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Manitha Neyam Trust Musical Night Fundraiser Raises Over $25,000

Ramya Srinivas

It was a perfect fall evening for some delightful music on Saturday, September 28th, 2019, when Manitha Neyam Trust (MNT) held its 20th year anniversary fundraising concert. The musical night was held at the Lexington Christian Academy, which boasts a cozy and compact auditorium to host this light musical treat. The fundraiser was largely successful, raising over $25,000 to directly support MNT's various projects.
It was truly a scintillating music program to attend, conducted by extremely talented singers, local to New England. These singers have time and time again, supported MNT and their efforts. They are all working professionals (except one student!), and were so generous to donate their time and amazing talent to this event. The singers included: Indu Subramanian, Guru Anand, Rohini Sivamurthy, Vidhya Sudharsan, Nirmal Ramu, Sankar Gangaikondan and Lochan Karthikeyan.
The singers were accompanied by the wonderful Boston Aalaap band, who complemented the vocalists in a way that kept the audience endlessly entertained. Boston Aalaap is an Indian Music based band with New England's finest artists. This group consists of Kurt Shoemaker (guitar and bass), Rajesh Pai (tabla), Vinphin Kundukulam (percussionist), Jishnu Menon (violin), Bagwat Krishnan (keyboard), and Suri Somanathan (rhythm guitar/keys).
The program started with Suresh Sivasithamparam (Secretary, Board of Trustees) giving a welcome speech, which included an explanation of MNT’s mission and values, and how they were celebrating 20 years of service that evening.
Next, the hosts, Anu Chitrapu and Rama Ramakrishnan, took over and conducted the music program with much humor and analogies. They kept the audience interested with their amusing stories while complementing each other well, being a real couple after all! Anu is an executive at BoFA, while her husband Rama is a Professor of Business Analytics and Data Science at MIT Sloan. Both Anu and Rama were a great emcee couple, indeed.
The program began with a beautiful Tamil Thaai Vaazhthu as a prayer invocation song, followed by Nila Kaigirathu by Vidhya and Lochan. It was truly a soul-stirring performance by the duo.
Love Birds performed by Rohini was lined up next. This chirpy song was emoted and performed well by her.
Ninukori was splendidly delivered by Indu! She sang the nuances of the song with great ease and the pitching of the song was perfect. This was well applauded by the audience.
Kannana Kanney from the movie Viswasam was sung flawlessly by Lochan. This melodious creation by D. Imman was reincarnated on stage by the orchestra. It felt like Sid Sriram was there himself and performing for us!
Next was a joyous song Singalathu Chinna Kuyile by Vidhya and Nirmal. This duet was rendered with much play and vigor. Sankar gave a marvelous performance of Illamai Ennum Poongatru. This tough Illayaraaja piece with mesmerizing BG score was performed in perfection in unison with the ensemble. This Kannadasan song with rich lyrical value was a treat to us indeed!
A Tamil classic romantic song, Andru Vanthathum Ithe Nila, was sung by Rohini and Nirmal. Guru and Indu supported the song with their beautiful chorus. The four of them along with the supporting orchestra rocked the stage bringing MGR and Saroja Devi on stage.
A peppy song from Punnagai Mannam, Kaalam Kaalamaga, was performed by Guru and Indu. The two of them were no less than Kamal and Revathi in their dance moves and colorful costumes!
A pretty challenging piece, Adhaatha Mannam Undo, from Mannadhi Mannan was rendered by Vidhya. She delivered this solo fabulously, and complemented the rhythmic tabla beats. It was a true jugalbandhi between Vidhya and Tabla artist Sri Rajesh Pai.
Next was a visual and musical treat to the audience. Aduthathu Ambujatha Paathela by Sankar and Indu was a performance not to be missed. Indu clad in her beautiful green madisaar and Sankar in veshti-kurta enacted Sowcar Janaki and Sridhar candidly. The dialogues in between the song were amusing to hear and both of them did complete justice to the roles of Pattu Maami and Kittu Maama.
There was a different twist for the next performance. There was a cover performed by Guru mashing songs - Snehidhane from Alaipayuthe , and Kannathil Muthamitaal from the namesake movie. The accompanying ensemble gave a melting performance and touched our hearts.
Another Imman favorite Koodamela Koodavechu from Rummy was sung by Lochan and Indu. The duo performed the duet in an enchanting fashion and took the audience to a different world.
It was time for a rock and roll performance of Engeyum Epodhum from Ninaithale Inikkum. Nirmal brought Rajnikanth to life on stage with his costume and accessories. Nirmal danced to this evergreen song while the audience joined him cheering and clapping. Kudos to the orchestra especially the drums and guitar for recreating this song.
The girls Vidhya and Rohini sang Vaan Megham, yet another classic from Punnagai Mannan. They brought Revathi to life dancing in the rain via this song.
Next was Kaatu Kuyile from Thalapathy where Sankar and Guru played male leads while Vidhya, Rohini and Indu played the female chorus. This was a power packed performance by all singers who enacted the strength of friendship in this song. The live band coordinated meticulously with the singers and delivered this song with much grandeur. Shoutout to the drummist Vinphin Kundukulam.
It was almost time for the final song Ooh la la la (Manamadurai) from Minsaara Kannavu. This enjoyable song was performed by all the singers who brought Kajol and Prabhu Deva to stage.
The conclusion of this incredible performance was a heart-rendering chorus of Tamizha Tamizha and Vellai Pookal. It was truly a wonderful way to conclude the program.
The final remarks were made by Anu and Rama, before being passed on to Mano Shan, a Trustee, to conduct the vote of thanks. Huge applause roared in the auditorium as they were asked if they enjoyed the program. Dinner was then served with traditional homemade Sri Lankan food, a true treat!
The musical night was one of a kind and not to be missed! The ensemble performed creatively and proved to a fitting accompaniment for all the singers. The instrumental ARR mashup performed by the band was a true celebration of its kind!
The song selections were marvelous and well thought out. Mind blowing costumes, very vibrant with the perfect accessories. One could notice the great effort in song coordination, costume match up and much more.
Huge Kudos to the organizers of this fundraiser, the Sri Lankan community for coming together to cook the food, and entertaining musical night show which touched the hearts of the audience. Also, many thanks to KS Anand and Krish Velmurugan for capturing these lovely photos and video of the concert. We hope to see many such concerts and support MNT in every way possible
Manitha Neyam Trust is an established 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, whose mission is to empower and educate children and adults alike, to promote a sustainable future in Sri Lanka. To date, they have helped thousands of people, and are able to do so, thanks to the generosity of donors around the world. For more information, please visit their site to see many of the projects they support: www.manithaneyam.org.

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