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How a Band of Chennai Artists Killed Lockdown Blues with Music

The ensemble named ‘A Carnatic Quartet’ conceptualised a musical production that was arranged and produced remotely.

Updated
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3 min read

(This story was first published on 20 November 2020 and is being republished in light of the 'first' anniversary of India's COVID-induced lockdown.)

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Producer: Smitha TK

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This coronavirus lockdown brought in a lot of despair, uncertainty and pain but in its wake, many artists unlocked their creative genius and made unique works of art.

Rise, a musical production conceptualised by a Chennai-based Carnatic ensemble is an amalgam of spoken word, illustration and music, that was arranged and produced remotely.

The group that calls itself ‘A Carnatic Quartet’, comprises of violinist Shreya Devnath, Praveen Sparsh on mridangam, Mylai Karthikeyan on nadaswaram and two alternating thavil artistes Adyar G Silambarasan and Gummudipoondi R Jeevanandham.

Rise, a musical production conceptualised by a Chennai-based Carnatic ensemble ‘A Carnatic Quartet.’
Rise, a musical production conceptualised by a Chennai-based Carnatic ensemble ‘A Carnatic Quartet.’
(Photo Courtesy: A Carnatic Quartet)

Praveen describes their composition as “a union of traditional instruments that tries to make music without any barriers.”

What began as one-minute videos on Instagram, turned into a beautiful project with these musicians from distinctly different backgrounds, who have been playing together since December 2019.

On seeing one of the videos, the organiser of their spring tour in the United States, Dhvani India, which was scheduled in March, but was cancelled, commissioned a 90-minute production in this format.

Meet the violinist, Shreya Devnath
Meet the violinist, Shreya Devnath
(Photo Courtesy: A Carnatic Quartet)
 Meet  <i>thavil</i> artiste Adyar G Silambarasan
Meet thavil artiste Adyar G Silambarasan
(Photo Courtesy: A Carnatic Quartet)
Meet <i>thavil</i> artist eand Gummudipoondi R Jeevanandham
Meet thavil artist eand Gummudipoondi R Jeevanandham
(Photo Courtesy: A Carnatic Quartet)
Meet Mylai Karthikeyan, the <i>nadaswaram </i>player
Meet Mylai Karthikeyan, the nadaswaram player
(Photo Courtesy: A Carnatic Quartet)
Meet Praveen Sparsh, the <i>mridangam </i>player
Meet Praveen Sparsh, the mridangam player
(Photo Courtesy: A Carnatic Quartet)

“There is so much variety in our exposure to the kind of musical education, our styles of playing, the way our musical instruments sound, The coming together of such diversity to create a free cohesive sound,” Shreya told The Quint.

The quartet is not just about a concert as artistes interact with the audience through short introductions before each of the compositions.

Rise draws from 10 different themes: Community, Happiness, Innocence, Direction, Discrimination, Home, Woman, Beauty, Movement, Tribute.

“I think the whole Black Lives Matter revolution, or what happened in Sathankulam took the internet by a storm. There are many more such Sathankulams. This piece is our voice against discrimination,” explained Praveen.

It even includes a tribute to coronavirus warriors.

You can check out their entire composition here.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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