Baithak Foundation started Indian Classical Music (ICM) concerts at the Ganga Legend construction site in July 2017. The response form children and labourers has ben equally exciting and satisfying. It is through our collaboration Tara Mobile Creches Pune, our partner organisation who runs centres at multiple construction sites in Pune where children of construction labourers come to play, learn and enjoy; we had this great opportunity to take ICM to masses. Looking at the success of first few concerts, TMCP requested to begin similar work at another construction site in Charolhi village, near Pune. Baithak was eager to spread the joy of music and immediately decided to explore this opportunity. The first task was of understanding the area, access facilities, willingness of centre staff etc. Baithak’s first visit to the centre was literally crazy! With a long patch of kuchha/muddy road, vehicle breakdown etc. we definitely got a fair idea of what we were getting into.
We reached the centre after this roller-coaster ride. The entire place had an inherent tempo and was vibrant with colours, chatter and smiles. We were warmly welcomed and taken around the centre to show the different areas and help us understand the activities that are conducted in the respective sections. We were amazed to see babies sleeping silently in the simply made cradles. We tried to locate an appropriate space for the upcoming events which could accommodate at least 60-70 people. During our quick chats we found the centre staff keen to bring live music in the centre.
It was decided that we will begin concerts at the centre from October. Like we always do, TMCP will be provided with posters for the event which may be displayed at the centre and in the labour camp to spread a word about the upcoming event.
The day of the concert couldn’t have been more adventurous. Pune received more than 100 mm rainfall in a span of an hour which resulted in flash floods in many parts of the city. The organisers and the artists were coming form different parts of the city and almost lost 2.5 hours in travel during their journey to reach the centre. The muddy patch leading to the centre was as bas as it can be.
The team finally managed to reach the centre 15 minutes late than expected but the program began immediately. The centre staff had ensured that the audience was already seated and waiting for the artists to avoid further delays. We began the violin recital after a brief introduction of the artists and Indian Classical Music. Initially the centre was filled with chatter, stray noises and cries but once the music began everything changed.
Anup began his recital by Raga Yaman. He played the slow aalap and then progressed to play jod and zala. He restricted the length of the usual elaborate exploration of a raga as he realised that none of the audience member had ever heard ICM before. He then engaged the audience in a short conversation about music. He then played 2 film songs and requested the audience to guess. The audience was now highly concentrated on each note that was being played. Some audience members were able to guess the songs and requested Anup to play more songs. He then played another raga for 10 minutes. He was specifically requested to play the qawwalli chadhta suraj dhire dhire and he honoured the request, with which we concluded the event.
The event was a great learning opportunity for all of us. The artists learned a great deal while performing in front of an uninitiated audience. Many audience members walked away after some time as they did not find the program interesting enough or had other engagements at home. However this also taught the performing artist to take extra efforts to connect with the audience. The centre had many small children who were crying and were unsettled and thus parents had to leave in order to avoid disturbance to others. This also probably highlighted the need to reschedule the time of the event based on discussion with parents as regards their schedule, free time etc.
Baithak’s team was also able to identify the great need to debrief the centre staff about the expectations before, during and after the event; as some disturbance during the event could be avoided by ensuring some behavioural expectations through simple instructions and prior intimation of the same.
Despite the challenges this day was impactful and memorable as were were able to capture many ears. Even though many audience members left we had more than 10 parents and all children completely unwilling to leave the centre space and eager to listen to more music.
The artists of the event were deeply touched by the experience. They shared that they were astounded by children’s keen attention and audience’s positive response. Baithak team is now looking forward to conduct the next event and incorporate all the learnings from this experience.