West Meets East Home Page

Course Description
Registration, etc.
Travel Safety
About the Instructors
Contact Mark or Joanne for more info
Go to Mark’s home page
Click Photos to Enlarge:
Tyagaraja Festival
Meenakshi Temple


West Meets East is an “up close and personal” opportunity for interactions between Indian musicians and students of Western music. It offers members of the Elmhurst College Chamber Orchestra a unique introduction the music of India in its historical, religious, classical, folk, and popular contexts.

 Priority registration begins on April 11th. Apply early to guarantee a seat! Click here for registration info!

Everyday Scenes—Thanjavur
Veena lessons with Dr. Kausalya, posing at Brhadiswara in Thanjavur, street scene in Thiruvaiyaru





Tentative Itinerary
Overall Cost   $3,500 
  • 1/2-1/4—On-campus rehearsals & orientation sessions.
  • 1/5—Chicago O’Hare departure.
  • 1/6—Chennai arrival.
  • 1/7-1/11—Intensive schedule of lectures, music lessons, rehearsals with visits to concerts and sites in Chennai.
  • 1/11—Overnight train from Chennai to Thanjavur.
  • 1/12—Day with Dr. Kausalya at Marabu Foundation.
  • 1/13—Visit Thanjavur’s historic sites with bronze sculpture demonstration in Swamimalai.
  • 1/14—Hear Pancharatna Kritis at Tyagaraja Festival in Tiruvaiyaru. Evening train from Thanjavur to Madurai.
  • 1/15—Visit Madurai Meenakshi Temple and Gandhi Museum. Overnight train from Madurai to Chennai.
  • 1/16—Resume schedule of lectures, lessons, rehearsals, concerts, visits, etc.
  • 1/19-1/21—Visit Mahabalipuram’s temples, dance and festival, Dakshina Chitra living history museum, and Kalakshetra Fine Arts Academy. Stay at beach resort.
  • 1/22-1/23—See St. Thomas Mount; followed by visit, concert, & overnight at Madras Christian College.
  • 1/24—Chennai departure, Chicago O’Hare arrival.
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Tyagaraja Festival—Tiruvaiyaru (near Thanjavur)
Early morning procession, festival grounds at night, 1000 musicians gather to sing St. Thyagaraja’s Five Jewels





Course Description
  • West Meets East: Classical Traditions in Two Worlds offers exciting encounters between the classical traditions of India and the West. Students of the Elmhurst College Chamber Orchestra will learn about Indian classical music and the current music “scene” in Chennai, India, perform Western orchestral works for Indian audiences, and interact with Indian musicians in multiple contexts. Whenever possible, renowned Indian musicians and scholars will provide workshops and lecture/demonstrations on the history and practice of Indian music. To hear Carnatic music at its finest, students will experience “The Season,” the world’s largest music festival. Student concerts will include performances with church choirs and other musicians. Visits to Madras University and K.M. Music Conservatory will afford interactions with Indian music students. To learn more about Indian music’s cultural contexts, we will:
    • See Chennai’s Fort St. George, St. Andrew’s Kirk, Kapallishwara temple (Mylapore), Kalakshetra dance academy, Government Museum, Santhome Church, and St. Thomas Mount
    • Travel to Mamallapuram’s Shore Temple, cave temples, dance festival, and Dakshina Chitra heritage museum
    • Join 1000 musicians at Tiruvaiyaru’s Thyagaraja Aradhana, the spiritual heart of Carnatic music, and witness the making of traditional bronze sculpture, Marabu Foundation’s work with village children, and sacred rituals at the 1000-year-old Brhadishwara Temple.
    • Visit Madurai’s Gandhi Museum and the spectacular Meenakshi Temple as a special highlight
  • These activities offer rich, profound experiences of India’s music and culture and the contexts in which they grew and still flourish. This is a true third-world immersion experience that seeks to provide an authentic Indian experience. Student accommodations will be comfortable but often simple, and we cannot always guarantee access to silverware, hot showers, western style toilets, or toilet paper.
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Mamallapuram Dance Festival—Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)
Folk dancers in front of Arjunas Penance, Shore Temple (World Heritage Site), beach hike to Tiger Cave





Registration & Other Practical Matters
  • Priority registration begins on April 11th, 2011! Applications will be accepted until the course is full or until the registration period ends on October 3rd, 2011. If you are serious about going to India in 2012, don’t wait, apply now! Registration requires a $500.00 deposit to hold your place in the course. You can now register online!
  • What to do after your registration is accepted? Going to India is not like going to Europe. Here are a few things to take care of:
    • If you do not already have a passport (or if your passport will expire in the next 12 months), apply for a passport ASAP! You cannot apply for a visa without a valid passport.
    • Apply for an Indian tourist visa. Visit the Indian Visa Center (Travisa Outsourcing) for application instructions. Even though you apply online, you must send your passport to the Indian Visa Center to complete the application process. Be sure to use a trackable delivery service (e.g., FedEx, UPS, etc.)!
    • Take care of immunizations, antimalarial prescriptions, and so on. Visit the CDC India website for the latest recommendations and visit a local travel clinic!
    • As soon as possible, visit the Financial Aid Office and the International Studies Office (CPE) to inquire about application procedures for scholarships and financial aid for 2011-2012 international study courses!
  • The cost for 2012 is $3,500.00. This comprehensive fee covers just about everything: all travel, nearly all meals, and lodging for the 17 days we spend in India. The big stuff is covered; just bring money for souvenirs and other incidental expenses.
  • Information on required readings, assignments, and other course requirements will be available soon.
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The Meenakshi Temple—Madurai
Lotus Tank, Gopuram & Golden Dome close-up, Rooftop view from the east





Travel Safety

Students and parents are often anxious about travel to third-world nations so far away as India. International travel is never risk-free, but rest assured we will do everything possible to insure your safety. India has occasionally been the victim of terrorism, but most of those attacks have focused on population centers in north India such as Delhi or Mumbai. We won’t be taking a luxury vacation on the beaches of Goa or in five-star hotels like the Taj Palace—we want to meet real Indian musicians, teachers, and students where they live and work. Our entire trip will be spent in south India in the state of Tamil-Nadu. In our experience, south Indians are among the friendliest people on earth!

NOTE—Even under the best of circumstances, travel in India can be difficult. India’s ADA-style regulations are not as comprehensive as ours, and in many locations you will need to climb stairs, often with your luggage—a good reason to travel light! Some sites require strenuous hikes over difficult and/or hilly terrain (without toilet facilities).

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About the Instructors
Joanne May
Mark Harbold
With flute students in Jamaica
With Sudha Ragunathan after a concert in Chennai
JoanneJamaicalg.jpg MarkSudhabig.jpg

Assistant Professor of Music
Elmhurst College

Professor of Music
Elmhurst College


Joanne May is director of Elmhurst College’s Chamber Orchestra and professor of music education. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in music education from the University of Illinois. A distinguished teacher and conductor, Professor May has won numerous awards and served as president of Illinois American String Teachers Association (ASTA). A respected writer, she is editor of the String Teacher’s Cookbook (2007) and author of Music for Homeschoolers (2010). She is currently writing a book on orchestral rehearsal techniques.

During her 33 years as orchestra director at Glenbard East High School, she took her orchestras on many tours of the U.S. and to European destinations such as England, Germany, France, and Italy. She recently traveled to Jamaica with a group of Elmhurst College students, but this will be her first trip to India!

These travels reflect her fascination with the world around her. “I am honored to share international travel experiences with my students whose lives are often changed beyond measure. Meeting people of other cultures, experiencing the food, seeing the beauty of the lands, learning history first-hand, and especially hearing and performing music on these trips parallels no other experience in life.”

Mark Harbold holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from SUNY/Buffalo (Composition). As Professor of Music at Elmhurst College, he supervises the music history program and helps coordinate the B.Mus. in Theory/Composition and the B.A. in Music. A past president of the Great Lakes Chapter of the College Music Society, his recent publications include the 7th edition of his Instructor’s Resource Manual to Accompany Listen (2011) and piano accompaniments to works by Rameau and Marcello in Volume 5 of the Suzuki Bass School (2011).

An annual visitor to India since 2005, he was a fellow in the 2008 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, Bharata Darshan: Past & Present in the Study of Indian History & Culture. Madras Christian College has become a second home, especially after a four-month stint as Visiting Professor in 2009. Most recently he “hit the road” with a 22-piece tabla orchestra on a “musical pilgrimage” tour (Swara Naada Yatra) of Karnataka led by Pandits Nagarajrao Havaldar and Samir Chatterjee.

He is fascinated by the close bond that emerges in contacts with south Indian musicians. “Our cultures and musical styles differ, but our common experiences and music’s universal expressive power create an immediate kinship.”

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Scenes from Chennai
Music shop at rush hour, the renowned Madras Music Academy, clothes shopping!




 Page created 18 March 2011 by Mark Harbold—last updated 11 April 2011.