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Carnatic Nomad Concert - Jyotsna Srikanth, violin

Rich Mix Centre, Shoreditch, 16 June 2013

A marvellous evening at a friendly, comfortable venue, with Jyotsna Srikanth's excellent rapport and clear introductions to the items ensuring the comfort of an audience not too familiar with South India's Carnatic music.

This versatile and well-known multi-tasker (also a Western style violinist and a Dr of medicine too !) played an electro-acoustic violin.

Children joined in lustily, responding to Jyotsna's invitations to sing sections of ragas, leaving us adults well behind...

A high spot of the evening was Mr RN Prakash's demonstration of the vocal syllabilations of the ever more complicated and rapid rhythms produced on his double-ended mridangam, and by his colleague Kajenthan's rare khanjira, a remarkably powerful tiny drum [R] which, with water on its lizard skin cover, produced an extraordinarily deep tone.

The Rich Mix Centre's main hall is quite small, making us wonder why rather loud amplification was required - see the bank of equipment in front of the artists - even though it was of excellent quality and distortion free, gaining special mention from the stage of the admired sound engineer Timo.




The isssue of amplification for Indian classical music has been rehearsed often on Musical Pointers and may contribute to the relative absence of western classical music lovers in the audiences of Indian music events in UK?

The notion of amplifying a violin for Bach or Paganini at the Purcell Room or Wigmore Hall would be completely anathema.

I will never forget the rare pleasure of an unamplified vina recital at Blackheath, many years ago now...

Dr Srikanth is featured on You-Tube and her recommendable latest CD, Call of Bangalore, is about to be released.

Peter Grahame Woolf

We enjoyed Dr Srikanth again on 20th July as a key participant in one of a series of thematic Carnatic music concerts at the Isaac Newton Academy, Ilford.

This was the hall of a new school, and there was a relaxed party atmosphere, with food on sale at one corner and, inevitabily, heavy amplification which, unfortunately, is a deterrent to western concertgoers from the very mixed local community. There seems no remedy in prospect. On this occasion I got used to it after retreating from the front.

An Indian academic who teaches at a home county's University, has told me that if anyone asks people to be quiet so as to listen, the response has on occasion been to increase the volume level of the amplification, which is now de rigeur.

Mala Mohan (above L) - I think it was - (there was no printed detailed programme) captivated her listeners (me included) and over-ran her allotted time. She was granted more after an audience vote, at the expense of others who were left out; Indian musicians don't like to be time-limited, and many of them are used to to going on for hours...

A memorable evening in a different world.