Geo Answer and Global Hit

Today's Geo Quiz takes us to the fourth largest city in India.

7-and-half-million Indians live and work in this seaport on the Coromandel Coast. The city is also the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

The traditional Music and Dance Season is now underway here. Hundreds of public performances are attracting crowds at concert halls and Hindu temples around the city.

Most performances feature Carnatic music. That's a classical style of South Indian music. You might know this city by its former, Portuguese name.

Or you might know it by the name it took in 1996.

Either way, we'll have the answer...and some music...right here

We're finishing today's program in the southeastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu for the answer to our Geo Quiz today. We hope you answered Chennai.

The city's former name was Madras. The city as we said is a big business center. But this time of year, it's the musical culture that's the focus of attention. Chennai hosts what it calls the Music Season from early December through January. The city is bursting with concerts.

Over the course of the music season, from 7 in the morning through 10 at night, Chennai hosts over a thousand music and dance performances at more than 30 venues. It started in 1927, when the Madras Music Academy was founded. The Music Season began then as a way to honor the academy.

Today, musicians and dancers pour in to Chennai from all over India and across the world. They mostly perform carnatic music, the classical music of south India.

And Chennai is the hub for carnatic music. Sujatha Vijayaraghavan is a writer and former musician and dancer. At her home in Chennai's bustling city center, she says the Music Season used to be pretty orthodox until about ten years ago. That's when a group of younger musicians took the lead in expanding the music's reach to new audiences...by simple marketing, they made it hip.

?This kind of fun, the camaraderie that was probably lacking earlier. So these youngsters they made it very??

Today the Music Season in Chennai is very much the "in thing." The younger musicians went to great lengths to open up the concerts to emerging and experimental artists. And Vijayaraghavan says the Music Season is now more like a music lab for the artists.

?There is a lot of interaction; they could listen to a lot of music, they could see a lot of dance. It is like living in a community of artists, so you get to see and listen more. So the art moves, moves forward all the time.?

Bombay Jayashree is one of the artists who's come to Chennai. She's a big name in carnatic music. She's also a big name singer in the Tamil film industry. Here's Jayashree at one of her recent Music Season performances in Chennai.

One of the musicians who came to Chennai from afar is Rudresh Mahanthappa. He's a sax player and composer based in Brooklyn and has collaborated with carnatic music masters in the past. While in Chennai, Mahanthappa takes in two or three shows a day.

?It's just amazing, to just feel this buzz, every auditorium you walk into. Some of these auditoriums are really nice and some of them are really, really run down. And it just kinda doesn't matter. Cause the audience is there to really listen and the musicians - it's like everyone is here to totally throw down.?

The ambition of the artists is heightened by the fact that ultimately it's the audience that judges them. Here's Sujatha Vijayaraghavan again.

?Every season throws up 2 or 3 youngsters of great promise. And the crowd keeps watching for them. So next year they say so let's go and listen to them again. See whether he's made a progress since last year. And if he doesn't really prove himself, okay there'll be somebody else.?

The Chennai Music Season wraps up this week. But don't worry. Next year, if you are so inspired, you too can be part of the excitement of Chennai's karnatic music scene. That'll do it for us today.

Thanks to Allison Lichter who provided production assistance for our story on Chennai.

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