Sunday kutcheri in park - a platform for unsung children
It is the flagship company of a traditional and reputed industrial
house in the city of Chennai. It is no surprise then that the
highly regarded Sundaram Finance Ltd. has chosen to revive and
conserve the traditional concert format for Carnatic music.
By organizing a concert at the park every first Sunday of a
month, the non-banking finance company (which has been providing
a safe opportunity for investors to grow their money sans risk)
has spread out a solid platform to discover the hidden talent
among the children in the traditional art of Carnatic music.
In an interview to K.T. Jagannathan,
Managing Director, Sundaram Finance Ltd., shares his thoughts
on the concept of concert in park, its impact and influence.
Why did SFL pick this Park concert model?
T.T. Srinivasaraghavan: The Kutcheri in the Park has
been (and continues to be) an integral part of the Sundaram
Finance Mylapore Festival, which we started 5-6 years ago. The
idea behind the Sundaram Finance Mylapore Festival was to use
the spaces in this heritage zone (Mylapore) to host events related
to local heritage and lifestyle that not only reminds us of
the past but also provides an opportunity to unearth and showcase
The Kutcheri in the Park was one of the highlights of the Mylapore
Festival. The morning walkers in the park and the music connoisseurs,
who gathered at the park to listen to the Kutcheri, as well
as the artistes themselves, suggested that we make this a regular
feature so more artistes could benefit from this. The encouragement
from the audience led to the Sundaram Finance Sunday Kutcheri
in the Park. Since February 2006, we have been organizing the
Kutcheri on the first Sunday of every month between 6.30 am
and 7.30 am at the Nageswara Rao Park in Mylapore. The idea
behind the Sundaram Finance Sunday Kutcheri in the Park is to
promote young musical talent aged below 15 years and to provide
a launch pad for them.
We did not want to disturb the peace of the morning walkers
with loud music and, hence, consciously stayed away from mikes
and speakers. Also, being an open air kutcheri, amidst falling
leaves and curious birds chirping around the park, we believed
that we would be able to bring out the best in the children
if they performed without the help of mikes and speakers.
Later on, several music gurus, whose students have performed
here, acknowledged that the absence of mikes and speakers made
the children put in more effort. And this, the music teachers
believe, has brought in quite an unexpectedly better performance
from the artistes.
What has been the response from participants
(individuals and institutions)?
TTS: The interest from participants over the last 2
½ years has been overwhelming. We have had suggestions,
of late, to increase the frequency of the Sunday Kutcheri in
the Park to twice a month. We have had applications from all
over Chennai. Children from Chrompet, Vandalur, and Valsarvakkam,
among other locations in Chennai, have performed at the park.
We have also had enquiries from Pondicherry, Coimbatore Trichy,
Vellore, Bangalore and Neyveli to participate in the Kutcheri
in the Park.
It is especially heartening to learn that children who have
performed at the Sunday Kutcheri have gone on to perform at
Sabhas. A few of them have had the opportunity to perform in
popular television music shows. One or two have even received
calls from music directors.
A visiting NRI (non-resident Indian) who came to the park for
his morning walk heard the Sunday Kutcheri in the Park (performed
that morning by a set of students from a school in Vandalur,
on the outskirts of Chennai) and reached out to help the financially
poor children in the school.
More recently, we have had children from the U.S. and Dubai
performing at the Kutcheri in the Park. These children applied
via the Internet by sending CDs, for evaluation by our audition
Our objective was to make this Sunday kutcheri in the Park a
small stepping stone for young children with musical talent
and provide them with an opportunity to perform in front of
an audience, and shed their inhibitions. Based on the feedback
from the artistes and their parents, I think we have made fair
progress on that front in these last 2 years.
What does it take to organize such park
TTS: As in anything, for a start, it needs passion
and commitment to make it happen month on month. We spend a
fair bit of management time in taking care of minute details.
From a performance quality perspective, we wanted to make sure
that there is a certain minimum performance standard at the
Sunday Kutcheri. Hence, we set up an audition committee with
experienced people to conduct the audition. Processing of applications
and co-ordinating with the artistes also takes time. We have
also assisted the artistes by helping find accompanists like
mridangam, ghatam and violin artistes.
Being an open air Kutcheri in the Park, there is the risk of
rain. However in the last 2 ½ years, there has been just
one kutcheri that has had to be postponed. On one occasion,
we have had members from Sundaram Finance holding up umbrellas
so the artistes could continue the performance in the drizzle.
In order to encourage the participants and to recognize their
efforts, we present certificates and mementos after each Kutcheri.
How about the audience for such concerts
(for one, it is held early morning. for another, it is given
TTS: The audiences have actually been very
receptive and have quite liked the concept. They, in fact, were
responsible for prevailing on us to make this a regular ongoing
feature at the park from the one off Kutcheri we used to organise
during the Sundaram Finance Mylapore Festival. We have often
found that the regular morning walkers at the park stay back
(after their walk) to enjoy the Kutcheri and to appreciate the
young children. Over time, the first Sunday of every month has
become a regular feature in the calendar for several of the
music connoisseurs and morning park walkers.
|| What is the next stage
in this kind of park concerts?
TTS: In the last two years, several people
have suggested that we take the ‘Kutcheri in the
Park’ to other locations, other neighbourhoods.
But our objective was to make this, in our own little
way, a platform for young children to perform without
inhibition that could be replicated in other parts of
We have had people from other locations visiting us to
understand our model, so they could replicate this in
their own local parks. We were quite pleased to hear that
recently a couple of other parks in Chennai have adopted
this Kutcheri in the park model. This is indeed very gratifying.
a system within that provides for hand-holding the `talent'
to next level?
TTS: Our objective is to provide a platform for
children to perform, in front of an audience. This we
believe will give them the confidence to move up to the
next level. In fact, we have already had instances of
these children getting opportunities to perform in sabhas
and television shows. Children who have performed here
have also cut their own CD album. We will continue to
focus on making this a launch pad for young children.
Why only kids? There are lots of `unsung'
heroes/heroines among artistes, who are talented but have
not had the platform to exhibit their wares. Can SFL do
something to them?
TTS: That is very true. But we chose to focus
on young children- ‘catch them young’, sort
of thing. We restricted it to children below 15 years
as we believed that this would help them shed their inhibitions
and give them the confidence to grow up to the next level.
To all of us at Sundaram Finance, the first Sunday of
every month is their ‘Day’. The young children
are the ‘stars’ of the show.
At the moment, we are focused developing this as a platform
for young ‘unsung’ children.
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