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Music can spread harmony in the minds of listeners, says Dr. Ganesh
He has a simple frame and a steely resolve. A veterinary doctor - turned - finance professional, Dr.R.Ganesh learnt the fine art of Carnatic music from late Maharajapuram Santhanam. He and his friends in the music fraternity have embarked upon Irai Isai Payanam. Here, Dr. Ganesh talks to Sudha Jagannathan in detail on the journey.

What is the objective of `house concerts' which you have embarked upon?
Dr. Ganesh: We (including my accompaniments) wanted to exploit the talent that God has bestowed on us for a social/divine cause. We took up the cause of renovation of old dilapidated temples. For raising funds for this, we chose to perform house concerts like how Christmas Carols are done during Christmas times. People who donate in small quantities like Rs. 1,000 or Rs. 2.000 – they simply donate. Larger donors - say in the category of Rs. 1 lakh or Rs. 2 lakhs - are generally corporates and philanthropists. There is, however, a huge untapped segment of people who would donate Rs.10,000 or Rs. 15,000. It is for this segment our Irai Isai Payanam was launched.

Besides you, who are the other artistes involved in this project?
Dr. Ganesh: Madurai S Balasubramanaian and V. V. Srinivasa Rao on violin, Chidambaram S. Balashankar and Umayalpuram Mali on mridangam. There are lot of other artistes who want to participate.

What has been the response for such concerts - in terms of audience and funds raised?
Dr. Ganesh: Apart from the hosting donor, his friends, neighbours and the like account for close to 50 to 75 people. The response is very good. So far for the current project at Meppedu, we have done 49 concerts and raised Rs.13.5 lakhs.

How many cause-based concerts have been done so far?
Dr. Ganesh: For this temple, so far 49. Authorities of other temples have also approached us.

Do you think professional artistes come in a big way to perform for cause-based concerts?
Dr. Ganesh: To some extent, they are also participating.

What are the positives and negatives of such `house concerts'?
Dr. Ganesh: The positives are that you are having a very close rapport with the audience. They listen to it in rapt attention. They feel it more divine than a regular sabha concert. There are some negatives. Some times we will get the strain because of absence of sound amplification. Some flats do not permit this.

Do you think Carnatic musicians are coming in a big way to work for charity causes?
Dr. Ganesh: Yes. For Kargil, Gujarat earthquake, Tsunami etc., Carnatic musicians have contributed in a great way. In fact during the last music season, almost all the musicians who sang in a leading sabha donated their entire sambhavanai for the treatment of an ailing young musician.

What role should an artiste pursuing a traditional art form like Carnatic musich play in the society?
Dr. Ganesh: In today's world, for a youngster, there are thousand ways to go berserk. Music is Nadopasana and to a great extent, it will restrict him from falling into vices, bad company etc. Music has the miraculous effect of calming down the mind. It spreads harmony in the lives of listeners.
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