Ra-Ve puts Indian heritage center stage at youth festival Feb. 10

Ra-Ve puts Indian heritage center stage at youth festival Feb. 10

Yuva Utsav isn’t an idea unique to Northwest Arkansas. From Hindi, the phrase translates to “youth festival,” and its purpose in the South Asian country is to “generate appreciation about the diverse spiritual and cultural heritage.”

Yuva Utsav returns for its second year in Bentonville Feb. 10, thanks to the support of the Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation and “designed specifically to celebrate the young artists who are making waves in Indian traditional music and dance,” says Srividya Venkatasubramanya, executive director and founder of Ra-Ve. “Yuva Utsav falls under the umbrella of the Ra-Ve Professional Concert Series, with the goal that this youth festival will grow in the years to come to include local artists and audiences who support this age group and their talent.”

Venkatasubramanya founded Ra-Ve in 2018, the result of 10 years of work keeping her Indian heritage alive for her children.

“I moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2008 when my husband got an offer from Sam’s Club,” she explains, adding that her youngest child was just 6 months old then. “I had grown up learning Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance, and my mother and sister also sang Carnatic music. I grew up going to concerts, and we listened a lot to Indian traditional music at home too.

“I wanted the same for my children,” she goes on. “So I hunted for good teachers and got lucky with teachers in the Indian community who taught Carnatic violin and Bharatanatyam. Without the larger environment in the community to support Indian arts, it was very challenging to keep my children motivated to learn and practice their arts. So I started supporting their teachers and found ways to create that environment as much as I could. I was lucky to have the support of a few other families who felt the same way, and here we are!”

Ra-Ve was founded to “to provide a platform for youth and adults in the Northwest Arkansas region to keep in touch with their Indian cultural roots through their traditional music and dance,” Venkatasubramanya says. “Also, Indian culture is its own brand that people from all over the world recognize and enjoy. So, it was a way to bring these cultural experiences to just anyone and everyone in the region that wanted to be entertained by something different.”

Yuva Utsav will feature four young performers:

Radha Varadan — A dancer since she was 3, Varadan began with classical ballet and soon added classical Kathak. She combines this classical training with additional instruction in contemporary and modern dance, as well as Indian and Western vocal music. She is currently finishing her degree in Post-Modern Dance from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., while also completing her B.S. in Molecular Biological and Health Sciences.

Matangi Arun — A sophomore at the University of Arkansas pursuing an international business major in Economics and a minor in Data Analytics, Arun is a Carnatic violinist, starting her studies at age 7. She has performed at events like Bentonville First Friday and Sapthaswaras in Northwest Arkansas, along with community performances in Dallas.

Medhansh Sankaran — A Carnatic violinist for more than a decade, he has performed at Sapthaswaras throughout Northwest Arkansas and played as far away as Dallas. He is teaching the next generation of violinists through the Kalaloka Institute of Fine Arts, the education arm of Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation.

Vedanth Attili — Now 11 years old, Attili started learning Mridangam (percussion) at age 6 from an instructor in India and has been studying Carnatic voice with an instructor in Austin, Texas. He has also been playing Western piano since the age of 5.

If you’ve never seen a Ra-Ve performance like Yuva Utsav, Venkatasubramanya says to expect to be “thrilled and amazed.”



Yuva Utsav

WHEN — 5-8:30 p.m. Feb. 10 (including a 30-minute intermission)

WHERE — Record, 104 S.W. “A” St. in downtown Bentonville

COST — $12

INFO — ra-veculturalfoundation.org

Categories: Music