Jayashree Varadarajan followed her family’s footsteps when she established Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandir School of Fine Arts in Sunnyvale in 1983. Three decades earlier, her grandfather, the Late Sri. G. Vedanta Iyengar, founded Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira in Karnataka, India. Iyengar’s children kept the school going after his death.
A scientist with master’s degrees in botany and microbiology from Mysore University and the University of Cincinnati, Varadarajan left the world of science to follow her heart in dance and music. She also holds senior degrees in bharatanatyam, veena, and Sanskrit as well as a diploma in drama and theater.
Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandir’s mission is to enrich lives by imparting thorough knowledge of Karnatik classical music to all students regardless of their background. Varadarajan is known amongst the music community as an eminent vocalist, composer, and most importantly, a dedicated and knowledgeable teacher. Her musical and dance talents have won her numerous accolades and prizes including First Prize in the Raga, Tana, and Pallavi singing competition held under the auspices of the Bangalore Gayana Samaja (1975), and honors such as Sangeetha Vidushi, Sangeetha Kala Saraswathi, Sangeetha Kala Vibhooshini, and Shri Guru to name a few. She is also a recipient of the Artist’s Fellowship Award from the California Arts Council for excellence in music.
As a composer, she has set music to many compositions including several of Purandara Dasa, and released an audiocassette and a book titled, Purandara Pada Saurabha. She has also set original music to Syananduresvara, a rare and major poetic work by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal.
Over the last quarter century, students of the school have regularly performed at major international events, festivals, fundraising events, and community outreach programs. Students of Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandir develop discipline, learn the value of consistent dedication and hard work, and are taught moral and ethical values. Each student, parent, and volunteer is encouraged to inspire their community through the school’s mission of service and self-development.
Past productions have included “Nada Yoga,” “Raga Rasa,” “Syananduresvara,” “Prince of Ayodhya,” “Shiva Priya,” “Meera,” “Forgive Me of Adi Sankara,” and “Yuva Pratibha and Bhajana Sandhya.”
The school is celebrating its 25th year of service in teaching and propagating the rich cultural heritage of Karnatik music. At the anniversary show, “Kala Vandana,” 240 students of the school are scheduled to perform and pay tribute to Karnatik culture.
Saturday, Sept. 12, 1:30 p.m.. Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 S. El Monte Road, Los Altos. (408) 252-1369, (408) 732-4969, (408) 677-7530.www.srirama.net.