L. Subramaniam, violin virtuoso from India, was the cynosure of not just all eyes but of all ears at a sold-out concert last week at 92nd Street Y., a multifaceted cultural institution in Manhattan’s Upper East Side that was organized by the World Music Institute of New York.
People at the auditorium, not just Indian-Americans, but people from other communities as well who turned up for the concert, remained glued to their seats as Subramaniam played at the 90-minutes concert.”One could have sat for another two hours,” one American and a member of the audience who obviously was an Indian classical music connoisseur said after the concert.
It was the only North American performance presented as part of the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival founded by Subramaniam to honor his late father, professor V. Lakshminarayana, also a violin master and teacher.
“It was a duet concert between me and my son Ambi and we played Jalaja, a varnam in Raga Hamsadhwani and Siddhi Vinayakam, a kriti in Raga Shanmukhapriya. I generally play what I feel inspired to play at that particular moment, and I don’t normally select the repertoire in advance,” Subramaniam said in response to a question.
Along with the father-son do there was Mahesh Krishnamurthy on mridangam and fellow percussionist Ravi Balasubramaniam on the ghatam or the clay pot.
The artist, at end of the recital, was encircled by his fans, including non-Indians who wanted to have his autographs on his records and CDs. “He was very moved by this” an official from the WMI, who was present, said.
In response to question about fusion music Subramaniam told this correspondent that he has been a proponent of global fusion, or global music since the 1970s.
“I think there are many common points between different styles of music which can be explored beautifully, without losing the essence of either style. It has to be done aesthetically, and with an understanding of the different styles of music being fused,’ he said.
“The last 24 years, I have been hosting the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival, where we celebrate the spirit of global music encounters. My wife Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam is now the artistic director, and every year, we invite great artists from around the world to collaborate and perform,” he told Desi Talk.
“I don’t think purists have any cause for concern because there will always be people who appreciate the traditional form of art, and those that are interested in experimenting and taking it to different places,” Subramaniam said.
How was the audience appreciation in a classical music concert in Manhattan, far away from his home?
“I think it’s great that audiences are able to appreciate different styles of music. An open-minded audience doesn’t mean that classical music will suffer. In fact, it may make us strive to be better,” he said to a question if people non trained in classical music cvan appreciate a concert like this.
“I feel, however, that young children especially should be exposed to classical art forms, and that’s why we started the SaPa in schools program through our academy the Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts,” he said.
He said that SaPa in schools focuses on creating an awareness of and love for Indian music among -going children. “Thousands of children learn Indian music every week through this program, and my daughter Bindu and I have co-authored a series of books – the SaPa Baby books – to teach Indian music to kids aged 3 and up,” he said.