TRADITION: This is what the Kalaraagakshethram Academy of Classical Music and Dance aims to do
JOHOR BARU: FOR the Kalaraagakshethram Academy of Classical Music and Dance, Aug 31 is significant not only because of National Day, but because it was the day the academy was inaugurated in 2003.
The academy is one of the most dynamic Indian music institutions in Johor for it classical veena (a traditional Indian plucked string instrument used in Carnatic music) classes.
At its inception, 40 students registered to learn how to play the Saraswathi veena, so named because Saraswathi Devi, the goddess of learning, is always portrayed with a veena on her lap.
Today, more than 300 students are being trained to play the veena.
The academy also offers a wide range of classes including Carnatic vocals, playing the violin, flute and tabla instruments, and bharatanatyam, a traditional Indian dance form.
Students undergo various levels of practical training in dance and music under the skilled tutelage of dedicated gurus to prepare them for examinations conducted by K.N. Ethirajavalli, a retired examiner from the Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai, India.
"Music is divine, a legacy bequeathed to us. It is our duty to practise, preserve and pass it on to posterity," said Ethirajavalli, who has a Masters in Indian music and a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Madras.
He had a long and distinguished career as university lecturer and performer in the Indian classical performing arts as well.
Renuka Ganesh, the founder and principal of the academy, said its musical recital entitled, Tri Sakthi Ula, on Aug 25 took six months in the making. The musical portrays the three Hindu goddesses of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi.
Renuka, a talented and gifted musician, completed a comprehensive musical education under the tutelage of Ethirajavalli at the Kalakshetra Foundation, an academy dedicated to the preservation of the traditional arts of India.
After her graduation in 1995, she tirelessly promoted Indian classical arts that ultimately led her to establish Kalaraagakshethram in Taman Daya, Johor.
Students in the academy are also taught religious doctrines and the philosophy of classical fine arts.
In addition to training locally, students and teachers also attend Carnatic music classes in India.
They have performed in many cultural events in Perak, Selangor, Penang, Singapore and Beijing.
In the musical recital which comprised devotional songs and classical dances, teachers performed alongside students to encourage the latter.
Some 80 students aged between 5 and 35 underwent training to perform in the annual event to showcase their talents before distinguished guests, mentors and proud parents.
The evening's recital ended with a certificate-awarding ceremony for students who have completed different levels of training in the various disciplines. The recipients included the academy's oldest student, Mageswari Moorthy, 72, who was awarded with an upper grade certificate for the veena.
The academy is at 82 Jalan Pinang 18, Taman Daya, Johor Baru, with branches in Damansara Aliff and Kulaijaya. For more information, call 012-793 9432.