The 11th Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival was held at the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall on 10 & 11 January 2003 in honour of the memory of the renowned violinist Late Sri Lakshminarayana, father of Dr. L. Subramaniam.
“Avishkar”, a part of Divakar’s Service Trust was entrusted with organizing this festival in Bangalore. Owned by Dr. G. V. Divakar (Eye Surgeon) and wife, Dr.Hema Divakar (Gynecologist), this organisation has a three-fold aim, Pragathi (propelling scientific excellence), Jagruthi (promoting awareness through education, care and community support) and Samskruthi (propagating culture and value education), Avishkar has joined hands with Dr. L. Subramaniam & Smt. Kavitha Subramaniam to promote Dr.L.S’s vision of founding the ‘Global Academy of Performing Arts’ in Bangalore. This academy aims to be a center of excellence and a forum for the recognition, training and promotion of artistes of national and international caliber.
Titled “Connecting People”, this year’s fusion music concert for global peace witnessed the coming together of two of the most celebrated violinists in the world today; Jean Luc Ponty, a pioneer and undisputed maestro of jazz & rock from France and our own Dr. L. Subramaniam. Adding luster to the glittering array of talent were, Kavitha Subramaniam, Seetaa Subramaniam, Norwegian artists Frode Haltli, Stain Carstensen, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Guy Nsangue Akwa and many other Indian accompanists.
The program began with “Vaatapi Ganapatim”, a violin recital by Subramaniam’s youngest son Lakshminarayana Subramaniam (named after his grandfather). Next to come on stage was daughter Seetaa Subramaniam singing a solo “On my own”. This was followed by a mellifluous rendition of R. D. Burman’s ‘Kya Janoo Saajan’ from the movie ‘Dil Vil Pyaar’ by Kavitha Subramaniam (Kavitha Krishnamurthy). Frode Haltli (accordian), Stain Carstensen (accordian, banjo & kawal), Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (double bass) and Guy Nsangue Akwa (electric bass) enthralled the audience – of more than 800 – with Norwegian classical and folk compositions. This set the stage for Jean Luc Ponty, whose maiden performance on Indian soil was greeted with enthusiastic cheers from the entire gathering. He played ‘Mystical Ventures’ with Indian accompanists (again a first), followed by ‘Pitzie Cat’ holding the violin like a guitar. It was indeed surprising, or should I say shocking that the hall echoed with thunderous applause and whistles…yes, you got that right, whistles!! Dr. L. S. then played ‘Gypsy Trail’ from his latest album ‘Global Fusion’.
The big moment of the day was the announcement of recepient of this year’s “Lakshminarayana Award”. It came as no surprise that the honour was conferred upon Jean Luc Ponty. The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka Sri. S. M. Krishna along with Dr. L. Subramaniam presented the award amidst thunderous applause. This was followed by a short break after which there was more. Subramaniam and Ponty captivated the audience with a feast of fusion music. ‘Necklace Road’ and ‘Conversation’ were two noteworthy compositions. The grand finale was a celebration of fusion music where all the artists, 18 of them, sent the crowd into raptures with their performances. High quality speakers and mikes (22 of them!) added to the atmosphere. Music was of the purest clarity. It appeared that the crowd did not want the evening to come to an end and only reluctantly went home.
Music is a vast ocean and no one can claim to know it all. The more you know the more you realize how little you know. It is an eternal quest.
11 January, the second day of the festival, which happened to be the birth anniversary of the Late Sri. Lakshminarayana. The evening began with the traditional lighting of the lamp by the Hon’ble Minister for Education Prof. B. K. Chandrashekar, followed once again by “Vaatapi Ganapatim”…a violin recital by Lakshminarayana Subramaniam. The Norwegian artists got the crowd excited with their folk numbers and some improvised tunes. Stain Carstensen showed his mastery over the Banjo with a very catchy number “Kicking Mule”. He also played some Bulgarian Music on the Kawal, a flute like instrument. Kavitha Subramaniam sang songs from the films “Bombay” and “Pukar”. The crowd vociferously called on Jean Luc Ponty to render an encore of his popular ‘Pitzie Cat’ and the legend graciously consented. After this the affable Dr. LS came on stage and asked the packed hall whether they wanted a fast or a slow number. Bedlam followed with people yelling for one or the other, but eventually the requests for a fast number out-voiced the ones for a slow one. This brought a smile to the lips of LS who went on to play his quick paced ‘Indian Express’. He then followed it with the heart rending “Tribute to Departed Souls”, a slow soulful composition. The atmosphere was hushed and one could hear one’s own heartbeat. Nothing could be harsher to one’s ears at such a time than the incessant ringing of someone’s mobile phone. One wonders when people will realize that a music concert demands some basic courtesies from an audience. It is unfortunate that the maestro had to stop mid performance and appeal for silence. Indeed, every music lover in the hall was ashamed. I hope, every person with a mobile phone reads this and vows never to repeat it. That unpleasant interruption over, it was fusion time all over again. The two masters played “Ganga” and “Conversation”. Music was in the air and everyone’s hearts. The hall reverberated with the strident chords of instruments coupled with thunderous applause. One wished it would never end…
Jean Luc Ponty is a pioneer and undisputed master of the violin in the fields of jazz and rock. He is widely regarded as an innovator who has explanded the vocabulary of modern music.
Ponty was born into a family of classical musicians on September 29, 1942 in Avranches, France. His father taught him the violin, his mother the piano. At 16, he was admitted to the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris from where he graduated two years later with the institution’s highest award, ‘Premier Prix’. Ponty was immediately hired byy one of the major symphony orchestras, Concerts Lamourex, with whom he played for three years. While still a member of the orchestra in Paris, Ponty picked up a side gig, playing the clarient for a college jazz band that regularly performed at local parties. It proved to be a turning point in his life. A growing interest in the Jazz sounds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane compelled him to take up the tenor saxophone. Jean Luc Ponty soon felt the need to express his jazz voice through his favourite instrument, the violin. The rest, as they say, is history….