Coimbatore popular music festival is organized by a surgeon


The September Season Music Festival was started by Dr Sathish Kumar 22 years ago

The September Season Music Festival was started by Dr Sathish Kumar 22 years ago

Coimbatore has no centuries-old connection with Carnatic music. Yet today, the annual September season festival, organized by Rajalakshmi Fine Arts, attracts rasikas from all over South India. There was even a rasika, who had traveled from the United States to attend the 11-day festival, which is in its 22nd year.

“This annual festival brings together top musicians and also provides a platform for young people,” said Sathish Kumar, a Dubai-based surgeon and founder of Rajalakshmi Fine Arts. A trained musician, Dr. Sathish felt the need to give back to his hometown and designed this festival, which is named after his mother.

According to eminent singer Bombay Jayashri, the festival has carved out a special place for itself in the cultural calendar of Tamil Nadu.

The success of the festival is not only in its terrific programming and impeccable arrangements, but also in the care taken in curating the content, with artists sometimes being assigned themes, or a list of previously unreleased or commonly rendered compositions.

During the course of the concert, interesting information about the ragas, compositions and composers is projected on a screen for the benefit of the public. Teachers and students from music schools and colleges are welcome to attend the festival, which is otherwise a paid event.

“It is the only paid classical music festival in Coimbatore,” said Dr Sathish, who believed that art can only be respected if it is not offered for free.

Lasting effect

Bombay Jayashri has been featured at the festival every year since its inception and was also the first recipient of the festival’s ‘Isai Manimakutam’ award. She was full of admiration for the way audiences have been carefully nurtured over the years. Jayashri’s singing at the festival had a meditative quality about it, and her music stayed with listeners long after the concert was over.

The winners of the RFA awards at the 22nd edition of the September Season festival.

The winners of the RFA awards at the 22nd edition of the September Season festival. | Photo credit: special arrangement

Jayashri, who was also the guest of honor at this year’s festival, presented awards to three well-known accompanists – J. Vaidyanthan (mridangam), HN Bhaskar (violin) and S. Karthick (ghatam). S. Vijeyajaya from Rajalakshmi Fine Arts shared that it was the first time since the inception of the festival that accompanists were honored.

The main guest of the festival was 101-year-old mridangam vidwan TK Murthy.

Held after a three-year hiatus, this edition of the September season featured many other well-known musicians such as Aruna Sairam, Sudha Ragunathan, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Ranjani-Gayatri, Ramana Balachandra (veena), Ramakrishnan Murthy and JA Jayanth.

Chandana Bala Kalyan performing at this year's festival.

Chandana Bala Kalyan performing at this year’s festival. | Photo credit: special arrangement

An unusual concert was performed by Mumbai-based Carnatic singer Chandana Bala Kalyan. His presentation focused on the works of poets such as Andal, Purandaradasar, Kabir, Meera, Jayadeva, Bulle Shah and Amir Khusrau. Chandana presented these songs in different genres – folk music, ghazal, qawwali, abhang – but the common thread remained Carnatic music.

With young people and the uninitiated forming a large part of the audience these days, the key factor in these festivals is the execution.

The Delhi-based critic writes about classical music.


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