16 October 2007

Chennai's December Season

Above: Bharata Natyam dancer Urmila Sathyanarayanan performing during the 2002 Chennai December Season

(If you've come to this page looking for information on the 2010-2011 Chennai December Season, click here.)

It's only October but I'm already looking forward to going to Chennai (formerly Madras) this December for the annual festival of Carnatic (South Indian) music and dance, which has come to be known as the ‘December Season’. Chennai is an important cultural centre with over 60 sabhas, or cultural organizations. Each stage their own programme every December featuring all the big names in Carnatic music and South Indian classical dance, as well as young upcoming artists. Most concerts and performances take place during the second half of December, but many already start around mid-November and run up to the middle of January. This time of year corresponds to the Tamil month of Margazhi, a time dedicated to spiritual activities and bhakti or devotion, which is traditionally expressed through classical music and dance, which are considered to be forms of worship. This is also the time of year when the weather is at its mildest, driest, and most pleasant, ideal for attending concerts and dance performances.

The vast majority of concerts are by Carnatic vocalists, accompanied by South Indian instruments such as the violin, mridangam (a double-sided drum), ghatam (an earthenware pot used as a percussion instrument), flute, and veena (a stringed instrument). But there are also many concerts featuring musicians of other ‘non-traditional’ instruments such as the saxophone, mandolin, guitar and keyboard played in the Carnatic style. Most of the dance performances feature Bharata Natyam, the classical dance of Tamil Nadu, but other Indian classical dance forms, such as Mohiniattam, Kuchipudi and Odissi are also showcased.

The festival has its origins with the All-India music conference which took place in December 1927, organized by the Indian National Congress Party. At this time, the now famous Madras Music Academy was founded, and a music festival was subsequently held every December. Since then, more and more musical organizations have hosted their own festivals, in parallel to that of the Music Academy.

To perform during the music season in Chennai is considered to be a great privilege for artists as it has become the biggest and most important festival of South Indian music and dance in India - and the world, featuring over 2000 performances by hundreds of artists at over 60 venues, with performances running from morning to evening.

Some of the sabhas have already published their schedules. I've decided to post the links here for any dance or music lovers who happen to come to this page looking for details of when their favourite artists will perform during the Season. This page will be updated as new schedules come out. See you in Chennai this December!

Chennai December Season 2007-2008 schedules:

Kartik Fine Arts (1 December 2007 - 1 January 2008)

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (1 - 14 December 2007)

Brahma Gana Sabha (4 December 2007 - 17 January 2008)

Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (5 December 2007 - 17 January 2008)

Meenakshi Sundararajan Arts Academy (5 - 21 December 2007)

Nungambakkam Cultural Academy (6 December 2007 - 13 January 2008)

Shanthi Arts Foundation (8-17 December 2007)

Mudhra (8 December 2007 - 13 January 2008)

Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha (9 - 31 December 2007)

Mylapore Fine Arts Club (12 December 2007 - 15 January 2008)

Bharat Kalachar (14 December 2007 to 15 January2008)

The Music Academy (15 December 2007 - 1 January 2008)

Narada Gana Sabha (15 December 2007 - 1 January 2008)

Kalarasana (15 December 2007 - 1 January 2008)

Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha (16 December 2007 - 3 January 2008)

Sri Rama Bhaktha Jana Sabha (16 December 2007 - 6 January 2008)

Indian Fine Arts Society (16 December 2007 - 4 January 2008)

Tamizh Isai Sangam (21 December 2007 - 1 January 2008)

Kalakshetra Music and Dance Festival (22 December 2007 - 3 January 2008)

Kartik Fine Arts Tamil Isai Vizha (26 December 2007 - 1 January 2008)

Music Academy Dance Festival (3-9 January 2008) A MUST for all dance lovers! Many of India's top dancers will be performing.

Sri Bhairavi Gana Sabha (4-6 January 2008)

Kartik Fine Arts Dance Festival (6-18 January 2008)

Lecture demonstrations at Narada Gana Sabha (22 - 31 December 2007)

Music concerts listed by date

Here is a link to a handy database which lists schedules by artist/date/sabha

Above: Veena concert by Geetha Bennett during 2002 Chennai December Season


Linda-Sama said...

10 weeks from today I will be in Chennai! will link this post to my blog....

and such a beautiful cat! I hope nothing happens to it...India is especially hard on cats I think....

GMG said...

It seems to be quite an interesting programme! Unfortunately my knowledge of Indian music is very limited: Ravi Shankar for the Sitar, and... :(
Enjoy your weekend!

MomPhDstudent said...

Lovely blog! So glad I came across this. Will link it to my blog on Bharathanatyam- if you are OK with it.

Isabel said...

Hi Sangeetha! Thank you for your comment and yes, you're more than welcome to link to your blog.

sai kripa said...

Hi ma . very nice to see your blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Isabel found you!... The particular Wordpress Theme I am using isnt allowing me to add blogs other than those at wordpress.Maybe I have to come up with a text box or something and use HTML tagging .