‘Virtual concerts will have their place in the future’

The Margazhi music festival is here and rasikas have started planning their kutcheri viewing schedule. To make their experiences memorable, sabhas and independent organisations have planned both physical and virtual concerts this year. But with virtual fatigue setting in, we find out if online concerts have the same charm as before and do they have more takers this year as well.
‘Virtual concerts will have their place in the future’
Stills from MadRasana Virtual Festival 2021 that is being shot in Auroville

Chennai

Mahesh Venkateswaran, the founder of MadRasana, will be hosting a unique virtual festival for music lovers this year. 
“MadRasana Virtual Festival 2021 that will be held from December 17 to 21 will have five concerts that are recorded outside the usual studio setup. We looked at venues throughout Tamil Nadu and finally shot the concerts in the beautiful locations of Auroville. All concerts are recorded with a different look and feel. The pandemic has changed the way we view concerts — there are takers for both live and virtual shows. I don’t think one is the replacement for the other. Live concerts will always have their charm. If you provide a music production with good quality video and audio, the experience of watching an online concert would be different,” says Mahesh Venkateswaran.
He adds that online concerts were a huge hit last year because of their novelty. 
“For the 2020 Margazhi season, rasikas supported online events big time. But now, with too many events happening online, many are facing virtual fatigue. The euphoria for online watching has subdued this year in India. But those NRIs who come down to Chennai to watch kutcheris are still preferring online events.” When asked if online shows will change the way we perceive music concerts, Mahesh says, “If you are producing virtual concerts, make sure that the viewers are getting a different experience. That’s the reason why MadRasana always does outdoor recordings. Those are productions specifically meant for virtual. We are the only organisation that has recorded all the concerts outside a studio or a stage setting. I think that’s how virtual concerts should be. Otherwise, you are not pushing the envelope to do something specifically for virtual. This year, we decided to do virtual concerts because there are enough opportunities to showcase this art form in a very different format than how others are approaching it. Many are just shooting the stage concerts and sharing them online. But we cannot call it digital. While looking from the production and creativity side, virtual has got its charm and advantage that you have to exploit. It is not just the setup alone, it is also about the format and content. We have innovated on those aspects in our MadRasana Virtual Festival 2021,” he adds.
As a concluding note, Mahesh says that virtual will have it is own place in the future though it may not be a replacement for live concerts.
City-based art consultant Shreya Nagarajan Singh opines that people who are not in Chennai are happy with virtual concerts. “But those rasikas in Chennai, I feel, are ready to get back to sabhas and watch the performances. I think the future will be hybrid formats catering to both sets of the audience,” she says.Mahesh Venkateswaran, the founder of MadRasana, will be hosting a unique virtual festival for music lovers this year. “MadRasana Virtual Festival 2021 that will be held from December 17 to 21 will have five concerts that are recorded outside the usual studio setup. We looked at venues throughout Tamil Nadu and finally shot the concerts in the beautiful locations of Auroville. All concerts are recorded with a different look and feel. The pandemic has changed the way we view concerts — there are takers for both live and virtual shows. I don’t think one is the replacement for the other. Live concerts will always have their charm. If you provide a music production with good quality video and audio, the experience of watching an online concert would be different,” says Mahesh Venkateswaran.
He adds that online concerts were a huge hit last year because of their novelty. “For the 2020 Margazhi season, rasikas supported online events big time. But now, with too many events happening online, many are facing virtual fatigue. The euphoria for online watching has subdued this year in India. But those NRIs who come down to Chennai to watch kutcheris are still preferring online events.” When asked if online shows will change the way we perceive music concerts, Mahesh says, “If you are producing virtual concerts, make sure that the viewers are getting a different experience. That’s the reason why MadRasana always does outdoor recordings. Those are productions specifically meant for virtual. We are the only organisation that has recorded all the concerts outside a studio or a stage setting. I think that’s how virtual concerts should be. Otherwise, you are not pushing the envelope to do something specifically for virtual. This year, we decided to do virtual concerts because there are enough opportunities to showcase this art form in a very different format than how others are approaching it. Many are just shooting the stage concerts and sharing them online. But we cannot call it digital. While looking from the production and creativity side, virtual has got its charm and advantage that you have to exploit. It is not just the setup alone, it is also about the format and content. We have innovated on those aspects in our MadRasana Virtual Festival 2021,” he adds.
As a concluding note, Mahesh says that virtual will have it is own place in the future though it may not be a replacement for live concerts.
City-based art consultant Shreya Nagarajan Singh opines that people who are not in Chennai are happy with virtual concerts. “But those rasikas in Chennai, I feel, are ready to get back to sabhas and watch the performances. I think the future will be hybrid formats catering to both sets of the audience,” she says.

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