Gayathri Venkataraghavan

From the blog

US TOUR 2016

The tour for Indo American Academy of Classical Music (IAACM) based in Virginia, USA was an enriching experience for me, both as an artist and as a person. I was accompanied by Vidwan Sri Mysore Srikanth on the Violin and Vidwan Sri Neyveli Skandasubramanian on the Mridangam for this tour. It was organised meticulously by the IAACM team and we covered 27 venues across US and Canada. This being the birth centenary year of Bharat Ratna M.S.Subbulakshmi, we presented a number of concerts dedicated to celebrating MS amma’s centenary year. That was a unique blessing and we are thankful to the almighty.

There were many memorable concerts, but the one I hold close to my heart is the concert for Samskrita Bharati. Samskrita Bharati has been formed by a large group of Sanskrit lovers with a goal of promoting Samskritam as an everyday language. We sang completely Sanskrit compositions and slokas. It was delightful to have small kids compering for the show and it was heartening that they all spoke in Sanskrit.

The United States is definitely becoming a cultural hotspot with the diaspora of our Indian community wanting the children to imbibe India’s great cultural heritage. Most of the children here learn some form of Indian classical music and dance and are culturally well grounded. It is almost as if a small part of India, complete with her rich culture and knowledge of the fine arts has found its way to the States.

Concerts at San Diego, San Jose, LA , Dallas, Detroit, Tampa ,Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago, Madison, Raleigh, New York (Sruthilaya) ,Maryland(SSVT-Papanasam Sivan concert) and Boston (Learn Quest Festival) were all memorable because we got to meet our special friends who love Carnatic music everywhere.

I was supremely thrilled to sing Shankarabharanam and Devi Jagathjanani for my youngest fan, Arjun, in Madison.The same way young Keertana asked us for Mathe Kamas Daru in Miami and she was almost dancing when we performed the same for her..

We were  happy to sing in the Pittsburgh Venkateswara temple where MS amma had performed many times.  She has also contributed a great deal to this temple. It is one of the oldest temples in the US. The great annual Cleveland Festival was dedicated to MSS centenary too.

Even so called smaller towns like Jackson, Birmingham, Tucson, Madison, Cincinnati,  and Albany (Thyagaraja Aradhana Concert ) made me look at my tour with a renewed perspective. Jackson has a small Indian population interested in Carnatic music, but the passion with which they come to concerts and volunteer makes you want to perform for them again and again.

The special things we did on this tour was to visit the Boeing Factory in Seattle  (It is the biggest factory recorded by the Guinness Book of Records) and Derby at Kentucky. We did not witness any of the races but managed to get a close look at the horses while they were training. I was in awe of the tender care they show when they give the horse a bath or the perfect synchrony between man and animal when they walk the horse around. The interesting thing is that the Derby races are run by horses who are very young. We have to mention and thank Dr. Pradeep for taking us around the stadium and the horse stables.

We wish to thank all our hosts, organisers, volunteers and rasikas who made this tour so pleasant and memorable.It is impossible to put down in words how affectionate and caring each of them were.  Everytime I come to the North America, I take a little bit of India back with me and leave behind loved ones  with a heavy heart. Some of these children we meet here leave an indelible mark in our minds. Many of them are very talented and motivated to do multiple activities including music .We wish them all success .

I wish to thank Vidwan Mysore Srikanth , Vidwan Neyveli Skandasubramanian who were great company  off stage and wonderful artists who made sure every concert was memorable.

Also wish to thank  Vidwan Akshay Ananthapadmanabhan who played a couple of concerts with us and Vidwan Toronto Gowrishankar who accompanied us for a few concerts.

Thankful to  Sri  Natesan Janakiraman sir and Vidwan Flute V K  Raman and the IAACM team .

Here are some memorable moments from the tour.