The Week, september 2012
Carnegie Hall! A name that has surpassed its own time! Every part of this hall is steeped in music. Inside lies the sacred stage where the best musical gems of the world have displayed their magnificent skill and virtuosity. The hundred and eleven years old building that stands in New York City’s fifty-second street. It continues to embrace musicians from all over the world and stands as a testimony of some of the greatest musical extravaganzas of all times. Carnegie Hall's main auditorium seats 2,804 on five levels. It was named for the iconic violinist Isaac Stern in 1997. Stern played a major role in saving this Hall from demolition in the 1960s. I have had the honour of performing at Carnegie Hall on numerous occasions. the energy of New York adds volumes to the symbolism of the hall. I had visited New York for the first time in 1963 as a part of my first foreign tour. Ever since, I have had a very nostalgic relationship with this city. There have really been some very memorable moments and concerts in this city of my life. I even remember the time when Amaan and Ayaan gave their US debut here in 1991 for the Asia Society after which they were just adored and blessed by the listeners. Thus, I was deeply saddened when the attacks of September 11 happened in 2001. I have expressed remorse over these very traumatic attacks many times. My wishes go out to all the families who lost their loved ones in and were affected by these mortifying attacks. Gripped by the trauma of this day, we all hoped that the world would see peace in the years ahead. However, over eleven years after these attacks, we are still confronted with the fear of terrorism. Wars are continuing endlessly and so many lives are still being lost. Hatred stemming from the fear of war and terrorism is affecting human relationships across fault-lines. These aspects sadden me a lot. I hope that we find our way to peace as one human race. I hope we stop focusing on our differences. Music is a common denominator that unites people across the globe. I hope that in the days to come, we use this medium and other creative field to encourage unity among the people of our world that are currently being torn apart by so many differences.

I am so happy to see that under the Chairpersonship of the eminent Bharatnatyam Danseuse, Leela Samson, the Sangeet Natak Academy continues to serve the world of arts with utmost dignity and grace. Leela Samson and my wife Subhalakshmi, were contemporaries during their years in Kalakshetra under the tutelage of the great Rukmini Devi Arundale. I remember the time when Ms. Nirmala Joshi was the first secretary of SNA and the first batch of the awardees and fellows in the year 1952-53, were Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb, Kesar Bai Kerkar, Prithvi Raj Kapoor and Semmangudi Srinivas Iyer etc. It’s wonderful to see how they continue to give salutations to artists, now of all age groups. My felicitations and congratulations go out to all the winners of the London Olympics 2012. Mery Kom, Saina Nehwal, Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar. I am very happy that the ‘under nineteen’ cricket team has won the world cup in Australia. I feel very happy when sportsmen are honoured at a relatively young age for their achievements. That boost and encouragement makes all the difference. I wish we could incorporate that system in the creative fields too! Heartiest congratulations to the young Captain Unmukt Chand and his entire team. It’s very interesting to know that many artists have been great sportsman too! However, they could never pursue their interest as destiny had other creative plans. Many of my contemporary artists have been very good batsman and bowlers! I unfortunately didn’t make it to that list.