How did you come up with the idea of taking music to unconventional venues?
Ratna Sangamam stemmed from the realisation that promoting fine arts alone wasn’t enough. Even after several concerts and overflowing audience, I felt something was missing. I thought why not take it to the underprivileged. I have been performing for more than 35 years now, and thought I should give back to society. I see music as therapy. I space these programmes according to my availability in between concerts abroad and the December festival.
Which are the venues this year?
I have done shows at a senior citizen home in Hosur, the others lined up are in Chennai – The Lotus Foundation, an old age home and orphanage; Sowmanasya, a blind school in Thanjavur; and an orphanage in Chengalpattu.
Where have you taken your music so far? How has the response been?
I started visiting old age homes and orphanages, beginning with an old age home Anna Illam in Mylapore. It was bliss and the inmates didn’t believe I was there to perform. It was touching and it took a while for me to get over the experience. Apart from orphanages, I have performed in centres for the visually challenged, for children with autism like The Lotus Foundation. Some of them were non-verbal but they sing and hum along.
How is the concert different in these places?
It is more of an interaction and informal. They ask questions, and touched by music, they weep holding my hand. It is beyond performance; it is all about the power of music and there is no restriction.