In conversation with Mala Sekhri, Musiconcepts (India Music Summit)

Raymond MTV India Music Summit saw its 3rd edition at The Fairmont, Jaipur in October. This summit is a congregation of music enthusiasts who come together under one venue to interact and engage with one another.

Mala Sekhri, Co-Founder, Musiconcepts, on behalf of the team, talks about India Music Summit 2019, challenges, how they choose their line-up, and plans for the 2020 summit!

With the wrapping up of the third edition of IMS, what were some of your biggest achievements?

It is heartening to see the way the audiences have responded to IMS 2019. The audience size has more than tripled with people thronging all possible concerts / chats or master classes. It is a great achievement that we had a full packed hall for an Asha Bhosle Chat and also for Sunanda Sharma’s Classical concert. The master classes which are held at a separate venue are also full. The biggest achievement of the summit has been to get people to seek , find and discover  different genres of music under one roof where the decision to attend what is left to the people who come there – as they are spoilt for choices with so much on offer. Our stated mission to reduce the distance between the stage and the audience has been largely been achieved mainly because of the way the Summit has been structured with informal interactions between the audiences and the artists.

Tell us about some of the challenges you face while creating the line-up for the summit

With so much talent in our country – it is always difficult to decide what to leave out rather than what to put in. Which is why you find a musical abundance of riches at the summit. Keeping the balance between genres – as well as keeping the underlying principle to be one of excellence is always a concern. Ek Sacha Sur – our tagline is at the back of our minds all the time and we try and stay true to that. It is also a challenge to curate performances which are exclusive to the summit as they have to be conceptualised and then commissioned to the relevant artists. With all of the above however, I have to say that the musicians are willing to experiment and respond very positively to new ideas some of which have been seen over the last 3 editions.

What is your biggest aim through this summit?

Our biggest aim here is to create a significant platform for our rich heritage and all genres of Music where the audience commits their time for 2-3 days to hear, seek, learn, talk and discover music. All those who come to the summit have committed that time towards this deep immersion into music – something that is very difficult to achieve when people lead such busy lives. The aim to develop discerning musical audiences who are able to take in what’s on offer and also to get the musicians to delve deep into their learning and creativity and offer performances which are special. Classical and folk music take centre stage at the summit.

How do you think the audience reactions and behaviour has changed since the first year?

To start with there are more numbers. Also the profile of the audience is what is amazing to see – there are people coming from all over from South Africa to Nasik from Pune to Bhopal. And Jaipur has responded well. Such a big cultural initiative is bringing people from all over who are ready to invest their time and money and they then like to experience all aspects of the summit from early morning sessions to the master classes, to films, late night sessions and even the food. The commitment of time is a big deal these days and we find that people are willing to make that investment if you make it worth their while. Also to see audiences enjoying the nuances of classical music with full halls for Carnatic music (especially in North India) is really something special.

You had a stellar line up this year in terms of performances. How important do you think it is to combine and bring artists of different genres together on one single stage?

People are not uni-dimensional in their taste for music. If you give them an opportunity to listen to different things, they respond. The mistake often made is when we try and judge what we think the audiences will respond to. That’s not how human reactions work. The very nature of man is to seek and find. If your intent is pure and you offer the “excellence factor”, no matter what genre it is – people will respond. Music is ingrained in our very DNA as a country. So it’s really important to give people that access in order for them to discover, rediscover and/or find their musical quotient.

People do tell us that they find it difficult to attend two great sessions happening at the same time in different venues. Is there a way this can be addressed in the coming editions?

Well – nothing about discovery is convenient. You have to make a choice – as you choose from a great gourmet menu at a restaurant. You cannot order everything. It is this very process that leaves you asking for more, seeking more and feeling that your musical journey is not complete. While we do understand that people want to see everything, the musical energy that is produced in having simultaneous sessions where people go from one to the other and make a choice is something special. I have seen people give up on their lunch, dinner and breakfast in order to be on time for a session. That is really gratifying. Having said that- the schedule will be looked at to ensure that people find it easier to attend some of the bigger concerts without a conflict.

What can the summit goers look forward to in the year 2020?

A lot of new things. New talent – that needs to be discovered, new concepts, more venues. Will be revealed closer to the date.

Your message to the people who couldn’t make it for this year’s summit

If you are a music lover and could not make it in 2019 – watch this space for information on IMS 2020 – Your musical journey doesn’t get better than this. This is a musical movement – join it.