Importance of Music Festivals in Cultural Life
Importance of Music Festivals in Cultural Life
Sur-Singar Samsad’s Great Record
By MOHAN D. NADKARNI
The Evening News of India, January 6, 1956
SANGEET Sammelans or music festivals must become a common feature of the cultural life in our country.
In many parts of the country, however, such events are either not in vogue, or are few and far between. Even Bombay, with all its patronage for the visual arts, cannot deny its short-comings in this respect.
In the South of India, the vogue of music and dance festivals is well-established and on an understanding of the five points of Karnatak music.
The SUR-SINGAR SAMSAD, with the cross-section of cuiture-conscious society now actively associated with it, bids fair to do more for Hindustani music than any single effort in the past. If as is now commonly conceded, the Swami Haridas Sangeet Sammelan of 1955 was a further achievement in the musical renaissance of Bombay, the SAMSAD has reason to hope that the Sammelan of 1956 will represent yet another milestone in the long pursuit of its avowed objective to serve the cause of traditional music. The increasing interest in classical music and dance evinced by all sections of the city’s cultured populace, and more particularly, the keen anticipation with which numerous music-lovers have been looking forward to the 1956 Festival, is indeed a measure of the success the efforts of the SAMSAD have met with in its arduous and self-imposed undertakings.
Music-lovers will notice that the programme schedules for the 1956 festival is more rationalized than in previous years. In the first place, the Festival, by far the biggest even held in India, is to last for seventeen days, with all the concerts being held exclusively in the evenings. The Sammelan is to be inaugurated by the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Dr. B. V. Keskar, at a 400 seat auditorium specially erected at the Cross Maidan. The casual rates of donation for the Festival which cover at the seventeen concerts, are perhaps the lowest in India.
Another unique feature of this Festival is that besides the topnotch exponents of Hindustani vocal and instrumental music, prominent Indian dancers like Balasaraswati Shanta Rao, Vyjayanthimala and Roshan Kumari are to perform on the occasion. It has been part of the endeavours of the SAMSAD to discover fresh talent in the field of music and dancing, and to encourage young and promising artistes to pursue their vocation. The participation in the Festival by the first prize-winners at the Amateur Music and Dance Competition held last November under the auspices of the SAMSAD, is, therefore, a special feature of the 1956 Sammelan.
The Civil Reception to be accorded to the participatiory artistes at the Kamala Nehru Park on 10th January 1956 is yet another highlight of the occasion. This is the first time in the history of the Bombay Corporation that the Mayor is playing host to a gathering of artistes from all over the Country. The occasion marks a happy and welcome break from the enviable past when artistes were denied a place of honour and usefulness in the pattern of human society. Besides, the most celebrated of the visiting musicians are to be chief guests at all the seventeen concerts of the Sammelan.
Record Of Work
The SAMSAD has had a good record of work to its credit during the year that has just ended. The inauguration of a music-dance-drama club called “ALANKAR” by the Chief Minister, Shri Morarji R. Desai, was an important even of last year. Programmes of music and dance recitals by eminent artistes are held every month to ever-growing audiences. The Alankar began with a modest membership of 150 on its rolls, which in four months has risen to 500. The artistes invited by the “Alankar” for its worthy programmes included such celebrities as Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Vesarbai Pannalal Ghosh, Vilayat Khan, Amir Khan, Rita Chaterji and Roshan Kumari.
It is interesting to recall here that the SUR SINGAR SAMSAD had its origin in the celebration of “Jayantis” or birth anniversaries of noted musicians. The celebrations held on the occasion of Swami Haridas Jayanti on 24th September 1955 signified a unique and spontaneous homage by a distinguished generation of musicians to one of its greatest forbears.
The five-day seminar on Indian Music and Dance organized by the SAMSAD from 11th to 15th November 1955 was also another landmark in the growing sphere of its work, in that the Seminar brought to the fore a number of significant problems relating to the history and aesthetics of Indian music, and some revelations concerning the State of Indian dance at the present time. Eminent scholar from different parts of the country gathered together at this function, and papers on various aspects of history and theory of music and dance were read and discussed by them, before the invited audience.
All this, and much more, forms the basic of the SAMSAD’s widening programme of its activities. The proceeds of the annual festival are contributed to a public fund being gathered for a concerts hall in Bombay for Indian Classical Music and classical dance. And if, year after year, the SAMSAD works to its patrons for help and guidance, it does so with a legitimate sense of fulfillment and with the knowledge that they will not fail to endorse its faith and mission.