16 July 2016. It is supposed to be an evening of music at the beach. When I reach the venue, I find volunteers of the "Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha" standing there holding a banner. They are politely directing visitors to a compound across the road saying there has been a change of venue. Sure enough, a colourful announcement has been put up at the gate of the compound. This lovely place is called "Spaces". It offers a platform for experimental work in the performing arts to artists and students.
Inside, it is a sprawling area having an old world charm. There are leafy trees and a good old well adding a nice touch to the ambience. There is a small performance area built in the Kerala style, complete with a stage and parapets along the boundary walls in the audience area for those who do not wish to squat on the floor. Volunteers are busy preparing the area for the evening's performances. The sudden change of venue has meant last minute hectic activity for them. But the saving grace is that the small theatre matches the mood of the event perfectly, informal and open.
Noted Carnatic vocalist T. M. Krishna, who is the main force behind this event echoes the sentiment of the people associated with this movement saying they wished they could have had the performances at the beach as planned. There are some permission issues. But they go ahead enthusiastically anyway. The evening opens with a group song by the children from the nearby fishing village, Urur Olcott Kuppam. They are smart and their presentation is well-prepared.
Now it is the turn of the singers belonging to the Nagore Sufi Trio, Abdul Ghani, Ajah Maideen and Saburmaideen Babha Sabeer. They come from the Nagore Dargah, a sufi shrine in coastal Tamil Nadu. They are dressed in flowing white robes, their green and pink turbans adding colour to their costumes. Their singing is full of devotion, energy and rhythm.
Next, several young men and women belonging to the Choirs of Angels from Loyola College take the stage. Their singing changes from mellow and soulful to rapid and exuberant at times. They manage to present a good sample from their repertoire.
The last performance of the evening is Namasankirtanam by Karthik Gnaneshwar and group. Their abhangas and bhajans are mesmerizing, the repetitive refrain taking the listeners in a trance. Devotion is of course the common theme for the evening, wonderfully highlighting the idea of "Celebrating Oneness" through different styles of music.
The thought behind this movement is to make music accessible to people and learn from each other. And they do it while Celebrating Oneness, in keeping with their tag line. I wish it a long life and look forward to being there for the next editions. I had enjoyed the first edition a lot. Here is my post on that.