As this incredible year comes to a close, one can only marvel at what it has brought about in the world of the arts. The increasing ability to connect directly with one’s audience, worldwide, is a revolutionary tool. But also real is the fear of being forgotten by the audience, forcing artistes to engage virtually in unfamiliar ways. As eminent dancer Alarmel Valli says: “In the middle of the isolation, there was a virtual cacophony.”
However, some artistes remain reluctant to embrace the virtual space, the insidious need for a ‘live’ connect still overwhelming them. Virtual concerts are recordings; there is no spontaneous audience feedback, they reason. That physical acknowledgement of creativity, that connection between several people at the transmission of art, is missing. Nightingale of the South, Bombay Jayashri puts it thus: “The presence of the audience, the vibrations that are required in that journey of creation of music, are necessary. I am so scared of not experiencing that. Even if you can’t see anyone in a dark hall, you do experience the energy.”
Currently in the US, ‘thinking’ singer Mahesh Kale considers two factors relevant. “Technologically, we are still not at a place where we can really replicate the ‘live’ experience. Personally, I do not want classical music to become just background music, a mere tertiary activity,” he says.
Jayashri says her guruji would say a diary full of concerts should not make an artiste happy. “If there are breaks between concerts, you will have time to think, to add to your music. This break is very important for me,” she says.
Perhaps the period will allow performers to perform for themselves, thus enriching their art. As violin legend Dr N Rajam says: “My first audience is myself.” — SK