Memorable Carnival of Music in The Woodlands Thyagaraja Aradhana

Hindu 1

THE WOODLANDS: The Hindu Temple of The Woodlands (HTW) celebrated its third annual Thyagaraja Aradhana music festival on February 28, at the temple facility located on Woodlands Parkway in The Woodlands. Over 350 people from the Greater Houston area attended the event and added to its grandeur this year.

The festival commenced with an open participation segment in the afternoon. Children and music teachers paid homage to the great classical poet, Saint Thyagaraja. It was heartening to see little kids as young as five years, sing Thyagaraja’ s compositions with much devotion and clarity, and help sustain our rich cultural heritage. This segment featured students from six music schools in the area (teachers – Rajarajeswary Bhat, from Sugarland, Aparna Ganti, Bharati Gollapudi and Sangeetha Sundar from Spring/Cypress, Geetha Jayaraman from Conroe and Preethi Raghav from The Woodlands). Participation also included several students learning Carnatic music through Skype from teachers in India, a growing trend in recent years. In all, there were about 65 children performing at the event, indicating the growing interest to learn classical music.

The evening program featured mini concerts from some of Houston’s established artists. This segment had a robust opening with Rajarajeswary Bhat, her daughters Keerthana and Kruthi Bhat, leading a community rendition of two of Thyagaraja’s Pancharathnams, Jagadanandakaraka and Saadinchine. With accompanists Karun Salvady on the mridangam and Ganesh on khanjira, the sanctum sanctorum of the beautiful temple reverberated with these timeless songs and had the audience tapping their feet to the music.

Vocalist Sridevi Rakepalli Josyula of Sugarland, accompanied by her a 12-year-old son, Mukund, on the violin, and Karun Salvady on mridangam, regaled the packed hall with her concert. Violinist Mahesh Iyer, with his children, Maya and Kishore, brought forth the beauty of rare ragas in their thematic exposition of Thyagaraja’s compositions. Violinist Deepa Ramachandran, and her 9-year-old disciple Vikrant Shankar, charmed the audience with their concert.
The mini concert portion also starred Uma Ranganathan, Veena and Vaishali Rajan, and Apporva Das, senior disciples of Rajarajeswary Bhat. Each of them had short presentations of 10 minutes. The evening ended with a group from The Woodlands, presenting popular krithis of Thyagaraja, and ended with the auspicious Thyagaraja mangalam.

Chairman of the HTW, S. R. Pinnapureddy, felicitated all the artists with beautiful shawls and bouquets, as a token of appreciation for their time and performance at this event. Participation certificates were also provided to everyone in the open segment.

Preparations for this grand event started out almost two months ago, with the event coordinators spreading the word out across Houston and meticulously planning details.  A dedicated team of volunteers was in charge of the food preparation and had visitors hobnob at the temple kitchen for delicacies. The overwhelming support from volunteers and The Woodlands community in general, was seen in the smooth execution of the program including stage set-up, decoration and reception.

The program was sponsored by Bharatiya Kalai Manram (BKM) and K Corp, and a few local businesses sponsored door prizes.