In November of 2017 the Trustees of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded a $15,000 challenge grant to the Himalayan Music Academy to produce a North Hill Music Festival to celebrate Akron’s immigrant communities. As a challenge grant the HMA is expected to raise funds which the Knight Foundation will then match.
The North Hill Music Festival is organized to promote and preserve Nepali/Bhutanese traditional art, music, and dance; to expose the hidden talents and skills of the community’s people, and to encourage, motivate, and preserve the arts and culture of the Nepali/Bhutanese people. The Festival will also strengthen relationships among Nepali and non-Nepali people and among the several immigrant populations in the Akron area. While promoting and preserving the music, art, and dance of immigrant populations, the Festival will also expose and guide youngsters to the value of traditional music, so that it can be carried to the next generations.
The frustrations experienced by Bhutanese artists who were confined in refugee camps for two decades of their lives should be mentioned. During this time from around 1991 through 2009 prospective musicians did not have opportunities to learn the physical skills to perform, nor did they have access to the instruments and equipment needed to practice their art. They had no opportunity to expose their hidden talents, even though they had the passion and could have developed the professionalism needed to be major contributors to their communities’ cultural fabric.
Below, left is Puspa Gajmer, maestro and entrepreneur, who founded the Himalayan Music Academy and who has been the impetus for today’s event. The van in the parking lot proudly shows the Himalayan Music Academy logo and name.
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