The coronavirus is not interested in the arts. The auditoriums are empty. Amphitheatres are silent. The sound of alaap and the beat of anklets are missing from wooden stage floors. The guitars and drums are quiet. While the ticket counters stay unmanned, the artists are feeling the pinch both financially and creatively.
Though digital mediums have come up on YouTube, Zoom et al, getting a suitable audience is their predicament. ShowCase Studio, a digitally curated concept, which started operations during the lockdown has logged into the problem. They have stepped in as the guardian angel of the lesser-known indie musicians and folk artists. The heavy hitters are on their list too.
The brainchild of Nanni Singh, CEO of virtual and on-ground event management company ShowCase Events, it is not just another platform created to address the isolation between the audience, artists and art forms. “Our focus is on inviting popular Indian musicians who have stayed pure to their art forms, going beyond the rules without diluting or commercialising their work. They share in-depth knowledge about their art and musical instruments in each episode, which has attracted an audience looking for pure art,” says Singh.
As its first event, the Studio launched a unique virtual live talk show, ‘In Conversation’, inviting artists across genres to participate. They not only shared valuable information about their craft, but also performed their best-known works for the virtual audience. Hosted by music journalist Narendra Kusnur and Singh, the first season ended with rave reviews. It was a ticketed event that maintained that the guests were exclusive while ensuring a high level of engagement. Participating artist Sonam Kalra says, “The Studio is playing an important role for the music fraternity.
The survival and growth of an industry is dependent on members of the fraternity collaborating and growing together, and ShowCase is the perfect facilitator.” The first season invited 13 artists with a conversation full of trivia and anecdotes. The season culminated in a magnificent and well-curated finale with each artist performing their best-known pieces. The meticulous selection of the artists and thoughtful and educational questions posed by the ShowCase Studio team, have set the bar high for the next season, slated for mid-February. Affirms artist Dhanashree Pandit-Rai, “The questions by the hosts pushed me to express the nuances of my art form in a way I had never had a chance to do earlier.”
In the upcoming season, Singh promises to widen the scope by inviting more artists from varied genres. She established ShowCase Studio with the goal to promote outstanding work often overlooked by mainstream mediums. “We are grateful that artists across genres consider ShowCase Events their safe space and reach out to us often for help, conversations or simply to brainstorm,” she says. The Studio has gone the extra mile to launch a new vertical known as Artist’s Showcase.
As part of this initiative, talented yet under-the-radar artists are invited to perform live on the venture’s Facebook page for 30 minutes every Wednesday evening, thus enabling widespread promotion of their work. Unlike In Conversation, this series is available for public viewing without charges on the ShowCase Studio Facebook Page. The fundamentals of caring is visible in the Studio’s aesthetic aims.
The wide selection of guests on the show included Nathulal Solanki, the legendary Nagara folk artist from Pushkar; Sonam Kalra of the Sufi Gospel Project; the Niazi Nizami Brothers from the Nizamuddin Dargah known for the pure Sufi qawwali they perform; violinist Sunita Bhuyan from Assam; talented Thumri singer Dhanashree Pandit-Rai; upcoming flautist and singer Rasika Shekar; musical theatre artist Delna Mody seeking to popularise forgotten musical stage numbers; Utsav Lal, the famed raga pianist from the US; Sohini Roychowdhury, a renowned Bharatnatyam dancer; Ustad Fazal Qureshi, the legendary tabla maestro; Ambi Subramaniam, son of renowned violinist Dr L Subramaniam, who presented a fusion form of the Indian classical violin; popular Naga folk music ambassadors, the Tetseo Sisters; and Dhruv Sangari, or Bilal Chishty as he is also known, popular proponent of the art form, Sufi qawwali.
Catch It Here
Watch the previous season of In Conversation by requesting access from ShowCase Studio on their social media pages. The episodes are available on a pay per view basis as well as through a season pass which can be bought for a discounted price.