For twelve hours of divine music and dance, years of patient labour Doctoral scholar Prabhu Venkatachalam, key organizer of ‘Yamini 2019’, takes us behind the scenes to tell us what it takes to bring Indian classical artistes of world renown to a dusk-to-dawn concert, under the stars at IIMB, year after year

28 January, 2019: It was an unusually cold Republic Day morning in 2013. At 3:00 am, a Dhrupad concert was in progress, and some of my friends and I settled in eagerly awaiting Bombay Jayashree who had just then been nominated for the Oscars for her rendition in the movie – Life of Pi. Her concert was short due to the severity of the weather, but there was something about the experience that morning which left a profound impression. The initial push to attend Yamini was an opportunity to visit the lush campus and listen to ‘BJ’ sing, but the timing, the cold weather, the bonfires and the open skies made you forget everything else and naturally took you into a deeply meditative state where the music came alive within.

From spectator to organizer

I joined IIMB two years later for the doctoral program and have ever since been involved in organizing Yamini. Yamini is a deep and enriching experience for many. When one enters in the evening, the initial hour or so may feel like any other concert. But as one settles down and gets acclimatized, everything else gradually numbs down – even hunger. As midnight sets in, one becomes closer with the starry skies and is comforted by the feeble heat emanating from the bonfires, both of which add to the musical atmosphere in making one go through a mystic experience. The early morning is probably the ‘runner’s high’ in Yamini, when one is fully absorbed, and there is nothing but mental calm and spiritual happiness. One feels refreshed, often even negating the need to sleep immediately after.

Many, whom I have spoken to, over the years, have expressed how Yamini at IIMB has become a yearly ritual for them, and it is perhaps this experience which keeps bringing them back irrespective of the line-up. In a city like Bangalore where experiences such as this are rare, it gives me great happiness that I can be a part of a like-minded and enthusiastic team in creating such a mystic and spiritual experience for the hundreds of musical seekers who come to our campus each year.


Team effort

The core team from IIMB comprises 14 PGP students, with Kalpajyoti Moran as the Secretary and Aditi Jain as the Treasurer this year, and a couple from other long-duration programmes lead by our faculty co-ordinator Prof. Sreelata Jonnalagedda, faculty in the Marketing area at IIMB. We, along with SPICMACAY and their vast network,  begin at least eight months in advance to explore art forms that we do not get to see/hear regularly in Bangalore and also think of a mix of artistes, from the very senior to recent Sangeet Natak Yuva Puraskar Awardees whom we can launch at IIMB for SPICMACAY.

For us, as students, the learning is multi-faceted. From familiarising ourselves with various art forms, putting together the infrastructure for the event to raising funds – there are several elements that cannot be learnt in our ordinary course of activities. We get to know each other in the team better and interact more closely with the IIMB administration, who encourage us and take great interest, providing a different perspective and making the bond with the institution more complete.

The close and personal interaction with the artistes, gives us a peek into their world and the interactions are humbling. Their discipline, rigour and, passion are what sustains the art and truly sets them apart. Our knowledge about various facets of Indian culture in general and each art form in particular is very personal since it is hands-on and learning like this is not only inspirational and integrative but can never easily be forgotten. There is also the odd and rare possibility of accompanying artistes when they practice or even at a concert.

On-stage magic

I had an impromptu opportunity to fill in for another artiste and play Ghatam at the concert for Padma Bhushan awardee Prof. TN Krishnan, an almost impossible and unimaginable event!

This year’s Yamini, the 16th in succession, witnessed a spectacular turnout. We had an Assamese dance form – Sattriya – by Padma Shri awardee Ghanakanta Bora; a Carnatic violin duet by the famous Lalgudi duo – GJR Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi accompanied by the illustrious Prof. Trichy Sankaran on the Mridangam; a power-packed and creatively planned Hindustani vocal concert by Manjusha Patil; a mellifluous Sarod recital in the wee hours by Debasish Bhattacharya; and the grand finale with a Carnatic vocal duet by the acclaimed Trichur brothers. The delectable combination was twelve hours of sheer bliss that left everyone with a unique aftertaste.

(If you are working/studying/living in campus and would like to be a part of our activities in promoting classical music and dance, please reach out to us at

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