In the midst of all the chaos of Vardah, the Music Season continued regardless. The Man from Madras Musings morphed into a society maama, hopping from sabha to sabha. And what amazes him is the complete lack of standards as to what constitutes an auditorium. These can vary from the Mecca of music at one end, that stately institution which began the season 90 years ago, to the humblest of wedding halls with the most atrocious of acoustics. Music is heard everywhere and MMM has attended concerts in almost the entire gamut of venues. Indeed, one of the best concerts that MMM heard was at a wedding hall. But among the venues that he hopes never to return to is in a college building.
Named after a lady of quasi-royal lineage, the performances happen in what must be doubling up as an assembly room of sorts for the students, and, therefore the venue has the perpetual miasma of several hundreds of teenagers having congregated there over the ages. The place also must be a venue for audiovisual projections for it is pitch dark once the doors are shut and in the event of a power failure, your only means of escape is spiritual – you shut your eyes and pray. But that is better than certain other locations where, in the event of a fire, your only hope is that it wont be very hot.
The heat brings MMM back to the venue in question. Arriving at this college to listen to a young and melodious artiste who, though born in the US, is now making waves in our city with our classical music, MMM found neither a crow nor a fly in sight, as the Tamil expression is. Having wandered about like a lonely cloud, he was then directed to a fairly empty premises and then, after having climbed many staircases and walked across huge corridors, came to where the concert was. There were three entrances, all closed firmly and MMM having opened the first found that he was actually entering the stage, where the concert was already in progress. Not wanting to startle the artistes, MMM decided to open the second door where he presumed the seats were. Having done that, MMM proceeded to startle the audience considerably, for he was not prepared for the darkness in which the listeners were shrouded. He was also not prepared for the plastic chairs placed strategically to trip MMM over when he opened the door. Having created a noise that sounded like one of those explosions that slay many, MMM took a seat with as much dignity as he could muster.
He was then blinded by the stage. It was lit by several huge lights, all of them of a wattage that could have competed with the sun. These were also of multiple of hues, and when MMM entered, the purple one was at its brightest, bathing the artistes in a fluorescence that made MMM wonder if he had ingested a psychedelic drug. In the midst of this torture chamber of sorts, the artistes were performing – rather in the manner of Shad-rach, Meshach and Abednego in the divine fire. The instruments were wilting in the heat, but not the artistes. And the music was divine. Truly, Carnatic music is an art where you are tried in the furnace.