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Spic Macay: Expanding the classical heritage series

Posted March 12th, 2018, 12:48 PM IST

Spic Macay: Expanding the classical heritage series

Spic Macay was set up some 40 years ago by Dr Kiran Seth; today it is the most recognizable name in the field of classical Indian music, Hindustani as well as Carnatic. Though the organisation’s brief remains the spreading of Indian culture amongst youth, recently they have engaged in collaborating with several organisations to hold concerts and spread Indian music, including with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts and India Habitat Centre in Delhi.

A new initiative in the coming weeks is with the Ministry of Tourism to highlight our ancient monuments as well as hold classical music events. In Delhi the concerts kicked off on March 10th.





Sadly the historic Red Fort was not used as the backdrop, and the stage was built alongside the fort entrance.

The sequence of the artists went awry with Ustad Shahid Parvez facing a problem with his sitar, so Vidushi Ashwini Bhide, popular vocalist of the Jaipur Attrauli tradition. commenced the concert, having to start an hour late as her accompanists got stuck in traffic. She started with Raga Shri, the appropriate choice for dusk.

Imdadkhani 6th generation sitarist Ustad Shahid Parvez was disturbed by the damage on his instrument, which he has had since 1993 he said. His earlier sitar was 100 years old and “the ruhaani rishta” (relationship through the spirit) one develops with one’s “saaz” (instrument), he said was undeniable and a hurt to the instrument was a hurt to him.

The next day will feature Baul (the devotional music of East India) from Parvathy Baul, followed by quawalli from the Warsi Brothers of Rampur. This will definitely attract huge crowds as the weather is also conducive for outdoor evening concerts.

As Dr Kiran Seth says “we are reaching out to so many more people this way, and all our young volunteers get inspired seeing such an audience response. They go back and try to recreate the same ambience in their schools and colleges, which is our eventual aim.”

On 17th March, Spic Macay presents Dr L Subramaniam and the great percussionist Vidwan Umayalpuram K Sivaraman. The evening concludes with none other than Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma. The venue is the recently renovated Humayun’s Tomb. On the 18th, the Capital City Minstels present a choir followed by Awadhi folk music from Malini Awasthi.

Dr Seth continued “The Tourism Minister and the DG Tourism Mrs Meenakshi Sharma have helped enormously; we would not have been able to start this without their support. From the Secretary down to even the junior officials, everyone has been so supportive; I have never seen anything like it. Itne khule dil se support (such open hearted support) and the effect it’s going to have is immense, as we will be taking our tangible (the heritage buildings) and intangible heritage (the music, classical and folk) to the masses.”

Similar events are happening at heritage sites in other cities – in Banaras on Assi Ghat (where Goswami Tulsidas wrote the Ramcharitramanas; later where he sat was renamed Tulsi Ghat after him) on March 24th Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia’s flute recital will be followed by the redoubtable scholar singer Vidushi Shruti Sadolikar, currently also Vice Chancellor at Bhatkhande University in Lucknow.

On 25th March, there will folk music from Tripura, and also Kabir gyan from Prahlad Singh Tipaniya. The events were scheduled for March 10th and 11th but the French President’s visit to Banaras resulted in the ghats being sealed for security reasons.

In Kochi, at Fort Kochi, on March 10th, Ustad Shujaat Khan, from the Imdadkhani gharana is scheduled to play his sitar followed by the very popular Shubha Mudgal.

The next day will feature a choir from Nagaland, followed by Theyyam from Kerala. On 17th March, Vidwan Kadri Gopalnath will enthrall with his saxophone Carnatic recital, followed by vocalist Begum Parveen Sultana.

The next day features folk music from Assam from Ranjit Gogoi, followed by quawalli from the Warsi Brothers of Hyderabad.

Dr Kiran Seth made another equally valid point “Our attempt at Spic Macay events also is reintroduce our age old culture of listening to the younger generation. The etiquette we had is fast disappearing, and belonging to a bygone age; people think they are coming to concerts to be entertained. That’s not so, our music is an uplifting experience but it can only move you if you give of yourself, of your undivided focus and concentration. You can’t take videos while listening seriously, music is heard not seen.

The concept of walking in and out as you please is alien; we must learn how to show respect to an artist and honour his presence. After an item has concluded, you are free to move out. We are not being dictatorial, merely teaching how to show respect”.

As Dr Kiran Seth expects, and hopes, if the concerts are successful “We hope to take the Classical Heritage cities to other cities too. Today so many years after founding Spic Macay, I am a satisfied man; though there is a lot to be done still, and our efforts are just a drop in the ocean.”

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