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We want to make YACM a national movement, says its chief Rithvik Raja
The Youth Association for Classical Music (YACM) is an organisation dedicated to the cause of Carnatic music. It is run by a group of youngsters to provide a place for the promising young artistes who seek an appropriate platform to showcase their talents. It tries to bring these hidden talents to the forefront and enable them to make their mark in the world of classical music. As YACM is gearing up to celebrate its silve jubilee, its president Rithvik Raja speaks about the past and the road ahead in a candid interview with Read on

How do you plan to celebrate the silver jubilee of Youth Association for Classical Music?
We plan to celebrate the silver jubilee of YACM by paying tributes to all the senior torch- bearers of the association for their vision and hard work. In fact, their immense contributions have allowed us to celebrate today. We are extremely grateful to all them for the support that they have extended all these while to us and would love to dedicate this anniversary to them. Most of them are coming to the anniversary celebrations. We would love to honour them in whatever small way we could. We also have a variety of events lined up for this anniversary. Unique concerts, jugalbandis, face-to-face interviews, chat sessions, debates, discussions, games, quiz, treasure hunts, carnivals et al – we have a rich treat lined up, all with Carnatic themes. We have been as creative as possible in bringing Carnatic music to the students and rasikas through a number of games and quizzes. We want to make learning a real fun. This is what we want to achieve with the student community in the long-run. We hope to make this musical extravaganza a grand event.

Twenty five years. This is a long journey in the history any organization. How do you plan to carry forward this journey?
It is indeed a long journey. Coming to think of it, I was not even born when YACM was formed. So, a huge responsibility is cast on us to continue the great work YACM has been doing over the years and take it to the next level. We need to make this a movement of the youth and make this a national project. We are working towards this end. We also want to target as many schools as possible and spread the awareness about Carnatic music. We are working towards this on the side and we have put together a list of 1,800 schools in Chennai alone which we need to target first. We are also simultaneously organizing group awareness campaigns in other cities like Tanjore, Trichy, Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem etc. We are also thinking of setting up music schools funded by YACM in these cities to help music grow in these cities as well. But these projects are going to require a lot of effort, hard work and funds from our end. Our basic goal will continue to focus on providing concert opportunities for youngsters. We are, however, planning to present it a little differently.

What has been the major achievement of this institution? And, what has been the major irritant for the organization?
The major achievement of this institution has been the difference it has made to the Carnatic music field. It was a novel initiative when it all began in 1985. Thanks to the efforts of YACM, today we see so many youngsters performing. There are innumerable opportunities. And, you also see youth festivals. I would say that this is probably the biggest contribution of YACM, apart from many others. Coming to the irritant part, I would say that the number of youngsters joining YACM is lesser than what we would like. We are here for the youth. We would love more and more youngsters come and join hands with us to work for the cause of music. The only reason we are doing this is because we love music. YACM is the catalyst organization that helps us do something for music.

What kind of an organization YACM is?
YACM is a very serious and professionally set up organization. It is registered with the Registrar of Societies in 1985. We file tax returns. It is a registered non-profit organization with the Government of India. It is not just a group of youngsters getting together and organizing events. We do this with a set of guidelines, which we abide by. Every committee is elected by voting on the day of our annual general body meeting.

Organization-building requires time, effort and money. How does YACM get all these?
Organization building does require time, effort and, most importantly, money. With respect to time, we meet once a week, preferably on Sundays. We meet to discuss the actions and work completed by each other over the last week and make arrangements accordingly. We work with weekly deadlines and update each other regularly of work progress so that everything is in control. We also have an online group set up so that we keep in touch through e-mails on a daily basis. We are currently a team of eight in the executive committee, and over the last month, especially for the anniversary, we would have probably bounced off more than a few hundred emails. This is how we put in our time and keep in constant touch with each other. With regard to effort, all of us are here voluntarily. No one is forced to work for the organization. We work for music because we love it. When you are so deeply attached with something so special, then the effort comes from within naturally. We all love the rich history and tradition of our culture and YACM. Hence, we work to contribute our bit.

How far this association has managed to attract the youth of the modern India to get involved with this great art i.e Carnatic music?
YACM has managed to attract a huge youngster base. More than 70 per cent of our members are below the age of 25. Such is the impact that the YACM has created amongst the youth. And these days, with so many other ways of communication, the youth are slowly getting exposed to Carnatic Music on a more regular basis and this will only increase the numbers who turn up at a Carnatic concerts. Our target is to get more youth listeners. We don't want everyone to become a performer. We just want them to develop an ear for Carnatic music. It doesn't matter if they become rasikas, donors, patrons, students or even connoisseurs.

As you celebrate 25 years, what could be YACM's appeal to the youth?
Twenty-five is just a landmark. YACM has a long way to go. It needs to grow much more as an organization. We can't do this without the support of youngsters. We urge every one of you out there to come and join hands with us. We would love to work with more and more youngsters and make this a global movement. Come! Let's grow up with music!

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