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Found a compendium of the emails I sent home describing my couple of weeks in Chennai and thought I would share here, just to give the flavour of how easy it is to overdose on Carnatic, and various bits and pieces of info for people who haven't got there yet. I have to preface my comments by saying I understand little detail of Carnatic raga!


Day 1 in Chennai 17th December 2012

I went to the Music Academy three times this morning before I found the office open. Only to find that tonight's flute concert was not ticketed, ie it's free.

I went down to the beach and got my feet wet.

From the beach I walked over to Mylapore Fine Arts Club and bought a day ticket for tomorrow's Balamurali Krishna and Priya Sisters afternoon and evening concerts. I stayed to watch a young male singer, who was OK, and a young lady violinist who played well, I liked her long Kalyani (Yaman).
Some of the time I used to plan my fortnight. I decided to visit just three of the halls that are within 15 minutes walking of my hotel, and each other. This will give me a full schedule of concerts.
I also decided, since there were two more chances to see N Ramani, to stay at MFAC for the two evening concerts. I should have known better than to try a guitar player. He was awful. The sound of the instrument was muddy and ghastly, just like a street busker. He had tricks like plucking harmonics and playing for 2 minutes without using his right hand, but overall the result was horrible. I left him early and decided to abandon the rest of my 100 rupees-worth and go back to original plan, to see N Ramani at Music Academy.
I'm glad I did. It was a wonderful 2 1/2 hours of music. He plays brilliantly, and so did the mrdngam player, lovely crisp playing, The violin player was great too, in fact I enjoyed all of them - the supporting 2 flautists and the ghatam player (the clay pot). First time I've really enjoyed that being played. A great finish to my first day here.

The Music Academy has a lovely auditorium now. The stage is fine and well lit (and on this occasion beautifully decorated). The seats are best theatre/hall seats I've come across, and have sliding seats and backrests so you can get really comfortable. The auditorium is well cooled too.

Day 2

No beach today. But I did have a part morning away from music. On offer was nagaswaram at Music Academy (amongst about 30 other morning offerings, but as I said I'm sticking close to the hotel). Given a choice between 2 hours of nagaswaram and having a nail hammered into the side of my head would mean a tough decision.

So my first performance today was Govind Balakrishnan, a young vocalist who was OK.
The Carnatica Brothers I enjoyed a lot more. They had contrasting voices and made a really good pair.

I have to admit a big mistake. I thought at MFAC I was going to see the master M Balamuralikrishna Instead I found out I was watching Kunnakadi M Balamuralikrishna. A very different kettle of fish, This young man has a rasping voice and an aggressive approach to the music. No doubt he is proficient, but the words subtlety and delicacy are not in his musical vocabulary.

The final event of my evening at MFAC made up for that, a concert by the Priya sisters. I have seen them before, but enjoyed seeing them again. One of the sisters really carried the show, her sister was mainly backup. But when they sing the songs together it's amazing how all the subtleties and twiddly bits are in unison. A good concert, and MFAC was pretty much a full house for them

Day 3

I was going to take it easy today. But this morning I found amongst the info I collected off the internet when I was back home the fact that Dr M Balamuralikrishna (the genuine article) is performing today, the only time as far as I can see. It was a festival not in my booklet.

So I went over to see if I could get a ticket. I was told only 500 and 1000 rupee seats left, but then the lady found two left at 250 so I took one of those.

So that's me happy. I'd have been sorry to miss him, he's 82 now and who knows if I'd get another chance.

I dropped in at the Academy just for a sit down really and listened to a young male singer for a short time. Then back to the hotel. But I forgot I want to get some tickets for tomorrow, so I'll have to go out again soon. So not much rest...


Back from the Balamurali concert. What a fine singer he is. Amazing for his age - 82. Still a youthful full rounded voice he can control from soft to forceful. He looks many years younger too. He has a lovely stage presence and a sense of humour he adds now and then to his performance. The main piece was rather Kalyani-ish, after that he finished with the equivalent I guess of a tarana. I just wish the concert could have been longer. It started 3/4 hour late, after a lot of hammering on stage behind the curtain, and there was another concert following. I imagine that was the reason for the curtailment, not because he was tired. Really glad to have found that this morning.

The concert wasn't without its downside. Or rather the stage arrangments. Behind the artist was a big screen with animated advert for the main sponsor. and on either side of that more smaller video screens about 2m tall by 1 1/2 wide, with changing adverts for other sponsors. Horrible. What was more distracting was that in front of the stage there was a big camera boom and the video camera went flying all over the place in front of and over the stage to give aerial shots of the performance, presumably to be relayed to TV. Ghastly, rather an insult to the audience sticking that between them and the performer I thought.

Add to that some three nattering old ladies behind me, who, to be fair, did shut up for a while when I complained, and it added up to slightly flawed enjoyment.

Day 4

Morning concert at Narada to see N Ramani again, this time playing solo. Not bad for a 78 year old! I had remembered from before that the morning and afternoon concerts (which are free entry) were mainly younger and up-and-coming artists rather than the bog names. But looking at the schedules for this year that is not always the case, as here. Also at the Academy there are some good mornings (9.15 am) coming up. The midday slot seems to be the youngsters, the early afternoon for shall I say middle ranks. The concerts starting at around 4.30pm, and the ones around 7pm, are the more senior artists, and these are ticketed. Sometimes there is one day ticket covering the two, sometimes one ticket for each concert. The maximum I have paid so far is Rs250, at the commercial place, for Dr Balamuralikrishna. Day tckets normally are priced something like 1000, 500 and 100. I normally buy the cheapest. Sometimes being far from the stage is a benefit, due to excessive sound volume.

I was reminded of this by the morning's flute concert. Towards the end there was a power cut, and for a couple of minutes the players continued unamplified. It was like a breath of fresh air, to hear the instruments, not the electronics and speakers. I was not alone in thinking this. There was a groan of disappointment from the audience when the power came back on. The performance was actually in the Narada "Mini Hall", which is indeed small, I counted a capacity of about 160 seats. The main hall must seat 2000.

N Ramani played well, but I had the slight impression he wasn't giving as much to this small gathering as he had been on the prestigious Music Academy opening night. But it was still very enjoyable, nonetheless.

Before the concert I had gone down to another local Sabha, Sri Partha Saratha Swami, as I wanted to buy tickets to see Sudha Ragunathan tomorrow. She was singing too at the Kamraj Hall yesterday, but they only had tickets at Rs2000. I didn't want to go there again anyway. As I told a nice young man from Partha, who dismissed the Kamraj Hall with a "commercial" slur. He insisted on sitting me in on a Lec Dem (Rakti in Carnatic and Hindi) until the man with the tickets arrived. I didn't learn much. I did get my ticket. Also if I go early tomorrow the young man will introduce me to developers who want to sell one of the many new blocks of apartments that seem to be springing up here. I will not go early tomorrow.

I felt tired and gave up the idea of midday or early afternoon concerts and waited for my first booked event of the evening, again at Narada, the chitraveena player Ravikiran. He certainly can do things with the instrument (looks like a veena but fretless and stopped with a piece of wood), although sometimes the effect with endless vibrato reminded me of a wobble board.

I must admit that although the music was pleasant, I did drift off into having a nap in the middle.

K Yesudas is one of the big names, the sort who likes to have about 30 or 40 acolytes on stage around him. This year he has taken to sitting with a laptop in front of him. I hadn't particularly good memories of when I heard him before, so it was good when I realised once he'd started the performance how good he is. A young, round (what an announcer in Pune called a "melly flew us") voice. I enjoyed the concert in general, without being wowed. I felt the violinist got chopped of by KY a couple of times before he'd really finished his alap sections, mind you sometimes his violing sounded more like a harmonica, so alth he was tuneful I wasn't too upset about that. K Yesudas obviously is a hit with the fans. maybe because his voice and style reminds you sometimes that he's a playback singer too.

Day 5

A ladies day today. And a good one.

Re question asked about raga and time of day. No it doesn't work that way here. I heard what was announced as Todi at about 8pm a couple of days ago. It didn't sound like Hindustani Todi to me, but when the carnatic folk have so many notes flying around to the second it's sometimes difficult to identify scales. To my ear at least. BTW it is not common for ragas to be announced. Only one artist (Ravikiran on chitraveena) did it regularly during his performance. One announced raga sometimes after the performance - she didn't want to spoil the fun of guesswork. Often at the start of a song I see people looking up the song to identify it and the raga in little books. Most of the time I haven't a clue about the raga, and I admit sometimes I can't pick out really identifiable characteristics.

This morning I went to see Dr M Narada at theMusic Academy. She is the violinist I praised a couple of days ago for her accompaniment work. She was even more brilliant in this solo performance. Loved it. The items were varied, with melody as prominent as rhythm. I picked out particularly a Jog-like/equivalent, and she played a beautiful Bhairavi towards the end. Dr Narmada can look serious when concentrating, but has a charming smile both for the audience and for her accompanists. 2 1/2 hours of great music and I could honestly say for once I could have wished it to go on longer. definitely the highlight of my season so far.

I stayed a while to catch a bit of Subhiska Rangarajan's performance in the midday slot for younger performers, but moved on after a brief listen.

In the afternoon I went to Partha and caught a bit of the concert by male vocalist Bharath Sundar before the 2pm performance by Rama Ravi and Nandita Ravi, a (presumably) mother and daughter, more Rama singing and Nandita in support than a duo. An OK performance, but I was really here for the final item of the day.

Sudhar Ragunathan was terrific. again I could have listened to her for longer than the three hours she sang. I have seen some comments regarding the time she spends on her appearance, always wearing jasmine flowers etc, but that seemed petty and bitchy journalism to me. She sings brilliantly. She launched into the usual 3 or 4 shorter items before beginning the main piece, an hour or so of Yaman = Kalyani. Excellent. After a short interlude of another couple of short items she sang Malkauns - Hindolam. An alap, nom-tom alap and a melodious very slow pallavi. Naturally speeding up and with some fireworks at the end. a couple of short pieces cf bhajans finished her perofrmance. Again excellent.

So probably the best day yet, with two outstanding performances.

Day 6

I decided to take it easy today, just one morning concert. At the Music Academy I saw and heard O S Thyagarajan. Same age as me, within a fortnight, he is one of the respected singers,and I can see why, he has a great voice and performs some superb long drawn out notes with great timbre. He is obviously an expert technically, if he sounds more traditional/conservative than eg Sudha Ragunathan. Perhaps for that reason although I enjoyed the concert I didn't get that big wow factor. The format was pretty much the same as Sudha ragunathan's the night before, several short pieces, a long 1 1/5 hour piece as the main item with percussion solos at end, a brief interlude before another longer piece including thanam, and a very good slow song - the only time when melody really shone through the ornamentation - and a couple of closing short items., a total of 2 1/2 hours. I didn't recognise any ragas.

I intended to take the rest of the day off and went in search of a beer, not the easiest thng to find in Chennai. I hadn't intended chasing any more music, but after watching a dire TV talent show I needed to restore sanity and returned to the Academy to listen for a short while to a young woman singer, then on to Narada to buy a ticket for tomorrow, and dropped in to watch a female duo for a short while. Then downstairs from the mini hall to watch - again briefly, a bharatanatyam dancer. But all these were brief glimpses, and I was back at the hotel before long.

Day 7

I wanted a ticket for tonight's Music Academy performance so tested their day ticket booking system. Simply really, turn up at 8am, join the queue. But good job I did because a couple of hours later the tickets were all sold out.

The 9.15 morning concert was a veena recital by Dr R S Jayalakshmi. It might be rude calling her a veteran, but she was no spring chicken. her veena had a lovely tone and she played delicately and well, really enjoyable. Only downside might be that she never really picked up any intenmsity. But I was sorry to leave - I wanted to get a ticket for tomorrow morning's T M Krishna performance at Narada. Or should I say pass, it was not ticketed but you needed a chitty. A good job I went when I did, at 10.50 there was already a queue of a hundred or more waiting in a queue for the 11am opening of the ticket sorry pass counter.

I got into conversation with the group of people waiting around me. Main topic was complaint that you had to queue for a pass even though it was free, and even season ticket members had to do this. And that no other sabha had done this for T M Krishnan's free morning concerts.

But also an elderly man was talking about yesterday's Music Academy OST concert, saying it took him back, OST's style was just like it was 40 years ago. He described the performance as I did yesterday, shorties, long, short, RTP, shorties, and the man said other people don't do that format any more like they used to. I didn't chip in and say Sudha ragunathan did the day before... Finally the queue started moving then the word started spreading back, they were only issuing one pass per person. Horror. A woman I'd been talking to said she wanted four. I said I'd ask for two, maybe they'd give 2 especially to a foreigner... They did too, and I gave the lady one of my allocation.

I had been told tomorrow's TM Krishna concert would be full. It's never quite predictable what an audience will be, even for names I've heard of rather than unknowns. It's very variable. At the Music Academy yesterday it was packed out for OST downstairs, although I noticed there were seats in the balcony. At my next port of call, there was a total of 16 people for the lady duo I watched for a while. I walked over to Mylapore Fine Arts to buy a ticket for tomorrow night. T M Krishna was also performing there this morning. The place was packed and extra plastic chairs had been placed either side of the normal auditorium space to seat maybe another hundred people. I couldn't hear standing at the back so didn't get a foretaste of tomorrow.

At 4pm I heard Aruna Sairam. The Narada main hall was packed, the Padma Shri is a crowd puller. I was in two minds about her. The speaker system made her voice sound rather raw at times. And although she does the business, I didn't get the same pleasure as from Sudha Ragunathan.

I didn't stay to hear the end of her performance, I went down to the Academy. It was a mistake buying an Academy ticket. The veena player was disappointing, to my mind not at all as enjoyable as Dr Jayalakshmi this morning. Revati Srinivasan had assistance from a second veena, which I didn't like at all. She started off very hesitantly and had trouble with her tuning. It was only after about three quarters of an hour she got in her stride, but by that time I'd lost interest. I should have realised she wasn't top rank. The Music Academy is an exception in that it puts the top artist in the 4.15 slot, and the second artist at 7pm. Normally it's the star who comes last. There were very few people up in the gallery for the veena player. Despite that the officious little man kept moving people out of "reserved" seats to unreserved seats, despite the full knowledge the season ticket holders were not coming back. Petty.

Day 8? 23/12

Great morning concert. T M Krishna was outstanding. He has a good voice (as far as I could tell from the Narada sound system) and uses it across a good dynamic range. His breath control when performing long fast passges is remarkable. And he knows how to build up tension in the development and movement towards the end of a raga, rather than some who start in top gear and stay there. Best of all, his set was just five items, of length 20, 25, 50, 20 and 20 minutes. This allowed each raga to be developed. This is so refreshing. Often there are five or six numbers crammed into the first half hour, making for monotonous pave and decibel level.

A short trip across to MFA to buy a ticket for tomorrow, and a five minute listen to a young female singer who was I suppose technically competent but her voice was thin and girly. Back down towards the hotel and I stopped off at the Academy to catch half an hour of the young (ish) Trichur Brothers. Both dressed in black they looked like ninja warriors. They sang with confidence and style.

In the first of my two afternoon/evening concerts at MFA the Mambalam Sisters were an example of what I was complaining about above. Until they got to their long central piece they were annoyingly boring. They perked up in the long piece and I almost came to like them.

My last artist of the day was Sashank. I haven't enjoyed what I've heard from him before, mainly because that has been in an Hindustani/carnatic fusion context. This evening I can see why he's thought of as quite a flute wizard, but - being charitable, maybe because of the sound system - his fast stuff hadn't got much crispness to my ears, although he can certainly machine-gun notes at a scary pace. His violinist accompanist was good. Again I almost forgave him in his long raga. Maybe there was better to come, but I sloped off for some dinner.

Over dinner I chatted to a couple (Indian) from Stockholm who were over for the festival. I was pleased to hear that my views coincided with mine about a few things, the hotel and some of the performances we'd both seen.

A curiosity. On the walk to MFA this afternoon I saw a car coming towards me with what struck me as lightning conductors. I thought I haven't seen those for donkey's years. As the car got near I realised what I'd thought of as lightning conductors dangling down, one each side of the front bumber, were two dead rats dangling by their tails. I've seen some strange things in India, but I'd like to know the explanation for this one!

Day 9

Two out of three (and a half) isn't bad.

This morning I was out of the starting gate and racing down to the Academy again for a morning concert by Trichur V Ramachandran. The seventy two year old told us it was the golden anniversary of his first Music Academy performance. If they were all as good as this one no wonder he's got a Padma Bhushan. Having complained about shorties before, I have to take some of that back. He had that extra that made me put aside any thought of monotony or boredom. He did two main pieces, and my impression of him was getting better by the minute. He finished with a tribute to his Hindustani guru, Krishnanand, and sang a Hameer, I think, in an engaging mix of carnatic and hindustani styles.

I listened for 40 minutes to a young male veena player. I think my preferences are shifting, I am starting to find most veena I'm hearing rather easy listening compared with vocal. He wasn't top rank, so maybe it wasn't just me.

In the afternoon I went over to Mylapore Fine Arts. The first performance was a bit of a disaster. TNS Krishnan (not to be confused with T M Krishnan) was much in the louder is better school, helped by awful sound levels in the arly stage of the concert which had the audience standing up and shouting themselves, to turn the volume down. In addition to my not liking the singer, people around me, particularly behind me were nattering non-stop. Fortunately they shut up when the main act came on, but curiously they left after an hour of Bombay Jayashree, having beet 2 1/2 hours waiting for her and ignoring TNS K.

Bombay Jayashree gave a good performance. She, like V ramachandran, has the ability to put variety and interest into everything she sings. She also has a very melodious voice. She did two long pieces, and I came away during probably the last number thinking this was one of the best of the concerts I've attended. Matching her with Sudha ragunathan, I think on balance I preferred Sudha Ragunathan, but it's a close call.

I should have said yesterday I was reminded I'd done Yesuda a bit of disservice thinking he packed his stage with acolytes. The stage was filled by even more people for Aruna Sairam and T M Krishna at Narada. The reason I now think is that when normal tickets are sold out Narada, like the Academy, sell cheap tickets (Rs50/60) for people, mainly youngsters, to sit on the "dais" as they call it.

No dead rats on cars today.

Day 10

Another Padma Bhushan T N Krishnan (not to be confued with TM or TN S Krishnan) is a violinist of 84 who still is playing fine. With one exception. He cannot play Jingle Bells for toffee.

Actually this morning's Academy concert was a violin trio, I don't know if T N still plays solos. But what I do know is that it was a big mistake to attempt Jingle Bells after his Christmas and New Year greetings to us. I will say only that it was the most excruciating mangling of JB that I have ever heard. Coming after a long centrepiece it was out of the sublime into the beyond ridiculous. But even worse was to come. After another short piece they played some weird western waltz-time tune that could have its origins in a western barn or a German oompahpah bar. If JB was excruciating I don't know how to describe that one. Why do they do it? I was on my feet to leave when I heard the unmistakable opening of a Bhairavi alap, and sat down again to a not unpleasant version.

But I left - apart from concerns about weird choice of music - with the feeling that trios don't sit well with me. On the plus side it does indicate how much of a piece is composed, since they play in (approxiamte) unison. But the downside is that with a trio there are many opportunities for mistakes, and particularly in the alaps the chance that you will meet some rather unpleasant discords.

Nevertheless a pleasant enough (free) morning. If only I can now get JB out of my head.

The evening offered the Hyderabad Brothers followed by Sikkil Gurucharan.
I would have enjoyed the Hyderabad Brothers more if the couple of men sitting next to me (one of whom lived in London and should have been more aware about westerners' attitude to chatting, singing along and clapping loudly in time (ish) hadn't made a bloody nusiance of themselves. I had to move. I've seen the Hyderabad brothers before, they sing well. One does most of the work. In fact because the other one hardly opens his mouth even when he is singing, it is hard to tell when he is contributing. He smiles a lot.

Sikkil Gurucharan was an unknown to me. Rather good the 30-year-old was too, and the main piece I heard was excellent, a kalyani in which he sang a fine alap and a dramatically unfolding pallavi. very good. I have to say against T M Krishna the scales were weighted in the latter's favour in my eyes. sikkil has a very good voice but sometimes I wished he'd control it just a tad more.

Another rat-free day (unless you count the dead one in the street which was having its tail pecked off by a crow).

Day 11

The violinist T Rukmani was actually playing not solo in her Music Academy morning concert but with assistance from her junior Amritha Murali. I was enjoying the music but not wowed. I can't immediately find out how old T Rukmini is but I found one page which said she has been composing tillanas and varnams for over 5 decades, which gives an idea. Her playing was good but not forceful, and overall I found it unexciting.

I didn't find it too hard to drag myself away after about 1 3/4 hours - I wanted to hear Dr M Narmada again on violin - she was accompanying singer Sangeetha Swaminathan up the road at Narada sabha. I'm glad I bopthered, Not only was I reminded how good Dr M is, but the singer was very easy on the ear too. Unfortunately I came in half way through the pallavi of her centrepiece, but there was another long piece later with a tuneful nom-tom tanam which was good. Mostly these have been disappointing and presented in almost desultory fashion, I have found, with no real development. Then there was another piece which captured my interest, she sang beautifully and Dr M played beautifully and it was a good end to the morning. And my musical day, as I decided to have the evening off.

Day 12

Something a bit different this morning, a lecdem at the academy minihall by Falguni Mitra on the Banis of dhrupad, aided by his student and musicologist Sumitra Ranganathan playing laptop (screen slides).

The banis here refers to the four styles of composition of dhrupads, or padas, as now recognised in the Bettiah school.
Namely , Khandar, Nauhar, Gaurhar and Dagur. The essence is - Khandar bani dhrupads are fast and gamak laden, but sung not too vigorously. Nauhar also medium fast to fast but characterised by more complexity of rhythm within the composition and leaping of notes. Khandar has smoother melodic lines. Of the slower banis Gauhar is characterised by long meend glides and loops, and sung slow to very slow, with no staccato movements. Dagur slow to medium, more syllabic.

Falguni Mitra opened with a dhrupad in Bhairav, then as Sumitra went through the characteristics of the banis he provided examples, in Malkauns, Mian Malhar, Malkauns and also Bahar for Gauhar, and Jaijaivanti. This was all interesting, and I'll now have the distinction between the composition and performance style of these banis fixed in my mind. For a day or two.

I popped next door to the main hall to see the Rudrapatnam brothers sing for half an hour or so, but didn't gain much of an impression of them.

I'm afraid the rest of the day was a washout. I came back from my morning very tired and slept for two hours. My feet are swollen from too much sittying for hours, I hguess the concert version of economy class syndrome. Also my sinus problems are back again - I blame fierce AC in Music Academy and the dining room here. So I decided instead of using my afternoon and evening ticket to go down to the sea for some fresh air. And very pleasant that was. I walked up and visited St Thomas's Basilica. I've been there before but had forgotten what a pleasant airy church it is. I went down to see the tomb - supposedly this is one of only three places in the world which are tombs of Christ's disciples (I'd give a porize for guessing where the other two are but Google has taken a lot of pleasure out of life.

What rather amused me - and rather tempted me - was that on sale down the tomb was, amongst the picture postcards, a plastic card, "St Thomas Relic Card" - credit card style - which supposedly had embedded in it a grain of the miraculous sand from St Tom's tomb. This muist be in some doubt as it wasn't limited edition!. The account number embossed on the card was 0052 0072 0307 2004
This time maybe a prize for guessing what this represents?
Maybe I should have bought one and test its miraculous healing powers.

28th Dec
Despite taking a break yesterday I still woke feeling very tired. My morning plan was to go for a walk up to the temple, and round back via the beach. Instead I started off making the beach my priority, but reached it by a rather circuitous route as I hate going the same way there and back. There was a hint of rain in the air but not muich more than a threat. I had a long walk along the beach, but it was dull and overcast, and there was no fresh sea breeze. By the time I got near the temple it was shut. So I went to a bar instead. After that I felt tired again and didn't go out for the rest of the day, I missed P Unnikrishnan I'd got a ticket for, but I really started thinking I had overdosed on music.

29th Dec
I woke early morning to a downpour. The rain continued until I got up, and almost made me miss breakfast, but it eased off and I ran over to the restaurant. A while later it eased more and I decided to risk going down to the Academy. I'm glad I did because TV Sankanarayanan (yet another elderly Pada Bhushan) was brilliant, not only sang well but had a good stage presence and made you feel he was really enjoying the performance himself.

After that the rain came down again, and stayed for the rest of the day. I gave up any thought of going out again and sat writing.

30th Dec
I had half the morning free so took the opportunity to see part of the performance of singer TN Seshagopalan. He was good, I guess, but the combination of the fact I'd enjoyed yesterday morning a lot, and that today I kept looking at my watch to see if it was time to go, meant it it was pleasant enough but not hugely rewarding.

Next stop the airport.

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Reply with quote  #2 
how great you were able to soak up S. Indian culture for that long! in spite of the several inevitable less-than-great performances ( and techno- screwups) I'm sure you had a fantastic time....... I'd love to get back to Madras/ Chennai. been 40 years since I heard the great music festival concerts....
the sheer quantity of great music there is pretty amazing, and the level of appreciation in Madras audiences is notable's really something to hear temple music performed in a temple- the sabhas were wonderful when I was there.did I hear there are ca. 3000 concerts locally during the festival?
sorry you're not into nadaswarams- that's definitely an acquired taste, which I do have. sort of Coltrane/bagpipes/ Balachander on very high volume.main thing for appreciating the nadaswaram is not to be too close.
hope you were able to eat masala dosas whenever you wanted, it's a rare delicacy out here in the wastelands of New Mexico.

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Reply with quote  #3 
Originally Posted by "coyootie"
main thing for appreciating the nadaswaram is not to be too close.
hope you were able to eat masala dosas whenever you wanted, it's a rare delicacy out here in the wastelands of New Mexico.
LOL! I can agree 100% there.

I had been maybe three times before and sampled December Season, although that was just for a couple of days each time. You're in the right area re numbers, I guessed 2,500 concerts from my booklet, it is mindblowing .
This year I had the opportunity to spend a fortnight (I chose the start date to coincide with the opening of the Music Academy season). This gives the chance to listen to pick and choose when to hear "all" the top names appearing.
But I must say after two weeks I was really suffering from an overdose.
Re food, I had time and inclination to eat only once a day, so ate a thali rather than dosa. In Chennai I stay at the New Woodlands hotel, which is perfectly located for the music season, has a lot of old-fashioned charm, and has good eating.

Do you could ever cook your own dosas in NM?I must admit I don't cook them myself, but I do idlis sometimes, even though they're almost as much hassle in preparing the batter.
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