17 gardens, 17 concerts!
Walkeshwar to Dahisar, Mazgaon to Mulund, gear up for moving renditions at open space near you
This Saturday, Mumbaikars will wake up to morning ragas resounding through 17 municipal gardens across the city. An initiative of a not-for-profit institution in association with the BMC, Mumbai Green Raga will feature 85 vocalists and instrumentalists performing in 17 classical music concerts simultaneously from 7 am to 9 am. The idea is to provide a platform to up-and-coming musicians, and introduce the residents of Mumbai to gardens in their own backyard they may not know of.
There is something about discovering music when you don't set out to listen to it. Whether it's a jamming session of a college band by the sea, or a flute seller playing soulful tunes on his instrument — music, live music in particular, can drown out all ambient sounds, and the noise within. But chance encounters such as these are rare in the city, which means, live music becomes the prerogative of those who actively seek it.
That is set to change this Saturday morning, when 17 classical music concerts will be presented simultaneously in 17 municipal gardens across Mumbai, featuring over 85 vocalists and instrumentalists. Called Mumbai Green Raga, it is an initiative of not-for-profit organisation Tender Roots Academy of Performing Arts, in association with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).
"Mumbai has so many young, talented artistes who, despite the challenges, are pursuing their training in classical music. Besides, not many Mumbaikars know that the city has several beautiful gardens with amphitheatres. So, we wanted to give the artistes an opportunity to perform, and to the residents of the city, a melodious, meditative start to their day amidst greenery," says Mahesh Babu, director of Banyan Tree, the parent organisation of Tender Roots.
When the organisers reached out to the municipal authorities in December 2018, they found a willing partner in them who helped bring the idea to fruition. "We have seen local residents use the amphitheatres in the gardens for poetry recitals and storytelling sessions, but Mumbai has never had an event of this kind. It is a good concept that promotes both, classical music and public gardens at the same time," informs Dr Kishor Kshirsagar, deputy municipal commissioner (DMC), in-charge of garden department.
Dr Kishor Kshirsagar
In the past few weeks, the team did recces of several gardens and spoke to regular morning walkers and yoga enthusiasts in the area to zero in on locations with high footfall. Each concert, shares Babu, will feature morning ragas by a vocalist, accompanied by two or three musicians on the tabla, harmonium, sitar, flute, sarangi and/or sarod. The artistes have been roped in based on recommendations by established musicians and gurus from Mumbai, Pune and Nashik. While the set-up will not be elaborate considering it is an open-air event, sound engineers will be present at every venue.
Vasanti Shrikhande, one of the few women sarangi players in India, has come on board on her guru Padma Vibhushan Pt Ram Narayan's recommendation. "Our traditional art forms are so rich. They need to be included in our daily lives and made more accessible. You can hear pop music at the gym, and film music on television, but for classical music, you need to attend a concert," she says.
Based on the success of the initiative, the organisation aims to make it an annual affair. "We have also been getting queries from other cities like Pune and Ahmedabad to organise such events there," says Babu, adding that they plan to rope in local residents and municipal schools in the neighbourhood. Dr Kshirsagar plans to attend a concert on Saturday to observe the response, and gauge the way forward. For Shrikhande, who will perfom at Sankaracharya Udyan in Worli, the concept is already a success. "Classical music requires more care in society. We don't realise the treasure we have. Concepts such as these are a win-win for the artistes and audience," she shares.
ON: January 19, 7 am to 9 am
AT: Multiple venues.
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