Why Every Classical Music Fan Should Experience A House Concert Once In Their Lifetime

October 15, 2021 0 Comments

Sometimes in the great soundtrack of our lives there are no words, there are only emotions; I believe this is why God gave us classical music.


There’s no doubt that 2020 and 2021 have been strange years, to say the least. Coronavirus has turned the whole world on its head and has paralysed most of the modern world. There isn’t one industry that hasn’t been affected by it, and it’s effects on the music industry have been catastrophic. Not only the local Indian but the global music scene has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, as both small shows and huge concerts everywhere have been canceled indefinitely.

And with live in person music concerts  being projected to not resume until end of 2021 at the earliest, musicians have had to be more creative when it comes to performing and sharing their craft with the world. The internet has become one of the most popular mediums for music during the pandemic. Concerts have moved into the digital space, allowing audiences from all over the world to enjoy music from the comforts of their own homes. 

History Of Music Concerts

Listening to live music is something that used to be ubiquitous in western and Indian culture, before recorded music was widespread. Early western music was performed commonly as “house concerts”; even Mozart used the format. In the period of the Renaissance and Baroque, especially in the 16th century, all secular music was performed in a chamber of the nobleman’s home, and thus called chamber music. Only in the 17th century did it come to mean either secular or religious music and only in the time of Beethoven and later were halls built specifically for public concerts. Even into the 20th century, chamber music was performed in home concerts.

If Music is a Place — then Jazz is the City, Folk is the Wilderness, Rock is the Road, Classical is a Temple.

Vera Nazarian

Like all art forms in Indian culture, Indian classical music is believed to be a divine art form which originated from the Devas and Devis (Hindu Gods and Goddesses) and is venerated as symbolic of nada brahman. Ancient treatises also describe the connection of the origin of the swaras or notes, to the sounds of animals and birds and man’s effort to simulate these sounds through a keen sense of observation and perception. The Sama Veda which is believed to have laid the foundation for Indian classical music, consists of hymns from the Rigveda, set to musical tunes which would be sung using three to seven musical notes during Vedic yajnas. 

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Carnatic music was mainly patronised by the local kings of the Kingdom of Mysore, Kingdom of Travancore and the Maratha rulers of Tanjore. Some of the royalty of the kingdoms of Mysore and Travancore were themselves noted composers and proficient in playing musical instruments, such as the veena, rudra veena, violin, ghatam, flute, mridangam, nagaswara and swarabhat. Some famous court musicians proficient in music were Veene Sheshanna (1852–1926) and Veene Subbanna (1861–1939), among others.

During the late 19th century, the city of Chennai, then known as Madras, emerged as the locus for Carnatic music. With the dissolution of the erstwhile princely states and the Indian independence movement reaching its conclusion in 1947, Carnatic music went through a radical shift in patronage into an art of the masses with ticketed performances organised by private institutions called sabhas. 

The 114 chakras, the 84 yoga poses and the 84 ragas of Indian classical music all work together to bring melody in life.

Amit Ray

Present : Digitised, Democratised Music  

The music industry has witnessed a rise in democracy in the 21st century, both in terms of how artists write and record their content, and how we as listeners consume it. The growing affordability of music technology over the past ten years has allowed artists to work in the confines of their own homes. Many musicians are now granted the opportunity to build their own fanbase without the help of a label, mainly through social media. As a result, consumers stream music from a variety of places (Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube (free), Spotify and others). 

There’s no denying the huge impact of modern streaming, and how this era brings about instant music democratisation and how it has influenced the artist’s creative process sans royal or wealthy patronage. The unsurpassed reach of the internet and the emergence of data technologies have transformed virtually every aspect of the music industry – from music creation and recording to distribution and monetization. Throughout the rise of the digital economy, the world’s biggest music labels have survived wave after wave of dizzying disruption and the latest wave to hit them – artists propelling their own career outside of traditional label environments – all thanks to the empowering nature of data and new technology.

Also disrupting the power and control of the big labels is a new generation of social media stars who see themselves as their own CEO and are experts in something the labels can’t teach them – how to cultivate an immediate and authentic relationship with their fans – who they acknowledge as their very own “shareholders”. This is an era where artists are empowered like never before.

Back To Where It Began : The Intimate House Concert Experience 

When we were recently introduced to music virtuoso John Wubbenhorst and his partner Kathleen Desforges, and when they graciously offered to play for us in our home along with  their friend and acclaimed musician Mahesh Vinayakram, my husband and I thought it would be wonderful to organize a small concert for a few of our friends. We did this in the hope of raising everyone’s morale, including our own during this time where everyone has been quarantined, working from home and where everyone was experiencing cabin fever. 

However, what I thought would be a unique musical experience, turned into a once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable “intimate” experience in our small setting of a living room. Mahesh with his voice filled the air and John with his flute. You are surrounded by the music. I had heard their music online but all of the songs were better live than recorded.

I discovered that hearing music live gives you a whole new appreciation for the recorded versions. Mahesh and John would also add commentary and asides to many of the songs, which made them more memorable, personable and funner. By the end of the concert, people couldn’t stop gushing, some admitted it made them weep in rapture, all of us had goosebumps the whole time. To be in such close proximity to two musical geniuses who have dedicated their life to the pursuit of musical excellence – means you get to feed off their amazing energy and effervescence. Because you are right there to enjoy and FEEL the music. You don’t need your earplugs anymore. Music circumscribes you. It is all around you. You experience a completely different yet bizzare energy. No matter what must have been there in your mind a few minutes back, it is now all gone. All you know then is you are enjoying it and living in the moment. You can scream out loud and sing along or can just sit back, sway and listen to it. Not a soul can sabotage your ecstacy. You seem to be lost. Lost in the melody and rhythm. OH man. It is truly amazing.

It was a small audience of a handful of people sitting directly on the wooden floor along with the two musicians so we could feel the vibration of the instruments, providing an even more intimate and “goose-bump” inspiring connection to the music and the performers. And there is a world of difference between experiencing the vibration on your body and not.

Now that I know the feeling, I can see how addictive it can be. I can even say I might not be able to enjoy other concerts in larger arenas as much. 

About Our Esteemed Musical Guests John Wubbenhorst and Mahesh Vinayakram

John Wubbenhorst is a unique musician having grown up playing the western flute along with many other instruments and found his ultimate instrument in the haunting and beautiful bansuri bamboo flute from North India. After decades of study with maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, John has developed an approach that features the bansuri with its roots in Indian music but also reflects John’s lifetime of musical experiences in jazz, western classical and ecstatic forms of music in many genres with western greats such as Paul Horn, Jack DeJohnette, Victor Wooten and others have made him a unique force on the world music scene. 


Mahesh Vinayakram, illustrious son of the Ghatam legend Padmabhushan T.H.Vikku Vinayakram is the first Indian male singer to be cast in the theater Cirque du Soleil. He is a UNESCO Millennium award winner. He has also sung in Bollywood & Hollywood movies, some hit songs to list  – “Puliurumudu” song in the movie Vettaikaran music by Vijay Antony , “Kannea I love you” from ‘Thakadimitha’ music by D. Immaan and rerecording for Hindi movie Raavan by A.R. Rahman. He has toured extensively all over pm the world as a solo Carnatic performer in concerts, he has also trained himself as a contemporary singer for various world class musicians like Ustad Zakir Hussain, Steve Smith, Sandeep Raval, Talvin Singh, George Brooks, Kai, James Asher, Jonas Hellborg, Shawn Lane, Pete Lockett and other luminaries. 


NOTE : If you plan to host or attend an in-person event, please do refer to the CDC’s guidelines on small and large gatherings during the pandemic.