If the quintessential Indian Summer is unbearable with its heat wave, the Indian Winter can safely be classified as saturated with sound waves. It’s a matter of convenience, of course, that stepping out for blues, jazz or rock is best done on cooler weekends. But it’s also a matter of tradition, with many religious festivals situated in winter. Diwali kickstarts the season to take music outdoors, and the trend reaches its peak between December and February. For those of you who prefer a more graceful start to the New Year, mark the following on the calendar:
Madras Music Season
Come December, Chennai is possibly the most musically active place in the whole subcontinent. Madras Music Academy’s legendary festival of Carnatic music was started way back in 1927 and today hosts close to a whopping 1,500 musical performances across the city. The current edition started on Dec 15 so you’ve missed a big chunk of it, but there are still several performances that got pushed to Jan. Click here to find out which. Running parallel to its enchanting sabhas is the 30th Marghazi Mahotsav, another treat for Carnatic fans that’s on till mid-Jan. Find their schedule here.
Call it Swathi Music Festival if that sounds like too much of a tongue twister. Every year from January 4 – 13, the sprawling Kuthiramalika Palace in Trivandrum, Kerala, pays tribute to the city’s erstwhile ruler and renowned Carnatic musician Swathi Thirunal. Entry free. Find out more here.
As the name suggests, the Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana is a tribute to the great composer Thyagaraja, and now in its 170th year, this festival draws some of the biggest names in Carnatic music to the quaint Thiruvaiyaru town near Thanjavur. It starts on Jan 13 to the sounds of a nadhaswaram and concludes with a performance of Thyagaraja’s Pancharatna Kirtana on Jan 17. Here’s the schedule.
Rajarani Music Festival
This Odisha Tourism initiative has received good response since it was started in 2003 at the 11th-century Rajarani Temple in Bhubaneswar. It has fixed dates (for a change!): January 18 – 20, and it brings together musicians of Hindustani, Carnatic and Odishi styles in well-spaced concerts over three days. Check here for updates.
Dover Lane Music Conference
The Dover Lane Music Conference has been drawing the most passionate music lovers of Kolkata since 1952. It has since grown exponentially and left the actual Dover Lane behind to move premises to Nazrul Mancha auditorium, where it has brought on stage such classical legends as Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Kishori Amankar, Samta Prasad and Nikhil Banerjee. If you’re in Kolkata between Jan 22 – 25, you don’t want to miss this one.