We would like to extend a Texas-size thanks to everyone who came to the 10th Annual Celebrations of our Music School on November 17th 2012! Special thanks to all the participants and volunteers who made this event so memorable.
Geetanjali 2012 Annual Recital
A report by Srinath Rao
The date was 17th November and the venue was the ‘Northwest Fellowship’ church on Pond Springs road ,in Austin. I was there to attend ‘Geetanjali’ – the annual music festival of the ‘Sharada school of music’. While I am not a connoisseur of Carnatic music, I have begun to look forward to this event for reasons beyond my daughter’s participation. It is Ms. Vani Arvind’s abject dedication to music and genteel nurturing of her wards that make this a special event, every year.
As we entered the spacious hall what struck me was the absence of the distinction between the guests and the hosts. Such was the camaraderie being exhibited. The invitees ensured the welcome area was appropriately decorated, the microphones and illumination were adequate, the prasaadam packets were readied – in short everybody ensured the event commenced on time. The welcome area was adorned by a solemn idol of goddess Sharada. Flowers of seven different colours signifying the seven different musical notes lay by her feet. There were lamps and sweets as if telling ‘spread the sweetness of music’!
The main hall was filled with the strains of the ‘tanpura’. The dias was elegantly decorated and the podium was festooned by a string of Marigold and a beautiful Red motif. Just as the guests settled down in their seats, Arvind welcomed the gathering to the 10th anniversary of the Sharada school of music. He then introduced Rupa Balaji – the master of ceremonies. Rupa mixed wit with chutzpah throughout the afternoon. She began by asking the gathering to keep their cell phones on and then asked the kids to correct her! It was heartening to learn that Neethi Nayak, one of Vani’s first three students, staged her music ‘arangetram’ during August of this year.
Rupa ensured that the parents of each participant were introduced to the audience at large. The performances commenced on this happy note – the first group singing ‘swarajati’ set to the raga ‘harikambodi’ and ‘roopaka’ tala. This was followed by eleven songs, sung by Vani’s students. Two of these , ‘Ganapatiye’ and ‘Tillana’ feature in Vani’s first CD. As the afternoon stretched into the evening, Vani’s monthly music team sang Tulsidas’ creation ‘Shreeramachandra’. The grand finale was when the entire group of singers rendered the song ‘Bhavani’ set to ‘Mayamalavagowla’ raga and ‘Eka’ tala. As I was clicking a picture of this group, Arvind came up to me and said ‘this is a very good group’. It indeed reflected Vani’s reach – she has coached adults and kids alike. All through the performances, one observed her seated in the first row, giving cues to the participants in a manner only a devoted guru can. Special mention needs to be made of the church personnel who handled the acoustics. They performed their task with efficacy, from within a booth in the hall.
The guests were regaled by Seshatre Natarajan’s vocal and Ms. Poornima Rao’s veena recitals. Balaji Narasimhan gave a befitting rhythmic support on the Mridangam. Finally , Vani sang a ‘Tyaagaraja kriti’ accompanied by Poornima Rao on the veena and Balaji on the mridangam.
Vani spoke briefly about how she has began to teach music , from 1993 in India and her 10 year stint as a music teacher in Austin. Concluding the event, the kids were handed over Certificates for their participation. As she and Arvind were expressing their gratitude to the invitees, volunteers and close associates, I sank back in my chair to absorb the goings-on one final time. Two huge wooden Crosses stood by the dias , on which Austin’s budding Carnatic music ensemble had just performed. It was testimony to a harmonious blending of cultures and added to the serenity of that winter evening.
Video of all students singing a group song