The season, 75 years ago

The 1939 season posed a new challenge to the two major sabhas that conducted music and dance programmes in December – the Music Academy and the Indian Fine Arts Society (IFAS). With the commencement of the Second World War, restrictions were imposed on holding large public meetings in open pandals. The previous year, the two organisations had decided to conduct their conference (morning sessions) jointly and these were held in the garden of the Woodlands Hotel in Royapettah. The Academy held its concerts also at the same venue while the IFAS had them at Gokhale Hall, Armenian Street. In 1939, what with war economies also being in place, the two sabhas had to come closer – conference and concerts were to be organised jointly and that meant a new venue, large enough to accommodate members of both sabhas.

Gokhale Hall, the IFAS venue was ruled out as it could not accommodate the large audience regularly turning out for the season. It was left to K.V. Krishnaswamy Iyer, the dynamic president of the Music Academy to find a way out. As a member of the Syndicate of the University of Madras, he was able to obtain sanction to conduct the season at the Senate House. There were howls of protest when the announcement was made, for everyone including Prof. P. Sambamoorthy, complained about the poor acoustics in the great hall of the Senate House. The location on South Beach Road also made it inaccessible to public transport especially in the late hours of the evening when the second concert would get over. There were also no eateries in the vicinity. But once he had made a decision, there was no turning back for KVK. He however, did seriously address all issues. Cloth canopies and hangings were designed, stitched and put up which together with loudspeakers ensured that the music was heard well at the farthest ends of the great hall. As for transport, special bus arrangements were made connecting Senate House with Mylapore, Mambalam, Egmore, Purasawalkam and George Town. Season tickets at Rs. 2-As4 were also made available for availing of the bus service.