan Murthy and the Bangalore Brothers.

Padma was scheduled to perform that evening but excused herself.

First, on the academic sessions.

We were present on the first three days.

The papers were interesting. They provoked even the rasikas present. The Q&A sessions were spirited.

There were sessions on how Western choirs worked. The Bangalore Men of the Bangalore Music School presented a demo - educative and neat.

But there were only 30 plus people inside. Even on the holiday weekend.

Where were Bangalore's students of music and scores of young musicians?

Imagine the spirit of the hosts.

There were a few round-table-kind of sessions.

On how a person can pursue a professional career as a professional as well as a musician.

Musicians Guruprasanna and H K Venkatraman, besides others made some key points - prioritize, patience, persevere.
The message going down to school-level music students who had dreams on how they could carve their future.

And hinting that classical music alone did not pay, not yet.
A session on collaborations with Western music was also engaging. And well-moderated. Later, vocalist Vinay Sharva said that while he does not perform alongside jazz or soft rock or classical musicians, he would be game to have the cello in a Carnatic concert.

We liked the idea on the evening programmes' curation of getting music students of the Sabha's school to present over three evenings, the whole scape and heritage of Indian classical music, with commentary, visuals on slides and snappy music items.

The Sabha has a good team of volunteers and they made things move clock-work.

Bur even the evening concerts did not get a full-house here.
Clearly, classical music and dance is no more a big draw in a city where a pot-pourri of music and dance and theatre and the rest attract people of a cosmopolitan city.

And for hosts like this Sabha who have to run around a lot to get the funds to run such an event, the returns are not too pleasing.

But ISS carries on. Committed to the goals.