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Music Heals Tsunami Pain

March 2005
Music Heals Tsunami Pain

Aarohi, a newly established Georgia Tech student organization for promoting Indian classical music and dance, along with two well known social organizations, Vibha and the United Nations Association (UNA-USA) of Atlanta organized a music concert for Tsunami relief that featured some of the best known local talent.

Fortunately for the cause, Kakali Bandhyopadhyaya (sitar), a disciple of Pandit Indranil Bhattacharyya and an artist affiliate faculty member at Emory, Sougata Banerjee (vocal), a disciple of Padma Vibhushan Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj and Pritviraj Bhattacharjee (tabla), a disciple of Ustaad Alla Rakha and Ustaad Zakir Hussein agreed to perform. Accompanying them on the harmonium was Krishnakali Bakshi, a child prodigy, who is now teaching light classical music, ghazals, keyboard and tabla in Atlanta.

The evening started with a two-minute silence in the memory of Tsunami victims. This was followed by an introduction of the United Nations Association and its activities by the chapter President, Betsy Rivard. She highlighted other activities and projects of the UNA-USA's Atlanta chapter including its pet project, the Adopt-A-Minefield program for which Atlanta has raised $110,000 over the last four years.

This was followed by the first part of the concert where Kakali and Prithviraj enchanted the audience. Kakali played the alaap (the first movement where the artist explores the beauty of each note of the raga one at a time), jod (literally a "joint" between the slow and the fast part of the concerto) and jhala (the fast part of the concerto) of Rag Puriya Kalyan, caressing all its notes and bringing out the serenity of the raga. Prithvi, who accompanied her on tabla, performed enchantingly leaving the audience wanting more. After Raga Puriya Kalyan, Kakali played a short dhun in Raga Piloo with traces of Shyam Kalyan and Tilak Kamod.

Aside from her superlative performance, Kakali decided to donate her concert fees for Tsunami relief. An exceptional gesture, since only a week ago, she had donated her concert fees in Birmingham, Alabama, for a similar cause where she helped raise $14,000 through her performance. The Atlanta community must truly be proud of this artist, generous both in her art and her spirit.���

The second half began with Vijay Vemulapalli, one of the founders of Vibha (http://atlanta.vibha.org), giving an audio-visual presentation about the organization. Vibha is a 14-year-old, volunteer driven organization with a mission to enable child development in India and the U.S. Till date, Vibha has supported 145 projects in India and 10 in the U.S.

Sougata Banerjee, (vocal), along with Prithviraj Bhattacharjee on tabla and Krishnakali Bakshi, gave a charming rendition, thereafter. He sang alaap, jod and jhala of Rag Jaijaiwanti, a beautiful night-time raga. Several connoisseurs of Indian classical music agreed that this was one of the best vocal performances they had seen from a young, upcoming artist. Sougata ended his performance with some famous bhajans composed by his guruji, Pandit Jasraj.

Aarohi was memorable since it helped bring several organizations together for a common cause. The money that was raised at the concert through ticket sales and generous donations was sent to the UNICEF and Vibha. The concert's success can truly be attributed to the performers, the audience for turning up in huge numbers and the selfless hours spent by volunteers of various organizations in order to make a difference in people's lives.

- Apurva Mody


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