Anahita and Apoorva, the Chennai-based much sought-after young artists in the Indian Carnatic Classical arena insist that starting their training much before the age of 10 has been the biggest blessing. Besides vocals, Anahita is proficient in playing the Chitravina while Apoorva is also a violinist. "Any skill takes a long time to master. So, the earlier a child gets the right kind of exposure, the better chance he or she has, to imbibe the essence and get drawn towards it naturally," says Anahita.
Apoorva adds that her paternal grandmother, who was their first teacher and had the opportunity to learn from several revered gurus in her younger days helped them get an early start into music. "She will always remain our first teacher first and then our grandmother! We continue to learn from her even today and her inputs and critiques are very valuable for our growth as musicians."
Talk to them about the fact that besides vocals, they also play instruments, and both insist that much of their music is based on aural perception and hence learning becomes predominantly based on what one hears, from the guru. "Notations and other texts definitely compliment this learning process but learning an instrument adds a different dimension altogether. You are now able to see the notes you are playing, and visualize the movements between the notes," says Anahita.
"This brings in a far deeper understanding of what we sing. Even the vice-versa is true. An instrumentalist benefits a lot from learning vocal as it helps in understanding the lyrics of the composition, hence emote better through the instrument," Apoorva adds.
Though the duo received the prestigious CCRT scholarship from the Govt. of India at very young ages for a few years, they point that there are a huge number musicians who have not been able to pursue their passion mainly due to lack of monetary support. "If the government and other institutions step in with more scholarships, we can definitely see a rise in the number of youngsters getting closer to achieve their dreams in the classical music field," the Chennai-based sisters, who started their initial training with Shanti Jayaraman and are currently under the guidance of Chitravina N Ravikiran hope.
Stressing that it is important that classical music be included at the primary level in schools where young students are exposed to the literary value and the magic of the melody, they feel that workshops and lecture demonstrations by inspiring artistes should also be organised , where they share their experiences and give advice to those passionate about classical music.
While the pandemic may have brought all concerts to a halt, thus majorly affecting the arts sector, for Anahita and Apoorva this was a time for introspect and analyzing their own music and pay more attention to detail. "Most importantly, we were able to practice without any pressure or the stress of a performance. It was sheer joy to just practice without deadlines. We hope that even when things open up, we are able to continue this, along with our performances," they say.
Part of the recently organised HCL 'Baithak', the sisters believe that when the private sector jumps in to promote art and culture, what emerges is a healthy ecosystem where everyone is able to reap the benefits.
"Companies like HCL provide a great platform for youngsters apart from sponsoring many events. They do a very commendable service to the art community by organizing online concerts too, at a time when the whole world is grappling with a pandemic. We need more corporate houses to step in."
About digital concerts being organised during these times, they feel music is something to be experienced -- and this is possible only when there is an audience who receives what they sing and through their reactions, they understand the pulse -- thus leading to to a continuous flow of energy. "And, alongwith the other artistes on stage, the vibe we share contributes a lot to the kind of qualitative music that has to be produced. It is definitely magical to have these continuous interactions among the artistes and with the audience. That said, online concerts have a different set of advantages, including reaching out to a far wider base of audience," says Anahita
Talk to them about competition among themselves and Apoorva says that a healthy one does exist. "It goes a long way in improving ourselves. It encourages us to push our boundaries, step out of our comfort zones, which we feel is most crucial for an artist to grow."
(Sukant Deepak can be contacted at email@example.com)
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