Friday, April 19, 2013

A Tribute to the late Mr. K.P. Bhaskar

This was a man who had an unspoken vision for relevance and sustainability of the traditional arts in Singapore. And in doing this he saw the richness of the bestowed cultural heritage of Singapore, linking us directly to the great centres of civilization and culture spanning Asia and the world. Nobody in the right frame of mind and at the incubating juncture of Singapore itself would ever dare to breathe out aloud such a vision. Words alone would not be that magic wand to making real such a vision. He like Brother McNally who founded Lasalle College for the Arts and my teacher Professor Jose Maceda at the University of the Philippines, all gone now, but they have left a beacon light for others to carry on.

Mr. Bhaskar was a good friend to me. We came from the same community but we are poles apart. He never once referred to any difference between us. It is the way of the pioneering Singaporean – one who came from a foreign land and saw great potential for this island to play a rightful role bridging so many gaps in modern times - cultures, languages, points of view and priorities.

He liked to talk and we did talk much at unplanned meetings, sometimes at concerts, while waiting at rehearsal sites and even at supermarkets. His engaging ways makes any age difference diluted. In fact I can say I have learned much from him on this front because now the gap between my current students and myself is much more that it ever was between Mr. Bhaskar and me.

Like Bro. McNally and Prof. Maceda, he laid the foundation for others. Mr. Bhaskar founded not one, but two successful and inter-related arts institutions: The Bhaskar’s Arts Academy and the Nrityalaya Aesthetics Association, blending beautifully the two interrelated components of Indian music and dance arts.

He was a great believer in education - always ready to participate in anything that would help the progress of new knowledge. This is where I will tell you of his special help to me when I designed a new timeline music annotation laboratory at the Singapore Management University where I taught the Music East and West elective between 2000-2007. I needed challenging local traditional repertoire for my students to apply the musical deconstruction technique they were taught. He staged a special performance of Kuchipudi and Kathakali, which he pioneered in Singapore. He patiently followed all the laboratory operations including a live commentary over an in-ear wireless system to my students. All this was new and foreign to him. Yes he went out of his way to do what was required. The result surprised me when the students came up with their very well done deconstruction presentations on the music – music totally new to them. Three examples are shown below as well as a short video showing the excerpts of the opening and end of the performance and some concluding comments he made.

That fledgling effort has now grown into a major teaching exercise I am doing in the Mekong Basin known as Timeline Music Education - with dedicated software and AV-IT systems configurations - developing graduate students in the art and science of musical deconstruction across cultures and systems. I owe Mr. Bhaskar much for his trust in what I was then trying to think my way through.

May you rest in peace Mr. Bhaskar and sing and dance beautifully forever in the presence of God.

1 comment:

  1. Mother's Grace

    Dear Joe

    An excellent tribute to Sr K P Bhaskar , the legend to establish Indian Art Forms in Singapore.

    I very well remeber him saying "Viji , there is a one and only musician in Singapore who can appreciate the kind of music in you, I will take you to him..." and brougt me to you at CMA in 1992.... I was so happy that it was YOU :)

    Right from initiating my career and life in Singapore, my gratitude for the legend will be life long....

    Many thanks for this wonderful tribute which has to be archieved by each and every artiste in Singapore...

    Best Rgds