Hope Trust Advertising Agency’s studio set-up lends cultural organisations its infrastructure and technical expertise for digital concerts
The stage is set for a veena concert on the fifth floor of Hope Trust Advertising office in Lakdikapul, Hyderabad. Veena player Subhashini Sastry, accompanied by Peravali Jaya Bhasker on mridangam and B Janardhan on ghatam, takes centre stage. Ananda Mohan Voruganti who organised the show and is a founder of city-based Sangeetha Ksheera Sagaram cultural organisation introduces the artistes virtually. A few minutes later, the multi-camera livestreams classical music on the YouTube channel HopeadTV.
How it started
HopeadTV was launched last year to make videos and create content for social change, informs Hope Trust’s managing director K Srinivas Rao. Driven by Srinivasa Rao’s interest in music, the channel collaborated with the cultural organisation Sujanaranjani to stream recorded renditions of Annamayya and Ramadasu kirtanas by young singers. These classical renditions were interspersed with an explanation of the gist of each song by Sujanaranani’s founder Mahidhara Seeta Rama Sarma. “Since the office included multi-cameras, studio lights and video mixer (used for their ad films), the singers used to come to the office and shoot,” recalls Sarma.
During the pandemic, the channel came to the rescue of cultural organisations which do not have the infrastructure and technical support to host digital concerts. “We had to close in the initial lockdown months and shoots resumed since June; only four artistes and three staff members, to operate the equipment, were allowed,” informs Srinivasa Rso. The events were initially free but now the company collects ₹10,000 (includes GST) to shoot and live stream the two-hour event. He says, “Besides four cameras, mixer and console system, we use the high internet leased line to shoot and stream the events. When videos are shot through WhatsApp video, the audio is sometimes jarring; the phone picks up voices of people at a distance. So we charge a small fee towards the maintenance of equipment and to pay conveyance to our employees who are putting in extra work for these videos.”
Cultural organisations like Sampradaya, Vignana Samithi, Sangeetha Ksheera Sagaram, Silicon Andhra, Sanskriti Foundation, South Indian Cultural Association, Hari Hara Kshetram and Swara Vahini Cultural Trust have been using the channel’s services and hosting monthly concerts. Since June, the channel has made 60 videos and streamed more than 20 live shows on its YouTube channel and Facebook.
Going digital is the way forward for Carnatic music, observes Seeta Rama Sarma: “Digital performance has widened the performer and audience reach. Musicians are exploring the medium and changing with the times to reach audiences across the globe,” he says.
Passionate about classical music, 85year-old Anand calls the channel a god-given gift. “For someone who used to organise concerts with pension money, hosting a digital concert with that studio set-up is next to impossible. I do not have that kind of money, to buy the equipment,” he says. Anand hopes to hold the 500th concert of Sangeetha Ksheera Sagaram by December. He adds, “I curate the show and give directions to artistes over the phone. I give my feedback on a trial recording sent through WhatsApp. The streaming begins with my introduction of the performers.”
N Rajasekhar of South Indian Cultural Organisation (SICA) says, “This pandemic period has made a big difference to cultural organisations especially those serving classical music. Digital concerts are beneficial not only in entertaining the rasikas (cultural connoisseurs) but also provide some employment to artistes who are solely dependent on music.”