Yale Raga Society aims to increase awareness of the various artistic traditions of India and its neighbors, provide a forum for musical and artistic collaboration among students, and contribute to the world music initiative at Yale.
In November of 2007, Sannya Hede, DC’10 and Sudhir Rao, DC’11 recognized the need for an organization dedicated to Indian classical arts, especially amidst the growing interest in South Asia and the World Music Initiative at Yale. With the help of a group of students (shown above), Hede and Rao co-founded the Yale Raga Society with the vision of creating a platform to: (a) provide a unique musical opportunity for Yale students (b) to better incorporate the tradition’s rich intellectual legacy into Yale’s academic curriculum and (c) to share this passion with the greater New Haven community. YRS’s first concert in spring 2008 featured sitar maestro Ustad Shahid Parvez. The event was a spectacular success, drawing an audience of over three hundred students, faculty, and community members. Within the same year, Hede and Rao also collaborated with Professor Samir Chatterjee of the Manhattan School of Music to create the first class on Indian Classical Music in Yale’s history. It was introduced in the Fall of 2008 as a Residential College Seminar that was also a great success. In hopes of bringing South Asian classical arts to the New Haven community, Hede began a partnership with the Yale School of Music and the Yale Center of British Art in 2009. The program aided elementary school students in expressing their responses to both performing and visual arts through workshops and school visits to Yale’s art galleries. The program was so successful that YRS was asked to give a guest lecture at the Connecticut Music Educators Association annual meeting. Since then, YRS has grown in many ways and taken on a broader and more holistic image of South Asian classical arts, including dance and theater. The group worked to create a forum for student musicians on campus to collaborate and present their art to their peers. In collaboration with other South Asian student groups, YRS has hosted an annual classical music and dance program featuring student performers for the past two years. With the gracious support of the South Asian Studies Council and countless other sponsors, YRS hopes to continue to spread awareness of the rich and diverse artistic traditions of India through quality programming, outreach, and performance.