Cities and their music – looking back and forward

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Chennai is relatively quiet this December too, during what would have otherwise been a very busy time for carnatic musicians and aficionados. It brings to mind that music impacts cities in ways we don’t always recognize. This month’s newsletter looks at how music is simultaneously rooted locally, even while it transcends cultural boundaries and geographical borders and gives a peek at a new series that I’m working on. Here’s wishing all of you a healthy, musical and happier 2022!
VSriram Madras Music Academy
Chennai comes alive in the month of December. Margazhi or Season as carnatic afficianados refer to the music festival is now a global phenomenon. While the pandemic has muted the fanfare of the festival it has also seen many innovative approaches to the presentation of the artform. Its also a good time to introspect on how several institutions beginning with the Music Academy have played a role in the festival. V. Sriram, music historian and secretary of the Music Academy talks about the birth of this landmark institution here.
jannes-jacobs-NfsB3jPVlcM-unsplash Varanasi & Music
From Bhakti saints, Kabir and Tulsidas to modern masters such Bismillah Khan, Varanasi has a hoary musical tradition. Each day at dusk, the Arati—a stunning show of sound and light captivates visitor and resident alike. This is a typical scene in Varanasi, a city known for its rich history, culture and music as we see in the video here.
ChitraASongEpisode1-Chintayami A Song A Composer A Memory
The last two years have provided all of us a good deal of time to reflect. For me, this exercise has given inspiration to a new series, _A Song, A Composer, A Memory _ that I plan to roll out in the new year. Here’s a quick peek at the first episode of the new series. The music recordings are mostly from my old concerts with a few impromptu presentations. Do let me know what you think!
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You can read earlier editions of newsletters here and the Raga Ruminations Podcast here. You can listen to episodes of my radio show RaagTime here.

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