Why the Madras Music Festival must go on

No matter what, Life goes on…and so every show must go on too!
Since the Chennai floods arrived around the same time that the famous annual Madras Music Festival was set to begin last week, there is considerable debate on whether artistes and sabhas should go ahead with the festival this season.
I believe they should. The Festival must go on.
However, the choice to perform or not must be with left to the artistes. If they feel like performing, they must. And if they don’t feel like it, they may like not to! To be sure, the Dhananjayans, Vijay Siva, Bombay Jayashri and a few others have chosen not to perform. And yet Sanjay Subrahmanyam performed yesterday.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with either choice. Music, if anything, is a form of expression of inner joy. Undoubtedly, all artistes, like everyone else is, are tormented by the floods in Chennai and the havoc it has caused in the lives of her citizens. While some artistes may want to immerse themselves in their music at this time, to get over their feeling of grief or to invoke their inner peace, others may not be able to bring themselves up to sing. And we must respect their individual choices and sentiments. Having said that, we must not forget that music has enormous healing power when it is performed as an offering to the Universe. No artiste really performs just for money or fame. They fundamentally perform because they lose themselves to the act of performing. When music, in fact when any work or service, is delivered with such selflessness, when it is an invocation and not just a mere stage performance, it heals. What Chennai – and the world at large – needs now is healing. In my humble opinion, going ahead with the Madras Music Festival this season would be not just right and apt, it will be hugely healing as well.
And, irrespective of what artistes and sabhas decide over this week, on what they want to do, let us not judge anyone. After all, all our lives will go on. They have to go on. Weddings will happen – given the season’s muhurthams already having been calibrated per an almanac – people will go to the movies, to parties and to nightclubs, cricket and football (ISL – Indian Super League) will be played and the Christmas and New Year festivities will soon be indulged in. Moping and mourning – not just now, but at any time – serves no purpose. If anything it can make people depressive. And what the people in Chennai need now is an uplifting energy, a celebration of human spirit, which only music can provide instantaneously – and uniformly!
One of the historic examples of the role musicians and music played at a calamitous time is of violinist Wallace Hartley and his band playing on even as the Titanic sank on the night of 14~15 April, 1912. After the Titanic hit an iceberg and began to sink, Hartley and his fellow band members started playing music to help keep the passengers calm as the crew loaded the lifeboats. To me, that’s true heroism, that’s a true celebration of Life!
Celebration does not always have to mean shouting from rooftops or dancing meaninglessly in an inebriated state. The whole journey of Life is a celebration – of being alive, of being human, of being a miracle. Death too is a celebration, as Osho, the Master, would say. His perspective: it’s freedom from the illusion called Life! On that spiritual plane, any loss – physical, material, emotional – is always an opportunity to start afresh. What Chennai needs now is that impetus, that fresh start, that new beginning…

So, to the artistes of Chennai, I would simply say, let the music play on….because the show, called Life, must go on…!

Go where your music is taking you

Do what makes you come alive – and don’t bother about what the world has to say.
Many a time, we make choices cautiously wanting them to be correct and acceptable in a social context. So, while we may not be entirely happy doing what we have chosen to do, we end up doing it to maintain our status or wanting to “look good” among family, friends and peers. This kind of posturing may make us look socially appropriate but almost always leaves us totally unhappy. Happiness really is about being able to say and do what you really want to and what you love doing!
T.M.Krishna is in the news again. This time for his choice of not wanting to perform in the December Music Season in Chennai anymore. Obviously his fans are upset. But there are those too who think Krishna’s lost it, that he’s become arrogant and that all this “drama” is part of his “radical, sensational” marketing strategy. Some even term his recent choices and actions gimmickry.
T M Krishna – in “One with Music”
Photo Courtesy – Internet
I think everyone’s being judgmental here and in a sense some people are surely being unfair to Krishna. Undoubtedly Krishna is a public figure, an exceptionally talented singer with divinity oozing in his craft – so his fans do expect him to be a certain way. Historically, the Chennai Music Season is the Haj of Carnatic Music – people give an arm and a leg to perform here. So, it does seem so very strange and unusual that a singer who grew in acclaim, thanks to the performances at the Season over the years, should now choose to stay away from it. The best way to look at Krishna’s choice is to see it exactly the way it is – as an unusual one! Let’s not color it with any opinion. Also, excuse me, isn’t there a personal choice that we all have a right to make? Is it necessary that you must always be wedded to doing things a certain way and in ways in which everyone else is doing them? I personally feel Krishna’s choice is driven by his bliss – he is going wherever his music – the music within him – is taking him. And that is indeed the way to live Life. To be able to do what makes you come alive. To do what you love doing.
When we live for social gratification, when we live to “look good”, we are not living – we are merely existing. We suffer, we feel miserable and we eventually lead hollow lives. Is there a point in such living? All you have is this one lifetime. And if you can’t live it the way you want to, doing what you love, what is the point? As Frank Sinatra sang (‘This is all I Ask’, April 1965) so beautifully, “And let the music play as long as there’s a song to sing.” So, whoever you are, be inspired by Sinatra, be inspired by Krishna, go where your music is taking you, don’t bother about what the world is saying. Ultimately, it’s your Life!