Wave Makers: Musician – Manasi Prasad, PGP 2007

In a word, Manasi Prasad has truly followed her heart. When we follow our hearts, we learn to trust our intuition. We are more in tune with what our hearts are telling us to do and what direction they are leading us. Today Manasi is an accomplished musician, professional, and mother. Music was introduced to Manasi very early in life and she has taken her passion to new heights. Currently serving as the Museum Director of the Indian Music Experience, India’s first interactive music museum.

At Indian Music Experience, one can explore – Featured multimedia exhibit galleries, a Sound Garden and a Learning Centre, the IME is India’s newest and most exciting music hub, a destination for music connoisseurs, cultural tourists, families and school groups. The Indian Music Experience, in JP Nagar, is just 3 km from the IIMB campus and is open from Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 6pm for visiting.

We had an opportunity to interview Manasi and know more about musical her journey.

Can you tell us something briefly about yourself?

I’m a musician a museum director and a mother, and I love all these three roles with an equal passion.

When and where did your music journey begin?

At the age of 4, when I started learning music from my mother.

Who have been the big influencers in your journey as a singer/ performer?

My mother, Tara Prasad who was my first guru, and to this day is my permanent audience, staunchest critic and strongest supporter.

My gurus at various stages, including RK Padmanabha, who taught me that a musician is much more than what he/ she sings – its about building a personality and body of work as an arts person, and contributing back to the field. My mentor, Sriram Parasuram, who is an MBA from IIM Calcutta as well, whose constant search for perfection is inspiring. I admire a whole host of musicians that I listen to from classical, film and contemporary music. I am also inspired by Rukmini Devi Arundale, who founded Kalakshetra in Chennai, which has continued to be an arts institution of lasting significance.

Indian Classical Music – Past, Present, Future in your opinion.

The challenge and beauty of classical music is that it can be appreciated on many levels. It is deeply cerebral, yet highly emotional. It is steeped in tradition, yet one of the most creative genres. Yes, it has always been slightly niche, and efforts to ‘mainstream’ classical music always run the risk of diluting its essence in a quest for populism. I think, with the internet and social media, classical music has definitely become more accessible than the past, which is great. It is still very hard to make a living out of being a classical musician alone – but multiple avenues – from collaborative work, to teaching, to even music tech have provided new career options.

Any specific incident/ performance that has left an impression on you.

Many. I have cried with joy and frustration on hearing great performers, I have felt incredible highs after a good concert, and incredibly unhappy when I haven’t done my best.

Some fond and interesting memories from your days at IIMB.

I remembered to carry my tanpura and music books when I came to IIMB on the first day, but forgot my admission letter, and was sent back home by Mr. Gundu Rao for the same 🙂 I had a wonderful set of wingmates – some of the smartest, funniest women I know. I used to go for runs on campus amidst the greenery, something which I dearly miss. Of course, many lectures were incredibly interesting, and I also slept through many of them -I think I was featured in a section on the class website called Nidra Sutra (the art of sleeping)! 

What are your future plans?

Setting up the Indian Music Experience has been incredibly satisfying, but this is just the beginning, and we need to work towards getting more people, specially youngsters involved with the arts. The IME’s work focuses on exhibition, conservation, education, audience development and community outreach, and we have various projects running under each. Personally, I’m also exploring more collaborative work in music, in fusion/ contemporary classical. I also strive to explore synergies between the worlds of music and management – I believe both these worlds have a lot to offer each other. To this end, I conduct workshops entitled ‘create, communicate, collaborate’, using the arts as a paradigm.