December’s here, which means the kind of music that will dominate the airwaves are carols. Songs that are played over and over until you can name all the reindeer. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing; we all need that Christmas cheer (and pudding), but in Chennai, we like to do things a little differently.
So, we throw the country’s biggest Carnatic music festivals, and let the season begin.
Started way back in 1927, Margazhi was an event to celebrate the opening of the Madras Music Academy. Growing incredibly over the decades, the festival starts from mid-November and goes on till mid- January. It hosts over a thousand shows in a 117 days, emerging as one of the most intense and prolific cultural experiences in the city.
Consisting of vocal, instrumental, kathak, dance dramas and Bharatanatyam performances, the festival is literally everywhere, from the Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium in Mylapore to the Music Academy on T.T.K Road. The performers themselves are some of the most renowned and respected on the circuit: Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Sudha Raghunathan and Kishori Amonkar.
The beauty and elegance of this genre has found its way into the hearts of a younger generation. Nicki Minaj can take a backseat to ragas and harmoniums, because more than half of the performers are fresh blood making their debuts on stage. The surprises don’t end there. A good number of the performers are from the United States, kids who grew up listening to the music. It connected them to their heritage. It was a way to celebrate tradition away from the motherland. Artists, like Lalita Swaminathan and Srinithi R., are just a few of the hundreds who fly down for the opportunity to perform in one of the most prestigious platforms in the Indian music world.
Below is the link to the official event calendar with venues provided. Grab your tickets, your saris, your dothis, and get ready for some brilliant music.