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SWAMI THYAGARAJA MUSIC FESTIVAL 2008 (article first published : 2008-05-22)

The Indian Academy of South Africa in association with Lotus FM and Eastern Mosaic / SABC 2 is proud to announce its Annual Heritage Series / Swami Thyagaraja Music Festival 2008.

The Swami Thyagaraja Music Festival will be held on May 25 at 14h30 at the Durban City Hall. This is a joint presentation by the Indian Academy of SA and the Andhra Maha Sabha of SA. Visiting artistes like Padmashri Balamuralikrishna, Dr TN Seshagopalan, Sudha Ruganathan, Srekala Bharat and Dr Dhananjayan have been thoroughly impressed with the standards and technical presentation of this 'Festival' in SA.

The legendary Padmashri Balamuralikrishna said, "The Swami Thyagaraja Music Festival presented in Durban is the most beautiful, inspiring and outstanding Festival." The programme will feature songs, music and dances by international and South African performers.

This year's overseas stars include the dazzling youth prodigy, Mandalika Lalitha Sudha. A first year university student from Chennai, India, she created a sensation when she sang at the Lord Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati and was recognized as the best vocalist of the year in 2007. She is an exceptionally talented singer and her music is studded with an excellent voice and outstanding interpretation of classical Carnatic music. A brilliant award winning documentary in English on the Tirupati Temple featuring appropriate music by Mandalika and her troupe will be launched in South Africa as the world's first during the Heritage Series season. The documentary is truly mind boggling with some of the finest graphic arts in the world and embellished with a scintillating English commentary by one of India's famous commentators B. Ramakrishna. She will be accompanied by two very seasoned accompanists on the violin and mridhangam.

Shri V.R. Jayakumar (Mridangam Artists) has undergone the complete course on mridangam under Shri Tanjore R. Ramados, mridangam vidwan and has accompanied numerous artistes in vocal and instrumental concerts on All India Radio and Doordarshan. He has also participated in numerous Music Festivals and concerts conducted by Music Academy, Krishna Gana Sabha, The Indian Fine Arts Society, Mylapore Fine Arts Club, Bharath Kalachar, Nada Imbam, Narada Gana Sabha, Thiaga Bhrama Gana Sabha, Karthick Fine Arts, Tamil Isai Sangham, Saraswathi Vaggyakala Trust, Shanmugananda Sabha, SICA Hyderabad and Music Foundation Trust, Delhi.

Smt. Neela Jayakumar (Violinist) studied violin extensively under violin maestro, Dr M Chandra-sekaran and is married to V.R. Jayakumar, mridangam artistes. She has performed at the Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha, The Indian Fine Arts Society, The Mylapore Fine Arts Club, Kapali Fine Arts, Rasika Ranjani Sabha, Nadospasana, Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, Tamil Isai Sangam, Nungambakkam Cultural Academy, Music Education Trust, Delhi, Sabhas at Bangalore, Jamshedpur, Karur, Delhi, Madurai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Calcutta and Vellore. She has also played on the violin for many lecture demonstrations organized by the Music Academy on Pancha Linga Krithis, Navagraha Krithis and Beauty of Thyagaraja. Also appeared on Doordarshan TV, Jaya TV, Sun TV, Vijay TV, Raj TV and Star TV. Has toured Canada, Muscat and London.

The South African artists on tour include Sarveshan Gangen who is one of South Africa's most exciting Indian dancers and a student of the renowned dance exponent and dance teacher, Smt. Savithri Naidoo of the Cape Town-based Vadhini Indian Arts Academy. Among his notable performances were: (2005) Natyanjali (Botswana), Natyanjali (Cape Town Artscape), 10 Years of Democracy (Closing Ceremony, Athlone Stadium, Kala Vaibhavam India (Kalakshetra), Natya Kala Conference (India, Krishna Gnana Sabha, Chennai), Midsummer Night's Dream Musical (Cape Town Baxter); (2006) Rangpravesh/Arangetram (Cape Town Joseph Stone Auditorium)(2007) Rangeela (Cape Town), Snow white & the Seven Dwarves, Dance Drama (Cape Town Artscape) and Saptaswara Bharata Natyam Dance Recital (Johannesburg).

Uthra Rajamani is a vocalist who hails from Chennai. He has been learning music from the age of three and underwent music tuition with Smt. Parvathi Raman of Chennai for seven years and then commenced advance training under Bombay Sisters for the past nine years. She has also taken lessons from Grand Guru Vidwan Sri CK Govinda Rao and has been performing at the Chennai Music Festival for the past three years. She has also appeared in select programme at various Sabhas including the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Naada Inbam, The Mylapore Fine Arts, Indian Fine Arts Society, Thiru Thirupathi Devasthanams. She has also vocally supported her Gurus, the Bombay Sisters in the December Music Festival in Chennai in 2002 and anchored two musical programmes for two years for an overseas television channel produced in Chennai.

Kumari Archana is a dancer who is a mechanical engineer by profession and an ardent student of the Natyakala Nidhi Srimati Santha Bhaskar Dance School. She started learning dance at the age of eight and has performed at many shows and dance productions choreographed by Srimati Santha. Whilst under Shrimati Santha, Kumari Archana performed at the National University of Singapore and has led the group on many local and overseas performances including an eleven day trip to Shuzuoka, Japan, for the Japan Youth International Musicale.

Asogan Moodley - Gatham Asoghan is one of the very few ghtham players in South Africa. Over the years he has become skilled and adept at playing this unique instrument. He will be accompanying the vocalists at the Swami Thygaraja Music Festival.

The Swami Thyagaraja Award will be presented to Pat Poovalingam, well known journalist, Author, columnist, scholar and arts connoisseur. The award is being presented by the Indian Academy of SA in recognition of Mr. Poovalingam's long dedication and commitment to the promotion of Indian culture particularly Indian Arts for over fifty years. He has dedicatedly championed the causes of Indian Culture and Indian arts. The Indian Academy salutes his efforts.

Other programmes on the cultural calendar include a programme of semi classical and devotional songs and dances on May 24 at 17h30 at the Stanger Siva Sungam in association with KwaDukuza Tamil Federation. Enquiries to Sagayan on 032 522 3566 or 073 568 6464.

Shiva Meiyam is a special devotional programme with songs, music and dance featuring India and South African artists which has been devised and produced by Dr TP Naidoo and directed by Magendran Balakisten This will take place on May 30 at 19h00 at the Sri Vaidyanathar Eeaswarar Alayam: Enquiries to 031 400 2725 or 031 400 4759.

Namo Venkateswara Eedu Kondala Vaada, a programme dedicated to Lord Venkateswara featuring India and South African artists in bhajans, dance items and songs will take place on June 1 at 14h30 at Shree Siva Subramaniam Temple, 122 Sirdar Road, Clairwood.

More information from C.Naidoo on 031 400 2725 or 031 400 4759 or email: tpnaidoo@mweb.co.za




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