Purandara Dasa Aradhana, Hampi, Karnataka
This festival is held around January-February-March in honour of Purandara Dasaru, a composer and poet renowned as the "Grandfather of Carnatic music". The event takes place in the stunning Vittala Temple in Hampi, one of the most extravagant architectural showpieces in South India. Imagine music surrounding the pillared halls and stone chariot here. Several well-known musicians have played at this festival, including R.R. Keshavamurthy, Chintalapalli Ramachandra Rao, Swaramurthy V.N. Rao, Bellary Brothers, and H.R. Seetharama Shastry. One of the highlights is the synchronised lap-tapping of the musicians and the audience, while singing highly structured ragas.
Marghazi Kucheri Festival, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Every year, Chennai hosts the music season known as the Margazhi festival. The Margazhi Kutcheri (concert in Tamil) is the annual performing arts season. One of Chennai's largest regional festivals, this event sees classical music artists around the world come down for the sabhas (musical gatherings) that take place between mid-December and mid-January. Singers like Sudha Raghunathan, Bombay Jayashree, Priya Sisters, T M Krishna, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Sikkil Gurucharan, Malladi Brothers, and Roja Kannan get featured in the line-ups. A wide variety of other cultural acts, including Harikathas, bhajans, theatrical recitals, theatre productions, Hindustani music, classical dances, and folk art forms also take place throughout the festival.
Chembai Sangeetholsavam, Guruvayur, Chennai
This two week long festival, held between November-December, honours the gifted Carnatic musician Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. He was a fervent follower of Krishna and used to organise a music festival in town, inviting anybody who was interested to perform. The Guruvayur Devaswom board took over the modest festival after Chembai's death. The festival is held at the Melpathur Auditorium, where between 2,000 and 2,500 vocalists of all ages take part. The highlight is the group concert, the Guruvayur Ekadasi, which sees artists sing Chembai's favourite compositions.
Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana, Thiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu
Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshidhar, and Shyama Sastri are frequently referred to as the Carnatic Music Trinity. Out of the three, Thyagaraja introduced a variety of approaches to Carnatic music. Held in January, this festival is an annual event to honour Thyagaraja's life. A group performance of the of the Thyagaraja-composed Pancha Rathna Keerthanarecited in front of the location where the saint was laid to rest sets the mood.
Festival of Sacred Music, Thiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu
The Festival of Sacred Music is hosted in a town that is the erstwhile home of the Tanjore Quartet and also where saint-composer Thyagaraja lived and created most of his celebrated works. The annual Aradhana that pays homage to him witnesses the arrival of great throngs of Carnatic music followers. FOSM has diversified Thiruvaiyaru’s listening pleasures—headliners have included a shehnai-nagaswaram jugalbandi, a thumri recital, a choir, qawwalis, Buddhist chants, and alternative rock. The same festival also invites marquee performers from the Carnatic classical fraternity such as Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Aruna Sairam, T.M. Krishna and Bombay Jayashri Ramnath. None of the shows is ticketed. The venues have included the Panchanadeeswarar temple mandapam, the Pushya Mahal and Kalyan Mahal ghats, the Chettiar Chatram (a choultry) and the Diwanwada Palace.
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