World Premiere of Mahatma Symphony Enthralls Houston Audience

The joint appearance of the Houston Symphony and the Dr. L. Subramaniam quartet (left) with vocalist Kavita Krishnamurti created an awe-inspiring musical tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and celebration of 75th anniversary of India’s independence. Photo credit: Amitava Sarkar

By Jyoti Kulkarni

Hobby Center audience enjoyed the collaborative meeting of Indian and Western classical music.

HOUSTON: A Houston audience was mesmerized by violin virtuoso Dr. L. Subramaniam’s tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and his message of peace and nonviolence. The historic concert was presented by the Indo-American Association (IAA) of Houston on Saturday, August 6 at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts in downtown Houston. Consul General Aseem Mahajan introduced the performance as part of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”– a celebration of India’s 75th year of independence.
IAA had commissioned Dr. Subramaniam to compose this rousing musical tribute. “It took months of planning, hard work, and detailed coordination to make it happen,” said IAA Executive Director Sheetal Bedi. This was a first-ever collaboration between the IAA and the Houston Symphony.
The Mahatma Symphony takes you on an evocative  musical journey through the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi in three stages — his struggle in South Africa, followed by “satyagrhaha” nonviolent freedom struggle, and ending with Gandhi’s tragic martyrdom.
Dr. Subramaniam’s composition incorporates African rhythms reflecting Gandhi’s initial struggle for human rights on behalf  of the India migrants in South Africa. The freedom struggle in India was portrayed through several performances, including the devotional hymn “Vaishnava Janato,” one of Gandhi’s favorites, sung in a mellifluous voice by famed playback singer Kavita Krishnamurti in the lead with the Houston Symphony and its Chorus. The final movement of symphony touched upon the painful partition and Gandhi’s assassination, and concluded with the climatic optimism of India’s freedom from colonial rule.
“It was a soul-sirring performance which combined the best of Indian and Western music, presented in the prestigious venue of the Hobby Center,” said a Gen X member of the audience.” Of special significance was Dr. Subramaniam’s solo performance of his own “Shantipriya” to the accompaniment of the Houston Symphony. The best part of the concert, according to my 11-year-old granddaughter, was what she called the “tabla song”, a back-and-forth rendition by the percussionists and Dr. Subramaniam on the violin
Founded in 1993, IAA today is a leading cultural arts organization presenting world-class talent. Each year, IAA has presented a thoughtfully curated season of 8-10 live shows. To encourage such monumental  concerts, please join the IAA as a patron. For more information, visit or call 832-315-6586.