All India Radio has been playing a very important role in the propagation & preservation of Music in General and the rich Classical Music and Folk Music Traditions in particular. Many eminent artistes have been associated with this organization like Pt. Ravishankar, Pt. Pannalal Ghosh, Acharya Brahaspathi Madhuri Mattoo Veena Dooraswamy Iyengar, Dr. Shemangudi Srinivas Iyer, G.N. Balasubramanyan,Emani Shankar Shastri, Dr. Sumati Mutatkar, Voleti Venkateshwarlu, S. Gopalakrishnan, M.Y. Kamashastri, T.K. Jayarama Iyer, Satish Bhata, Hafiz Ahmed Khan, T.K. Govinda Rao, Dr. R.K. Srikanthan, Dr.Bala Muralikrishna to mention a few, who have contributed immensely towards achieving the goal of All India Radio in this direction.
With the initiative taken by the then I&B Minister, B.V. Keskar, National Programme of Music, a 90 mts. feast of Classical Music was started in 1952 for broadcast over All India Radio on Saturdays from 9.30 p.m. to 11 p.m. and presently it is broadcast on Sundays also. On the similar lines National Programme of Regional Light & Folk Music is broadcast on every 1st Thursday of the Month from 9.30 pm to 10.30 pm.
In a pioneering effort as an experimentation to harmonize the rich and beautiful Indian melodies and present them as orchestral compositions,
Vadya Vrinda Unit was started in 1952 in Delhi and later at Chennai in 1975. The Vadya Vrinda Units had a number of artistes playing on different instruments which not only was an effort towards keeping alive and show casing many rare instruments for posterity but also to provide job opportunities to many artistes. It is again a matter of pride that many eminent artistes have been part of the Vadya Vrinda Units at Delhi and Chennai and Vadya Vrinda compositions of Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Panna Lal Ghosh, T.K. Jayaram Iyer, Anil Biswas, Emani Shankar Shastri, H.L. Sehgal, M.Y. Kamashastri and others have been preserved in the archives of All India Radio which stand as testimony to their creative excellence and mastery.
Akashvani Sangeet Sammelan is an annual music event organized all over the country featuring both eminent artistes and upcoming youngsters from the stream of Hindustani and Karnatic Classical Music. This was started in 1955 and is a very prestigious and much sought after event for both artists and Classical Music lovers.
Thayagaraja Aradhana Music Festival – a live broadcast from Thiruvaiyaru, the SAMADHI place of St. Thayagaraja is an annual event in the month of January.
The Trinity & other Vaggeyakara Festival is a three day event held in the month of April every year at different venues, featuring compositions of Karnatic Music Trinity – Thayagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshatar and Shamashastry along with many other composers of post Trinity period in order to give variety of compositions to the committed and devoted listeners.
The Folk and Light Music Festival is again an annual event organized all over the country during the month of July to bring to fore varieties of Light and Folk formats across the country in all its splendor and grandeur.
To scout young talents and give them encouragement AIR has been organizing the AIR music competition every year during August, in different disciplines – Classical, Light, Folk, Vocal and Instrumental and it is a matter of great pride that the present day stars in the field of music are mostly prize winners of the prestigious AIR Music Competition.
All India Radio has a time tested and much acclaimed Music Audition System in order to select artistes, grade them and offer broadcast engagements. The audition rules in vogue are available on this site. (The revised rules are being framed.)
There are four grades – B, B-High, A & Top awarded to artistes which is purely based on performance quality adjudged by a Committee of Eminent Musicians/ Experts in the field. Recently, a few artistes have been awarded the National Artistes Honor, keeping in view, their seniority & contribution for the cause and promotion of Classical Music- Karnatic and Hindustani.
All India Radio has also Top Grade Western Music Artistes – Classical and Light from the Eastern Zone besides a few A Grade and B-High Grade Artistes in different disciplines.
The Central Archieves of All India Radio has a rich treasure of very valuable and rare recordings of Artistes preserved for posterity. These recordings are now being made available to music lovers through releases in the form of CDs as “Akashvani Sangeet”