As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect all aspects of life around the world, two high school teens have wanted to do their part by helping out the hospitals serving the local community in Michigan, and in their native land of India. Their efforts were supported by the Great Lakes Aradhana Committee (GLAC), a non-profit organization committed to preserving and promoting Indian classical arts in the Great Lakes region. GLAC immediately pivoted away from existing fundraising strategies and shifted to a virtual platform.
A unique fusion of western classical and Carnatic music called “Sangam” was planned by the committee. All of the online proceeds will go towards personal protective equipment (PPEs) for helping the first responders and hospital staff in both, Detroit and Chennai, cities which have been greatly impacted during this global pandemic.
Sahith Shankar, a senior at West Bloomfield High School, played the Carnatic violin, and Tejas Shivaraman, a senior at Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School in Bloomfield Hills, played the western piano. Both high school teens have previously performed and won awards in several music festivals across the country. Vinod Seetharaman, a leading percussion artist in North America, played mridangam for the concert.
The event drew a large and diverse audience. It was broadcasted across the world by means of YouTube and PaalamTV, through a partnership with mudhra.org which raised around $10,000 online. Money raised was used towards procuring PPEs for Beaumont Hospitals in Detroit and for Sri Sankara Eye Hospitals (SEH) in Chennai.
“It was wonderful to be part of a project which could help hospitals in our community”, said Tejas Shivaraman, who holds a music scholarship for his high school studies.
“GLAC has a rich history of stepping up and giving back to the community during times of need. It’s a win-win to have helped both Detroit and Chennai, our sister cities connected by the arts and the automobile. Special thanks to everyone who donated, and to Shiv Shivaraman and Jay Shankar Balan, the pillars who made this a reality!”, said Sriram Ganapathy, president of GLAC.
About GLAC’s corporate citizenship efforts:
GLAC is the largest arts organization of its kind in Michigan and is supported by the Michigan Arts Council and Detroit Recreation Department.
The year 2020 marks the 35th year anniversary of the organization, 30th year of its annual Navaratri festival, and the 10th year of the SAROVAR festival. GLAC partners its programming with Oakland University, Washtenaw Community College, The Carr Center, and the Arab American National Museum in an effort to build bridges that span racial, cultural, and ethnic divisions amongst the communities as well as embracing all cultural art forms.
Two of GLAC’s festivals are community fundraisers. GLAC recently had the Summer Music Festival, ‘Paarambaryam’ with the proceeds going directly to musicians suffering from the COVID-19 shut down. More than 600 artistes have now been aided since the pandemic began. In the past, GLAC supported the cities of Chennai and Flint during the Chennai floods, Flint cleanup efforts, and in collecting samples for the Susan B Komen Tissue Bank in Detroit.
By Varsha Ganapathy
Varsha is a high school senior at Northville Public Schools and a National Merit Scholar semifinalist. She is the webmaster and chair of the youth committee at glacmichigan.com. She has been a part of several GLAC’s initiatives and corporate citizenship efforts. She also plays an active role in Northville’s IASA.