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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Music festival ..........and .. ...... .. rotting apples !!

This is a post on ‘Apples’ (fruit) and Music season ! ~ what do you imagine ?


Utterance of Music season would take us to Carnatic music bonanza. There are so many famous  sabhas - The Madras Music Academy, The Indian Fine Arts Society, Tamil Isai Sangam, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Naradha Gana Sabha, Mylapore Fine Arts Club, Nungambakkam Fine Arts Academy, Rasika Ranjana Sabha, Sri Parthasarathi Swami sabha and more.  Some of the regulars include Sudha Raghunathan, Bombay Jayashree, Priya Sisters,  Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Sikkil Gurucharan, Padma Subramanian, Shashank Subrahmanyan, Malladi Brothers, Roja Kannan, Neyveli Santhana Gopalan, Aruna Sairam, Chitra Visweswaran, Dr. S Sowmya, Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and many  others.

Every December, Chennai witnesses the music season called the Margazhi festival, where classical music artists around the world get a chance to showcase their talent. More than 500 organisations put up over 2,000 music performances in the city.  No other city celebrates the December music season the way Chennai does. It is a marquee event, one that has people not just from the city, but from across the world, waiting in anticipation, and planning for months in advance.  The Margazhi Kutcheri season had its origin in the 1920s, when musicians residing in Chennai (then known as Madras) decided to dedicate the month of Margazhi to music and prayer. During those days, music was often in the form of devotional offerings commonly known as ‘nama sangeerthanam’ or ‘bhajans’. Over the years, Margazhi season has evolved into a comprehensive festival for performing arts. Junior artistes put up performances during the afternoons between 2 pm and 4 pm, while established and senior artistes give performances during the prime slot in the evenings between 6 pm and 8 pm. In certain cases, senior artistes may also be given the morning slot for their performances.  

Miles away, Somerset  has traditions of art, music and literature. William Wordsworth and Coleridge wrote while staying in Coleridge Cottage, Nether Stowey. Somerset  is a county in South West England that has Taunton too.  According to British,  human occupation here dates back to Paleolithic times, and of subsequent settlement by the Celts, Romans and Anglo-Saxons. For us, reference to Somerset is Cricket, more so – King Viv.  On June 1, 1985 Viv Richards plundered 322 runs in a single day against Warwickshire at Taunton.  Under Brian Rose,   Somerset won their first ever silverware by taking the Gillette Cup and the Sunday League in 1979. Controversy returned to Somerset in the mid-1980s. With the successful side ageing, new captain Peter Roebuck led the move to make changes and the overseas stars Viv Richards and Joel Garner were sacked, replaced by the New Zealander Martin Crowe. Ian Botham resigned from Somerset in protest and moved to Worcestershire.

In UK too there is music – at the top end of the scale is the world famous Glastonbury Music Festival. Reportedly  250,000 music lovers gather at Worthy Farm. In 2020, this incredible music festival will have been in existence for 50 years!  This festival doesn’t take place every year. The land and local residents are given a break every 5 years or so.  Glastonbury Festival  is a five-day festival of contemporary performing arts that takes place in Pilton, Somerset, in England. In addition to contemporary music, the festival hosts dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret, and other arts.  Regarded as a major event in British culture, the festival is inspired by the ethos of the hippie, counterculture, and free festival movements.   The festival's record crowd is 300,000 people, set at the 1994 festival, when headliners the Levellers performed a set on The Pyramid Stage.  There are some other festivals like : Shindig Weekender; the Bath Festival finale; Pub in the Park Royal Victoria Park in Bath;  Smoked and Uncut; ArcTanGent .. .

It is not about the festivals or names .. .. but the news that millions of apples will be left to rot and orchards chainsawed after cancellation of music festivals leaves cider lake undrunk.   The cancellation of music festivals this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to a huge surplus of cider which is devastating apple growers. Farmers in the West Country say that millions of cider apples that are now ready to be picked and pressed to make the traditional drink will be left to rot instead. The problem has been compounded by the vast amounts of left-over barrels and bottles of cider produced 12 months ago which have gone unsold and are collecting dust on shelves.

According to the owner of  Somerset Cider Brandy in Kingsbury Episcopi near Martock, Somerset,   his staff will produce about 50,000 gallons of cider this year, half of what they usually make.  The closure of festivals such as Glastonbury as well as pubs and restaurants led to demand for traditional apple cider to dry up this year.  One leading West Country cider producer fears some farmers will be hit so hard that may end up axing their apple orchards to grow other crops instead.  He said he is lucky as he can use the rest of the apples to make cider brandy which can last for years in barrels, but other farmers will have to bin their stock. He added: 'Normally at this time of the year the smell of apples hits you when you enter the village, but it will be a smell of rotten fruit this year.

Apple growers feel that this year is one of  the worst crises they have ever had – that is the economic effect of Corona virus.  'If you have apples in orchards that can't be sold then you will probably find the grower reaching for the chainsaw as they may as well grow barley instead and the world will be a poorer place for it. But on the plus side overwintering birds like thrushes and starlings will have a 'field day' this autumn by feasting on the rotten apples left on the ground.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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