Music across boundaries

A concert series featuring young Carnatic musicians is being presented by Rasika Ranjana Sabha this week

Six Carnatic musicians — Vani Ramamurthi, Anavita Hariharan, Kamalakiran Vinjamuri, Akshay Ananthapadmanabhan, Sanjith Narayanan and Sowmiya Narayanan — are due to perform at Hotel Sangam tomorrow (Sunday) in what promises to be a showcase for young talents of traditional music.

That all the six are non-resident Indians from the United States, despite being deeply involved in learning Carnatic vocal and instrumental music in India as well, is but an interesting footnote in the upcoming programme.

The free concert series (from 6pm onwards) is being presented by Rasika Ranjana Sabha, with the aim of encouraging youngsters to gain a better appreciation of Carnatic music.

Audiences can expect to hear vocalist Vani Ramamurthi, a student of the sisters Ranjani-Gayatri, who was born and raised in California, but later shifted to Chennai in order to pursue music studies.

Among the instrumentalists, Kamalakiran Vinjamuri, 19, started learning violin from his grandfather Parthasarathy Iyengar at the age of 4, and was further trained by Malladi Vijayalakshmi from Tirupati. Currently he is learning from his father Subhash Vinjamuri and Sangeetha Kalanidhi A Kanyakumari.

Akshay Ananthapadmanabhan was first introduced to the mridangam at the age of five in Mumbai, under the training of T S Nandakumar. Ironically, Akshay's true passion for Carnatic music was awakened after his family moved to the United States.

He moved to Chennai in 2012 after receiving his Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from The Cooper Union Institute in Manhattan, New York and has since then become a full-time Carnatic musician.

Anavita Hariharan has been studying South Indian Classical saxophone with Sumanth Swaminathan since 2010. She has undergone further training with the eminent saxophone maestro Padmashree Kadri Gopalnath during her annual summer visits to Chennai.

She has won competitions at Chicago Tyagaraja Utsavam and Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana and was awarded scholarships in Chicago for her dedication to music.

Fourteen-year-old Sanjith Narayanan is learning violin from Subash Vinjamuri and Kamalakiran Vinjamuri for the past 8 years. He has performed in the United States and India, most recently at the TedX Youth conference in Pennsylvania.

His father, Washington-based Ghatam exponent Sowmiya J Narayanan, is presently continuing training from Sangita Kala Acharya TH Subash Chandran and mridangam maestro Trichy B Harikumar. He has accompanied many leading artists like Balamurali Krishna and Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

Music as life

Anavita Hariharan, Sanjith Narayanan and Kamalakiran Vinjamuri shared their views on a wide range of topics with MetroPlus in an email interview.

“As always, I greatly look forward to all my kutcheris. I am extremely excited for tomorrow’s concert, because I will be accompanied by very talented musicians and I can't wait to share the stage with them. I love to showcase the fast and exciting parts of the instrument, as well as show the soothing musicality the instrument can produce,” wrote Anavita.

Besides her own ongoing musical tutelage and concerts, she also teaches Carnatic music on the saxophone to interested students around the United States. She is currently pursuing a major in Public Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Sounding wise beyond his years, Sanjith Narayanan writes, “It feels very good to specialise in an art outside my country of origin. I feel like it's my duty and a great way to connect me to my roots and who I really am. It is also very important that I keep my links to India so that hopefully, I can sustain this career in Carnatic music.”

Tomorrow’s concert will show that “music is still in good hands for the next generation and that Carnatic music is also very strong in the US and India,” adds Sanjith.

“Performing is a way of sharing your music with everyone around you. However, if you do not enjoy it then how can anybody else? Music does not have any role in my life; rather, music is my life,” writes Kamalakiran Vinjamuri. The young musician is equally adept at playing Western violin too.

It promises to be an evening of music that knows no geographical boundaries.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 1:25:49 AM |

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