Posted: 18 March 2006 at 9:12pm | IP Logged
This is an excerpt from what I read on Internet. For the full article, you can visit http://www.chembur.com/anecdotes/carnatic/ms.htm
Another MS achievement was that, virtually for the first time, she astonished the Westerner into an appreciation of Carnatic music. In the 1960s, the few Indian musicians known outside the country were Hindustani instrumentalists. In the Western world, hardly anyone knew of the complex Carnatic system, which was deemed inexportable. Why, even North Indians found it indigestible. In a conversation with Jawaharlal Nehru, Sadasivam remarked that the West might prefer instrumental to vocal music. "Yes," said Panditji, tapping his fingers. Then looking straight at MS he broke into a smile, "But not in YOUR case!" MS always adds, "By God's grace, what he said came true when I sang at the Edinburgh Festival, at the United Nations and at Carnegie Hall."
On the eve of a public concert in New York, U.N. Chef de Cabinet and Carnatic music expert C.V. Narasimhan was disquieted at the prospect of rejection by the redoubtable critic of the New York Times. He was to call ecstatically the next morning. "You have won. The press overflows with praise." So it did after everyone of the string of concerts that MS gave in the US and in some parts of Europe before all-white audiences, most of whom were strangers to any music from India.
The New York Times said: "Subbulakshmi's vocal communication trancends words. The cliche of 'the voice used as an instrument' never seemed more appropriate. It could fly flutteringly or carry on a lively dialogue with the accompanists. Subbulakshmi and her ensemble are a revelation to Western ears. Their return can be awaited with only eagerness." Dr. W. Adriaansz, Professor of Music, University of Washington, wrote: "For many, the concert by Mrs. Subbulakshmi meant their first encounter with the music of South India and it was extremely gratifying that in her the necessary factors for the basis of a successful contact between her music and a new audience - highly developed artistry as well as stage presence - were so convincingly present...without any doubt (she) belongs to the best representants of this music."
This writer witnessed that kind of wondrous rapture in Moscow when MS performed before a select group of Russian musicians and musicologists in 1988. Midway through the singing a woman came up with flowers. She touched her eyes first and then her heart to communicate her bursting feelings. That this was a shared experience became evident when the applause and the audience followed MS as she left the hall, down the staircase, to the car on the street, until she drove away.