While rock ‘n' roll got its namesake here in The Land, Cleveland's music scene extends far beyond gritty guitar riffs, accentuated back beats and rockstars who trash hotel rooms. In fact, Cleveland's music scene is symbolic of our town's diverse citizenry, which embodies more than 100 different global ethnicities.
Case in point: The Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival. For nearly two weeks around Easter every year, Cleveland State University becomes home to the largest Indian classical music festival outside of India. With attendance pushing nearly 10,000, the festival draws fans, competitors and performers (as well as their friends and family) from around the world.
What You'll See:
- Instruments you've likely never seen (or heard) before. Ever heard of a veena? How about a mridangam, ghatam or kanjira? The Thyagaraja Festival is your chance to learn about these ancient instruments that generate a unique, very specific and very lovely sound you likely won't hear on the radio., which, when played together, make for incredible music that you surely won't hear on most radio stations.
- Dozens of Indian music performers — including vocalists and orchestral groups — typically perform over the course of the event's nearly two-week span. The Cleveland Thyagaraja Fest isn't simply designed for old-timers. In fact, the festival showcases the newest generation of traditional Indian dancers, who are usually young women (ages 9-25) performing the mesmerizing Bharatanatyam dance in vibrant, jewel-toned saris and expressive makeup. It's popular part of the festivities, as it draws international competitors.
What Else To Do:
- On the Saturday morning of the festival's opening weekend, organizers host a large group-singing of the "pancharathna krithis," which is sung to pay homage to Sri Thyagaraja, the Hindu saint and composer. Should the language barrier make participating a little difficult, just spectating is an experience you'll not soon forget.
Tips For Attending:
- While there are several ticketing options for the weekend, be sure to find out if your ticket covers attendance to some of the international acts that fly in for the festival.