A Peek into Anna Salai's Musical History - the Hindu

Who would have thought, that the business district of Mount Road would be a repository of musical instruments dating from 2000 years ago to today and into the future? The three places city historian Nivedita Louis took us to on a rainy evening, put us in touch with this strand of musical history - of the inventive genius behind ancient instruments, how technology took music to the masses and how we have assimilated western instruments into our traditions.Sangita Vadyalaya, Vasan StreetSangita Vadyalaya, the little-known research centre for music tells you how our ancients used leather, string and pure air to create rhythm and melody. Established in the 1960s, it houses 200-odd "recreated" instruments - "the result of the pain and sweat of over 70 artisans who toiled for years to bring them all to life," said Louis. Mentored by musicologist Prof. Sambamurthy, it has 15 varieties of yazhs, the harp used by Samudra Gupta seen embossed in his gold coin of 4CE, the rare tribal thanthi-paanai, saz-e-Kashmiri (mentioned in 10th C AD by theorist Al Farabi), tuntina - played with élan by bhil/kukhna/worli tribals, pranava ghanta, the walking-stick violin, tenth-century chola kudamuzha whose 5 faces are played at the Thiyagaraja Swamy temple, Indonesian violin with coconut shell, surya-chandra parai, Andhra's single-stringed Jamudikathe, thirteenth-century sarangadara, the kinneri, the three-faced mud drum that has a distinct "boom", the Mizo darkhuang dar (gongs), swarnamandal (Indian harp) that set the tune for the Beatles number Strawberry Feels Forever, udumbu-skinned kanjira you heard in Paartha gnabakam illaiyo, vichitra/rudhra/narayana veenas and the villadivadyam used in villupattu performances. Two of Prof. Sambamurthy's prized possessions are here - his radio-sruti box and the revolving tanpura designed by him. Both work perfectly!Land for the centre was donated by Tadepalli Lokanadha Sharma, once Director of the Vadyalaya, said Louis. Sharma recreated and played the Kudumiyanmalai music inscription on the veena. It had 40 researchers, but is now cared-for by the lone S. Gopal (9962907248), who takes the mini-instruments for workshops in schools.TorvinWiry, soft-spoken M. John Thankachan has been designing, developing and servicing audio systems for 32 years now. "Technology has made music accessible to all," he observed, pointing to the effect Edison's phonograph had on the musical world. Audio systems have evolved from gramophone to blue-ray-enabled phones and Thankachan's research, development and servicing unit has been part of this tech story. He can fix and customise any audio system you bring to his store. "Have followed 'Make-in-India" for four decades," he said.But we are here to view his interesting collection of unusual, rare, unheard-of audio systems that he keeps locked in a backroom. You'll see valve-based working audio amplifier, pumpkin-sized microphones (about 60 years old), Bush Station Master valve-radio with names of stations (instead of frequencies) printed on the dial, spool tape-recorder, turntable that produces sound without electric power, laser disk-player. "Add the vinyl records and audio-cassette ensemble - this place is crying to be converted to a museum," said Arulnambi, MA, the techie in the group.Musée MusicalTwo things catch your eye when you enter the Musée Musical yard: the huge tree against the wall and the height of the ceiling. Not much is known about the tree, but the ceiling hides a story.Portuguese piano-tuner Wallace Misquith opened his shop on Mount Road in 1842 for servicing pianos and organs. Misquith and Co. grew popular enough to open 16 branches in a short span. Unfortunately, he fell ill and closed down all stores except the one in Chennai. Wallace died in 1888, leaving the company to his son Willie, who taught and mended pianos. Records talk of the first floor being used for Chun King - first Chinese restaurant in Madras, and a Cohen showing movies in 1907. In 1930, the French owner Edgar Prudhomme named it Musée (treasure house), and after him the place became the stable for the Parthasarathy temple elephants, which explains the high ceiling. Musée Musical relocated into this building sometime in the 1930s, when Amy de Rozario, a piano-teacher-turned-director was in charge.Giridhar Das, a director of the company since 1920, took over from Amy de Rozario in 1942. In 1956, his son Haricharan Das inherited it. Musée Musical, which sold pianos and organs expanded to manufacture, service and sale of pianos, violins, guitars, and drums, before adding Indian instruments. With their pianos adorning Rajaji Hall, Raj Bhavan and most churches, library of vintage music and their work with the Madras Musical Association, Musée Musical has established strong bonds with Chennai's western music scene. Their tie-up with the Trinity College of Music, London, which began in 1901, has seen annual enrolment grow exponentially. AR Rahman, GV Prakash, L. Subramanian, Veena Balachandar, Karaikudi Mani - the list of celebrities Musée Musical has fostered is endless.The place is worth a visit for its stunning restoration alone. The sweeping staircase and carved-wood catwalks highlight the three floors of exhibits - among them a free-reed English concertina made-to-order in 1888 for Misquith, the banquet table used by QE II, a wooden duct-flute recorder, march-drums, sliding/valve trombones, antique violins, double bass, rebec, and the fiddle mentioned in the pioneering handbook Epitome Musical. From veenas to coconut-shell kapas, brass castanets, shakers, pambais, cuban bongos, esraj (variant of dilruba), cajon, the west-African Djembe, rainstick (invented by Mapuches of Chile), there isn't much you will not find here.Nivedita Louis on the proposal to shift Vadyalaya to Delhi."I can't but feel anguish over the 200-odd musical instruments being carted away to the capital. I have been a regular visitor to this place and it now seems the move is imminent. Here lies our link to the musical past, under constant threat of eviction from the very city that created it. It is the bounden duty of the music fraternity to sit up, take notice and ensure it stays in the city."

A Peek into Anna Salai's Musical History - the Hindu 1

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Hopeful Is Taken by Banquet Table
SARATOGA SPRINGS. N.Y., Aug. 28-C. V. Whitney's favored Banquet Table and his jockey, Jean Cruguet, had a profitable reunion today at the closing session of Saratoga's 24‐day meeting when they combined to capture the 72d running of the Hopeful Stakes.Under the able guidance of the French rider, Banquet Table turned in an impressive performance in heating Willian 0. Hicks's Turn of Coin in the $85,575, 6½‐furlong contest by a length. Elberon Farm's P.R. Man was an outdistanced third, six lengths behind Turn of Coin.A burhper crop of 13 juvenile colts turned out for the fixture, which this year in particular was considered a barometer for those 2‐yearolds who may he considered as the best in their division. Until today, it was felt no outstanding candidate for the juvenile championship had emerged.This afternoon, however, with 23,595 fans on hand despite heavy skies, the $7.40‐for‐$2 Banquet Table established himself as the leader in his division. To reach this niche, however, the Whitney color‐bearer had to outlast Turn of Coin in a tense stretch duel that had the crowd roaring.The choice, one of six colts in the event‐ wearing mud caulks, was clocked in 1:16 1/5 over the wet, but fast, strip. He was a top contender throughout, racing in the second spot behind Llangollen's First Pretense during the early going and then taking the lead (and holding it) the far turn.For Cruguet, the winning ride was particularly gratifying because ailing Jacinto Vasquez had become the colt's regular rider, winning with him in the Great American at Belmont, last fune and in the Saratoga Special earlier at the local meeting.With Vasquez sidelined, the Frenchman became the replacement.It was Cruguet, who first brought Banquet Table to the winners' circle in the colt's debut in a maiden event last May. In that race and in the next one-also under Cruguet's guidance-Banquet Table had not shown gateleaving speed.Today, however, the Whitney performer left barrier as if jet propelled. The speedy departure was a surprise to Cruguet."He really surprised me the way he broke and ran early," the jockey said. "When I first got to know him he was slow to get under way, lazy maybe. But today he wanted to run from the start, and I wasn't about to throw him down."All Cruguet did once he found himself alone in the stretch with Turn of Coin running on the inside of him was to "shake my mount up."Angel Cordero, who had the leg up on Turn of Coin-he Vras sent to the post as the second choice-made a valiant effort to try to pass his rival in the straightaway."My colt tried hard," said Cordero, who had three winners on the card. "In fact, he got his head in front at the quarter pole. But Banquet Table wasn't giving up."The victory, worth $51,345, increased Banquet Table's lifetime earnings to $110,319. It enabled Cruguet to round out a successful meeting with a big triumph that was worth about $5,100 to him.With all entries carrying similar weights of 122 pounds, the contest catapulted Banquet Table and Turn of Coin to the top of the juvenile division-at least for the time being. First Pretense, who had shown such great early speed, finished last. As for the rest of the field, it provided no challenge for the first two finishers.New York's major racing scene now shifts to Belmont Park, where a 48‐day meeting starts on Monday. The big items on the opening program will be two divisions of the Fall Highweight Handicap.El Rosillo VictorMIAMI, Aug. 28 (AP) - El Rosillo rolled to victory today in the $29,500 Meadowland Handicap at Calder, 3½ lengths ahead of the favored Lightning Thrust, with Latin Leader third, four lengths off the pace.Ridden by Mike Rivera, El Rosillo ran 1 1‐16 miles on the grass in 1:42 2‐5 and paid $9.20, $3.60 and $3.
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