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Pianist Anil Srinivasan will perform live for the Madurai audience at a unique concert that will unfold in pitch darkness. It is to raise awareness and sensitise people to those who are visually challenged

"It is not going to be like any other regular show," says Anil Srinivasan over the phone about his upcoming performances in Madurai, Thoothukudi and Coimbatore. "I will play the piano blindfolded and make it experiential for the audience by turning off all lights in the auditorium," he says.

For 45 minutes, the audience will sit in utter darkness just listening to him play the piano. Along with Naveen Napier on the bass guitar and Krishna Kishor on percussions, Anil plans to play Tamil and Hindi chartbusters to hold the audience attention.

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Created and curated by him, the event is an experimental initiative to help people realise how life is without vision. Anil hopes the concert in dark will arouse at least a section of the audience and lead them to empathise with visually challenged people in the future.

Anil is a trustee of Chennai-based Gnanadarshan Seva Foundation that runs an orphanage for 60 visually challenged girls. While he has been helping the foundation monetarily, he says five years ago he attended a dine-in-the-dark event in a hotel in Chennai and that proved to be a game changer. "I realised just giving a cheque is like putting a band aid. Instead, raising an awareness through concerts could inspire people towards a better understanding of the problems the visually challenged face in our society. It could also motivate them to do something more constructive for the well being of those who have lost their sight.”

With a thirst to give his art a new social purpose, Anil came up with the idea of free concerts to sensitise the people in small towns and cities. He says even if a handful start a conversation about blindness and rethink their attitude after attending his programme, then a positive social change can come out of the dark.

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Anil did the concert in dark in Chennai last year. It was a humongous hit, he says, and far more enjoyable for him to play. "I found it extremely easy to delve deep into my performance as I was not distracted by what people were doing in the auditorium,"he says. The concert is designed to give both the performer and the audience an opportunity to step into the shoes of the visually challenged. “Cutting off the sense of sight gives musicians a more intense experience and that is how music ought to be played and heard,"he adds and describes the event as an immersive and all-inclusive experience for both performer and audience.

Innovation in music can be liberating, says Anil. He conducted the Chennai event as a fund raiser following which Dr.Mohan Rajan of Rajan Eye Care Hospital in Chennai offered free treatment to the girls in the orphanage. However, in the three cities that he is travelling to now, the concert will not be a ticketed show. “I have the support of many many well wishers. While Aravind Eye Hospital is providing the venue free in Coimbatore, its team of doctors in Madurai have offered to extend improved eye healthcare not only to Gnanadarshanam Foundation but to those in need locally as well,” he says. Hari Thiagarajan, the Executive Director of Thiagarajar Mills, who is sponsoring the venue in Madurai, says, if we can run marathons to create awareness on so many other health issues, then why not a concert that takes us closer to the issue of blindness in a realistic way.

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It is this kind of outreach — howsoever big or small — that Anil is optimistic about. He hopes everybody will appreciate and remember what it is like to perform, listen and experience live music without the distraction of visual conditioning and cell phones. "There is no better way to empathise than personalising the experience," he adds.

IN THE CITIES:

Madurai

On November 10 at Thiagarajar College of Arts, Theppakulam, 6 pm

Thoothukudi

On November 16 at Vikaasa School, Millerpuram, 6 pm

Coimbatore

On November 17 at Aravind Eye Hospital, Avinashi Road

FOR AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE:

Be seated 15 minutes before the programme starts

The concert duration is one hour and 15 minutes

Do not leave your seats during the performance.

Use of mobile phones and cameras inside the auditorium is not permitted

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