Carnatic music at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections

Indian musicians Ganesh and Kumaresh Rajagopalan

The sound of music is back with its largest, annual, winter, music festival as musician and artists around the world gathered in Glasgow to bring the city to life for a period of 18 days, writes Jasmine Patel.

Celtic Connections has seen Indo-Scottish fusion as two classical musicians flew a long way from home.

Indian musicians Ganesh and Kumaresh Rajagopalan
Indian musicians Ganesh and Kumaresh Rajagopalan

The Mackintosh Church, one of Glasgow’s architectural landmarks brought together an audience of two cultures, as Ganesh and Kumaresh Rajagopalan took centre stage.

Kumaresh said: “Music is a great expression of joy and happiness.”

The celebration of traditional Celtic and international folk culture showcased Patsy Reid and the Trio AAB band kick-starting the show with Gaelic music, which swiftly moved into classical South Indian Carnatic music.

The musicians who have been playing since the age of seven and five added: “Indian music is a wonderful story of great individuals.

Kumareshji added: “In Indian music, we are taught to reflect on yourself, understand the art and express your reality through the art form.”

The strings on the violins vibrated throughout Glasgow’s renowned construction.

As one played, the other would hit his hand on his knee in the classical Carnatic way to keep up with the beats of the musical notes played by the other.

Playing back in at the correct time, the brothers played off each other in a range of tempos.

They shared their own expressions of happiness whilst reaching crescendos.

The percussion beats of the tabla drums soon joined in the performance, played by Anantha Krishnan. The hand movements got faster and faster to build a bigger dramatic climax.

The audience were intrigued by the play-offs between one another (the table and violin) and the re-collaboration of the rhythms getting faster in to one fine tune, bringing viewers in to an applaud and cheering after every musical piece, lasting approximately eight to ten minutes.

The two brothers who have played together for around 40 years believe “music and musicians are the soul of this world and without soul there is nothing.”

Live at Celtic Connections in Glasgow
Live at Celtic Connections in Glasgow

“Amongst the various diversities we see today, music is the only element that can bring people together, because it goes beyond language, beyond boundaries and beyond religion. It’s beyond everything. It’s just sound.”

At the heart of the South Indian performers, sound has been a fascinating topic and an ever-lasting passion, especially when hearing the same sounds regularly.

It has resulted in different expressions given by one person, depending on fluctuations of their mood.

The folk, roots and world music festival has been gathering over 2,000 musicians in concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops, and free events in around 20 Glaswegian venues in the last eight years. The global rich music market has helped the international appeal.

But what is it about this performance that has made the celebration of global music culture different from other performances?

Ganesh said: “We are going to bring an Indian understanding of music. When we play music, we connect with ourselves first. After connecting with ourselves, it is easier to connect with the audience and connect with the other musicians who are present on stage. It’s all about connections, that’s we are here today in Celtic Connections.”

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