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State of Classical Music

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State of Classical Music

The Govt. is by far the greatest employer and patron of Classical Music through its vast network of AIR, Doordarshan, Institutions and centers of a wide variety. Great opportunities have been provided by the Festivals and Utsavs which, perhaps also form part of an overall strategy to involve the common people with culture and arts in various forms. In a vast country of India’s size and diversity, Classical music must be seen and consciously exploited as a strong unifying force.

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The Corporate Sector and Industry and Commerce have impacted the State of Classical Music in India. Concerts at high fees and unpaid admissions to listeners have given easy access to common people to listen to the celebrities time and again. The only trouble perhaps is that we are having a surfeit of concerts practically all the year round and the continued preoccupation of some corporate giants with music and concerts has brought into existence the star system of chosen artists—celebrities no doubt but not always of the high caliber expected of maestros. They are well looked after and constantly promoted. Hardly a dozen or so of the well known musicians operate this star system. To make matters worse, their camchas now find it possible to strut about and boss over lesser musicians and listeners. Ultimately, as one writer has put it, the net effect is complete subjugation of the audience backed by never failing eulogistic press support by a new genre of music critics. Lately we have been seeing yet another novel feature namely “Father’s Sons,” that is young artists and sons of maestros being blown up beyond proportions before they have earned their place as performers. The only pertinent question which no body is prepared to face is—what is going to be the fate of really talented, up and coming artists, who have no godfathers and whose opportunities to prove themselves in concert appearances continue to be slender?

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Similarly, by just contacts, fairly mediocre artists manage to go abroad either through private sources or sometimes as Govt. delegates. One wonders whether only those who can manage, whatever be their caliber, are the legitimate purveyors and ambassadors of our music. Must not the foreigners listen to the really good and authentic music of India? The Government is surely quite seized about the caliber and standing of artists. Why else does it strictly enforce a gradation system for artists in the radio broadcasts and doordarshan? Why by the same logic, is the system of screening and gradation not applied in case of artists going abroad? Is it just a question of free enterprise and success over and over again for a selected band of performers by repeated foreign appearances and a strict shutting out of artists of real merit and caliber because they are artists without influence or pull? Someone at the highest level must think over these matters and find some fair way out.

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