In a classical ensemble does the veena lead? Can a taste in carnatic music be acquired or is it inborn due to family culture and environment? When we create ‘fusion’ from western and (Indian) classical music do you think we lose the originality of the genres?
These and more questions were posed to carnatic vainika Nirmala Rajasekar when she was invited as a guest speaker to my class Musical Traditions of India at Ahmedabad University. The students were very energized listening to her music and words as she introduced an ancient stringed instrument, the Saraswathi Veena. From a discussion about her collaborations with other western musicians to the concept of thaanam along with the thoughtful advice she gave each of the students based on her own journey, I was reminded of the philosophy, Ubuntu – a belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects humanity. The students learnt much more than musical concepts from guests speakers such as Nirmala Rajasekar.