The Chicago Tyagaraja Utsavam (CTU) was formed in 1977 with the purpose of promoting charitable, educational, and cultural activities. The organization was founded by Prof. T.E.S. Raghavan and Tyagaraja Rao. Prof. Raghavan, the current President, is the guiding light for the organization. CTU celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2001.
CTU’s mission is to promote Indian classical music, particularly the compositions of Sri Tyagaraja in the USA. To this end, CTU sponsors several events during the year. These include the annual music festival during the Memorial Day weekend (Utsavam); music mini-camps, where established musicians from India work with young students in the Chicago area; music competitions, in which all participants are inspired and motivated while the talented are recognized; and regular sahasranamam and pancharatnam classes. These are but some of the wide range of activities organized by the CTU.
Present And The Future
Started in 1977 with an attendance of about a dozen people, the Utsavam has grown enormously in size. In 2004 more than 300 amateur musicians performed on stage and more than 6000 people attended. CTU is a not-for-profit organization that is supported by a grant from Illinois Arts Council (a state agency), donations from well wishers, and sales of CDs of our music concerts. One example of a remarkable contribution is from Drs. Nagamani & Vidyasagar Dharmapuri who have been kind enough to pay for the three day auditorium expenses for hosting the Utsavam for the next 10 years. CTU is grateful for their magnanimity. The organization manages to host quality progams on shoe string budgets as it is predominantly run by a team of dedicated volunteers. The volunteers meet fortnightly to discuss issues and strategies. Every year, roughly 3 months prior to the Utsavam, CTU hosts a General Body Meeting where persons from the public, who are active at the Utsavam, are invited and provided a forum to present their views.
CTU never rests on its laurels. It is always looking to new ideas for promoting our art and culture. The music competition in 2004 and the Utsava Sampradaya Kritis rendition by children in 2005 are just a couple of examples of our never ending quest to find new ways to teach and promote music. “Our goal is to provide everyone an opportunity to learn our heritage and be proud of it”, says Dr. Raghavan.