Upakriti will hold a concert fundraiser Sunday, Aug. 17, featuring Pandit Habib Khan, the well-respected musician known for his blend of Hindustani music, jazz, and fusion, and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, the tabla master who has received the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award from the Indian government and the American Academy of Artists Award. Also playing that night will be the Shivaranjini Orchestra. “We are really excited about this concert,” says Aravinda Radhakrishnan, president of Upakriti.
Upakriti began in 2000 as a group of friends looking to do humanitarian work in India and became a registered nonprofit in 2004. The group’s work focuses on providing education and healthcare for underprivileged children in several areas in India.
“Some of the kids we help have never seen a school before, some are orphans, some even have parents in jail,” Radhakrishnan says. Upakriti also works to rehabilitate child workers who have had to sacrifice education due to immense poverty. The nonprofit has served over 350 children so far.
The organization reaches these children by locating and supporting private homes in India that can provide foster care and oversee the children’s educational and medical needs. Monies raised at the concert will go directly to those homes.
Radhakrishnan says that the concert fundraiser was the idea of one of Khan’s students. “Rekha Alur initiated it to support our organization and Panditji was quick to endorse it. We’re very grateful.”
Among Khan’s many other accomplishments, he is founder and artistic director of the Habib Khan Saraswati Temple and Gurukul, “a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the classical music of North India,” as described on Khan’s website. His students not only learn Indian classical music, but also develop an intimate knowledge of Khan’s affinity for blending Indian with international. The teacher is known for using Western drums and Japanese Taiko drums in his compositions.
Radhakrishnan is quick to downplay his role as president and stresses that his organization would not be able to get these services to the children without the dedication of Upakriti’s volunteers.
“They work so selflessly and we wouldn’t be where we are without them,” Radhakrishnan says.
Looking ahead to the concert, he says, “Our expectation is three fold: raise sufficient funds for the homes we support; for Panditji’s Gurukul to attract more students towards Hindustani music; and for our sponsors to receive more publicity.”
The theater’s capacity is 550 and Radhakrishnan says Upakriti is hoping for a sellout show.