By Riley Steiner, For The Miami Student
Every fall for the past 20 years, Srinivas Krishnan ('87) has traveled halfway across the world and back.
Known affectionately to colleagues and students alike as "Srini," he has a permanent home in Chennai, India, but comes to Miami University every year for Global Rhythms - an event in which musicians and artists from all over the world come to Miami to create a diverse musical ensemble. The organization will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with a performance on Saturday.
Srini founded Global Rhythms in 1996 as a graduate student at Miami, when he saw a serious need for cultural diversity and awareness on campus.
"It is rooted in the fact that there was not a whole lot of world exposure at that time," Srini said. "We needed a lot more of the world cultures on our campus."
The first year consisted of a series of seven shows in Cincinnati. When all seven sold out, Srini was convinced that Miami would benefit from a similar event.
Growing up in Mumbai, India, Srini was raised to appreciate the arts. His mother, a vocalist, taught him to value music not simply as a way to make a living, but as a way to bring people together - a lesson he carries with him to this day.
"What matters more is collaborating with artists and finding ways to reach a common ground," Srini said.
This year's Family Weekend performance includes the Miami Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble; the Miami Misfitz a cappella group; over 100 musicians from various universities; and singers from Sweden, Denmark, Uzbekistan and India - among others.
But gathering all these artists from around the globe is no small task.
"[Srini] is a superstar and you wouldn't even know it," said junior Chandni Chandiramani, the project coordinator for Global Rhythms who works with Srini to organize the event. "He does the job of what 100 people should be doing."
While he is at Miami, Srini also teaches a cooking class and a sprint course on Indian music and dance. He brings in guest artists and teaches his students about traditional rhythms. Throughout it all, he focuses on cultivating a respect for cultures far beyond the edges of Miami's campus.
"We need to have appreciation, that's the best word, for every form of music, dance and art," Srini said. "Because once we become appreciative of it, we then make it part of our daily life."
Chandiramani, who has sung, danced, and played the viola in past Global Rhythms performances, says the experience has been truly unique. She even hopes to start a student organization next school year for Miami students to become even more involved with all aspects of the event.
"The culture that you see there is like nothing you'd be able to find anywhere else," she said. "[Srini] pushes you out of your comfort zone. I've done all sorts of things that I never expected to do coming to Miami."
Sophomore Avnika Bali is part of the production team for this year's show, one of several stage managers. She will also be singing in the choir.
"What makes it so cool is that it's the first time that you see boundaries really being broken," Bali said. "It shows you that all of these cultures and sounds and art forms can all be blended together and make something really beautiful."
Srini is proud of the strides that Global Rhythms has taken - from a simple idea to a sold-out show with over 300 performers.
"I really feel very blessed and a sense of satisfaction that there was an opportunity there and I could make a difference in a small way," he said. "This is great, that we've done it for 20 years, we've made a statement. It was a statement we made for Miami."