Layatharanga marks 21st year with live concert

Bengaluru’s own contemporary classical ensemble performs today at Chowdiah Memorial Hall

One of the most prominent contemporary classical ensembles in India and the world, Layatharanga is known for its rhythmic exuberance. 

Having been in the industry for two decades now, the Bengaluru band’s music appeals to all age-groups. 

Ahead of a concert marking their 21st anniversary, Metrolife spoke to percussionist Pramath Kiran and ghatam player Giridhar Udupa about their eventful journey. 

How difficult is it to have an all-percussion band?

Giridhar: Arun Kumar, the drummer, and I were classmates from school. We were later joined by Pramath Kiran in college and then Ravichandra Kulur and Jayachandra Rao. Since then, we have been friends and part of the group. It is not actually very difficult to have an all-percussion band because for us, now, it’s more like friendship.
When our classmates used to go out and play cricket, we made and played music - it’s now like an everyday routine. All the band members are trained in Carnatic music, which makes it easier to adapt to any genre of music.    

Pramath: All of us have reached great heights in our own capacity. We have been playing together for 21 years. Over these years, each one of us has carved an individual path, while being a member of the band.  

What challenges do you face over the years?

Giridhar: It is a challenge to bring everyone together especially because we all are constantly on the move, playing with eminent musicians of the country. We try to incorporate these experiences of playing with great masters into our music in Layatharanga. 

Pramath: As musicians, we all have our individual commitments and therefore,  there have been times when we couldn’t perform together. However, nowadays, we try and push other things and focus on the band’s performances as much as we can. 

Tell us about the concert? 

Pramath: We have been producing different albums since 1999 — ‘Punarnava’, ‘Thandava’, ‘Pranava’, ‘Smriti’ and ‘Anandam’ — which were released both in India and abroad. The latest albums were ‘Smriti’ and ‘Anandam’, released in Europe, where they became chart toppers. We played at a number of concerts with that music.

This time, we are coming up with new music specially composed for this event. We have guest musicians Varun Pradeep, Vivek Santosh, Bruthva Caleb and Siddhartha Belmannu performing at this live concert.

What is special about the new music you have composed?

Pramath:  We are trying to bring in world music traditions like flamenco and European jazz in this concert. We will be playing some European jazz as well as Spanish traditional music. Layatharanga’s trademark is that we always have world music concepts along with Hindustani and Carnatic music. 

Thoughts about the music scene in Bengaluru?

Pramath: It is absolutely phenomenal. The audience here is receptive to new ideas and they always encourage new talent; of course, they have been encouraging us for many years now. It’s amazing how they can easily connect with each art form, even though it could be alien to them.   

 

* Layatharanga performs today at Chowdiah Memorial Hall from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm.

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