I have grown up in Bangalore surrounded by music, exposed to artists, concerts, musicians, at a very young age. My mother, herself having learnt music and sung since her early days, encouraged me to explore music. Dhaani Singhal
I started learning Hindustani classical music at the age of four with her guru and soon after, Sa Re Ga Ma became a fond nursery rhyme. I was old enough to follow the notes and repeat after, but too young to truly comprehend the meaning and weightiness of them. I sang on stage at guru purnimas, to small audiences on annual days and with peers for festivals. All of these opportunities fostered my love for music.
As I grew up, developing my own liking and preference for certain genres, I moved on to learning western pop music. Very quickly, I found my ground there and continued pursuing it. It is something I am learning up to this day. Over the years, I have taken Trinity exams, participated in competitions, sung with acapella groups on stage and much more – and I have loved every bit of it. However, something I kept pondering on as a learner was, “what should I do next? Where should I go next? What is the next step? How can I take my art to the next level?”
I found that music was an undefined path. One had to traverse it without knowing if they were moving forward or trailing the same path again and again. This is where the idea of SIFF Young Artiste came into being.
Young Artiste was created to fill this lack of structure in each arts student’s learning journey. The purpose was to create a national standard and platform that a student of any of these classical and contemporary art forms could participate in.
The initial days of starting up were filled with ambiguity about the shape this platform would take. Eventually with a small yet highly motivated team, we were able to define the 20 different art forms, the competition and scholarship program and the entire process and journey that the participants would take. We intensely debated and established the fundamental principles – like each art form not being compared to another, free entry would and wide availability to students from all socio-economic backgrounds and the rigorous and objective evaluation that would be nurturing and motivating. The idea was not to find the next superstar, but to foster the growth and potential of many student artistes across the country.
Another challenge was to give Young Artiste a nationally reputed stature right from inception. We did this by reaching out to highly acclaimed veterans in the field of music and dance and garnered their endorsement by communicating our vision to them. As a young girl, I was not used to walking into a meeting with stalwarts and to conduct a conversation at their level. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much my idea resonated with them. They had themselves all been young artistes struggling to establish themselves in their younger years, and this felt like a much-needed platform to encourage the next generation of artistes.
A rewarding journey
Starting with a simple idea and bringing it to reality is a challenging but rewarding process. Unexpected twists and turns come along the way. A couple of months after launching, we moved into the Covid lockdown, which forced us to execute completely through online channels. It also opened up new opportunities for students to come and be a part of it. Many students told us that during the lockdown, participating in Young Artiste was the one thing that kept their spirits high. They were able to practice art in a healthy ecosystem and build a network of artists from across the country. It was also inspiring to watch this spectacular talent come forth – there were students who were completely self-taught, some travelled large distances to go and learn and many sacrificed other material gains to stay with their art. It became so clear how much art can add to our lives. This only motivates me to keep working in this space to take this idea further.