Published: 22nd September 2018
Concert in the Dark: Why Anil Srinivasan wants every Chennaiite to wear a blindfold on September 28
Pianist Anil Srinivasan's Concert in the Dark will have blindfolded musicians playing to a blindfolded audience. No selfies, no getting up, just a pure experience, aimed at raising funds for the blind
Let me make you a prophecy. A week from now, you're going to sit blindfolded for a couple of hours without wanting to pull the shades off. And before you ask, no, I'm not Nostradamus, nor am I some psychotic killer from Criminal Minds. What I am, though, is one of the people who will be at Concert in the Dark at Museum Theatre, experiencing what it's like to watch people playing music blind to an audience that is temporarily blind.
Intrigued? On the evening of September 28, the age-old venue will be pitch dark and for once it won't matter what the stage looks like, or what who was wearing. From classical to jazz, musicians Anil Srinivasan, Krishna Kishor and Naveen Napier will perform blindfolded. And in that darkness, music will be the only binding force between you, your co-listeners and the performers. For once, you will actually be 'listening' to live music played in front of you. Without being able to check WhatsApp between tracks.
A fundraiser to help the visually challenged residents of Gnanadarshan Seva Foundation, this is going to be an experience unlike any other. Anil, who believes that "there is no better way to empathise than personalising the experience", has curated the event with the intention of giving the blind and the sighted exactly the same experience throughout the concert. "I played the piano while blindfolded for 20 minutes during a concert organised by the National Association for the Blind, So I thought, why not do an entire concert this way? I didn't want to create just another regular show," explains the celebrated pianist and music teacher. Gnanadarshan is a place close to his heart and he visits the place to help the inmates frequently.
Make no mistake about it, this is as creative a format as it gets and your eyes have no place in this equation. "People are looking for new formats of presentation. This concept is challenging for me. There will be no eye contact with me and my co-performers. All three of us have to keep the audience engaged for 90 minutes just through music. There is absolutely no eye contact with them," he says.
Not just that. The concert will also challenge your attention span and social media addiction. Since the concert experience demands a pitch dark room, you will be asked to switch off your phones and therefore, Insta-stories and Facebook Check-ins can only happen once the concert is over. "Here, let's revisit the original purpose of music and live performance. It's an experiment for me too. I'd love to know the feedback of the audience later," says Anil. There is no restriction on the genre of music played and he says that he is trying to keep it as interesting as possible.
The musician is also overwhelmed by the support that he's been receiving from the people ever since he announced the event. "Musee Musical is renting out the instruments for free. We got the concert hall at a much lower cost than usual. So many people have come forward to help," he tells us. Goodness is contagious, isn't it?