In one of our earlier blog posts, I shared the history of Sabhas and Sabha Culture in our beloved city of Chennai.
Today I wanted to tell you about a different kind of Sabha experience that is unique to Chennai concerts.
The people running the Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru, (the ever-energetic brothers Raman and Lakshmanan of Lakshman Sruti), would have realised that a lot of people don’t get the chance to attend regular Sabhas. As a solution, they came up with the idea of creating a whole new concert experience for this new audience. Sadly, Raman is no more but we should all be very thankful for his contributions towards Carnatic music in the form of these concerts.
For the past few years, I have been singing at the Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru.
The audience that I meet at Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru is so very different from the audiences at all the other Sabhas because many of them are new to the typical Carnatic music concert. Most of them come from the most interior parts of our state. This organisation runs buses to bring people from those far away areas to be a part of the audience at this event.
All Sabhas have canteens but this one has its own food court with a range of fares – to satisfy every palate there is! The venue looks like a film/ television set – complete with a huge LED screen at the back.
When an artist performs, the subject of that particular song is displayed on the screens. For example, if someone sings a song on Shiva, the screens show glorious images of Lord Shiva.
For a connoisseur of Carnatic music, this may sound like a rock concert! But, the enthusiasm of people attending these concerts is unparalleled – the tweeting and the hooting often make me forget that I’m performing at a Carnatic concert!
I think the organisers of Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaruu are doing a great service of bringing Carnatic music to people who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to experience the beauty of it in a live setting.
I thoroughly enjoy my performances there. I do a different repertoire there than what I would at Music Academy or Narada Gana Sabha. I am very happy to say that so far, my concerts have never had lesser than 200 people sitting on the stage during my performance! This is in addition to the 1500 people in the auditorium. That’s how full they get. This year it was a record number, 300 people sitting up on the stage with me. People were sitting on the aisles, at the door, pretty much everywhere they could find space in that huge auditorium.
After working so hard, it feels so satisfying to experience this love and enthusiasm from rasikas.
This year, at the end of my concert, I had an exceptionally huge number of people come backstage to take selfies with me and take my autograph. This selfie session lasted for 1.5 hours!
I remember one of the men who came to speak to me didn’t have a mobile phone but was so keen on taking a picture with me that someone had to take a picture of us and promise that they would give it to him.
There can be nothing more touching than this kind of love!
Every year I look forward to my concert at Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru, not just because it’s such a heartwarming, fulfilling, and unique experience but also because I know that most of them have had to travel from far to get to the concert.
When I go on the stage, I feel extremely blessed to sing for them.