The sweet sounds of classical violin and soothing sitar will float out from the University of Maryland tonight as several of India's foremost musicians gather to celebrate their diverse culture.

The 6 p.m. concert at Tawes Theater has been dubbed, "a rare meeting of the two great schools of Indian classical music, the north and south," during opening week of the nationwide, year-long Festival of India.

Featured in the performance will be violinists V.G. Jog, of the northern, more-rhythmic Hindustani tradition, and L. Subramaniam, of the southern Karnatic style.

In a telephone interview from New York last week, Subramaniam stressed the cross-cultural and spiritual value of Indian classical and jazz fusion works: "Through music we can create a lot of peace and understanding." He explained that, unlike traditional Western classical works, Indian music is largely improvisation within a set framework.

Two distinct musical forms and instruments will be represented, with accompaniment by the tabla and the mridangham percussion instruments, from the northern and southern traditions, respectively. A performance on the sitar will open the show.

In addition to being a classical virtuoso, Subramaniam is an accomplished fusion jazz musician, having performed and recorded with Herbie Hancock, Stephane Grappelli, Joe Sample, Hubert Laws and Stanley Clarke, among others. Subramaniam's orchestral compositions have been performed around the world, and he is currently developing a work for the New York Philharmonic that Zubin Mehta will conduct.