Hassan Hakmoun – Live Performance and Interview from the Gnawa Master Musician (Podcast 85)

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A real thrill: One of the most legendary musicians of Morocco, Hassan Hakmoun stopped by WKCR to give a sneak peak of his new album, Spirit, and performed live with Said Damir.

Hakmoun at WKCR, with his daughter Aya.

Hakmoun at WKCR, with his daughter Aya.

As a master musician  whose vision and contributions have enabled a unique fusion and blending of traditions, cultures and genres in a world of ever-expanding global communication and exchange,  his work maintains its profound and enormous capacity to joyously inspire and heal the individuals and communities it reaches, as Hakmoun undoubtedly remains  a commanding and intriguing artist in the world music scene.

Hakmoun’’s musical origins are rooted in the African folk music of the Islamic Gnawa sect, descendants from West African slaves brought to North Africa several hundred years ago.  Their music combines complicated West African syncopations with long, sinuous North African melodies. Tracing their roots back to the Bilal, a freed slave known for his beautiful voice and believed to have been chosen by the Islamic prophet Mohammed to serve as the first muezzin to call the people of the faith to their prayers, Gnawa musicians often express their religious devotion through their music, using it to enter into spiritual trance states.

Since moving to the US in 1987 his music has absorbed elements from a variety of popular styles, from jazz and “world music” to neo-classical contemporary Western music and cerebral pop, resulting in a diverse, award-winning and critically acclaimed body of work.

It’s been 26 years since the talented vocalist and sintir player released Gift of the Gnawa. yet the time has been spent well. Hakmoun’s latest album, ‘Unity’ is the finest example of ritual music combined with the heart of American rock, soul and blues ever recorded.

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Numasbala (Podcast 84)

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With super-ambitious arrangements and grooves from all corners of the globe, Numasbala brings a joyous, fun, freedom-loving spirit to the dancefloor. Fabio Montenegro – Bass / Voice (Colombia), Felipe Piedrahita – Guitar / voice (Colombia) and Javier Samayoa – Hammond B3 / Keys / voice (Guatemala) joined me at WKCR.

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Yusef Lateef – An interview with a Legend

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images-3The world of music has just lost the Gentle Giant, Yusef Lateef.  WKCR will celebrate his life by playing his music for 33 hours from the stroke of midnight as January 1, 2014.  His bravery and expansive musical vision is unmatched.  I was lucky enough to interview Dr. Lateef in March of 2013, his longtime collaborator Adam Rudolph joined the conversation.

 

 

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Shankar Tucker, clarinet; Jomy George, tabla; Michael Gam, bass; Max ZT, hammered dulcimer; Rajna Swaminathan, mridangam Ragas Live 2013 # 21 (Podcast 82)

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Clarinetist  Shankar Tucker performs with an all-star band of Rajna Swaminathan (mridangam), Michael Gam (bass), Max ZT (hammered dulcimer) and Jomy George (tabla),  and for the 2013 Ragas Live Festival.

Shankar composed several of the pieces here for this Ragas Live broadcast and Michael Gam contributed a composition as well.  This was the first time this incredible ensemble performed together.

Shankar Tucker is most widely known through his youtube channel the ShrutiBox, an ongoing series of internet music videos composed, recorded, performed and directed by the young clarinetist and composer.  The videos have created great excitement over the past year, garnering over 12 million views and a combined 100,000 fans. The series has been featured on the front page of YouTube, MTV India, and has recently been included in the Smithsonian Museum’s exhibition on Indian American Culture. As a clarinetist, Shankar has shared the stage with such legendary artists as Zakir Hussain, Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Raghu Dixit and recorded with music director Amit Trivedi for MTV’s Coke Studio. Shankar’s ensemble has had the distinction of performing at the White House Diwali function of 2012, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden.

Shankar blends Classical Indian music, jazz and popular music to create a unique and original fusion sound, both in solo recordings and with some of the most talented and accomplished young Carnatic and Hindustani vocalists and instrumentalists, including Vidya and Vandana Iyer, Nirali Kartik, Mahesh Vinayakram, B. Sree Sundarkumar, and others. Shankar himself plays a wide range of instruments in his recordings: piano, bass, kanjira, tabla, and other percussion instruments. The videos feature his own compositions, and his arrangements of traditional and classical songs, film and popular music, in Hindi, Tamil and English.

Shankar’s videos are featured on the front page of YouTube and the MTV show, “Roots”, and in articles in The Indian Express, The Hindustan Times, and notably in The Hindu – “everything about this young American screams fusion, beginning with his name…” Shankar was in fact the name given him as a young child by “Amma” – the spiritual leader and renowned humanitarian Mata Amrityanandamayi Devi on her US tour, and he has gone by it ever since. He started to learn classical clarinet at age 10, and earned a scholarship to the New England Conservatory from an appearance on “From the Top”, the nationally syndicated youth radio show. He became deeply interested in improvisation, both in jazz and classical Indian music, while he continued to study and perform Western classical music at such venues as Symphony Hall and Jordan Hall in Boston. At the Conservatory he studied with Tom Martin of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, while the sitar player Peter Row taught him the fundamentals of Indian classical performance.

More than anything else, Shankar wanted to study classical Indian music at its source in India, and on graduating from the Conservatory he was awarded a grant by the Frank Huntingdon Beebe Fund to pursue his ambition to adapt the clarinet to Indian classical performance. He was accepted as a student by the world famous Hindustani flute player Hariprasad Chaurasia at his Gurukul in Mumbai in the summer of 2010. Shankar describes this experience as “nothing short of life-changing” and that his “musical standpoint has completely shifted. Instead of thinking Western notation and chords or counting to 8 or 16, I think teentaal or aadhi taalam .” While in India he had the opportunity to perform Hindustani classical music on clarinet on stage with such legendary artists as Zakir Hussein and Hariprasad Chaurasia, and to record for MTV’s premier music platform, Coke Studio. Shankar has also performed with other leading musicians at major venues in Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore, and has been invited to perform on Indian MTV, and at upcoming festivals throughout India, North America, and Europe.

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The Battle of Indian Point – the fate of NYC’s Nuclear Facility

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Though this show has always been exclusively music, this topic is so timely I thought it worthwhile to spread the word.   Currently the fate of the Indian Point nuclear power plant hinges on whether the government grants them a 20 year license renewal and the state is holding public hearings.  In this jaw-dropping interview, Susan Hito-Shapiro of the Radiation and Public Health Project tells us of the conditions at Indian Point where 1,500 tons of radioactive waste are stored 22 miles from midtown.

If you are moved to take action, as I was, after hearing her, there are links here and at www.riverkeeper.org.

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Stanley Jordan, Live Performance and Interview from WKCR – Part 1 (Podcast 80)

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“Genius is a word too often tossed around in musical circles, but it has been applied rightfully to Stanley Jordan, the guitar virtuoso.” -Leonard Feather

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It was a thrill to have one of the world’s most inventive guitarists visit us at WKCR.   Stanley Jordan, hosting the musician show, performs here live, solo, and with the good friend of NYC Radio Live, Abdoulaye Alhassane Tourre (Check podcast 49 for more Live Abdoulaye Alhassane.)

Stanley’s original style of two handed tapping, the touch technique, allows him to play the guitar with the freedom of a keyboardist.  The voices are so independent on his instrument that on record it is almost hard to believe that the music is coming from one person  (See the video below!).   A four time-Grammy nominee, Jordan’s album Magic Touch was #1 on Billboard’s jazz chart for 51 weeks, setting a new record.  He has toured in over 60 countries and now focuses much of his attention to the direct healing power of music: music therapy.

 

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Camila Celin, Sarod; Ehren Hanson, tabla; Ragas Live 2013 # 20 (Podcast 79)

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A musician her whole life, Camila Celin began playing guitar at age 9.   For the last 5 years she has been intensely studying the Indian Sarod.  In Kolkata she learns from sarod player Sougata Roy Choudhury, and in New York she learns from sitar maestro Pandit Krishna Bhatt.   In 2009 she was nominated for a Grammy for best world music album in a collaboration with slide guitar maestro Debashish Bhattacharya and has been a very active performer in her native Colombia, the US and in India.   She has composed music for several films, theater, as well as commercials and currently lives between New York and Kolkata, India.
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Ehren Hanson has been playing tabla for over 17 years.   A disciple of the great Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, he is an active performer as both a soloist and an accompanist.  His recent review in the “Times of India,” Kolkata called his solo performace “enthralling.”

Together, the couple have founded the Anindo Chatterjee School of Tabla in New York, where they host some of the greatest maestros of our time, hosting classes, workshops, and concerts.   Their performance is celebrated for its intimacy with the deep and fated connection between them felt in every beat.

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Krishna Bhatt and Anindo Chatterjee duo Ragas Live Festival 2013 #19 (Podcast 78)

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Krishna Bhatt and Anindo Chatterjee, two of the premier musicians on their instruments, performed Raga Darbari Kanada from 9-10pm on the 24 hour 2013 Ragas Live Festival.  The video of the live broadcast was filmed and edited by Bernhard Fasenfest, and audio was mixed by Ahmet Ali Arslan.

To study with either of these giants of music check out Krishna Bhatt’s school  and Anindo Chatterjee’s school.

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Samarth Nagakar, vocal; Indradeep Ghosh, Violin: Anirban Roy Chowdhury, tabla; Ragas Live Festival #18 (Podcast 77)

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Samarth Nagakar, Anirban Roy Chowdhury and Indradeep Ghosh performed from 4-5pm on the 2013 Ragas Live Festival.

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Samarth Nagarkar is described by critics as one of today’s foremost torchbearers of Indian classical vocal traditions. He is known for his eclectic, captivating performances rendered within a traditionally rich approach towards raga exposition and gayaki.

After graduating as a Grade-A scholar of the prestigious ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata, Samarth currently divides his time between India and the US pursuing an active music career as a leading performer, composer, teacher and author

Indradeep Ghosh:

One of the most talented young Violinist of India & a torch bearer of Seni – Maihar gharana, Indradeep was initiated in the art of playing Violin at his tender age of six under the able guidance of Sri Anamitra Mustafi. From the year 1991, he is under the tutelage of Prof. Smt. Sisirkana Dhar Chowdhury. He has also the privilege of getting occasional talim from other maestros of Indian Classical Music like Pt. V.G.Jog and Pt. Kumar Bose. Apart from Indian Classical Music, Indradeep has the fondness toward the Western Classical Music too, and he has received his western lessons from late Sri Samir Sil.

Along the years, Indradeep has participated in several music festivals and concerts of India and abroad like – Asia Festival in Barcelona, Memorial Concert for Chile in Koln, Biswa Banga Sammelan, Baba Allauddin Memorial Festival, Salt Lake Music Festival, Prativa Utsav organised by EZCC, Dover Lane Music Festival, Kal Ke Kalakar Sangeet Sammelan Mumbai, Kala Prakash Varanasi, Kashi sangeet Samaj, Cultural Exchange Programme organised by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan in Chennai, IIT Delhi, Delhi Cant.etc and has also performed extensively in USA and several European Countries like Germany, France, Austria, Luxemburg, Spain, Denmark, Netherland etc. Moreover he has participated as a guest violin player in “Evening Live Show” & “Subha Savere” from Doordarshan Kendra New Delhi and is a regular performer from All India Radio Kolkata. He is also associated with several top grade fusion music bands like “Rhythmscape” of percussionist Bikram Ghosh and “Karma” of Subhen Chatterjee. He has composed theme music for the Kolkata Children’s Book Fair 2008.
He has to his credit many Classical and Fusion Music albums. The major among them is “Flames – The passion of Indian Raga”, where he has been accompanied on tabla by Pandit Kumar Bose.

Anirban Roy Chowdhury born in a musical family in Assam is a young promising tabla player, both as a soloist as well as an accompanist. Anirban’s training in tabla started at a very young age of 5 years from his father Akhil Roy Chowdhury and afterwards from his elder brother Animesh Roy Chowdhury.

In the year 1995, Anirban arrived in mumbai and had the privilege of getting direct training from the great tabla Maestro Ustad Allarakha Khan for a period of 7 years. Later on, he continued his training under Ustad Zakir Hussain & Pandit Yogesh Samsi, one of the senior most disciples of Ustad Allarakha Khan.

He has had the privilege of tabla accompaniment with musicians like Anup Jalota, Pankaj Udhas, Ghulam Ali, Rakesh Chaurasia, Rupak Kulkarni, Pandit Dinkar Kaikini,Pandit Arvind Parekh, Pandit Dhruv Ghosh, Pandit Pradeep Barot, Smt. Konkana Banerjee, legendary flute Maestro Pandit Hariprasdhad Chaurasia, Ken Zukerman, pandit Tejemdra narayan Majumder & Grammy Award Winning Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt..

Anirban is currently a faculty member at the Academy Of Indian Music (AIM) South Plainfield New Jersey and has been regularly composing rhythms for famous Bollywood composer Jatin- Lalit.

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Michael Braudy, violin; Roger Lipson, sitar; Ravi Rao, sitar; Roshni Thomson, tabla; Ragas Live 2013 #17 (Podcast 76)

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Michael Braudy and Roger Lipson with Roshni Thomson plus Ravi Rao on sitar with Roshni Thomson 3-4pm on the Ragas Live Festival #17

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Michael Braudy is a violinist who specializes in Western classical and Celtic music and the music of India.  A versatile improviser, he collaborates with poets, storytellers, dancers, theatre and mime, and performs in the US and abroad.  He has also explored the effects of music on health, and teaches workshops worldwide on sound and meditation.  His recordings include Awakening Peace, Vriddhi, Sumanas, Celtic Afternoon and From the Ganga to the Tay.

Roger Lipson 

Roger has played the classical music of India since 1988, and he has toured all over the country. He trained on the sitar under Pandit Krishna Mohan Bhatt of Jaipur, India, and master musician Frank Menusan of New York City. Roger also plays the shehnai (sometimes described as the Indian oboe), an historic instrument which is featured in Indian weddings and temple ceremonies. For the shehnai, Roger studied with Pandit Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, including an intensive residency in Benares, India.

As a classical Indian musician on sitar and shehnai, Roger can be heard playing sitar on The Easy Star All Stars’ #1 Billboard recording of “Lonely Hearts Dub Band” and The Cringe’s “Tipping Point”. He was a consultant to the Weinstein Company to get the Indian oboe (shehnai) into the movie Our Idiot Brother (directed by Jesse Peretz. Roger’s sitar can also be heard in other collaborations: on recent albums “The Tipping Point” by The Cringe, and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band” by The Easy Star All Stars, as well as on the Nova episode “Saved by the Sun” for PBS.

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Ravi Rao and Roshni Thomson at WKCR, photo by Veronique Lerebours

 

 

Ravi Rao studied with Krishna Bhatt and Shahid Parvez amongst many other top players and dedicated his performance or Raga Madhuvanti to his late father.

Roshni Thompson is a NY based tabla player who hails from the West Indies, where she was initiated into the ancient tradition of indian classical music by her vocalist father. She has continued her tutelage in the Benares style of tabla playing under Shri Tapan Modak and is currently a student of the epic Farukhbad exponent, Pt. Anindo Chatterjee. While her passion is Indian classical tabla, she has played in folk, jazz and multi-genre modalities. Roshni has performed at notable local venues such as Pianos, Knitting Factory, The Bitter End, The Shrine and Tea Lounge.

 

 

 

 

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Suphala Tabla Solo accompianied by Andrew Shantz, harmonium; Ragas Live 2013 #16 (Podcast 75)

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Suphala performed a tabla solo accompianied by Andrew Shantz on Harmonium from 2-3pm on the 24 hour  Ragas Live Festival on WKCR.

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Suphala is one of the most versatile young tabla artists making music today. Raised in the U.S. by Indian parents, Suphala began learning western classical music on the piano at age four, performing at age five, and as a teenager transferred her passion to one of the world’s most complex percussion instruments: the tabla. She combines an unparalleled technical command of her instrument with a playful sense of experimentation as she switches effortlessly between composing, producing and performing.

Suphala is a protégé of the great tabla masters Ustad Allarakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain, whose constant inspiration compels her not only to dedicate herself to the study of Indian classical music but also to extend the reach of the tabla into an ever-growing variety of musical genres and cultural contexts. Her fluency in a diversity of musical traditions informs her unique compositions and her highly improvisational performances. The three albums she has released to date – Instru Mental (2000), The Now (2005) and Blueprint (2007) – go beyond the limits of genre and style while referencing such diverse influences as Western classical, Indian classical, jazz, folk and soul. But it’s not just her original music that is groundbreaking, her concerts provide an inspiring case-study in cultural diplomacy: she made history in early 2005 when she traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan as the first musician to play in public since the fall of the Taliban. According to The New York Times, “Kabul’s badly depleted music scene received a welcome injection of excitement last week. [Her] arrival… caused a sensation in the war-torn country. ‘I have not played with a woman before,’ one Afghan tabla master said. ‘Our grandfathers do not even know of it.’”

Collaboration is one of the touchstones of her prodigious musical output: the musicians she has recorded or performed with include Norah Jones, Perry Farrell, Edie Brickell, Vernon Reid, Timbaland, Sean Lennon, 4Hero, Harper Simon, Yoko Ono, Vijay Iyer, Joan Osbourne, and Michael Bland among others. Many of these artists have sought Suphala out to lend her talents to tours, her songwriting skills to specific tracks or her producing prowess to recordings. The artistic alliances Suphala forms — including ensembles with vocals, strings, woodwinds, reeds and percussion — are an integral part of her innovative approach to making music.

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Shiv Subramaniam, Carnatic Vocal; A.R. Balaskandan, mridangam; Radhika Mani, violin: Ragas Live 2013 #15 (Podcast 74)

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Shiv Subramaniam, Carnatic Vocal;  A.R. Balaskandan, mridangam;  Radhika Mani, violin performed Carnatic music from 10-11am on WKCR’s Ragas Live Festival.

Screen shot 2013-07-08 at 12.10.05 PMShiv Subramaniam is a Carnatic vocalist who has performed regularly in Chennai’s December music festival since 2007. He has been a disciple of P.S. Narayanaswamy since 2001 and received early training from Vani Sateesh and his grandmother Lakshmi Balasubramaniam. Shiv is currently based in New York, pursuing graduate studies in Sanskrit literature at Columbia University.

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Vivek Pandya Tabla Solo, accompianied by Kalpit Pandya, Harmonium Ragas Live Festival 2013 #14 (Podcast 73)

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2 days shy of turning 9 years old, Vivek Pandya performed this incredible tabla solo accompianied by Kalpit Pandya on harmonium  from 1-2pm on the Ragas Live Festival at WKCR 89.9 FM-NY.  
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Vivek Pandya is disciple of Pt Anindo Chatterjee and the 1st place winner of the Swaradhara competition held on 23rd Feb 2013.  An interview revealed that he was excited for the end of school.

Interview by Sophie Rubashkin. Engineered by David Ellenbogen

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Eric Fraser, Bansuri; Naren Budhkar, tabla – Ragas Live Festival 2013 #13 (Podcast 72)

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Eric Fraser on Bansuri and Naren Budhkar on tabla performed noon-1pm on the 2013 Ragas Live Festival.
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Eric Fraser is a disciple of Pandit Gopal Roy of Kolkata, India, a leading exponent of the Padmabhushan Pannalal Ghosh and Pandit Gour Goswami lineage. Eric’s “gayaki ang”or vocal approach to the bansuri flute is unique and rare, deep and sincere. Merging a healing breath with craft and musicality, Eric brings an exciting, meditative and moving performance. While at home in New York, Eric continues to perfect his art under the guidance of master musician Steve Gorn, a bansuri player from the same “Gharana” (lineage). Eric regularly performs Indian classical music on the bamboo flute in India and the USA, including much collaboration as an accompanist for dance and theatre. He has made contributions with his bansuri to music ranging from Hip Hop to children’s music. Besides flute, Eric Fraser is a music therapist (MA-BC), freelance teaching artist and singer/songwriter.  Check out his new album of lullabies,  Raga Bye Baby .


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Naren Budhakar was born in Pune, India, and was first exposed to classical music by his father who was a violinist. From his cousin Shashikant Purandare he learned Delhi style percussion and began performing at a young age. He was initiated as a disciple by Tabla Maestro Ustad Shabbir Nisar. Naren has been performing and teaching both in the U.S. and abroad, lending his percussion skills to various forms of world music. He is on the faculty of the East-West School of Music, where he teaches Tabla classes and performs regularly.

 

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Rajeswari Satish, vocals; Radhika Mani, violin; A.R. Balaskandan, mridangam; Arthi Suresh vocals – Ragas Live Festival 2013 #12 (Podcast 71)

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Rajeswari Satish, vocals; Radhika Mani, violin; A.R. Balaskandan, mridangam; Arthi Suresh vocals for the 11am-noon performance on the 2013 Ragas Live Festival.  Rajeswari opened with  Raga Hamsadhwani and Puri Kalyan then most deeply explored Raga Vasantha

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As a performer of South Indian Classical (Carnatic) vocal music, Rajeswari strives to balance both tradition and trend. As a teacher, she strives to impart this art form in all its purity to her students , but with a modern approach.

Rajeswari was introduced to music at early childhood by her mother Vijayam Ranganathan, who is a vainika. She began her formal music education at the age of seven, under the caring and nurturing tutelage of Prof. Sri M.A. Venugopal. In three years, Rajeswari won the Government of India National Talent Search Scholarship and pursued thirteen years of advanced training with the renowned teacher and scholar, Sangeetakalacharya Sri C.S. Krishna Iyer. At present, she continues to receive guidance from Padmabhushan Sri P. S. Narayanaswamy. Rajeswari had the opportunity to learn new repertoire with renowned musicians Sangeetakalacharya Sri Chingleput Ranganathan and Sangeetakalanidhi Smt. R. Vedavalli on various occasions.

Rajeswari has performed extensively in India, USA and the UK. Notable among the venues are All India Radio, December music festival (Chennai, India), Cleveland St. Tyagaraja Aradhana, Milapfest (UK).

Rajeswari’s approach to music is based on the soul of the raga, with bhava and sahitya given utmost priority. She has received critical acclaim for her variety of repertoire and sensitive approach to rendering kritis. Her training with eminent teachers, coupled with a sincere and dedicated approach , has molded Rajeswari into a capable and sought after teacher.

At present, she resides in NJ, USA, where she teaches a select group of students.Many of her students have won top awards in prestigious competitions, and are upcoming concert artists.

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