About Us

The Aradhana Committee is a group of volunteers who spearhead the planning and organization of the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival. They work closely with various other Carnatic music organizations in the United States and Canada to bring artists to Cleveland for the festival.

We are organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (tax ID 34-1806829).

The Committee and Core Volunteers

R. Balasubramaniam is the president of the Aradhana Committee. Affectionately known to many Carnatic music rasikas as Cleveland Balu, he has been serving the Aradhana Committee since the inception of the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival more than 30 years ago. He has worked closely with organizers throughout the country and has arranged tours for almost every well-known Carnatic musician in India. He has focused his time building bridges with the community and gaining recognition from our local and state governments and helped foster relationships with our longstanding hosts, Cleveland State University.

V.V. Sundaram is co-founder and secretary of the Aradhana Committee. Affectionately known as Cleveland Sundaram to rasikas and artists across the US and India, he has been involved in promoting Carnatic music and dance in North America since the early '70s. He has also been instrumental in championing North American children and youth to learn and perform Indian classical music and expanded the reach of the festival beyond Cleveland through outreach with artists, media and sabhas in India and helped put "Cleveland" on the global map for South Indian classical arts.

Gomathy Balasubramaniam is co-founder and VP of the committee and for over 40 years has taken it on herself to make sure that everyone that comes to Cleveland feels at home. As a tireless volunteer, she helped touring artists, opened up her home as the "headquarters" for the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival and from the early days of 50 people to the current thousands, always makes sure everyone is well fed. She single-handedly built a community of volunteers from the area colleges back in the '70s–'90s, many of whose children are volunteers today.

K. Venkataraman, also known as Toronto Venkataraman, is a pioneer and founder of one of the oldest Thyagaraja Festivals in North America. As an early organizer and volunteer he has helped bring the finest in Carnatic music to North America for over 40 years and with his wealth of organizing experience and his close relationships with generations of artists, he has helped foster the growth of the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival to its current state.

Roger and Jaya Natarajan, as treasurers for the Aradhana Committee, handle all of the finances for the Festival, right from managing our accounts to handling our taxes. They also have been instrumental in building a community of sponsors, and our corporate matching program. Outside of their financial duties, you can always see them at the Festival in their matching sari and kurta, lending a helping hand with other core volunteer activities. In all the various places they have lived in the US, the Natarajans have always opened their home to visiting artists and play an active role in the local classical music community.

Sunitha and Ashok Grandhee, since their student days in Cleveland, have been core volunteers at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival, helping the committee any way they can. Their love for children's education and passion for music inspired the music competition which they continue to run and help grow to this day. As a flute teacher in the Detroit area, Sunitha has also inspired many music students to participate in our competitions as well as educational efforts, like Sustaining Sampradaya. Whether it is in their volunteer efforts with the Chinmaya Mission or here at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival, the Grandhees' compassion and spirit are an inspiration for all.

Radhika Balasubramaniam and Gopi Sundaram, as core volunteers, are involved year-round in various activities. Prior to and during the festival, they manage the ever-growing competitions, workshops, as well as other logistics. Through the rest of the year, they work together with organizations, parents and children across the country to organize Carnatic Music Idol USA, and our December Chennai Festival. They also manage public outreach through the web, news, and social media as well as identify and foster community partnerships to grow the festival.

Shankar Sundaram and Karthik Venkataraman: From the first program at our festival to the last, Shankar and Karthik manage the logistics for stage, lighting and audio with their team of volunteers. They work closely with artists and music teachers to make sure that they get to showcase their best on stage. With nonstop programs, limited breaks and numerous stage configurations, they make sure that the audience gets the best experience possible. They also work with our webcast partners to expand the global reach of the festival.

Venkat Narayanaswamy, Arvind Balakrishnan and Mony Iyer: For over 20 years Venky, Arvind and Mony have managed the logistics on our main weekend with a core group of volunteers. They help Gomathy coordinate with members of the Cleveland community who prepare food and serve breakfast and lunch to thousands of visitors on our inaugural weekend. Whether it was hosting artists in the years before we had Comfort Inn, meeting with visiting dignitaries or even buying 500 pounds of rice in the middle of the week, as core volunteers they are always focused on the success of the festival.

Kanchana Sundaram and Lavanya Krishnan: Kanchana and Lavanya are core volunteers, who assist visiting artists from the minute they arrive in the US till the end of their tour. Along with their families, they volunteer their time wherever they are needed, from stage prep to serving food, emceeing, hotel logistics and so much more.

Nigamanth and Divya Sridhar lead our sustainability efforts at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival. Along with their green initiative, they are also core volunteers for everything from stage prep to food service and more.

The Aradhana Committee works closely with and depends heavily on volunteers drawn from the greater Cleveland area and beyond in order to manage this annual festival.