Bonham to discuss people, religion, architecture and music of India

India and America, the world’s largest and oldest democracies, have long had a special connection. President Obama recently honored that relationship by hosting India with the first State Visit of his administration. India is a land of amazing diversities that somehow manage to thrive and coexist, creating a rich fabric of daily experiences for the visitor. One might wake up in a hotel that honors the Hindu God Ganesh on the check-in desk, walk outside past a church, gaze across to a mosque, take a ride in a three-wheeled tuk-tuk driven by a Sikh, and then meet some Tibetan Buddhist monks. If one has the good fortune to visit during Diwali, you can join with Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains celebrating different versions of the same Festival of Lights.

Robert Bonham, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Maryville College, grew up in this land of diversity and has taken numerous groups of students and others to explore and experience this remarkable place.

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m., at the Blount County Public Library, Dr. Bonham, drawing from his various trips and memories of living in India from childhood through high school, will use slides, video, and music to transport attenders to exotic temples and Buddhist stupas, villages and a tiger reserve, the River Ganges and the Himalayan foothills. In particular, he will discuss how the sacred architecture and music of different religions serve to illumine religious doctrine and belief in India.

Robert Bonham, Ph. D., grew up near the tiger jungles of India where his parents were serving as medical missionaries (Christian Church). He attended the international Woodstock School in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and earned degrees in music from Phillips University and Kansas University, studying with Jon Nelson and Angelica Morales von Sauer. He has also studied with Sheila Paige of the Taubman Piano Institute. His Ph.D., in Comparative Arts from Ohio University, emphasized music, visual arts, and architecture. His dissertation was concerned with identifying parallel and distinctively American aesthetic aspects in works ranging from pioneer log cabins and Sacred Harp music to the Violin Sonatas of Charles Ives.

Now holding the rank of Professor Emeritus with Maryville College, he taught in the Fine Arts Division from 1965 to 2006. A faculty member of the annual Piano Wellness Seminar, he presents workshops for pianists and piano teachers focusing on avoiding injury, pain, or restriction and optimizing fluent and efficient motion.

He has enjoyed opportunities to play numerous solo recitals, lecture-recitals (on Schumann’s Carnival and the Violin-Piano Sonatas of Ives), chamber music and song recitals, and concertos.

Free and open to the public, the program is at the Blount County Public Library, located at 508 N. Cusick Street, Maryville.

For further information about other library programs or services, call the library at 982-0981 or visit the Web site at

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