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Festival celebrates life and music of saint

Dancers, musicians and businesses gathered virtually to attend an annual festival, commemorating the 174th birthday of the South Indian singing saint and composer Thyagaraja. The Birmingham Thyagaraja Festival,

organised by South Asian arts organisation ShruthiUK, featured 100 performances of Indian classical and folk music and dance, during the event, livestreamed to a global audience. Performances paid homage to Saint

Thyagaraja, an 18th century composer who has been hailed for his contribution to Carnatic music.This year’s festival was supported by Consul General of India in Birmingham, mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull, Solihull Chamber of Commerce, Asian Business Chamber of Commerce, The Royal Asiatic Society and a host of other premier partners. The festival was also backed by Sridhar Ranganathan, CEO and founder of Shankar Mahadevan Academy, and legendary Bollywood musician and composer Shankar Mahadevan as special festival partners. The festival was presided by Dr Shashank

Vikram, Consul General of India in Birmingham, as the chief guest.

Celebrating South Asian art and culture

A non-profit organisation will be producing an exhibition alongside a series of events, entitled ‘Voices of the Unheard’ as part of South Asian Heritage month. The programme is being delivered by the

HeARTivism Project, alongside The Birmingham Contemporary Art Gallery, and SAHM Birmingham Committee. The first event of the programme will be

held on 18 July and will feature live music, poetry, dancing and esteemed guest speakers. The event and exhibition will explore and

showcase the history and culture of South Asians, and the contributions they have made and continue to make, to Britain, to its economy and to the world. Asif Ahmed, non-executive chairman of

the HeARTivism Project and executive chairman of MirZyme Therapeutics, said: “The HeARTivism Project is bringing the people and businesses of Birmingham together to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month and we hope to recognise and celebrate some of the people who have made a difference to the lives of others in the West Midlands.”

48 CHAMBERLINK June 2021 Dr Chithra Ramakrishnan (pictured), founder

and artistic director at ShruthiUK, and curator of the Birmingham Thyagaraja Festival, commented: “Festivals such as the BTF, further strengthens the cultural links between the UK and India, defining India’s unique cultural heritage and its national identity and help preserving them in the years to come. “The format of the festival

being online is completely new to us. Curating the festival required a lot of coordination and planning. It has enabled successful partnerships and to connect with people from across the globe. “These classical Indian festival and

art forms have evolved and passed on from many generations and are still practiced with great respect and fervour globally and to wider communities. “A huge thanks to the team, and everyone

involved in putting together this amazing event at such challenging times.” Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

chief executive, Henrietta Brealey, was one of three leaders presented with an award during

Celebration: More than 100 performances took place as part of the Birmingham Thyagaraja Festival

the event, recognising their achievements as outstanding and inspiring women. Diana Crabtree, country president at St John’s Ambulance and Deborah Cadman, chief executive at Birmingham City Council, were also presented with awards.

Magistrate raises vital funds

Worcestershire magistrate Chris Devney has walked 150 miles in aid of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, raising more than £4,700. Over six days in May Chris, who is also a

devoted volunteer for the charity, walked between each of the charity’s airbases, three of its shops, its Stourbridge HQ and the original airbase at Hagley Hall, to mark the organisation’s 30th anniversary of operation. On arrival at Hagley Hall, where the charity

was first based in 1991, Chris presented the organisation’s chief executive, Hanna Sebright,

Walking fundraiser: Chris Devney (right) with Hanna Sebright

with a bouquet of red lilies symbolising friendship and loyalty, and presented Lord Cobham with bulbs of the same lilies to be planted in the grounds of Hagley Hall. Chris said: “This has been the hardest physical challenge that I’ve ever taken on, and I’m over the moon to have completed it. All the blisters, aches and pains have been worth it for such an amazing charity. “I would like to say thank you to everyone

who has supported me throughout this event; from original idea to its completion. But I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has so kindly donated. Your incredible support will ensure the operational crews of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity continue to provide world- class critical care and keep on saving lives.” Hanna Sebright said: “What a feat! It is

outstanding that Chris has once again conquered such an arduous challenge in aid of our lifesaving local charity and raised so much in the process. “His endurance fundraising challenge will go

directly towards supporting our service, funding ten critically important missions, one air ambulance and nine in our service’s critical care cars. As we receive no Government or NHS Charities Together funding, we’re hugely grateful for all he has done in our 30th anniversary year.”

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