“The interior joy we feel when we have done a good deed is the nourishment the soul requires.”- Albert Schweitzer
“Volunteers are paid in six figures… S-M-I-L-E-S” -GaylaLeMaire
Raag-Mala Toronto is a registered charity, whose work depends almost entirely on volunteers. Volunteer work ranges from being on the Board (making programming decisions, fund-raising) to helping out at the concerts (stage set-up, ticket sales, hosting artists, etc.)
If you would like to volunteer in any capacity, please contact
Zahid Khan at email@example.com or 416-995-3968
Founding President MaganbhaiAmbasana flanked by RaziaRais and Vice President Zahid Khan at ceremony honouringMaganbhai’s contribution to Raag-Mala. Razia was Vice President and Board Member for over 20 years
Rishi Misra presents
flowers to Maganbhai
Taanpura: the joy of volunteering for classical music
(From Desi News March 2015)
A recital of Indian classical music is incomplete without a taanpura. The gentle plucking of this stringed instrument, tuned to only two notes, creates a reverberating backdrop for a performance. Think of the taanpura providing a “sound canvas” on which the artist “paints” her music, be it vocal or instrumental.
You can say that Raag-Mala Music Society of Toronto’s finely-tuned team of volunteers provides an organizational canvas on which great concerts are painted.
Over 34 years, Raag-Mala has seen many highly motivated individuals set the stage (both literally and metaphorically) for 170 concerts by some of the best musicians of shastria sangeet.
Rishi Misra is a typical volunteer. A software engineer at IBM Canada, Rishi joined Raag-Mala in 1994, when he was an engineering student in Waterloo.
“University students in Varanasi considered it “cool” to go to classical music concerts,” Misra says, when asked about how he got hooked to the music. He has fond memories of attending mahotsavs (festivals), sometimes on ghats on the banks of the Ganges.
“Shortly after moving to Toronto, I heard about an upcoming concert by Pandit Jasraj,” Misra recalls. “I was amazed that a group here was hosting such a senior artist from India.”
Misra attended the concert and signed on to volunteer. Over the years, he has worked on stage set-up, artist hospitality, and ushering. He is now the Secretary to the Board and on the Steering Committee that is responsible for programming and operations.
Raag-Mala has 25 volunteers on call. “One important service that volunteers provide is the hosting of artists,” says Zahid Khan, Vice-President of Raag-Mala, himself a volunteer since 1998. “They provide transportation, meals, and boarding. In return, they get to meet great artists, away from the concert stage.”
One volunteer who hosted Pt. Prabha Atre thought to keep a respectful distance in order to give the artist ample time to rest, relax, practice, and meditate. Instead, the two women struck up a friendship, and Dr. Atre ended up calling the volunteer “sister”.
Many organizations urge staff members to do volunteer work because people who are engaged in their passions outside of work make better employees. For example, IBM’s Community Grants program supports employees and retirees who are regularly involved with not-for-profit groups. Last year, IBM Canada awarded a grant to Raag-Mala in support of Misra’s work.
“It was so heartening to get support from IBM for Raag-Mala”, says Misra. “Volunteering with Raag-Mala allowed me to apply my technical skills but I’ve also picked up soft skills from interacting with a wide range of volunteers. And of course, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to great classical Indian music.”
Founding member Raya Bidaye
at event honouring Maganbhai in Sept 2014
2014 AGM (L to R) Mohamed Khaki, Nishant Parekh,Zahid Khan, Riaz Vellani, members
Stage set-up done? Check
Tickets assigned? Check
Calm at the ticket counter before the concert storm
(L-R) Rishi Misra, Sabera Docrat, Nitin Vyas, Aliya Ghose, Bassanio Ghose
Benefactor and volunteer Roma Jalali
presenting flowers to Ud. Shujaat Khan
Najma and Mike Velshi host lunch for
Pandit Ajoy & Chandana Chakrabarty,
Kaushiki Chakrabarty & son, Brajeshwar
Mukherjee and Sandip Ghoshin 2014
Benefactor and Board Member Michael O’Hara introducing artists at Raag-Mala concert at Harbourfront during the Pan Am Games in the summer of 2015
Arati Ankalikar chats backstage before the
April 2013 concert with long time supporters
John Campana and Eric Parker
Swayam Parekh, sonof Nishant Parekh
being blessed by Tabla Maestro Pandit Samar Saha
(L-R) Pt. Ashis Sengupta, Pt. Rajeev Taranath and Pt. Sarathi Chatterjee with Mohamed Khaki and long-time Patron Raj Chadha