By M.V.Ramakrishnan

Monday, June 20, 2016

Talking Of Music And Strong Medicines...

Within a week after taking a 12.5-milligram capsule of piano powder -- please see preceding blog (or better, recall all 10 posts of June) -- I swallowed half an ounce of  flute-piano mixture.  That was 25 years ago, but the whole setting still remains fresh in my memory.  And here's the story :-

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New Delhi
11 October 1991

Wholesome music

When Arif Gulsen Tatu of Turkey began her flute recital, accompanied by Barbara Peterson Cackler of the U.S. on the piano at the India International Center the other evening, there was a problem.  The air-conditioner in the auditorium was over-effective, and the air was unusually and uncomfortably chilly.  

Soon after starting the recital with a piece titled Ekrem Zeki Un ('At the tomb of Yunus'), Ms. Tatu stopped in her track and simply stood still.  She said nothing, but the sensitive audience in the full house understood, and did not make even a rustling noise.  The silent spell lasted several minutes, as the flustered musician seemed to be summoning all her reserves of composure to be able to resume the concert and carry on. 

It could have been a collective prayer at the Tomb of Yunus, and it was answered by some benevolent Power.  For after resuming the initial number from where she had left it, Ms. Tatu never looked back.  There was not another jarring note in the evening's music, which featured some short works by Bach (Sonata No. 6), Schubert (Ich Blumlein Alle), Gaubert (Nocturno and Allegro Scherzando)  and Dopple (Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise). 

Wholesome music, well rendered by both artists :  it was just the kind of Western classical music we can understand and appreciate in this part of the world.  

Music or medicine?

But in keeping with the usual pattern of concerts given by visiting musicians from the West, it was all over far too quickly for the liking of the local audience.  At the risk of repeating a thought ad nauseum and sounding quite tedious, I must once again remind our organizers that it is their responsibility to advise guest artists from abroad that a concert lasting less than a couple of hours has no chance of making a substantial impact on the normal audience in New Delhi.

The Turkish Embassy, Delhi Music Society and India International Center deserve a vote of thanks for organizing this excellent event.  But they must note this point carefully, as should other institutions which are active in this field -- like Max Müller Bhavan, Italian, Bulgarian and Soviet Cultural Centers, US Information Service, British Council, Austrian Embassy, etc. :-

How can foreign artists know what the Western-music-lovers in this city actually look for in their performance, unless they are alerted suitably in advance by the local hosts?  What a tremendous waste of human resources it is for such fine musicians to travel such long distances (sometimes even half-way across the world), only to dole out a little bit of their superior music like a small dose of strong medicine to such enthusiastic music-lovers! 

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