Margazhi music festival takes digital route this year

Every December, the city witnessed its prestigious Margazhi dance and music festival that will see hundreds of Carnatic musicians and dancers coming together and performing.
Margazhi music festival takes digital route this year
K Harishankar; Priyadarsini Govind


Touted as the biggest Indian classical music and dance festival, it means a lot to artists and rasikas looking forward to a wholesome immersion in the arts. For Chennai, this is an integral part of the city’s culture and tradition. Owing to the pandemic, certain events have become virtual now. The Federation of City Sabhas, the oldest of city sabhas, and a consortium of 13 leading sabhas in Chennai are joining hands with to present Yours Truly Margazhi, an online re-creation of Chennai’s music and dance season. K Harishankar, secretary of The Federation of City Sabhas, tells DT Next, “The Margazhi festival is a marquee event of Chennai and a true representation of its culture and ethos. We have to consider the safety of the sabha members, artistes and other people coming in. Physical performances were doubtful this year; so, we decided to host a virtual festival from December 15 to January 15. We have partnered with — they have been hosting Carnatic music and dance events for years now. Initially, we thought of having a short festival for 7 or 8 days and started recording the programmes in mid-November. But after seeing the enthusiasm of artists, we decided to make it a month-long event.”
 Four or five programmes will be streamed daily on the website, “There will be Thiruppavai sessions in the morning and in the afternoons and evening, there will be concerts. Bharatanatyam performances, lecture-demonstrations and Tamil dramas will also be streamed. The month-long digital festival will feature some of the big names in the performing arts space like Sudha Raghunathan, S Sowmya, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Nithyashree Mahadevan, Ranjani-Gayatri, Vishaka Hari, Trichur Brothers, Unnikrishnan, Jayanthi Kumaresh, Kanyakumari, Akkarai Sisters, Embar Kannan, Shobana, Priyadarsini Govind, Dushyanth Sridhar just to name a few,” he adds. Harishankar explains that most of the artists are eagerly looking forward to the virtual festival. “We have tried and accommodated as many musicians and dancers as possible. At present, they are recording at various city sabhas. It is a strange/new experience for many of them because there are no audience and only video cameras that capture their performances. They also felt like coming back home after a long time. Two days ago, while Bharatanatyam dancer Priyadarsini Govind was recording her portion, she felt it different. She told me that it was like doing her arangetram all over again because she didn’t perform on a stage for a long period.”
 There are 7,500 members in all these sabhas and each member is eagerly waiting for the virtual celebration. “December month is a festive atmosphere in Chennai and we all are excited to witness the Margahi festival in a digital medium,” he sums up.

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