For 37 years, the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival has celebrated the artistry and culture of South India on the campus of Cleveland State University. Over the years, it has grown to be the largest Indian classical music festival outside of India.
For the first time, Oberlin College will celebrate Earth Day with a Thyagaraja Festival of its own: For 12 hours on Tuesday, April 22, the college will host South Indian musicians who have traveled halfway around the world to join in the Cleveland festival.
Named in honor of the prolific Indian composer—the Beethoven of Indian classical music—Thyagaraja includes four performances of traditional South Indian music and dance, and a midnight film.
All activities are free and are scheduled to take place at the historic Apollo Theatre (19 East College St.) in downtown Oberlin from 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, through 2 a.m. Wednesday, April 23.
“This is a glimpse into a whole culture that very rarely gets seen in America,” says Jamey Haddad, professor of advanced improvisation and percussion at Oberlin and the organizer of the festival. “Almost everything that we know about India in America pertains to Northern India. This festival represents the entire other half of the subcontinent.
“In the past, whenever our students have gone to Cleveland to see the fest, it has generated a lot of excitement,” Haddad adds. “We’re happy that we can share that energy with Oberlin for a day.”
The performance schedule is as follows, and each performance will be preceded by a brief Q&A with the artists:
2-4 p.m. Featuring Mudikondan Ramesh (playing the veena, a predecessor of the modern sitar), Atul Kumar (flute), and Trivandrum Balaji (mridangam, an ancient tabla). Preview the performance here.
4:30-6:30 p.m. Featuring Vyasarpadi Kothandaraman (nadaswaram, a predecessor of the modern oboe or bassoon), B. Kesanna (nadaswaram), Panruti Venkatesan (thavil, a barrel-shaped drum), and S. Palanivel (thavil). See a preview here.
7-9 p.m. Featuring Suguna Varadhachari (voice, with Carnatic violin and mridangam), R. Suryaprakash (voice), V.V.S. Murari (violin), and Rohan Krishnamurthy (mridangam). See a preview here.
9:30-11:30 p.m. A demonstration of Bharatanatyam dance.
Midnight: Screening of the Indian film Ship of Theseus (2012).
For more information on Oberlin’s Thyagaraja Festival, please contact Jamey Haddad at email@example.com.