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Swaramala - A Musical Extravanganza To Benefit Ashland Temple

Nirmala Garimella

How often do New England audiences have the chance to hear some astounding classical music in a variety of forms from local artists on the stage at the same time? The answer is in November, when New England’s finest musicians and teachers get together and join forces to present Swaramala, a grand musical concert on Sunday, November 9th at The Ashland High School.

This eclectic extravanganza will offer Carnatic and Hindustani music lovers an evening complete with different styles, different ragas, a variety of types of performers designed to bring the best of both classical and modern to a diverse audience of music aficionados and casual fans.

 According to Durga Krishnan, one of the lead organizers and a Carnatic music teacher, the event is the first of its kind and it combines serious music-making combined with community expression, all in the name of fund-raising for the temple scholarships and special expansion projects.

 “The Temple has been expanding its cultural activities and programs to encourage the learning of traditional arts by our growing community”, remarks J.V.Krishna, who is in the NEHTI Board of Trustees. Thyagaraja Day, Navaratri Concert Series and Monthly concert series are just a few of the platforms for the younger generation to display their enormous talents and encourage their potentials” K.G.Narayana, of the temple Committee adds “To continue being the cultural center and a meaningful resource in the New England area, the Founding members and Management have launched an elaborate expansion program. The expanded Temple facility will include Cultural Hall, dedicated classrooms and Library to cater to the growing community need”.

 "I think through collaboration, this concert lets the community enjoy having a part in supporting the mission of temple projects," explains Tara Bangalore, who teaches Carnatic music in the area and will be performing the vocal segment along with, Geeta Murali, Aparna Balaji, Bhuvana Ganesh and Padmavalli  Bhamidipati.

Shuchita Rao who is leading the Hindustani Classical Music effort describes the segment this way, “Hindustani Music has several gharanas (schools of music) and freedom of interpretation and expression of ragas even within each gharana. All of us will take turns and present different ragas that are suitable to being presented in the evening (presenting a raga that suits a particular time of day is an important concept for Hindustani music) we will present a classical item and a semi-classical item in 10 to 15 minutes. Then all Hindustani vocalists will sing a tarana in Bhairavi together. We will have 4 vocalists (Warren Senders, Pradeep Shukla, Swati Panda and myself), 3 accompanyists(Akshay Navaladi on tabla, Chris Pereji and Priti Chakravarthy on harmonium) and 3 instrumentalists(Flute : Dr. Suresh Mathur, Sitar: Michael Siegall and Saxophone: Phil Scarff)

 Says Phil Scarff “There will be a number of collaborations among the Hindustani and Karnatak vocalists and    instrumentalists. We are finalizing the repertoire and working on the arrangements. It's all shaping up very well. We are looking forward to making this an extraordinary event”.

  “Bangalore” the Fusion Group   whose performances are fondly recalled by New England audiences, will share the spotlight along with Marc Rossi of the Krishnarasi Group in the Fusion segment of the Concert. Says Phil Kaplan of Bangalore,”We are planning to present our original arrangements of traditional Bhajans, alongside a couple of original compositions that incorporate and assimilate classical raga elements with traditional American "roots" music. As to what to expect: Lively rhythms, intricate (and intricately rendered) melodies, and a living tribute to the magic of making music to share with people”. 

 To add even more variety into the mix, all groups will come together for a grand finale item (Raghupati Raghav) and a percussion ensemble that uses tabla, mridangam, kanjira etc who will also entertain the audience for some time. It is a great ending, a great finale, in every sense of the word. That the final piece will be mind blowing and what the audience will definitely love "is what all the artists promise.

 "It's not only the  community that benefits from this concert, it's the  community along with many visitors, artists, students and families coming together," sums up Durga Krishnan "Here are artists who are able to work together and work hard, but also able to collaborate while making music”.

 "Swaramala" A Grand Carnatic, Hindustani & Fusion Concert

Date:     Sunday November 9, 2008
Time:    2.00 pm - 7.00 pm followed by Complimentary Dinner
Venue:  Ashland High School, 65 East Union Street, Ashland, MA 01721

This program has been uniquely created as a good will gesture by the music teachers in the Boston area. This fund raising effort inaugurates an ambitious Temple Expansion Project.


Carnatic Style
Vocal: Tara Bangalore, Geeta Murali, Aparna Balaji, Bhuvana Ganesh,
           Padmavalli  Bhamidipati
Veena: Durga Krishnan, Revathy Ramaswamy, Ram Naidu
Violin:  Tara Bangalore, K.V.S. Vinay, Surya Sundarajan
Mridangam: Pravin Sitaram, Mahalingam Santhanakrishnan,
                  Gaurishankar Chandrasekhar
Dolak & Kanjeera: Gaurishankar Chandrasekhar


Hindustani Style
Shuchita Rao, Swati Panda, Pradeep Shukla, Warren Senders,
          Preeti Chakravarthi
Sitar:  Michael Siegell
Harmonium: Christopher Pereji, Preeti Chakravarthi
Preeti Chakravarthi
Flute: Suresh Mathur
Tabla: Akshay Navaladi, Christopher Pereji
Suprano Saxaphone: Phil Scarff


Fusion Groups with Western Style
Phil Kaplan & his Bangalore group (Slide Guitar & other instruments)
Marc Rossi & his Krishnarasi group (Jazz Keyboard & other instruments)


Please attend the concert and support to complete the Temple Expansion Project.

Please visit the Temple website at www.srilakshmi.org for further updates.


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