Imagine this: an intimate concert with a small group of rasikas in the immaculate courtyard of a 250 year old Dutch cultural heritage: Luz House in Mylapore. The glamor and glamor that is now associated with classic art performances takes a back seat in this environment. In fact, it paves the way for the audience to grapple with artists and their craft. CUSP, a three-day festival with multiple art forms, aims to do just that: to create a dialogue that is conducted by practitioners, albeit in an assignable manner.
CUSP focuses on experimental, relatively young, yet extraordinary works. This goes beyond the conventional milieu of classical art. It is organized by the Mumbai-based First Edition Arts and includes over 50 musicians, speakers and interpreters from all over India, who are led by a strong curatorial team of artists.
Devina Dutt from First Edition Arts, also part of the team of curators, speaks of the foundation of the festival: “I am one rasika myself. Recently, as an art critic and writer, I have had concerns about how classical art concerts are presented. “Large logos, large screens, unnecessary light – all of this is glamor that takes away the experience,” adds Devina. This concern led to CUSP.
Although the size of the festival is large, the experience it seeks to convey differs from that normally distributed in the city. An intimate environment with mood lighting and an effort to respect the space of the artists are important components for improving the experience. Music is the be-all and end-all, but discussions on the performing arts and their role in society, film screenings, a venue for theater and visual art exhibitions are also on the program.
Both Carnatic and Hindu music are discussed in concerts and discussions. In a workshop entitled Aesthetics, Sound and Music, for example, philosopher and author Sundar Sarukkai will speak about the philosophy of music and interact with musicians. Ganesh Devy will examine the connections between music, literature and protest in India, while the Tamil writer Imayam reads from his works and AR Venkatachalapathy leads a discussion about an artist's reaction to India's idea of today. The program includes a Carnatic concert, a tribute to Veena Dhanammal and a performance of the Carnatic Quartet. Another notable achievement is that of Nandanar Charithiram, a villupaatu and Carnatic ensemble that will tell the story of Thirunalaipovar. Hindustani also comes to the fore with a dialogue between Hindustani musicians Warren Senders, Sumitra Ranganathan and Ranjani Ramachandran, interspersed with live music. Night Sky: The Hindustani Vocal Concert by Priya Purushothaman will be performed in the evening Ragas, with Tejovrush Joshi on the tabla and Vyasmurti Katti on the harmonium.
The theater front features RIP, Restlessness in Pieces, an interactive solo performance by Savita Rani. A series of films about the performing arts in South India, curated by film critic CS Venkiteswaran, will be looped.
Under the direction of the visual artist and curator C Krishnapriya, 17 young artists from the city (some of whom are still students) present more than 25 cross-media works that deal with the self, the body and other process-based works. While Savita Narasimhan, singer and curator, shows rare photographs by T Balasaraswati from more than five decades, the Bindu Art School will also exhibit her work.
CUSP takes place from January 31 to February 2. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 7338733190, Evening concert tickets cost £ 500 per day at bookmyshow.