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Indian Artists Perform at Rice Radio’s 21st Annual Outdoor Show

KTRU team with the SwaraRagaLaya artists

HOUSTON: For many years, Rice radio has been the preferred choice for Houstonians who boast an insatiable desire for eclectic music. Rice radio offers a wide genre of music this includes the Navrang show. Navrang show plays music from the Indian subcontinent on Saturdays 10 am to 12 noon.

Rice radio, KTRU, is a student run radio station operating 24 hours for more than 40 years, originally broadcasting on 91.7FM now on ktru.org and 90.1FM HD2, also available free with iPhone and android apps and via iTunes college radio station. KTRU’s mission is “to bring alternate forms of making music to Houston radio.” The idea is “to let people know that good music doesn’t only come in electric guitar”. This initiative transpired at the 21st annual KTRU outdoor show on Saturday March 17, the SwaraRagaLaya artists played nontraditional western instruments like the Indian flute, mridangam, tabla, ghatam, khanjira, veena and the Indian style violin, which was new to KTRU’s audience.

KTRU’s Facebook post reads SwaraRagaLaya “opened the show with wonderful sounds and a receptive audience”. Accolades resonated of an outstanding performance by talented artists of Indian origin assembled under the brilliant organization of Vidushi Rajrajeshwary Bhat.  The concept and conductor for this South Indian Carnatic music ensemble was Vidushi Rajrajeshwary Bhat, the music faculty head of Swaralayam Arts Forum.

KTRU’s annual outdoor shows are held in the month of March/April from noon to 10 pm at Rice University’s Central quad. This year’s lineup included music from specialty shows like the hip-hop show, the Navrang show, the electronic show, the Post Punk show. More information regarding specialty shows are available on KTRU’s website. A wide range of music and musicians provided an incentive for more people to attend this year’s outdoor show. With heavy promotion by the Indian artists there was a good attendance from the Indian community at the KTRU outdoor show.  Rajrajeshwary Bhat’s effort to accommodate eleven artists with various instruments was a brilliant demonstration of her innate ability as a composer and conductor.

Providing the much needed platform for artists of Indian origin has been a crusade for Varsha Vakil, KTRU’s Navrang show director. She observed that artists of Indian origin are often content performing within their community and refrain from showcasing their exceptional talent beyond their set norms. Besides playing exclusive set lists for the Navrang show, Varsha makes an ardent effort to reach out to these artists. Varsha’s true passion for music and culture is appreciated not only at KTRU, but is valued by the community and greatly cherished by the artists. Indian artist profile often make it to the Rice radio folio, artist featured range from Indian folk artist Diwaliben Bhil to Houston-based world renowned artist Nanda Banerjee.

KTRU, an American music based radio station in Houston, hones its eclectic taste with live shows, concerts and outdoor shows for artists from Indian origin. Pandit Shantilal Shah’s tabla group Laya Taal Saadhna performed at KTRU’s 18th annual outdoor show. Other artists to perform at KTRU are Hindustani music connoisseur Pandit Suman Ghosh and his group, acclaimed sarod player Dr. Shankar Bhattacharyya with his accomplice tabla artist Sri Gauri Shankar.  KTRU shows and concerts are free for the public.

KTRU’s vision for its specialty shows is passed on and maintained through generations by the Rice University’s student station managers and show directors. Varsha vividly recollects Navrang show’s vision explained by a former station manager Nick Schlossman who is a great admirer of music from the Indian subcontinent. Nick explains, “growing up in Houston I was fascinated by the music played on KTRU’s Navrang show, I would like future generations of Houstonian and Rice University students to experience this incredible music from a far away land”.  Besides concerts and shows, touring artists from India like Padmabhushan Jagjit Singh, Padmashree Shubha Mudgal and others have been interviewed. Artist interviews can be accessed via the website navrangktru.blogspot.com. KTRU believes successful interaction with artists from Indian origin residing in Houston may opens doors not only to portray their talent at KTRU, but bring to them the much desired recognition at many levels.

 

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