“Creative, Beautiful, Soulful, and Real”

One of the things that we rent space for at the Sammons Center is recitals. We have special rates for them, to allow even very small studios to give their students opportunities to perform on professional instruments in beautiful rooms. These educational performances often showcase the work of students, and they’re typically attended by friends and family. We rent to families and to music teachers; sometimes it will be dozens of kids, sometimes it’s a solo event or even a recording of a piece to send away with a scholarship application. The only rule is that it has to be all about the art; it can’t be a birthday party or a corporate event. This will be a particularly special evening — it’s a senior recital for a music student, hosted by his parents. It’s by invitation only, so you can’t buy a ticket, but I want to share the story with you, and a taste of the music, because they’re both beautiful.


Shreyan Daulat is playing piano. Aadi Khasgiwali is playing cello. Shreyan’s music teacher Jenni VerHagen is taking them through the pieces they’ll play at the recital on Sunday, making minor last-minute adjustments and notes. These young men have been best friends since kindergarten, and the only senior graduation party that Shreyan wanted was a recital where he could play music with his friend and share it with his family. The resonant acoustic of Kurth Hall embraces the sound of the duets, adding just enough reverb to make it sound like sacred music being played in a chapel.


I’ve been working with Shreyan’s mom, Malisha, on getting all the arrangements perfect; working out where to put the tables, how to arrange the food and drinks. They’re doing a mix of charcuterie and traditional Indian sweets and pastries, and they’ll have the recital in Kurth Hall and then reception in the Cree Mezzanine. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Malisha; she and her husband are very keen on music, theater, and the arts, and she is passionate about making sure her children are educated in creative pursuits as well as their other studies. They have taken their kids to performances since they were little. She and I have had a lively discussion about music and theater and the arts and how important they are to quality of life.


Watching the two students play together, I was really touched by how much this is at the core of what we do at Sammons – it’s creative, beautiful, soulful, and real. There is nothing like live music. When I asked permission for our social media guru Marica to take video, Aadi apologized for his casual clothes and told me he wished they were dressed up; I explained that so much of the activity here at Sammons is rehearsals, workshops, classes – getting ready for big stage performances at the Moody, the Meyerson, the Eiseman. T-shirts and shorts are perfect. Aadi knows Kurth Hall from his rehearsals with Texas Cellos, Joseph Kuiper’s all-cello musical performance group; they’re one of the groups in our DARS program, which provides mail services and discounted room rates. I wish Shreyan and Aadi both the best, and good luck on their journey to the next big stage performance.


Michael Cook

Assistant Director, Sammons Center for the Arts

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