The Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya at Kalkeri, Dharwad
The Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya (KSV), located in Kalkeri, Dharwad district, Karnataka, provides a musical and academic education to one hundred and sixty children. In addition, food, accommodation, health care and clothing are also provided, and everything is free. There are no fees at all.
KSV believes that it is the fundamental right of all children to have access to education, adequate food, healthcare facilities and to participate in their community’s cultural life. “Empowering disadvantaged children gives them the opportunity to obtain qualifications in academics and music. Ultimately, this will enable them to find meaningful and well-paid employment which will have a positive impact upon them and their families,” says Adam Woodward, Director at KSV.
Through their achievements at KSV the students will be in a position to attain more meaningful livelihoods, thus breaking the cycle of persistent poverty and creating a better future for themselves and their communities. Through their music the children will contribute towards the conservation and diffusion of India’s vast musical heritage.
KSV is an international collaboration. There are four founders of KSV – The primary instigator and founder is Mr Mathieu Fortier from Quebec, Canada. The next main founder is; Ustad Hameed Khan, Born in 1951 in Dharwad to a family of musicians, Hameed Khan belongs to a rich and unbroken tradition of music. He is the 6th in line of the generation of musicians in a family honoured for its great contribution to Hindustani classical music. His grandfather, Sitar Ratna Rahimat Khan, was the innovator of the contemporary sitar. He was a disciple of legendary Ustad Bande Ali Khan of the Indore Beenkar Gharana. The last two remaining founders are Mrs Agathe Meurisse Fortier & Mr Blaise Fortier, Agathe is Mathieu’s wife and is a fine arts graduate from the Sorbonne University in Paris, Blaise is Mathieu’s brother and is one of the Directors of Young Musicians of the World (Canada).
Mr Mathieu Fortier and his wife Agathe have, in the past, travelled extensively in India, for a period of about 15 years. During this time they fell in love with India and its rich and diverse culture. They spent two years at Shanti Niketan, West Bengal, learning yoga and Indian languages. Mathieu spent several years learning Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet. This musical journey took Mathieu and Agathe to Benares, whilst there Mathieu heard about Dharwad in Karnataka being a centre in the south for Hindustani Classical music and that the climate was very favourable, so both Mathieu and Agathe decided to go to Dharwad.
Whilst in Dharwad Mathieu enrolled in the University for B.Music and started to take classes with Shri Rajshekar Mansur, the son of the late Pt Mallikarjun Mansur. During this time he became involved with the local music scene. One of the prominent members of the local music scene and who was also Principal of the Music College is Ustad Hameed Khan. Mathieu, Agathe and Ustad Ji got together in 2001 and started to give free evening tuition classes in vocal, harmonium, sitar and tabla. These classes went on for a period of about one year, during which time ideas were discussed about the benefits for the students to be immersed in a favourable environment to intensively study music and academics. It was not long afterwards that Mathieu heard about a farm house on five acres of land to rent just outside the village of Kalkeri which is 16km from Dharwad. At this time Mathieu’s brother Blaise came from Canada to help with the set up and thus in late 2002 the Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya was born.
Students at KSV
Up to present day KSV has had a 100% successful pass rate for the final year school examinations (SSLC). For the remainder of the school (1st to 9th Standards) the pass rate is 92%. In music, for both the Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board and Gandharva Mahavidyalaya music exams KSV has a 100% pass rate.
A performance by the students of KSV
Currently at KSV there are 14 students who are studying higher education courses. This ranges from Pre-University College courses to post graduation courses. Also with regards to music, many of the students have reached a semiprofessional level and regularly give performances on stage locally and further afield.
First Published by The Better India on 26 September 2011