Shruthi Launches Carnatic Choir

For the first-time ever in the UK, a pioneering concept, the British Carnatic Choir, was launched in Birmingham…reports Asian Lite News

Guestss and organisers during th launch of Shruthi's Carnatic Choir
Guestss and organisers during th launch of Shruthi’s Carnatic Choir

The British Carnatic Choir is the brainchild of Dr Chithra Ramakrishnan, one of the country’s finest Carnatic vocalists and Artistic Director of Shruthi UK, the Solihull-based South Asian arts and culture organisation.

It aims to create and explore choral singing in South Indian classical music in the UK. With a key focus on children and young adults with a passion to connect through music, the British Carnatic Choir aims to transcend this genre of music across the UK and beyond and to diverse communities.

Carnatic music is a system of classical music associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent. It is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians, consisting of a principal performer (usually a violinist), a melodic accompaniment (usually a violin), a rhythm accompaniment (usually a mridangam), and a tambura, which acts as a drone throughout the performance.

The event was attended by representatives from public and private sector organisations, the launch took place at the Greater Birmingham Chamber. It was inaugurated by Chitravina N Ravikiran, a world-renowned composer and scholar in Carnatic music.

The programme also featured a conversation on the history of Carnatic music between Chitravina Ravikiran and Dr Eliot Bates from the University of Birmingham. BBC Asian Network presenter Ashanti Omkar provided her contribution via Skype. (See Editor’s Notes for Contributor profiles).

Mr JK Sharma, Consul General of India in Birmingham; Dr Chithra Ramakrishnan; Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr Ray Hassall and Chitravina Ravikiran

Addressing the audience, Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Lib Dem Perry Barr Councillor Ray Hassall said: “As First Citizen of a multicultural, multi-racial city, it gives me enormous pleasure to attend this launch, as one of my first events as Lord Mayor. I congratulate Dr Ramakrishnan on her concept and I hope it is embraced by as many people as possible as by doing so I feel it will bring together people and communities and make our city even greater and richer for its ever-growing diversity.”

The British Carnatic Choir aims to identify and recognise people, particularly children and youth, of all abilities and from all walks of life who share a common passion to create a British Carnatic Community, one which reflects the multicultural mosaic of Great Britain. It aims to complement Prime Minister David Cameron’s British Values in an attempt to encourage all citizens to respect each other’s ways of life and to celebrate good work, through the sounds, words and pictures of the British Carnatic Choir.

Earlier this year, Shruthi UK hosted an event to mark International Women’s Day, also a free Bharatnatyam dance workshop in support of World Autism Awareness Day 2015, working with Special Schools across the West Midlands. Shruthi UK, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary, is the brainchild of Mother-of-two Dr Chithra Ramakrishnan, who hails from a family of talented musicians and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). She also has MBAs in Marketing & Finance and in Human Resources. She also holds a doctorate in Management.

The organisation conducts one to one sessions and a series of workshops in Carnatic music and Bharatnatyam dance for children and young adults.