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Friday, April 19, 2013


(Palakkad Sreeram is one of the featured international artistes)

This year’s Indian Academy Heritage Series will be presented during May in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The Indian Academy, founded in 1960, has presented its popular Heritage Series for the past 38 years. Featuring top classical musicians and dancers from India alongside South African performers of high quality, this project offers an entertaining and fascinating programme of songs, music and dance aimed at accommodating all linguistic groups and ages.

The Academy’s founder, Dr TP Naidoo, was called to rest in 2012. Dr Naidoo’s daughter, Vasantha Naidoo, has been the assistant director of the series and its programmes for many years. With the support of the Academy members, she promises that the 2013 Heritage Series will maintain the high standard as set in the past.

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, this standard is assured and the NLDTF has also funded a new element to the Series, A New Life, which aims to show that anyone with a disability can work alongside mainstream contemporary or classical performers.

Travelling from India to star in this year’s Heritage Series are two highly distinguished male artists, Palakkad Sreeram and Raja Raja Cholan.

A music graduate from Calicut University, Palakkad Sreeram has earned wide praise as an exceptionally accomplished all-rounder. He is a gifted vocalist, instrumentalist, music director and recording artist with a string of albums and film credits to his name. As a singer in the film field, he first made his mark when his enchanting voice was used by music director Keeravani for the film Annamayya in Telugu. After that, AR Rahman took him up as a vocalist in movies such as Padayappa and Uyire, among many others and brilliantly used Sreeram’s multi talents for his film re-recordings. Sreeram has done music direction himself for two Malayalam films, Mazhamegha Pravukal and Melvilasam Seriyanu. He sang the song Liquid Dance for the Oscar winning movie of AR Rahman.

The multi-award-winning Raja Raja Cholan is highly regarded in the international music sector as a professional singer in the genres of South Indian Classical, Light and Devotional songs. This admired Malaysian artist has a string of prestigious honours and awards to his name, with a host of recordings under his belt, and he has toured extensively across the globe. He has released more than 300 devotional albums, which have been composed by famous Tamil film music directors such as Kalaimamani T.R.Papa, Deva, Gangai Amaran, Palavi Prakash, and many others.

Also appearing on the Heritage Series roster is the acclaimed singer, Usha Raj. Groomed in Bhajans from the tender age of three, she also trained in classical music with leading Indian pedagogues, Smt. Parvathy and Shri Mavelikara R.Prabhakara Varma. She has sung in more than 20 Malayalam films, and has performed frequently on television programmes in many countries, recording songs in various Indian languages. She has given many stage performances, rendering old Hindi film songs conducted by leading musical troupes, and has had a vast performing experience appearing all over India and aboard.

Also set to thrill audiences in this year’s Heritage Series is the swiftly-rising young professional singer, Meenakshi Gayathri Balaji, who hails from the famous musically-acclaimed family of Kalaimamani K Veeramani. She is the niece of the well-known music director, composer and singer, Shri Kannan Veeramani. Gayathri has featured on many of her uncle’s albums that were produced for and marketed in South Africa, Mauritius and Malaysia.

Bringing their own special contributions to the high level of musical making in the Heritage Series 2013 are Rajith George (keyboard), Sreekumar Krishnakutty (rhythm pad), Ramesh Velayudhan (flute), Tony Chimarel (guitar) and Muraleedharan Kanakath (tabla). And adding to the performance’s musically enriching attractions, The Heritage Series promises the usual visual feast of costumes, sets and lighting.

The Academy has always aimed to undertake projects that help the advancement of Indian culture. It is committed to reaching many young people of all cultures and race groups – both those participating and those in the audience. Building on this philosophy, the Indian Academy’s A New Life, conceived and directed by Caroline Smart, was inspired by Dr T P Naidoo’s determination to overcome the immobility problems that beset him most of his adult life.

Featuring award-winning top dancers/choreographers, Verushka Pather and Vusi Makhanya, the production is described as “a fun dance drama with a huge heart”. It will incorporate eight dancers from Pather’s troupe as well as eight of Makhanya’s students from Special Needs schools.

As The Andhra Maha Sabha of South Africa, a sister organization, will be holding the Swami Thyagaraja Music Festival this year, the Academy will not present this specialized Festival. However, Swami Thyagaraja the renowned composer and musician will be honoured at all concerts with songs in dedication to him. The Academy wishes the Andhra Maha Sabha well and offers them their full support.

The first performance of the Heritage Series 2013 will take place in KwaZulu-Natal on May 10 at 19h30, at Shree Veerabogha Emperumal Hall, 483 Gopalall Hurbans Road, Gandhis Hill, Tongaat, presented in association with Watsonia Senior Citizens Club (contact Vasie Reddy on 032 944 1768, Links Naicker on 032 944 4814).

A second performance of the Heritage Series in KwaZulu-Natal will be presented in association with Sri Ayyappa Seva Sungam on May 11 at 16h00. This will be at the Kharwastan Temple Hall, 3 Oak Avenue in Chatsworth (call 031 465 8663).

In Gauteng, the Heritage Series 2013 will be performed on May 12 at 15h00 at The Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City. Enquiries to Vasantha Naidoo on 074 124 6889.

These performances of the Indian Academy of South Africa’s Heritage Series will followed by the presentation of A New Life at Durban’s Stable Theatre on May 18 at 17h00 (media and invitation only) and on May 19 at 16h00 as a public performance. For more information contact Caroline Smart on 082 892 3959 or email:

The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) is the main sponsor of The Heritage Series and A New Life with support from the National Arts Council, Toyota and Pick ‘n Pay.