Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hosting the Academy

It is not the oldest of the music sabhas in the city, but it ranks among the top 3 in that category. For quite a long time, the Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha was the lone ranger; from the time it was founded in 1900, until the Music Academy came into being in 1928, there was no other sabha in Madras. 

The Music Academy's founding - in the wake of a resolution by the All India Congress Committee - led to a mini-rash of similar institutions coming up. Of the ones that followed, only two continue to be active: the Indian Fine Arts Society and the Rasika Ranjani Sabha. The latter, established in 1929 in Mylapore, seems to have enjoyed better facilities in the early days. It had its own concert hall on Sundareswarar Swamy Street. The concert hall was most likely named after the street, and Sundareswarar Hall hosted many of the prominent musicians of the day. In 1958, the Sundareswarar Hall was renovated and the new venue served the RR Sabha for over half-a-century. The current renovation - which should be completed soon (if it hasn't been already), will hopefully see the hall continue to use its current name.

Because that's a name that has hosted the Music Academy itself - before the Academy got its current premises, it conducted its annual conferences at different venues: and among them the Sundareswarar Hall was an early choice!

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