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Hitting all the right notes, Ryana Rajesh gets national acclaim in talent competition — Catholic Schools Week

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CLAYMONT — Over the Christmas break, one Archmere Academy student kept herself busy in the Windy City with a violin and some Bollywood music.
Ryana Rajesh, a senior at the Claymont school, traveled to Chicago for an Indian talent competition, International Indian Icon. It had three main categories: singing, dancing and “I Got Talent.”

“Basically, it’s an Indian version of ‘America’s Got Talent,’” Rajesh said recently at Archmere.

She competed in the “I Got Talent” category for juniors, playing a Bollywood song on a violin. She won her competition.

Rajesh, who lives in north Wilmington, has been playing the violin since she was a kindergarten student living in Chicago. Her teacher there introduced her to a bunch of instruments, and Rajesh and a friend started taking lessons. After moving to India for a few years, she and her parents came to Delaware when she was 7. She continued her music education in the First State.

“I was in the Music School of Delaware for a bunch of years,” she said. “There, I found a whole group of people that were my age, and we all played chamber music. We all played in groups together.”

Rajesh was part of the International Indian Icon competition.

She branched out from classical music to pop as a way to keep her interest in the violin fresh. Recently, she started getting more in touch with her Indian community — both of her parents were born in India — by playing songs from that country, and Bollywood music was part of that. Her father helped her find the International Indian Icon competition.

Rajesh posts videos of herself on YouTube playing songs of various genres, which led to an unexpected surprise in Chicago. A judge there was the composer of one of the songs she had posted. Her performance also resulted in some extra work. She said an Indian movie director reached out to Rajesh’s mother to see if she could compose music for a film he is working on.

“They gave me the script and the scenario, and they want me to come up with a tune based on that scenario,” she said. “Coming up with actual notes, coming up with backgrounds for that, that’s a lot more challenging. I can come up with the tunes pretty easily; that’s more fun for me.”

Music, she continued, is a constant in her life. Whether she is practicing on the violin, studying or doing some sort of community service, Rajesh said she is always listening to something.

The arts also played a role in her decision to attend Archmere. When she was younger, she was a student at Anna Marie Dance Studio, which held its Christmas show and annual recitals at Archmere. Rajesh took notice while she was there.

“It’s like a college campus. I shadowed here. When I shadowed here and came to the open houses, everybody was super nice,” she said.

At Archmere, she is the leader of the Science Olympiad team and the community service club. She is also part of a chamber music group that plays in the Helena Raskob Arts Institute. The institute was founded a year ago to educate Archmere and the larger community in music and the fine arts. It is located in the Patio, the former home of John and Helena Raskob that now houses offices and is the site of numerous events.

Rajesh expects music to continue to be a part of her life, either as part of a double major or a minor in college, or as something she does in addition to her studies. She said she wants to study medicine and has applied to several top universities. Her goal is to be a trauma surgeon, which grew out of her experience in an EMT course she took last summer.

“With the EMT training I did, everything was rapid-paced. You have to scan everything quickly, use whatever resources you can. I like that sort of pressure. It just motivates me to be focused and do that one thing step-by-step,” she said.

Born in New Jersey, Rajesh has also lived in Connecticut and Utah. She has visited India several times to see family; her mother’s side lives in the mountains, while her father’s side is near the beach. Her parents always spoke to her in English, but she would hear them on the phone speaking Tamil to their relatives, so she bugged them to teach her that language as well.

She keeps busy with school and music, but she also likes to spend time with her Archmere friends. She loves go to the library “and check out a whole truckload of books.”