Bhardwaj and Cui to perform at Earth Day Festival


Pravar Mukkala

Bhardwaj and Cui pose for a picture.

Pravar Mukkala, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Playing the piano and saving the environment don’t seem like they go hand in hand. But for juniors Malvika Bhardwaj and Estella Cui, that is exactly where their passions lie. Both piano players and leaders of Environmental Club, they hope to show off their musical skills while raising awareness for environmental issues at the Earth Day Festival. The event will take place on Saturday, April 22 starting at 2 p.m. and ending at 5 p.m. The rain date will be Sunday, April 23.

Held at the town common, the celebration is organized by Westford Climate Action (WCA) and will involve stalls from local businesses, activities, and performances. The festival is meant to be an opportunity for the Westford community to get together and recognize the struggles and achievements, especially locally, with protecting the environment. Bhardwaj and Cui will be the only musical performance, in which they will play the piano. Choosing from a wide, diverse array of pieces from around the world, they will play mostly solos with one duet.

“We’re going to be doing a lot of songs. We’re going to talk about their origins, as well as the country where they came from and how climate change has impacted their country, and maybe how that area has been working to help solve climate change as well,” Bhardwaj said.

Although this may seem like a substantial undertaking, performing is not new to either junior. Having taken piano lessons since they were young and having performed at a related event before, they have quickly warmed up to playing in front of crowds who they do not know. In fact, in September of last year, Bhardwaj and Cui put on their own show to raise funds for WCA; in the end, they collected and donated more than $900.

“We’re pretty well-versed in performing […] however, this is our first time, my first time, performing outside, [because we will] not be in a building,” Cui said.

Indeed, their performance will take place under the gazebo on the town common. Instead of a regular piano, they will use an electric keyboard that will be hooked up to speakers.

“Our duet is ‘Canon in D’ by Pachelbel. We chose it because it’s a popular piece and it was [previously] loved by our concert audience. I’m also playing ‘Colors of the Wind’ from Pocahontas,” Cui said. “I thought this piece was a perfect fit for the Earth Day celebration.”

Bhardwaj’s plans involve a similarly diverse selection of songs, including the pieces “Princess Mononoke” from the Studio Ghibli film of the same name and “Mamma Mia” from the musical of the same name.

“When we decided to use music inspired by different places I thought [they] would be great [options],” Bhardwaj said. “In this concert we are focusing on celebrating the geography of where the songs are from. [For example,] while ‘Mamma Mia’ isn’t about Greece, it’s set in the islands around there, and those islands are truly some of nature’s finest works.”

For Bhardwaj and Cui, both the environment and the piano have been coexisting interests since they were young: Cui has played piano for 12 years and Bhardwaj has played for 10. This opportunity was a way for them to showcase that, while in the process making an impact on the community and bring a place where their passions could coalesce.

“I’ve been interested in the environment since about middle school. It started when I learned that penguins, my favorite animal, were becoming endangered because of climate change,” Bhardwaj said. “Then I started getting more interested in it and now I find that Environmental Club is a great place to learn more while also spreading information about climate change.”

However, their participation at the Earth Day Festival is something entirely self-driven without any input or guidance from their connections at WA. Although both students are officers of Environmental Club (Bhardwaj being the president and Cui being the secretary), which has been holding its own events to celebrate Earth Day, their performances are not related to the club at all. Having communicated and worked with WCA for last year’s Earth Day celebration, Bhardwaj and Cui decided to reach out this year as well, and plan to do so next year, too.

“There are no admissions [fee for the event]. It’s really just a day spent outside with your friends and family,” Cui said. “You can learn some about the environment and enjoy some sort of entertainment in forms of guest speakers and performances.”