Mumbai's iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya was the venue for a panel discussion on art, culture and people on the night of 23 January. 'Sense and Sensibility: Culture and the Conduct of Life', moderated by curator-commentator Homi K Bhabha and featuring actor-filmmaker Nandita Das, had renowned Carnatic vocalist and social commentator TM Krishna and multiple Grammy-winner Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma in attendance.
After the discussion, Krishna broke into an impromptu performance with Ma where he picked up a line from the latter's cello performance and linked it with a Carnatic-music composition. He took to Twitter on 24 January to share a glimpse of that performance:
After an intense conversation on culture, art and people with @nanditadas @YoYo_Ma and Homi Baba this happened #mumbai #music #chello #voice #carnatic #culture #art
Truly an honour https://t.co/hTBTnZpgJ6
— T M Krishna (@tmkrishna) January 24, 2019
Ma played a small bit from Bach Cello Suite No 3 in C Major. He told the audience that the piece was inspired by the music of Bedouin women who apparently used to dance to it. This was banned since it was considered too sensual. But, as always the music found recognition in a different place. In response to that, Krishna chose a composition — an improvisation of what is called a 'javali' — from the repertoire of the Devadasis.
Before starting to sing, Krishna told the audience, "In Indian cultural history, the role of the Devadasis is very important, as musicians, dancers. Their stories are being lost." He talked about how the abolition of the Devadasi system was essential to put an end to the exploitation of those women, but, at the same time, their aesthetics, culture and more than 400-year-old musical and dance history was also lost.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma was in India as part of The Bach Project, which performed at the NCPA, Mumbai on 21 January.
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Updated Date: Jan 24, 2019 19:37:30 IST