ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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​Secular Hymns

T M Krishna’s concert in Delhi was a statement on his commitment to democratising traditional music.

In Delhi’s Nehru Park a few years ago, I attended a concert where Carnatic singer T M Krishna swayed gently as he performed a song his teacher—the great Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer—had bequeathed to him. Midway, overcome by emotion, he fell silent: the tambura droned on, the mridangam (the main rhythm accompaniment in Carnatic concerts) pulsated, and the violin whispered. For minutes, not a word escaped Krishna’s mouth. It was riveting.

So, last month I was excited when the news­paper advertised another T M Krishna concert at Nehru Park. Krishna has, over these years, grown into more than a Carnatic legend-in-the-making, someone who challenges conventions within the concert structure. He is the author of a tome on Carnatic music, A Southern Music: The Karnatik Story (2013); he is a provocative columnist, taking well-articulated positions on caste, class, society, the environment and beyond; he is a Ramon Magsaysay awardee, a cultural icon. His intellectual admirers abound. Yet, in the conservative heart of Carnatic music, Krishna is disliked, for he questions too many traditions and politicises his art.

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Updated On : 30th Nov, 2018

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