Friday, January 05, 2018

Music without mikes

Music students of Dr. Chithra Madhavan performed at the Concert in the Park on Friday, Day Two of the Festival. At Nageswara Rao Park in Luz.

There is something about concerts without mikes and speakers.

And as dozens of people taking their morning walks around the park went about their business, the music floated around.

Food Walks create big buzz, always

Guess which event creates a big buzz at the Fest?
The Food Walks.

Social media folks on the city's local food buzz pages get into a tizzy when such walks are announced.
So Sridhar Venkataraman's two walks - on Friday and Saturday - may well draw lots of foodies who would like to be guided to joints they have not checked out.
And there are many photographers who tag along.

Sridhar says there are always new food joints to explore - so he isn't fazed by repeating the walks in Mylapore.

Wonder if he has a new thattu idli shop on his route this year!

Stage space for teens; choral music

32 children on stage for a choir.

The well known Madras Youth Choir which also trains school children in low profile areas of the city will present students who hail from a school in T. Nagar and one from Mylapore.

In fact, the two groups will meet an hour before their Saturday choir show on the Main Stage and rehearse for some time to get it right.

MYC, founded by the late M B Srinivasan ( a music com poster, director and composer and promoter of choral music) says this is an opportunity for the kids.

The Fest has space for them too.

Its first set of shows every evening present teens in music, dance.

The challenges a street festival host faces!

Hosting a street cultural festival in an Indian city can be a big big challenge. And we have faced it this 2018 festival.

A Sri Ayyappa devotee decided to conduct a puja and a concert in the very space we were to put up our stages and have our main shows on Thursday evening.
The laws of the land are quite contradictory and so you never know if your plans can hold till the last hour.
So we shifted our main shows to the Sri Kapali Temple campus.

And Day One ran very smoothly.
Dancers of Bharatanatyam guru Sreelatha Vinod, presenting 'Sivam' ended just as the last puja for the lord was to take place at about 9 p.m.

And we heaved a sigh of relief!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Grab some souvenirs

We always create simple, small souvenirs. Stuff visitors to the Festival can buy and take home for keep-sake. Or gift to friends.

There are two cotton bags that we will offer on sale at the 2018 edition of the Fest.
One repeats the design of 2017 - a bright earthy kolam. Printed on a cotton backpack - this was a big hit with young people last year.
Another cotton bag - a shopping bag - will carry an Indian ink illustration of South Mada Street in the Sri Kapali Temple zone of the city.

These bags and  a few other souvenirs - key chains, fridge magnets, framed Mylapore illustrations and coffee dabara sets - will be on sale at the Information Tent on Sannidhi Street on all four evenings.
Grab one.

Tell us also what you thought about whats on offer.

Space for classical dancers

One of the first set of artistes we chose to star at this year's fest were the Bharatanatyam group of guru Sreelatha Vinod.

Sreelatha was trained under the famed V P Dhananjayan and Shantha Dhananjayan and runs her own dance academy in Velachery, a residential hub for IT professionals in Chennai.

Our ongoing conversations with this dancer has often touched on an issue that always bothers classical dancers - finding avenues to dance freely since the sabha space is often restrictive and limiting.

As curators of a street fest, we have always got positive feedback from people who have sat through dance productions held in the open air at the Main Stage in Sannishi Street Square.
And almost all dancers have said that they too enjoy this informal open-to-sky stage setting.

One where the ordinary person who does not step into sabha halls can enjoy dance.

Volunteers; we could do with many young people!

This Fest depends on volunteers. There is a charm in running such events with the aid of the young and the old.
It provides for Mylaporeans to lend a hand to things they love and wish to support.

We do get a dozen volunteers.
But we wish we had some more hands - tough, young and with oodles of energy.

Because there is much field work that needs to be done.

The 2018 Festival comes early

The festival is early this year.
Because we try and avoid holding the Festival closer to the Pongal festival - for logistical reasons.

And so the Fest of 2018 is from January 4 to 7.
This scheduling challenges us, builds pressures too - since the team behind the Fest is really small.
Just four.

Thankfully, a small team from Sundaram Finance, our sponsors also lends a hand where it can.

This challenge is not new - for we have as a rule decided to keep the core team small always. 

Hiccups do confront us - after all this is a street festival, a fest held in open spaces that people use. And in our circumstances, much unlike in the West these are not reserved open public spaces for cultural acts.

Every year, we therefore gird ourselves to also tackle issues that crop us - a religious event in the space for Main Stage Events. A street dug up by the civic agency - where a crafts sale has been planned.