Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 22, 1996

In Brief

Student group brings sarangi to Homewood

     In this country, a person could so easily go through life
and never know the haunting music of a sarangi. This Indian
stringed instrument, a distant cousin to the violin, is one of
the most difficult in the world to master and is played by only a
handful of musicians.

     But next Monday evening, the Homewood campus will have a
rare opportunity to hear the sarangi performed by one of the
finest sarangi musicians in the world. 

     Smt. Aruna Kalle will perform, accompanied by Shri.
Balakrishna Iyer on the Tabla at 8 p.m. on April 29, in the
Arellano Theater. The concert is free and is presented by the
Johns Hopkins chapter of the Society for Promotion of Indian
Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth. 

     For the past three years, the Hopkins group has brought
classical Indian dance and music performances to campus, serving
to introduce Western audiences to a different style of classical
music, to keep alive some declining art forms and to fill a void
experienced by many Indian students and faculty here who are far
from home.

     "In India, the music and culture are all around you, on the
TV, the radio, everywhere, and at home, you don't find yourself
thinking about it at all," said Sekhar Pisupati, a chemical
engineering graduate student. "But when you are in a Western
country like the United States, and you suddenly have none of it,
you tend to feel that something is missing."

     Many of the people attending the concerts, said Pisupati,
are graduate students from India, savoring a taste of the
classical music and dance that they used to be able to take for
granted. But now the group is hoping to reach out to people of
all backgrounds, especially students.

     "To me it makes sense that people from Peabody, or anyone
that loves music, would be interested in this," he said. "The
sarangi is a beautiful instrument but a dying art form. Even if
someone's background is in Western classical music, they would
still benefit from attending these concerts."

     And we may never have the chance to hear the instrument
played by a master again. The sarangi, an ancient North Indian
bowed instrument is considered one of the most difficult to
master. For that reason, it has remained relatively undeveloped
and mostly used as a background accompanying instrument for vocal

     Aruna Kalle is the daughter of the renowned sarangi maestro
Pandit Ram Narayan, the famous Indian musician who singlehandedly
brought the sarangi into the mainstream of that country's
performing arts. His daughter and pupil is the only well-known
woman player of the instrument. 

     All SPICMACAY concerts, lectures and programs are free. For
more information, call Dilip at (410)235-5266.

True picture of Islam is subject of library exhibit

     The Muslim Students Association and the Graduate Muslim
Students are the sponsors of an exhibit titled "Through the Eyes
of Islam's Five Pillars," which runs through May 17 at the Milton
S. Eisenhower Library.

     "Most of the time what we hear about Islam is
controversial," said F. Betul Altug, who helped organize the
exhibit. "The idea was to give a true picture of Islam." 

     The exhibit includes samples of Tezhib (old Turkish art) and
writings, selected passages from the Qur'an and written
interpretations of certain beliefs. A demographic map of the
United States shows California as the state most populated by
Muslims. Maryland is in the top 10, Altug said.

     "The message [of religion] is always the same, which is
God's original message: try to be helpful to other people and try
to act righteously," Altug said.

     The exhibit also includes photos of members of the Muslim
community by Washington, D.C., photographer Fareed H. Nu'Man. The
photos, Altug said, illustrate the five principles of Islam:
declaration of faith, prayer, charity, fasting during Ramadan and
pilgrimage to Mecca.

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