We were headed to the airport, on our way to Chennai, actually, laughs mridangist Ravi M. Ravichandhira, referring to the family receiving the news of the Australia Council for the Arts recognising and assisting their concert tour of Chennai and Singapore from December 2019-January 2020. His dancer-wife, Narmatha, and sons, Sai-Nivaeithan and Sai-Sarangan, who are also trained mridangam artistes, simply smile. The timing couldnt have been more apt: after all, the family had a packed Margazhi schedule.
Their 14th year performing in Chennais prestigious December season, the family of percussionist, all Guru Karaikudi Manis disciples, as well as dancer Narmatha, a disciple of Adyar K. Lakshman, couldnt feel more honoured to represent a large community of Australian artistes that supports a thriving Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam environment back home. Also Ravi considers it a testament to the service that the family has provided for years in Australia.
An organiser himself, Ravi has helped set up an institution for classical music and, with the support of his family, continues to develop the community while performing regularly. The grant falls under the Australia Councils International Strategic Funding Stream. Essentially, it allows us to perform and learn during our time in Chennai while also advocating for further growth in the arts and culture sector in Australia, Ravi adds.
Like many other artistes living abroad, the family always looks forward to the Season. While they enjoy its many facets, one particular aspect stands out. Meeting Mani Sir is the thing we look forward to the most, Sai-Nivaethen beams. Brother Sai-Sarangan nods in agreement and says, Of course, we also get the chance to attend so many concerts and be exposed to so much music that we can learn from.
The enthusiasm is infectious, reminiscent of the attitude of many artistes who travel from far and wide to participate in Chennais Margazhi experience. Of course, the support of the Council adds an element of pressure for the family, but Ravi and Narmatha say the support motivates them to continue doing what they love.