Will the Pandemic Stop Margazhi?

It’s time. We have been getting teased about it for the past few months. With everything that’s been happening around us, we really need things to get back to normal, especially the Margazhi Music Festival. This sentiment is also shared by most of the Margazhi aficionados, as well as the organizers. And quite understandably so, The Music Academy has been conducting the event since 1928, every year without fail and they don’t plan on letting this stop them.

To accommodate for the pandemic, the President of The Music Academy, N. Murali has decided to shift the event online, “Since 1928, the year in which the Margazhi Festival was founded in Madras by the Academy, we have been hosting it uninterruptedly. Even during World War II and the 2004 tsunami, the festival continued. However, this year, with the pandemic still raging unabated and the uncertainty that looms large because of it, we have decided to take the festival online.” he says.

Like the Madras Music Academy, others have also followed suit, organizing online events, and conducting recording sessions in preparation. The general mood among the patrons, however, seems to sway between online and offline. While most sabha goers are close to becoming senior citizens, health concerns prevail. But on the other hand, open-air events and strict hygiene protocols make live concerts a plausible option and sabha veterans are vehement about not giving up on this culture.

But Margazhi has become more than just an event. In recent years, it has evolved into a bustling ecosystem. Sabha caterers depend on Margazhi to scout contracts for the coming year. And with the onset of digital venue events, sabha-hoppers also find the experience lackluster without having Mysore bondas to wash down the music with.

On the brighter side, many sabha caterers like K Srinivasan, son of veteran caterer ‘Mountbatten’ Mani Iyer, have had a chance to step up their game and try something innovative. All around, there are talks of online delivery and other
avenues being explored. We might see the full experience unveiled right at home just yet.

Considering everything that’s been said, without further ado, here’s a list of the online and offline events happening this year. Choose at your convenience, and most of all, stay safe.

● 94th Annual Concerts (Digital) 2020
December 24th-31st, 2020
musicacademymadras.in/94th-annual-concerts-digital-2020/

● Charsur Carnatic Season
December 15th-30th, 2020
charsur.in.live

● Yours Truly Margazhi
December 15th, 2020- January 15th, 2021
kalakendra.com/yours-truly-margazhi/

● R. R. Sabha Music Festival
December 10th-18th, 2020
rasikaranjanisabha.org

● Bhavan’s music fest
November 28 to December 19
www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/bharatiya-vidya-bhavans-o pen-air-margazhi-festival/article32744722.ece

● 87th South Indian Music Conference
December 18th, 2020- January 4th, 2021
www.livechennai.com/indian_fine_arts_society_conference_festival_20 20_3.asp

Regardless of how you choose to enjoy the Margazhi season, be sure to stay safe and enjoy the show. And most importantly, don’t forget your freshly brewed coffee in a davrah!

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