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Naad Bhed: Classical Music Reality TV Coming to India

By James Inverne on Jul 19, 2013 02:00 AM EDT

Classical music boffs tend to be sniffy about reality TV shows.

In some ways that's fair enough; classical musicians spend a lifetime perfecting their technical abilities and striving towards ever-deeper artistic sensibilities. Reality TV shows tend to make stars rather than artists, and furthermore stars who have a shelf life of about a minute--so, not really stars at all in the true sense of the word.

Almost anyone can look larger than life with the spotlight of a nation shining on them. And yet...

There have been some worthy attempts to use the power of television to spread the good word about great (classical) music.

In France, conductor John Axelrod saw competing families aspiring on mainstream TV to join his Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire in his self-composed Concerto for Family and Orchestra.

In the U.K., memories remain fond of the well-executed Classical Star, while choirmaster Gareth Malone's successive series have reeled in British Academy Awards, an Emmy and even a Christmas No. 1 on the pop charts.

Now, India is to launch its own classical reality show, entitled Naad Bhed: The Mystery of Sound.

That it is masterminded by the Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth makes it sound rather stodgily worthy, but on the other hand, maybe that will mean it has its priorities straight. To start with, only musicians with at least four years' playing experience need apply, and they even need a certificate from their teacher.

The show will look for two grand winners under the age of 26 (who will be awarded roughly $15,000 each) as well as category winners--instrumentalists, accompanists and singers from the two styles of Indian classical music, Hindustani and Carnatic.

Classical music is a burgeoning art form in India, if undergoing nothing like the revolution it has enjoyed in that other great emerging economy, China. But the parallels between Indian religious music, its indigenous classical and Western classical are fairly strong.

A growing middle class is showing signs of interest, and some of the hugely popular Bollywood composers--notably A.R. Rahman, "the Mozart of Madras" as he is known--are classically-trained and influenced.

What India still misses are many international classical stars (with the honorable exceptions of Zubin Mehta and a few others) and world-renowned orchestras.

N.B. To all Classicalite readers in India, applications for Naad Bhed: The Mystery of Sound must be received by the end of July.

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TagsJames Inverne, Naad Bhed, The Mystery of Sound, Spic Macay, Doordarshan, John Axelrod, Gareth Malone, Hindustani, Carnatic, A.R. Rahman, Zubin Mehta

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