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Archive for October 17th, 2009

Dr. Suvarnalata Rao: Indian art music and the changing audiences worldwide (National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai, India)

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on October 17, 2009

Tunis, October 17-22, 2009


In a world overrun by celebrity and superficiality, is there an audience for the disciplines and profound thruths of art music?

Convenor and chairperson of the session: Timo Cantell

The idea of the session is to map out – with the help of the presenters and their various orientations – what the state of affairs of the so-called art music is in various parts of the world with regards to their audiences. During the session the presenters provide factual data to discuss potential changes of the audience base while also addressing the expectations and needs of the current audiences. In addition, the question of non-attendees, i.e., those who do not show interest in art music, will be discussed.

One particular area of interest is the relationship between the so-called live music audience and those who listen to music via radio, records, the internet etc. How does the internet and media culture in general influence reception patterns and the state of the art music? And what is the role of the popular culture where the celebrity winners might take it all while less well-known artists and music forms might not prosper? Or this is the right analysis? In addition to understanding the present situation, the session explores challenges for the art music in the future.

While there are some arguments that people are “dumbing down” and therefore do not pay much attention to the art music, some counter arguments exist to show that people are indeed “wising up”. The reason for this is that on average young generations in various parts of the world have much higher education than previously and that education is a key determining factor why people become interested in the arts, evening the so called “high arts” and art music.

The overall aim of the session is to share experiences, to provide some explanations, to open up understanding of the art music situation and its reception in various parts of the world.

Timo Cantell


Discussions on visitors and non-visitors of classical and ethnic European music concerts 
Timo Cantell (Finland) (paper and powerpoint)

From Classical to Ugandan church music: shifting the nature of art music and its audiences in Uganda
Sylvia Nannyonga-Tamusuza (Uganda)

Indian art music and the changing audiences worldwide 
Dr. Suvarnalata Rao (India) (see bottom)

Tunisian music and sound environment in the beginning of the 21st century

Mourad Sakli (Tunisia) (paper)

The Challenge of Popular Culture 
Greg Sandow (USA) (paper)

Project presentations 

‘Music takes care of me!’- Motivating children for music in the concert hall
Graça Boal Palheiros (Portugal)  (abstract / paper)



Dr. Suvarnalata Rao: Indian art music and the changing audiences worldwide
(National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai, India)


At the outset let me clarify that I will not only explore the audience situation in India but would also like to talk about the situation outside India, as the Indian art music has a serious global presence today.

Whilst there is at least some data available about the audiences of Indian art music outside India in places like UK, Europe, USA and South Africa, in India itself, there is neither a reliable data nor any attempt at studying the audiences with respect to their profile (age, preference, training, geographical location etc.). Apart from the available reports this presentation is being made on the strength of my own experience of programming well over 60 events in a year for the last 12 years at a premier cultural institution in India having over 3200 members1. Furthermore, as a native to this tradition I have been for the past four decades and more, an active member of the audience as well, besides being a musicologist and practitioner of north Indian instrumental music. Notwithstanding the antiquity associated with this tradition and the magnitude of sociocultural changes it has witnessed over two millennia, I will confine my presentation to the scenario in the past 100 years, including the post-independence period and also the crucial period during which the national freedom struggle was at its speak.

Read fully article as PDF here…

The International Music Council (IMC), founded in 1949 by UNESCO, is the world’s largest network of organizations, institutions and individuals working in the field of music. The International Music Council promotes musical diversity, access to culture for all and unites organizations in some 150 countries worldwide in building peace and understanding among peoples of all cultures and heritage.

(Source:  10/2009 – International Music Council – Programme Info | PDF)

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