Chennai-style Carnatic Kutcheri, Ma!

By Priya Das

Indian Festival of Music and Dance Brings Home A Carnatic Aradhnai To NRIs in San Diego.

indian-fine-artsEvery South Indian growing up in almost every major city between Delhi and Madras has some memory of the Thyagaraja Aradhanai: Melodious singing and rhythmic beats round the clock, the crinkle of rich kanjeevarams, the sharp commentaries by mamas, the reverence on the faces of the audience as maestros ascended the heights of achievement, the performing children looking quite grown up in their pattu pavadais and mundus; the aroma of vadais and kaapi, the ongoing musical discussion at home and en route.

In a bid to echo that time, and as an initiation ritual for the younger rasikas to broad-based Carnatic music; Indian Fine Arts Academy of San Diego celebrates ‘Indian Festival of Music and Dance’ this year, 3-5 April in San Diego. Following in the footsteps of the 30 year old Cleveland Aradhana, San Diego is going to resound with the performances of 19 artists from India and 9 from the US, complete with breakfast, lunch and dinner with a down-home flavor.

Over the weekend, attendees to the festival can look forward to, among others,  such vocal maha-rathis as Sudha Ragunathan, known for her “beautiful vocal tapestries, soaring solos, and unusual timbres”; and ‘Bala Ratna’ S. Soumya. Bharati and Vijayalakshmi, renowned Mohiniyattam performers, will enthrall those looking for visual excitement. Bharati Shivaji has performed all over the world including at the  International Edinburgh Festival , Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, and the Conservatory Theatre at St.Petersburgh, Russia. A jugalbandi will crown the festival calendar: On Saturday, Ustad Irshad Khan and N. Ravikiran will have a musical face-off. Irshad Khan, is one of the world’s best sitar players and leading Surbahar (BassSitar) player, who’s performed in over 30 countries; and Ravikiran, is a child prodigy, who continues to scale excellence both as a vocalist and as an instrumentalist.

Lending their own rich tones to those from India will be local/ US artists such as Shoba Sharma, (Bharata Natyam), Revathi Subramanian, (Vocal), Nishant Chandran (Violin), R. Radhakrishnan (Flute), Balu, Cleveland, OH (Kanjira), Kalyan Vaidyanathan (Mridangam), Raamkumar Balamoorthi (Mridangam) and Vinod Seetharaman (Mridangam). We are in the West, so can fusion be forgotten? Southern Californian Prasant Radhakrishnan, a critically acclaimed saxophonist versatile in both the Carnatic and jazz disciplines will present the unique vocal texture of his sound, noted for its expressive complexity and rhythmic ingenuity.

The goal of the Indian Festival of Music and Dance is to recreate the atmosphere that prevails at well established music halls such as the Music Academy and Narada Gana Sabha at Chennai, India. The festival will go a long way in furthering the mission of the organizer, Indian Fine Arts Academy, which was established to create an environment of learning and appreciation of Indian classical music, dance, and arts; and foster Indian culture among the younger generation of Indian Americans. Since September 2007, the organization has held 22 public benefit concerts featuring renowned classical musicians. Over 6,000 people attended and benefited from these events.

For more information, please visit or contact Shekar Viswanathan – or Divya Devaguptapu-

1 thought on “Chennai-style Carnatic Kutcheri, Ma!

  1. ram

    This is really cool…i am always impressed by the initiatives by individuals/ organizations who focus on building cultural infrastructure and platforms like waternoice popularizing it..

    This is part of our intellectual property that actually is worldclass. Amitav Ghosh once said that there one domain where Indian practioners are truly achieved world class standards ( akin to German Engineering, US Software, China manufacturing) is Classical art forms like Hindustani, Carnatic , Dance etc



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