Captivated from the first jingle of tiny bells tied around dancers’ ankles as they entered up the aisles, the audience at “Hands Full of Beauty,” a concert of world music, slipped into a far away culture for part of the afternoon April 2.
Srinivas Krishnan, artistic director of Global Rhythms, and other performers from around the world evoked the power of the human hand during the concert in celebration of President Pamela Fox’s inauguration.
“It’s about making music very real,” said Krishnan, a native of India and artist in residence at the Center for American and World Cultures at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
The concert, staged at First Presbyterian Church across Frederick Street from the college, began with a traditional Indian dance called Odissi performed by sisters Laboni, Shibani and Shalani Patnaik. The young women have performed the dance — which involves intricate hand and finger movements and bells tied to their ankles and wrists — while on tours with Madonna and Ravi Shankar.
Krishnan said he envisioned the sisters, who are have all finished or are enrolled in American universities and who have high professional ambitions, as role models for students in the audience.
“I thought it was amazing,” said senior Lindsey Lieberman. “I hope we can get more people like this visiting the college and the city. I think it’s something every student should have the chance to experience.”
A pianist, saxophonist and several hand percussionists — many of whom are graduates or students from Miami University’s School of Fine Arts — performed a hypnotic chant and instrumental piece. Drum solos by Krishnan, Patrick Hernly, Satish Pathakota, and young percussion prodigy Kiran Pathakota, a master of the a two-headed drum called the mridangam, rolled the performance to a heart-pumping crescendo.
The percussionists rapidly alternated solos on various ethnic drums: the ghatam, a clay pot from southern India; the kanjira, an instrument made from the skin of an iguana; the tabla, an instrument from northern India; and the steel pan, a Caribbean drum with a metallic sound.
“It was a beautiful statement of the president’s vision, of her encouragement of the school open up and embrace things outside our immediate environment,” said Alice Araujo, assistant professor of communication.
Krishnan’s association with Miami University, where Dr. Fox was a professor of music and dean of the School of Fine Arts, began when he was a student in the mid-1980s. He met Dr. Fox during that time and, later, she encouraged the development of Global Rhythms, which has grown from an ensemble of four people to more than 120 musicians and dancers from around the globe.
“She was the center of initiation for our projects,” Krishnan said of Dr. Fox. “She allowed the world to be part of students’ everyday life by bringing cultural music and cultural appreciation to the school.”
“Every time we come together like this, it is another adventure. The music and your appreciation of it sends ripples of understanding all around the world,” he said.
For more information about the concert and the inauguration, visit https://www.mbc.edu/inauguration/index.asp