Talented Young Artists Join to Raise Funds for Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust ‘s 30th Anniversary

From left: Vignesh Venkataraman, Sowmiya Narayanan, Abhisek Balakrishnan, Kamalakiran Vinjamuri, Sanjith Narayanan, Aditya Srivatsan, and Karun Salvady.

From left: Vignesh Venkataraman, Sowmiya Narayanan, Abhisek Balakrishnan, Kamalakiran Vinjamuri, Sanjith Narayanan, Aditya Srivatsan, and Karun Salvady.

By Mahesh Iyer

HOUSTON: Three young talented violinists along with four percussionists thrilled the audience recently at a fundraiser for Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust. Sowmi Narayanan’s (trustee of S N OM Trust) idea to involve the youth was taken up enthusiastically by Abhisek Balakrishnan who quickly assembled the group. The artists from the east and west coast all pursuing alternate career paths, having graduated from prestigious universities in the US combined their talents for a good cause, what brought them together is simply their love for Carnatic Music. Using high tech, face time they were able to practice resulting is a melodious harmonious blend, completely overcoming the complication that they were trained under different “bhanis” or style.

The invigorating main piece, “Marivere Dikkevarayya” by Patnam Subramania Iyer in Shanmukhapriya ragam and Desadi Thalam provided the right run up to a grand “Thani” by all four percussionists. Other popular compositions such as Anupama Gunambudhi (Atana, Khanda Chapu) and Jagadhodharana (Kapi, Adi) provided contrasting, yet enthralling experience. The popular Govinda Nama devotional couplet was treated to multi-dimensions, when the artists rendered this in a series of ragams and speeds. Another highlight of the program was the Sindhubhairavi thillana, a composition of Sangeetha Kalanidhi A. Kanyakumari, who is also the guru of Kamalakiran.

The three violists included: Abhishek Balakrishnan (disciple of Delhi Sri P Sunder Rajan), Kamalakiran Vinjamuri (disciple of Kum. A. Kanyakumari), Sanjith Narayanan (disciple of Kamalakiran Vinjamuri), accompanied by the percussionists Vignesh Venkataraman (disciple of Umayalpuram Sri K. Sivaraman) on the mridangam, Karun Salvady (disciple of Trichy Sri B. Harikumar) mridangam, Aditya Srivatsan (disciple of Pt. Shantilal Shah) on the tabla, and Sri Sowmiya Narayanan (disciple of Ghatam Karthick and Sri V Suresh) on the ghatam.

Dr. S S Badrinath established Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai forty years ago. Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust was established in 1987 by SV Acharya to raise funds for Sankara Nethralaya Chennai. Funds in excess of one million raised annually were used to perform approximately 25,000 free surgery, 400,000 out patients treated, thousand plus eye screening camps in rural areas and schools and more than 10,000 free eye glasses dispensed. MESU (mobile eye surgical unit) is an operation theatre on wheels providing free service in remote village where there is no facility available. Screening is done in one bus and advanced suture less cataract surgery in the other van.

India has the highest number of blind people globally, more than 15 million. Sankara Nethralaya is extremely grateful to these young artists who performed free and raised more than $27,000 with so many conflicting events on that day. Our deepest appreciation to Roopa Balakrishnan, for her amazing fund raising effort and for bringing awareness of SN to young audiences. It costs only $65 to perform a free cataract surgery.

This Diwali give the gift of sight.For further information and to donate, please visit wwwsankaranethralayausa.org or call Leela Krishnamurthy (832-654-9444) President SN OM Trust or Jay Malhotra Trustee (713 – 962-5555.)