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HCL Digital Concerts Launches A Talent Platform For Indian Classical Artists

Including jury members such as sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee and sarod siblings Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash, 36 artists are part of the series

Rolling Stone India Nov 26, 2019

Noted sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee is part of HCL Digital Concerts' panel for selecting new talent from Indian classical music. Photo: Courtesy of HCL

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Where the guru and shishya tradition of Indian classical music was the standard practice, there’s now slowly more than oral tradition that aims to preserve the country’s music roots. Technology company HCL – who have been running HCL Concerts for the last 21 years – have launched a new platform to identify and promote Indian classical music, fusion, pop, Sufi and dance.

The HCL Digital Concert series – for which applications are now open – will shortlist 36 artists and get them into “capacity building” in the online sphere. Rohit Kaul, head of HCL Concerts, says, “We thought about what we can do to build a bridge between audiences and younger artists. It’s a talent identification and nurturing platform.” The winnings include not just performances that get streamed out via HCL Concerts’ platforms, but also social media training, a video and audio portfolio, their own website and more. Kaul adds, “It’s a completely non-commercial initiative. There’s no revenue we’re going to generate from this. When the artists perform, we do take an IPRS license. All content ownership lies with the artist ultimately.”

With 12 concerts to be held through out the year featuring three artists each, four HCL Digital Concert editions have already taken place, with more being rolled out. From the internally selected group of 36 artists, nine will be picked by jury members including sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee, sarod artists Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash and others to perform at offline concerts at big stages. Amongst the selected artists so far are Bengaluru-based slide guitarist Prakash Sontakke, Pune fusion band Idanim, santoor veteran Dr. Varsha Agarwal, sarod artist Sayak Barua and more.

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Chatterjee, who serves as jury, says he was drawn to the idea of digitalization as well as the series format. “We come from a very interesting generation – we’re at the crossroads – we’ve seen tapes, CDs, vinyl, MP3 players, we’ve seen Steve Jobs launch the iPod and now even that’s not current. Everyone has music on their phones now. One thing that I think was lacking was archiving – because ours was an oral tradition. It was passed down from guru to shishya and then when the shishya became a guru – there was some written material, but there wasn’t much recorded material until recently.” He’s very clear that this isn’t any kind of reality show or a competition – applying artists will continually be selected for the final shortlist of nine – that is finally representing Indian artists. Chatterjee says “Each one of the artists is going to have their own audience.”

Find more details on HCL Digital Concerts here.


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