Latha Venkatraman

Mumbai, Jan. 23

INDIAN classical music, seemingly relegated to the background in the face of fierce competition from Bollywood and other music, continues to find a huge following among some students.

Indian Music Group (IMG), a St. Xavier's College organisation, continues to be hugely popular among its students who have been queuing up to be its volunteers.

"A music appreciation course this year had 100 students opting for it,'' said Dr Trilok Telang, a member of the governing board. Dr Telang was one of the first members of IMG, when it was established in 1973.

The idea to form this group was conceptualised by Father Lancy Pereira, then Principal of the college and two ex-students, Mr Chandu Kapadia and Mr Yusuf Gandhi.

"They came up with this idea and then spoke to Mr Zakir Hussain, who was then in his 20s. He agreed readily to do a lecture demonstration for the students of St Xavier's then along with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, who was also quite young then,'' says Dr Telang.

The IMG kicked off with small concerts mainly with its college students as audiences. One of the first corporate sponsor that came IMG's way was Aditya Birla Group. A few years down the line, Britannia Industries Ltd, came aboard as a sponsor and has been the sole corporate supporter for all these years.

The IMG has been organising a large number of programmes throughout the years, including music appreciation courses but its flagship events, Jan Fest, is the one that brings the IMG all the attention it deserves.

Over the last 31 years, the IMG's Jan Fest and its other programmes have featured maestros from the world of Hindustani and Carnatic music such as Ustad Alla Rakha Khan, M.S. Subbalakshmi, Pandit Malikarjun Mansur, Kumar Gandharva, Gangubai Hangal, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, D.K. Pattamal and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

Today, the IMG has a huge library of 2,500 hours of live performance of many of the artistes. It also has rare collections of CDs and old books on music that have gone out of print.

This year's Jan Fest features Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Parveen Sultana, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Jaytherth Mevundi and Kishore Amonkar.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 24, 2005)
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