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Strings of change
Violinist Jyotsna Srikanth has been working towards popularising Indian classical music in UK. She spoke to Karan Bhardwaj on her efforts and her performance at the House of Commons
Jyotsna Srikanth moved to London from India in 2004. She had no definite agenda on her mind then. It was her husband’s job that took her there. But the violinist made most of the opportunity and decided to make her country’s music popular in the foreignland. The task was challenging but the musician was determined to make a difference. And she succeeded in her attempt.
A mother of two, she formed a group Dhruv Art, in a bid to propagate Indian music in UK. She even gave up career of pathology to pursue her musical dreams. Now she organises London International Art Festival, backed by Art Council of England every year. It will be held in November this year and India is also participating with 10 artists in the forthcoming festival. “Indian Ocean and a Bharatnatyam troupe will be a part of the festival. It’s a platform to the world music. There’s one folk group coming from Greece, Polish mosaic musicican will also be there,” shared Srikanth. She performed at Azad Bhawan during the farewell function of the ICCR’s Director General Suresh Goel.
She told us that her latest solo album Call of Bangalore is topping the UK charts and is presently positioned at number eight. “It has given me a great boost. Western world is very particular about classical music, which involves a lot of grammar,” she said. Though Srikanth has delivered over 1000 performances in the last two decades, her toughest one was at the House of Commons in London last November. It was staged in honour of David Cameron, who himself is a pianist. “It was supposed to be a ten-minute concert but it stretched up to 40 minutes. During the performance, Cameron asked many tough questions which was surprising. He was interested in history of Indian classical music and how it is fairing these days,” she shared.
The South-Indian performer has worked in over 200 films, including Indian and international projects. Many of the compositions display her unique talent of blending violin techniques with classical Indian and Western genres. Among the acclaimed musical directors from South India, she’s worked with Hamsalekha and Ilayaraja. Talk about the response of Indian audience and she pointed out a lukewarm response. “In South India, it is still alive. But northern belt prefers Bollywood. I couldn’t do any Bollywood film because I don’t connect to it,” she said. At present, she is working with Redbridge Music Service’s Symphony orchestra to bring a unique fusion of Indian and Western classical music. Titled Raga Strings, this project will bring together over 75 artistes on stage.
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If anyone tries to raise questions on the country’s unity and integrity, they will not be spared. Stringent action will be taken.
I don’t have a type; I think older would be good for me. They are more chilled and you don’t get the games.
Songs today have a very short shelf-life. When music becomes mechanical, that doesn’t work. It has to be a creative process.