Speakers for the 2017 Seminar on Bismillah Khan and M.S. Shubhalakshmi


Morning Session


Dr. V .K . Viswanathan

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Dr. V.K. Viswanathan, or VKV as he is popularly known, has lived in two countries, India and the USA. The first twenty five years of his life were in Chennai, where he knew & listened to all of the golden age greats of Carnatic music as well as Hindustani music. During that time he also learnt Carnatic music (vocal, flute and mridangam) for over ten years and started his research on music theory, primarily with the purpose to delve into the specialties of those musicians revered for their greatness. He first met M. S. Shubhalakshmi at the age of five and attended some of her most important and memorable concerts. He was also lucky to discuss several aspects of music with her. After relocating to the United States of America in 1959 he continued his active involvement in musical activities and worked with various organizations in North America, which he still continues.

By profession he has been a scientist; He has worked with and has been in close proximity with many innovators and Nobel laureates, such as Armstrong and Aldrin. Presently he is writing a book, based on his observations and explanations from the point of view of physics and meta-physics, on the contemporaneity of the voice of M. S. Shubhalakshmi to all generations.


Selvi Viswanathan

Ms. Selvi Viswanathan is an authority on the Telugu language and literature. She also has an expertise in Carnatic violin. She spent the earlier part of her life in India and came to New York City after her marriage to Dr. V. K. Viswanathan..

Selvi is known for her immense contributions in Carnatic music by working with and taking care of many musicians. Ravi Shankar used to talk about her specialtyas “MOR KOZHAMBU” every time they met. She has won many awards as a photographer and has been involved in several projects on nature and environment.

The highlight of their life was her first meal after their marriage in 1967. It was at the residence of M.S. Shubhalakshmi in Kalki Gardens in Chennai on her insistence.  On their arrival M.S. Shubhalakshmi herself performed the welcome “Arathi” and sang!


Hassan Haider

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Hassan Haider is an acknowledged Sahnai player. His family hails from Allahabad, and he was born in Kolkata (Calcutta) on April 6th 1985. His father Ud. Ali Ahmed Hussain was a famous Sahnai maestro. His family has been representing this art form for generations.

Hassan Haider received his training in Benaras and Senia Gharanas from his father. He also learned from Pt. Arvind Parikh, the famous sitar maestro from school of Ud. Imdad Khan, Ud. Enayat Khan and Ud. Vilayat Khan. Hassan’s great grandfather Ud. Wazir Ali Khan was a musician of distinction who was the first musician to ever perform the Sahnai at the Buckingham Palace in London, England in 1910 and was awarded by Pt. Motilal Nehru, the father of India’s first Prime Minister Jawharlal Nehru.

Even at this young age, Hassan Haider has already performed at many important music festivals, venues and occasions in India, such as The Autumn Festival of Dance and Music in celebration of India’s 50th year of independence, Dover Lane Music Festival in Kolkata, Harballav Festival in Jalandhar, Uttarpara Sangeet Chakra in West Bengal, Sri Ram Shankarlal Festival in Delhi, Ud. Alauddin Khan Academy in Bhopal, Sangeet Natak Academy in Pune, only to name a few. All of his performances have been well reviewed in newspapers and magazines.

He had toured and performed with his father in several countries outside India. Those include the USA, Canada, U.K., France, Switzerland and Belgium. He is regularly featured on Indian radio and television.


Afternoon Session


Arun Ramamurthy

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Arun Ramamurthy is an exciting, young violinist who excels in several genres of music. Arun is equally at home whether he is playing a chaste Thodi raga in a temple concert before knowledgeable Carnatic music lovers, or at a trendy concert in midtown Manhattan trading solos with jazz guitarists. Arun was able to attain this versatility because of the solid grounding he received in Carnatic music, one of the most ancient and highly intricate forms of classical music.
    
His very first violin lessons were in western classical music under distinguished violinist Jim Mate. It was that initial training in western music that gave Arun his precise bowing and fingering techniques. Influenced by his family surroundings, Arun developed an interest in the soulful classical style of South India. His first guru, Ananthakrishnan, a much esteemed teacher and performer, taught Arun from age 10 not only Carnatic music but instilled in him a sense of tradition and a musical culture based on rigorous discipline. Later Arun, while still in his teens, got the good fortune to be taken as a pupil by the celebrated violinist brothers, Mysore Nagaraj and Mysore Manjunath. Nagaraj & Manjunath, generally acknowledged as the foremost violinists in Carnatic music today, made a profound impression. Arun came under their spell; he learnt from them, he listened to their music constantly, and even lived with them in India for 8 months learning day in and day out in the age-old, gurukula fashion.
      
Arun started playing in local organizations early on and soon was getting awards in music competitions conducted by CMANA, Cleveland State Thyagaraja Aradhana, etc. Notable musicians such as N. Ramani, Raja Rao, and T. Govinda Rao recognized Arun‘s talent and gave advice and encouragement. Arun progressed quickly and started playing solo concerts as well as accompanying local and touring artists such as Shashank, Trichur Ramachandran, Ramprasad, Sikkil Gurucharan, Flute Raman, and many others. In 2005, he joined his guru Mysore Manjunath on a concert tour and played concerts all over the US. Parallel to his career in Carnatic music, he’s kept up his involvement in light and fusion music also. He's performed with such well-known artists as the Dhananjayans, Falu, Downriver, Meetu Chilana, Joshua Geisler, Parijat Desai, Sunny Jain, and others. Early training, encouragement from parents who created a music environment all through his childhood into adulthood, and coming in close contact with two of the greatest violinists of this generation, all helped Arun to attain a high level of proficiency.


Selvaganesh

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Selvaganesh was born in Chennai to Grammy-winner T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram, a legendary musician and also a former member of the original Shakti. He is also the grandson of Sri T. R. Harihara Sarma, who founded the Sri Jaya Ganesh Tala Vadya Vidyalaya (Sri JGTV school) in Chennai.  Selvaganesh had his initial training at his grandfathers school and then under his uncle, Ghatam Vidwan Shri T H Subashchandran.  one of the leading musicians in the world of rhythm. Thumping into the musical world at an age as tender as 10, Selvaganesh has been mesmerizing the audience with his immaculate style and innate creativity. Selvaganesh is one of the leading musicians in the world of rhythm. He has been mesmerizing the audience with his immaculate style and innate creativity. Born into a family of musicians, it is no wonder that rhythm flows in his blood, which remains inseparable
Selvaganesh’s tryst with the international music platform came in the early 90s in Masters of Percussion along with his Zakir’s father Ustad Alla Rakha and late 90's when he joined Shakti to play along with John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain. The showman that he is, his long hair and nimble fingers had Shakti catapult to fame.

Apart from playing authentic Carnatic Music, he has performed in many Fusion, Jazz, Blues, Flamenco, Symphony Orchestra, Celtic Music, Latin Music, DJ Music, World Music, Talavadya (Percussion Ensemble) and Jugalbandhi concerts and has been part of numerous International Music Festivals with renowned Indian Musicians like Dr L Shankar, Dr.L.Subramaniam, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, He has also worked with many leading music directors in India.
He has performed at the prestigious Venue – Carnegie Hall in the US along with Sh T H Vikku Vinayakram and Ustad Zakir Hussain

He was a child prodigy, with his concert career beginning at the age of 10. He established his right to be on the stage by playing with such dexterity that he was soon accompanying many famous vocalists in Carnatic music at the time, including Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, , M. S. Subbulakshmi and others.

Selvaganesh gained world fame through tours with John McLaughlin's group Remember Shakti. He helps his father, Grammy-winner T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram, to run the Sri JGTV school and train a new generation of percussionists. He has also composed and produced albums, and played with the Swedish bass virtuoso Jonas Hellborg and American guitar player Shawn Lane.
His debut international solo album, Soukha was released in 2006 featuring all other regular members of Remember Shakti including John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, U. Srinivas and Shankar Mahadevan, as well as sitar player Niladri Kumar and Selvaganesh's father T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram. He has also formed a new group called dr JSM, with the UK-based Goan songwriter/producer dr.Joel and the young Carnatic singer Mahesh. Their Indo-Celtic album entitled Turn on the dreams was released in the UK in 2005.  He performed in the Prestigious United Nations day in New York in 2009.

He has composed Rythm for Mira Nair’s movies Vanity Fair and the Monsoon Wedding
While the kanjeera appears to be a simple instrument, in the hands of Selvaganesh, it produces a surprisingly large palette. “He has transformed the sound and identity of his instrument—he makes that thing sound like a huge drum kit—and all the actual playing is done with one hand.”

It is somehow fitting that the oldest instrument in the band is responsible for creating an almost techno vibe; the constant bell-like jangle of the kanjeera brings to mind the warp-speed jungle-groove of drum-and-bass music.

His latest venture is in the field of Indian Film Music. His debut music for a regional language film “Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu” is already a super hit.  He has composed for a few more and had got a name for himself.  Adding feather to the cap is his Filmi work in the Telugu Movie industry as well, wherein his first movie was a musical hit and is in the process of composing a few more.


Abhisek Lahiri        

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Abhisek Lahiri is a promising young sarod player. He is an artist of Indian national radio and television. He was trained by his father and Guru Pt. Alok Lahiri from a very early age. In his approach to Raga improvisation he blends the traditional norms with unanticipated notes and phrases. And, his approach to sarod playing incorporates the specialties of three major gharanas of Sarod, those of Shahajahanpur, Senia Maihar and Senia Bangash (Gwalior).

Abhisek’s performances have won the hearts of thousands of audience across the globe. He started performing at the early age of 11 years. In 1997 he was invited by Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia to play at Saath Saath Festival. In the same year he gave his debut of overseas performances in Holland at the World Kinder Festival. That was just the commencement of a prodigy's lifelong commitment towards music, later laid to concert tours in Europe, U.K., U.S.A., Canada, Sri Lanka, Japan, Bangladesh and India. He, along with his father Pt. Alok Lahiri, became the first Indians to perform at the European Parliament in France, at the Cannes World Music Festival and Canada Culture Days in Toronto. He has also performed at the RIMPA Festival organized by Ravi Shankar Institute in New Delhi, Dover Lane Music Conference in Kolkata, Harvallabh Sangeet Sammelan in Jalandhar, Saptak Music Festival in Nasik, Darbar Music Festival in London and many more.

Abhisek has fused with the Japanese Guitarist Hideaki Tsuji and formed a group called Ionah. Abhisek's musical albums Sparkling Sarod got nomination at GIMA (Global Indian Music Awards) in 2010 and Mood Of Puriya Kalyan in 2014.

He is the recipients of several awards and recognitions, such as the Anun Lund Rej Memorial Award from the Norwegian Consulate, Certificate of Appreciation from Rotary International Club & Lions Club, Toronto, The Telegraph School Award, National Scholarship from the Government of India, President’s Award by winning the first position in the All India Radio Music competition, Rashtriya Gaurav Award, Ustad Afzallur Rahman Memorial Award from Brahmanberia, Bangladesh, Jadubhatta Purashkar from Salt Lake Cultural Association and Sarbabharatiya Sangit o Sanskriti Parishad in Kolkata, India.  


Evening Session


Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar

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Arati Ankalikar-Tikekar, born on January 27th, 1963 in Karnataka, is recognized as one of the leading vocalists of Indian Classical Music. She initially trained under the veteran Late Pt. Vasantrao Kulkarni of the Agra Gwalior gharana. Thereafter, she became fortunate to have her art polished under the tutelage of Gana Saraswati Smt. Kishori Amonkar of the Jaipur Atrauli gharana. The influence of her gurus is quite evident in her performances, as she effortlessly enweaves nuances of both gharanas in her singing. Endowed with a rich, resonant voice, Arati’s recitals are marked by an excellent command over rhythm and melody.

Arati has performed at several prestigious conferences in India, such as the Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav (Pune), Malhar Utsav (Delhi), Tansen Sangeet Samaroh (Gwalior), Dover Lane Music Festival (Kolkota), Shankarlal Festival (Delhi)  and the Sabhas organized by Madras Music Academy (Chennai). Parallel to her performances in most major cities in India, she has also gone into some of the interior places of the country to perform for large audiences in her mission of propagating the tradition of India.

Arati, as a Cultural Ambassador of India, has visited USA, Canada, UK, UAE, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and many other countries, where she made tireless efforts in spreading awareness on Indian classical music. Her popularity amid the youth is well established through several workshops conducted by youth organizations in India and abroad. She has been carrying her objectives of popularizing Indian music and encouraging people to connect with Indian Cultural Heritage with integrity. The University of Pittsburgh, USA has organized many of her workshops and concerts. She has also been on tours organized by Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Arati is the recipient of the scholarship from the Government of India from 1975 to 1980 and Surashri Kesarbai Kerkar scholarship from 1980 to 1982. She won gold medals in Khayal, Thumri and Ghazal in the All India Radio Music competition held in 1983 and 1984. Arati received the prestigious Pt. Kumar Gandharva Sanman (M.P.) in 2006-07.  She is also the proud recipient of the Pt. Jasraj Award.

Arati lent her voice to leading casts of Hindi, Marathi and regional cinemas. She was the main playback voice for the Shyam Benegal's film Sardari Begum. She received the best play back singer award for Konkani film Anternaad in 2006 and for the Marathi film Samhita in 2012. She also received the Maharashtra State Award as the best playback singer, V. Shantaram Award and the Maharashtra Times Award for a Marathi Film. She has also served on a Jury for Tansen Award, Kalidas Sanman, Kumar Gandhrva award of M.P. government, Radio Mirchi Award, Maharashtra Times Award and many more.

Arati has recorded for HMV, Venus, T-series, Fountain, Times Music and Sagarika Music. She has to her credit a number of audio cassettes and CD recordings. One of her CDs titled Raga Ranga is an educational presentation to introduce classical music to the masses. For the past fifteen years Arati is serving as a senior faculty at the University of Pune, India. She also runs a Gurukul in Pune, where students from all over the world come to seek her guidance.


Vani Sateesh

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Hailing from a glorious lineage of five generations, Vani Sateesh has been critically acclaimed as an outstanding vocalist of the present time. Vani graduated from the University of Mysore with a Master’s Degree in Music, in which he was ranked first and was awarded gold medals. Aside from being a recipient of the National Scholarship for Young Artists and a winner of a National award by the All India Radio, Vani is an ‘A’ graded artist in the categories of classical vocal, devotional and sugama Sangeetha, She is also a graded composer of the All India Radio.

Vani’s inception into Carnatic classical music was by her uncle Vid. Bellary M. Sheshagiri Achar, an illustrious musician and a Vaggeyakara of extraordinary merit. She furthered her grooming under her brother Vid. Bellary M. Raghavendra and father Sangeetha Kalarantna Vid. Bellary M. Venkateshachar. In the later years, Vani pursued her advanced training under the tutelage of Padma Bhushana, Sangeetha Kalacharya Vid. P. S. Narayana Swamy, an eminent Guru of Carnatic Music and a direct disciple of Sangeetha Kalanidhi Vid. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

Vani Sateesh’s concert performances are endowed with her deeply resonant, melodious voice and her astute sense of Laya. She instinctively communicates the essence of her art to the audience with grace, poise and effortless ease in a manner that is powerful yet soul-stirring. In her performances, a listener can readily cherish the aesthetics and clarity of diction, which celebrate the Carnatic style in its pristine purity.

Vani has been performing since the age of 10. She has presented concerts in many major festivals throughout South India and abroad. She has also been featured in programs hosted by Indian national radio and television as well as other private TV channels. She has presented several thematic concerts, such as Mysore Sadashiva Rao Compositions concert at The Music Academy, Chennai, Dikshitar Compositions concert in New Jersey, USA, Vid. Bellary M. Sheshagiri Achar’s compositions, Meera Bhajans at Tyagaraja Sangeetha Sabha, Kannada poet Pu Ti Narasimhachar’s compositions, Bhavageethe (Kannada poetry) and compositions rooted in the epic Mahabharata are among many such presentations. An ensemble presentation of Saint Purandara Dasa’s Devaranamas that Vani led as part of Navarasa Sageetotsava organized by Bharatiya Samagana Sabha, was televised live on the National channels. She has also performed Jugalbandi concerts with eminent Hindustani musicians.

Vani Sateesh has been conducting workshops and lecture demonstrations in different parts of Karnataka. The topics include Pedagogy and Practice aspects of Carnatic music, composers and voice culture. Vani has also recorded a few albums of Carnatic Kritis, Devaranamas, Bhavageethe, compositions by Vid. Bellary M. Sheshagiri Achar.

Vani Sateesh was on the distinguished three-member jury for the first national level Classical Music competition jointly hosted by Doordarshan and SPICMACAY titled Naad Bhed - Naada Vismaya. Recently, she was on the panel of select musicians who helped design and draft the music curriculum for the Chinmaya Nada Bindu Gurukul for Indian Performing Arts, Pune. She has also been associated with SPICMACAY in their outreach, featuring in concerts, workshops and presentations.

During her stay in the USA for 15 years, Vani fulfilled an important role in the Indian community as a Carnatic music Guru. Through her teaching, she was able to provide a vital cord to Indian music and culture to over hundred Indian children born in US. Since her return to India in 2007 Vani has continued to be a respected and affectionate Guru among her several students in Bangalore. Many among Vani’s senior students have reached proficiency and a few have pursued to become concert artists.

Vani has also been serving the music fraternity as an organizer. Vani and her husband Vid. Mysore Sateesh have founded an institution named ‘Vishesha Fine Arts’ in 2010. Functioning from Bangalore, Vishesha Fine Arts has organized numerous concerts, lecture-demonstrations and workshops, apart from the music education it is providing to its students. Since 2012, this trust has conferred annual awards to recognize and felicitate significant individuals who have served this art form as a music Guru, as a patron and organizer of music events and as an individual committed to spread the joy of art — with the titles Vishesha Acharya, Vishesha Kala Poshaka and Vishesha Kala Chetana respectively.


M. K. Ramasubramanian

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M. K. Ramasubramanian has an Engineering degree with Honors from India and later earned an MBA degree from Columbia University, NY. He worked as a business manager for a Media company and is currently retired.

He is passionate about Carnatic music, and belongs to a family of music lovers, Carnatic music patrons and nurturers. His father Sr. K.S. Mahadevan was one of the founding members of the famous Shanmukhananda Sabha of Mumbai. He was also a well-known Carnatic music and dance critic. He regularly contributed to music columns in Indian Express and other journals, and was also the Editor of the Magazine Shanmukha.

M. K. Ramasubramanian learned music for a short while, but most of his knowledge came from listening to the music stalwarts since childhood and through close associations with them which allowed several knowledgeable discussions. He shared the passion for music with his father and assisted him in bringing out a big book called "Musings on Music".

M. K. Ramasubramanian is also one of the Founding Members of the Organization called Carnatic Music Association of North America, which is currently doing great service to Carnatic music in New York-New Jersey areas.
Now, during his retirement M. K. Ramasubramanian is an avid listener and regularly writes on "Rasikas.org", which is a forum for Carnatic music lovers.


Nirmala Ramasubramanian

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Nirmala Ramasubramanian has a Master's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, directed the Clinical Nutrition Programs in major Hospitals in NY. She is currently retired from her job and is actively involved in the Community Outreach and Cultural Committee programs of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, NY. She had served as an Executive Committee Member of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, NY in the Nineties.

She has had formal training in Carnatic music for a number of years and has given mini concerts while growing up in India. She had given vocal music support to some noteworthy dancers in NY, including Smt. Maya Kulkarni, the Cine fame Smt. Padmini Ramachandran and many others. She has been part of a music group called Gitanjali of Long Island and believes in continuous learning.
Both Nirmala and MKR have helped various organizations including The Hindu Temple of North America in organizing cultural events including Carnatic music concerts and have also hosted several musicians in their home. Music is so much part of their life and during their retirement they are enjoying listening to music and writing about it as well as encouraging young musicians and students to learn the divine art form.

M. K. Ramasubramanian and Nirmala had the unique opportunity of hosting Sri T. Sadasivam, Smt. M.S. Shubhalakshmi, Smt. Radha Viswanathan and their accompanying artists in their house in Queens, NY in 1977 when M.S. Shubhalakshmi was invited to perform in concerts to raise funds for the Hindu Temples of North America.

Please come and listen to the couple (MKR and Nirmala) reminisce their experiences with the Nightingale of Music, the great national and International Icon of Carnatic Music, the greatest philanthropist and quintessentially the greatest human being of our times!


This program is partially sponsored by the: