April 5, 2018

Songs from the Great American Song Book

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you….”

I grew up listening to my mother sing “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Leigh Harline & Ned Washington, 1940), so when I heard those lyrics emerge from Richard Troxell and Suzanne DuPlantis at the beginning of the annual Lyric Fest Cabaret and Silent Auction several weeks ago, I was mesmerized. Their voices and emotions, accompanied by Harold Evans on piano and Ron Kerber on sax, were a sight and sound to behold.

I currently serve as Lyric Fest’s Nonprofit Board Fellow through Wharton’s Nonprofit Board Fellowship, which matches Wharton MBA students with Philadelphia’s nonprofit organizations. As a Fellow, I get to observe and sit in on board meetings to support my development as a civic leader and offer Lyric Fest any of my business skill sets. Over the course of the year, I have had the pleasure of working with the board and getting to know Suzanne and her colleagues.

Having grown up in a musical family—my mother, sister and I are singers, musicians and dancers trained in Indian and Western styles of music and dance—it was especially meaningful that I have been able to work with Lyric Fest. Musically, it’s allowed me to explore further the Western singing tradition, something I was not that exposed to growing up. The scales, nuances and emotion (and even acting) put into singing these songs are very different from the Indian classical genre that I grew up with. As a result, the Cabaret was the icing on the cake for my past year being part of the board. Exploring the Great American Song Book took me across the country and across time, and I didn’t want the night to end. My fellow students felt the same—I was lucky to bring five of my close friends from Wharton as well, and they were entranced. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner at Lyric Fest’s next concert on May 6th with Bryan Hymel, Irini Kyriakidou and Laura Ward!

Kavita Venkateswar

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