The Society for Indian Music and Arts provides a dynamic and interactive environment for anyone who is interested in discovering the rich and expressive traditions of the performing arts of South Asia. Through our classes, workshops and concerts, we strive to create a thriving community of artists, students of the arts, novice audiences and connoisseurs who actively encourage and support each other’s artistic pursuits.
We are a growing and vibrant community that welcomes everyone to participate in our activities and to help us foster awareness of South Asian performing arts.
What is SIMA About?
The Society for Indian Music and Arts (SIMA) is a collection of people who study, teach, think about and perform art – music and dance. The forms we explore originated in South Asia, and are today considered the classical and traditional performing arts of this region. People associated with SIMA range from professional artists with active teaching and stage careers, to complete beginners, curious to start a new journey into a beautiful form of artistic expression. The SIMA concept began in 2007 in Seattle as the brainchild of its founder, vocalist and musicologist Arijit Mahalanabis. In the succeeding seven years it completely redefined the Indian music scene in that city, making these arts extremely accessible to large numbers of people. After proving the concept in Seattle, in 2014 Arijit relocated to his hometown of State College, PA, where he re-established SIMA as a center for dissemination of traditional and classical South Asian arts throughout the central Pennsylvania region.
The foundational principle of SIMA is that an art form’s health is dependent on the active encouragement of symbiosis between performer and audience. To encourage such a symbiosis, SIMA is actively engaged in creating an audience that doesn’t just passively consume a concert or a recording, but also takes part in the artistic process through critical thinking, dialog and performance. SIMA’s objective in offering classes on Indian music is to foster critical thinking in students on musical issues, and to actively encourage performances as students reach musical maturity. SIMA fosters dialog between audiences and artists by organizing workshops where students are able to interact personally with visiting artists. SIMA also offers formal concerts by visiting artists as opportunities to experience the art forms live, and by using this experience to further inform their artistic and critical thinking. SIMA regularly attracts India’s top artists, giving students and audiences unique opportunities to spend time studying with these artists.
Because of its proximity to Penn State University, many of SIMA’s students are students and faculty at the university. Many of our classes and programs are held at on-campus. SIMA is a registered student organization at the university as well. SIMA offers in-person classes in State College and on the campus of Penn State throughout the year. A large number of students also access personal one-on-one instruction through the internet. Concerts and workshops are held throughout the year as well, and are often scheduled to coincide with the academic year at Penn State.
The arguments for studying the traditional arts of South Asia are many. The most common point that is made is that these are rich and important aspects of the culture of South Asia. With the drive towards modernization and economic progress, the region is seeing an unprecedented decline in cultural diversity. By studying these classical forms, we ensure that an important part of the legacy of the region is preserved, and propagated. But as important as cultural diversity and the viability of an artistic ecosystem in South Asia is, perhaps the most compelling argument for studying classical and traditional arts is the enormous expressive power they endow the student with. As extensible artistic frameworks that are grounded in logical and well-formed grammars of the aesthetic, these art forms allow the artist to emote at a deep and visceral level. The resulting art is not only deeply moving, but also meaningful at an intrinsically human level. In a world that has veered towards science and technology these arts endow the artist with the power to express that which is essentially human.
Interested in finding out more about the classical arts of South Asia? Contact us with your questions and queries, or come join a class, attend a workshop or listen to a concert. We can’t wait for you to join us at SIMA!
What was your SIMA experience like?
“One of the things I love most about SIMA is the group of people I get to study with. It is a very supportive environment, one which is easy to learn in and very interactive”
“it is one of the best audiences I have ever performed for! Nothing is more exhilarating than performing for my own gurubandhus, my own family.”
“I was very fortunate to have been accepted into the SIMA family! Being part of SIMA has been an experience I will never forget! SIMA has taught me so much more than just how to sing a raga, or how to play a kayda; it has taught me how to relate to others through music…”