Dubai: It was sweet music to the ears of enthusiasts and participants alike when the sounds of the Neyveli Santhanagoplan-conducted Carnatic Epic Choir filled the air at Hartland School Auditorium in Dubai recently.
A total of 250 students and 20 teachers enthralled the 700-odd audience for the third year in a row in Dubai, with nine songs composed by Santhanagopalan. The musician was accorded Tamil Nadu state’s Kalaimamani award — which is conferred for excellence in the performing arts and literature by the state government — in 2019. The numbers include a special song created as a tribute to the UAE by the Indian community. It was so well received that it had to be sung twice upon public demand.
Speaking about the event, the renowned Carnatic singer and guru said: “Preparations like conceptualising the programme start six months in advance. After finishing one edition, with the inspiration and impetus already evident, we wait for the opportune moment to start the process for the next one.”
In the first year the event witnessed around 200 participants and has been seeing a gradual growth in the past couple of years.
“I see a difference in quality and as a conductor of the programme I am able to feel the rapport that’s developing between me and the participants,” Santhanagopalan said. He praised the huge role played by Reha Music and Dance Institute.
He went to narrate the process of getting the students ready for the show. “The songs are recorded and sent to 20 teachers, who are also part of the choir. They take care of the preparations.
“My goal is to build the unity among the children and building the future of Indian music.”
The Epic Choir also witnessed a live talk show on the topic of Cultural Values of Indians — Developing or Deteriorating with Santhanagopalan as the moderator. The evening was rounded off with a vocal concert by Santhanagopalan, who was accompanied on stage by V.V. Ravi (violin), his son Shankar Santhanagopalan (mridangam), his wife, Meera Santhanagopalan (tamboura), and Anish Adoor (ganjira).
Santhanagopalan has also been conducting Carnatic Epic Choir in Cleveland, which sees the participation of 350 students, for the past five years.
What is the reason behind such enthusiasm among the youth across various cities that he has been conducting the choir?
“Parents, who were deprived of the chance to learn music, want their kids to get what they did not. Music sense is with everyone, if one can decipher the difference between speech and music, then you have the knowledge in music.
“The guru’s position has changed over the years,” he said, adding that he has been teaching students online for the last 25 years.
“First I couriered recorded cassettes, then cds and started to send recorded files on emails. It’s a virtual gurukulam [school of music]. Music is a soothing language; even listening it is a great thing as it creates positivity,” he concluded.